Getzen 490 Trumpet Review

Translated from the original article by Andrea Libretti in Strumenti Musicali Magazine

Getzen is an historical brand of American brass instruments started in 1939 by a former Holton employee.  Getzen first started building trumpets in 1947.  Since then, Getzen has gained experience and reliability recognized worldwide.  The 400 Series was created to meet the needs of students who are on a budget, but don’t want to sacrifice the technical features and timbre of upper class instruments.

One of the strengths of the internationally recognized Getzen Company are the pistons.  In fact, the durability and speed of their nickel silver pistons has become legendary unlike the Monel pistons found on nearly all other trumpets.  The outer surface of the piston is shinier, harder, and travels the vertical movement within the casing with remarkable smoothness.  More generally, the Getzen trumpets give a good impression of strength and compactness, as well as being well finished.  The 490 is produced in a medium-large bore size which is ideal for the student.  The entry bore size of the gold brass mouthpipe give a better response to the lower octave.  The weight is on average with other instruments of its class at about 1030 grams.  The first slide has a saddle while the third slide is controlled with a ring.  The one piece gold brass bell improves tones in the lower harmonics.  The trumpet is available in lacquer or silver plate and is available with a good hard case.  Substantially, all of the features described above (except the pistons) are the same as many existing horns tested.  What differentiates an instrument like the Getzen 490 is the quality of the materials used and the accuracy with which the parts are assembled.  In this case, with a craftsman’s skilled hands,  thus providing higher overall sound quality than the rest of the instrument industry.


When you test a horn for the first time, you must have a reference to the class of the instrument.  It should be clear that if I’m talking about a student trumpet and define what is good about it, the review should be analyzed in the scope of the category of the instrument.  If not done, you could be comparing a student trumpet to one costing 5000-6000 Euro.

In the case of student trumpets, it is natural not to expect a very full tone, flexibility, or comfort.  Speaking of the Getzen 490 though, you will be pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the brand, certainly well above the other horns of this same class.  This means that during studies, the trumpet will increase the efforts of students and, likewise, increase the rewards they see.  It is always more pleasant to play an instrument that one likes and better meets our expectations.

During this test we found a good overall tone with a good coupling of the harmonics.  The fluidity of tone was inline with other trumpets in the test.  The pressure necessary to control the air column required effort slightly above average, but in the transition to a professional level horn, this will help to teach better control.  The pistons, as already mentioned, are extremely fast, accurate, and durable.  There was never any binding on the pistons.  The only negative of the trumpet is that the springs return the pistons so fast and powerfully that it can result in a slight noise from the piston returning.  This is not difficult to work around however.  Simply remove the piston, remove the spring, and compress it by hand until you achieve the desired strength.

In conclusion, we could not be more satisfied with the performance of the Getzen 490; a student trumpet with some professional features and tendancies.  We could call it a semi-professional horn that can fully satisfy the needs of a student in the early years of training as well as those of an amateur musician in any band area.  Of course, you pay for quality and it is natural that this instrument will cost a bit more than similar competing products.  But try to compare the Getzen 490 trumpet with any made in Eastern Europe or East Asia and let me know.


Three Ways to Get the Getzen Gazette

There are now three ways to get your very own copy of the Getzen Gazette. Of course, there is the printed version and many have visited the Getzen Gazette Blog on our website. Now you can download a pdf version and view or print copies of it from your own PC. Past Gazettes are listed in the left column of this page. If you prefer the real thing, you can be added to the Gazette mailing list by mailing your request to:

Gazette Mailing List
c/o Brett Getzen
PO Box 440
Elkhorn, WI 53121

General Trombone Trumpet

Blackburn Leadpipes and Griego Mouthpieces

Only instruments newly ordered and shipped from the Getzen Company will include the new Blackburn leadpipes or Griego Custom mouthpieces. Those instruments already in dealer inventory may not include these items. It is recommended that retail customers confirm that any 940 Eterna Piccolo (Blackburn) or Custom Series trombone (Griego) in question is indeed a new instrument with these items and not old stock. Getzen is not responsible for furnishing Blackburn leadpipes or Griego mouthpieces to players purchasing instruments sold to dealers prior to the introduction of these items.


