Difference Between Cornet and Trumpet

Trumpets and cornets are two very similar sounding instruments, and many people often confuse the two of them and mistake them for being the same.

There are many similarities between them, and they are both brass instruments, but there are also many differences between them too. 

If you are interested in playing either of these instruments, or you are simply interested in finding out the differences between them, then you have come to the right place. 

Cornet Vs Trumpet - The Differences

Probably the biggest difference between these two types of instruments is that the cornet is actually visibly shorter than a trumpet.

Trumpets typically measure at around 19-inches long, yet cornets can range from anywhere between 13 and 16 inches long.

The size of the cornet will actually depend on the instrument’s bell, as cornets with shepherd’s bells are usually smaller than those that have longer bells. 

Difference Between Cornet and Trumpet

Even though both of the instruments vary in length, the trumpet and the cornet both have the same amount of tubing. However, the tubing on a trumpet is only coiled in one complete revolution, and the tubing on a cornet is coiled in two complete revolutions. 

Another big difference between these instruments is the sound that they are able to make. They are both very different in terms of the style of music that they have been used for, and while they can sometimes sound similar, they can both accomplish very different sounds.

They can sound the same as one another at times, but the majority of the time, they sound completely different, and you wouldn’t ever think that they were remotely similar if you only listened to the sounds that they made.

The differences in sound are created by the shape of the bore, and trumpet bores are cylindrical with a more consistent diameter due to their shape, and the cornet has what is called a conical bore, so the bore will actually change in size down the length of the tubing.

The bore that is used for the cornet also helps to create a softer and rounder sound than the trumpet that is often harsher. 

Cornet Vs Trumpet - The Similarities

Now that we have explained some of the differences between the two instruments, it can be helpful to also know some of their similarities, as there are quite a few.

One of the main similarities between the cornet and the trumpet is that they are both made from the same material, which is brass.

Difference Between Cornet and Trumpet

They also both have a total of three valves and are played by making a buzzing motion with your lips. Another factor that they share is that their bore, though different in shape, is roughly the same.

The instruments both play at the same pitch, and the mouthpieces for both of them are usually quite similar due to the way that they are to be played.

The Cornet and Trumpet Explained 

Due to the specific sounds that these instruments are able to make, they are often used for very different styles and genres of music. Trumpets are often heard in orchestras and jazz music, and cornets are typically found in some form of a brass band.

If you are looking for an instance where these two instruments might be played at the time, the most likely occurrence for this is in concert. 

Though they both can be characterized as having many similarities and differences, these differences actually affect how the instrument is used and who might play it. The trumpet is definitely a much more well-known instrument than the cornet due to its popularity.

However, with that being said, children are more likely swayed into playing the cornet due to its smaller size. However, it is not common that people realize the differences between the two.

It is not uncommon for brass players to start by learning how to play the cornet and then later move on to learn to play the trumpet as they grow up. This could be due to the size of the instrument or a change in opinion.

Trumpets are used in a wider variety of music types, which is likely to be the reason why it is much more popular. It is more practical to learn this instrument over the cornet due to the fact that it is featured more in music.

However, this does not mean that learning the cornet is a waste of time because it most definitely is not. In the modern age, this instrument is actually growing in popularity and becoming featured more often in music.

The popularity of an instrument should not be a deciding factor if you want to learn how to play it. You might find that you prefer playing one of them over the other, and that is perfectly fine. People change their minds all the time when it comes to playing musical instruments, especially children.


Even though the cornet and the trumpet do have quite a few similarities, they are still very different instruments. If you are trying to decide which instrument you would want to learn to play or that you want your child to play, there are lots of things that you will need to consider.

Firstly, it might be beneficial to try both of the instruments before you commit to buying either of them or before you start paying for a bulk load of lessons.

You should be passionate about the instrument that you are playing, and if you find that you don’t get on with either one of the options, then you can move on to the other or something else entirely. 

For children, the size of the instrument can be a deciding factor, but they can always progress to using a bigger instrument when they are older if they are interested in doing so. The cornet is often a more comfortable option to start with due to the fact that it is smaller in size.

There is also absolutely nothing wrong with experimenting with different instruments to find out what you are most drawn to or interested in.