Renaissance Slide Trumpet Replica by Brad Close

I’ve always had a fascination with renaissance slide trumpets, and I wanted to add one to my collection of historical instruments. There’s a wealth of excellent repertoire suited for this instrument, and let’s be honest—it’s one of the coolest and most visually impressive instruments you can perform with. While no period slide trumpets have survived, a few skilled makers have reconstructed them using historical paintings and writings from the renaissance era.

This particular instrument is tuned to D465 (which is equivalent to our modern Eb at 440) and is crafted from sheet seamed red brass. The bell is made using the traditional hand-hammered method, and the overall finish of the instrument reflects the historical scrapped technique. This creates a beautiful aesthetic where you can see the seamed tubes and the hammered markings inside the bell. A period two-piece mouthpiece was also crafted to match, resembling a small trombone mouthpiece with a flat rim and sharp throat.

The instrument has nearly four positions, with an extendable “leadpipe” slide used for pitch adjustments (you hold the mouthpiece and the whole horn moves in and out on the telescoping tube). This design also introduces some challenges, such as inertia issues for the player and a somewhat clunky feel due to the length of the single tube, making it challenging to find notes and play in tune… and also not knock your teeth out. There’s definitely a learning curve involved.

Interestingly, someone smart eventually realized that adding another tube with a U-shaped crook would create a fully chromatic instrument and cut the slide positions in half. This innovation marked the birth of the trombone/sackbut, providing a solution to some of the challenges faced with the renaissance slide trumpet design.