Past Gazettes Now Available for Download

The past four Getzen Gazettes are now available as PDFs. Click any link below to see our publication in its original form:


Decorate Your Bandroom On Us

Attention school band directors: Tired of the boring, blank wall space in your band room? Want something to spice it up a bit? With our help, you can now decorate your band room for the cost of a postage stamp.

Simply snail mail a poster request to us on your school letterhead and we’ll ship you one of each of our promotional posters highlighting instruments and artists from both the Getzen Company and Edwards Musical Instruments. As an added bonus, we’ll include some current and back issues of the Getzen Gazette featuring several educational and informative articles.

Mail your requests to:
Decorate with Getzen
PO Box 440
Elkhorn, WI 53121

General Trombone Trumpet

Featured Custom Series Dealer

R.E.W. Music
R.E.W. Music

R.E.W. Music is family owned and has been serving the greater Kansas City area for more than 20 years. Servicing all musicians from student to professional with the same level of service is their number one priority.

R.E.W. carries the full line of Custom Series instruments including an inventory of 3001 Artist Model trumpets. For store locations and contact information visit

Artist Company News Education/Technique General Trumpet

Extending a Helping Hand

Brandt Brass Band Click image for larger view

In the fall of 2005, I was contacted by Mike Vax. Not a big surprise since Mike checks in with us at the factory quite a bit. This call was different. Mike was looking for our help. Some friends in I.T.G. had passed a story on to him that he thought we would be able to assist with. A group of musicians were having trouble getting instruments. Specifically a piccolo trumpet. The musicians were members of the Brandt Brass Band of Saratov, Russia. A very talented group rapidly making a name for themselves. Up until that point, the band was forced to borrow a piccolo trumpet from a neighboring town’s band. Not at all an ideal situation. In an effort to alleviate this, the members of the band were able to scrape together a few hundred dollars. By no means was that enough to purchase a new piccolo. They were hoping that through contacts in I.T.G. they would be able to find a used piccolo at a reasonable price. Enter Mike Vax.

Mike called us after he heard the tale and asked if there was anything we could do to help. Trumpet players around the U.S. had heard of the band’s troubles and were donating money to the cause hoping to boost the band’s buying power. Mike wanted to know if we had an old or seconds piccolo around that we could sell the band directly. We did not. After discussing the situation with my father Tom Getzen, we came up with a better solution. Rather than selling the band an old horn, we decided to give them, free of charge, a brand new 3916 Custom Series piccolo. From our standpoint, we had been fortunate in life and this was a perfect opportunity to pass that along. At the time, Tom relayed a lesson to me that my grandfather had taught him. At some point in life, you’ll have the chance to help someone else. While the time, effort, or dollar amount may not seem like much to you, to them it will mean the world. This was a perfect example of one of those situations.

Immediately, I got a hold of Mike and told him the good news. He was ecstatic and quickly passed the development on to his friends in I.T.G. The news spread fast and I was inundated with emails and phone calls thanking me for our donation. That’s not the reason we did it, but they were all appreciated. As word spread of our donation, trumpeters continued to donate money to the band. The new plan was that the band could use that money to help pay for a quality recording of the band with a CD to follow. I’m personally excited for that since I have heard nothing but praise for the band’s performances and I’m anxious to hear them for myself.

Soon after we decided to donate the horn, I was contacted by Mr. Gary Mortenson. He had great news. Gary had arranged for Steve Chenette, a former President of I.T.G, to deliver the horn and cash donations to the band during a visit to Russia. This was great, as it would ensure the horn made it to the band in good condition. Once the method of delivery had been established I had the piccolo prepped and shipped it to Steve. I also sent along several care kits (valve oil, cleaning cloths, etc…) for the band.

Once the piccolo was on the way to Steve and all the arrangements had been made, the members of the Brandt Brass Band emailed me to express their thanks. They asked me to pass on their “endless thankful words to all the people who some how took part in our life and help us to work better”. A few weeks later they also took the time to send me a nice Christmas greeting. I was honored that they would take the time and proud that they were so excited to get the instrument.

Fast forward to March of this year. Steve Chenette made his way to Russia with the piccolo and donations in tow. He emailed me from Saratov to tell me how excited the members of the band were upon his arrival. In fact, they couldn’t wait to try the horn. Instead, they spent nearly a week playing and practicing on it so they could use it in a concert shortly after the “official” presentation. After having the 3916 for a few days, Oleg Abramov emailed me to pass on their feelings. “Our trumpeters now behave like children.” Oleg said. “Everyone is trying to play it and they are always discussing it.” He went on to say, “Thanks a lot for the wonderful gift! We haven’t had such a trumpet until this in Saratov! So I think now it’s the most beautiful treasure in musical Saratov.” When asked how the players felt about the horn Oleg said, “Our piccolo player, Nikolay Khudoshin, is very delighted with the instrument. It’s very beautiful, has reach and a wonderful sound. It reacts on every breath you put into it!” “As our guys are joking,” Oleg wrote, “we have a beautiful blond, but we haven’t chosen her name yet. An enormous huge Thank You! If you’ll need something someday you must remember that you have 3 friends in Saratov, Russia that have close relations with one of your girls.” You cannot imagine my sense of pride. Knowing that not only were we able to help, but that the piccolo was met with such high regard. That, after all, is the most important thing. In July, Oleg Abramov contacted me to say that Nikolay Khudoshin enjoys the piccolo more with each practice. He went on to say that they have chosen music for their upcoming recording. The band will be performing Mozart’s The Night Queen’s Aria from The Magic Flute. I’m sure I’m not the only one anxiously awaiting its release.

All in all, this was a very rewarding experience for the company as a whole and for me personally. It was great to see the trumpet world come together to help their brothers in need. I am just glad that we could have a small part in the effort. Hopefully the piccolo will serve the band for years to come. I wish them and everyone who helped them continued success in all of their future endeavors.

News Coverage Videos: Channel IST | Channel Russia

General Trombone

Mail Bag


Please find attached a photo of the trombonists of the 76th Army Band (V Corps) holding the Getzen poster of Mr. Jeff Reynolds. The photo was taken last May at LSA Anaconda near Ballad, Iraq just outside “the wire” of our camp. I thought it would make for an interesting photo, so I had my wife send the poster down to us in Iraq.

Though pictured with other manufacturers’ horns, the unit owns several Edwards and Getzen trombones. One of my personal horns is also an Edwards. The environment in Iraq was harsh, so we took the oldest horns the unit had for the year we spent in Iraq. No sense in ruining the good ones in the desert.

Tom Bauer

Mail Bag - Trombones in Iraq
Taking a much needed break — Members of the 76th Army Band take a few minutes to offer a little thanks to Getzen and Edwards while stationed in Iraq. No, gentlemen, thank you.
Pictured from left to right: SSG Chris Eschenfelder, Syracuse, NY (kneeling); SSG Tom Bauer, Clemson, SC (standing); SSG Eric Burger, Davis, CA (standing); SGT David Bretz, Mineral Springs, AR (kneeling)
Company News General Trumpet

Getzen Manufactures High Quality Field Trumpets

M2003EEveryday in America approximately 1,800 World War II veterans pass away. These brave men and women risked their lives to defend the land they loved. Yet, as many as 75% of these heroes will not be given the honor of having Taps sounded at their funeral by a live bugler.Bugles Across America is an organization dedicated to changing this distressing trend by rallying an army of volunteers dedicated to providing live buglers for sounding Taps whenever and wherever they are needed. However, despite this growing availability of buglers willing to perform this solemn duty, another problem arose. The surprising lack of an quality instrument on which they could properly perform Taps.

That is why the Getzen Company is proud to introduce the all new American Heritage Field Trumpets. Together with B.A.A. and several of its members, Getzen has designed an instrument specifically designed for honoring our veterans. Made in America, for Americans.

General Trumpet

The Trumpeter’s Solemn Musical Duty

by Dan Erikson
Wisconsin State Director, Bugles Across America

Have you ever attended a military funeral and, after the three rifle volleys, Taps was played from a tape deck or CD player? If you’re an upper brass player, you probably thought to yourself, “I could have easily sounded Taps live. If only I had known.” Right now the United States loses 1,800 veterans a day. That’s right, per day! At the same time, it is estimated that only 500 military band members across the country are available to perform Taps at these funerals. That means that at least 75% of the brave men and women who fought for our country will not have the honor of having Taps properly sounded at their funerals by a live bugler. Instead, their families must settle for a tape deck or CD player. That is, if it works that day.

The great honor of sounding Taps was bestowed upon buglers back during the Civil War. It remains to this day as the trumpeter’s solemn duty. However, with the overwhelming lack of military buglers, civilian players must rise up and fill in the gaps. This is where a former Marine by the name of Tom Day comes in.

Tom just couldn’t sit idly by and watch as this proud tradition faded into the history books. “Every man and woman who dedicated some part of their lives to the service of our country has the right to and deserves a live bugler.” In 2000, Tom Day decided the best way to achieve this goal was to take matters into his own hands and he formed Bugles Across America.

Bugles Across America’s primary goal is to recruit live players around the country to sound Taps at military honor funerals as well as other public events at which veterans are being honored. In just three years, B.A.A. membership has grown to over 2,500 buglers worldwide. Members include current and former military band members, retired military personnel, as well as civilian men, women, and children. Since Taps can be sounded on trumpets, cornets, and bugles any high brass player that can sound it in a style and manner that properly honors our veterans is welcome to join the B.A.A. ranks.

Speaking of instruments, many players prefer to sound Taps on valveless horns in order to achieve a more traditional look. Unfortunately, these horns are generally regarded as very poor quality, bottom of the barrel instruments. The last high quality, valveless bugle or field trumpet was made for the United States Army Band during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The Bach Company manufactured 24 or so of these Bb signal trumpets specifically for ceremonial duties at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. The most notable of these horns was used to sound Taps at John F. Kennedy’s funeral. No horn of this caliber has been widely produced since then. That is, until now.

Acting as the Wisconsin State Director for Bugles Across America, I began to wonder why an American manufacturer wasn’t stepping up to fill the void by producing a high quality horn to properly honor our service men and women. With my close proximity to a major musical instrument manufacturer in South-Eastern Wisconsin, I felt it was time someone asked this question. A quick call to the Getzen Company, Inc. in nearby Elkhorn, Wisconsin was all the further I had to go. The was because Tom Getzen had a history of sounding Taps as a youngster himself. He understood the great importance of Taps and how meaningful it can be to family members as they say goodbye to their loved ones.

After some collaboration between several B.A.A. members and the Getzen Company, the American Heritage Field Trumpet was born and is now available through your local Getzen dealers or to B.A.A. members through Bugles Across America. Finally, those seeking a high quality, valveless horn for sounding Taps can rest assured that the instrument they desire is out there and can easily be found.

If you think you have what it takes to help repay a small part of the enormous debt owed to our national heroes, head to your local Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion post and offer your services. Help to make sure that the veterans in your area are properly honored with a live bugler. While you’re at it, you may even want to join the ranks of Bugles Across America.

Always remember that there is nothing like a live bugler sounding Taps to honor those that have served this country. Remember too that the 24 notes of Taps are the most appreciated and heart wrenching you will ever have to play.