B&S 3137-S Challenger II Series Professional Bb Trumpet – Review
In this article I’m going to do a B&S Challenger II review, and it is the 3137-S medium large bore trumpet, that is under the microscope today.
A couple of years ago, when I was in the market for a new Bb trumpet, the B&S challenger II, was one of the trumpets I had at my house for several weeks, in order to really give a good test drive. I remember it vividly, and on top of that I took a lot of notes, so it’s about time I transfer my thoughts and writings to this blog…
…let’s jump in!
Short about the trumpet
The B&S Challenger II is made in Germany with the typical German quality. It is a medium bored trumpet that is marketed and sold as a professional Bb trumpet. So, unlike many of my other reviews, this is not a “beginner trumpet”
- Professional Bb trumpet
- One-piece valve housing
- Single-piece bell
- Bell edge beaded with nickel silver wire
- Medium large bore (11.66 mm)
- Bell diameter: 125 mm
- Monel valves
- Slide stop screw on 3rd slide
- Incl prestige case
Ah the German quality. Gotta love it. The horn is perfectly created and there is absolutely no sign of any problems anywhere. Perfect soldering and the valve alignment is very good. Needless to say, all the slides work perfectly and so do the water keys. The leadpipe looks smooth inside.
The valves run well and I detect no stickiness whatsoever. Now, in all fairness I did only have this trumpet a few weeks, so I do not know how the valves will stand the test of time, but I have no reason to think that they suddenly would stop working. During my weeks spent with the Challenger, there were never any valve problems.
The balance is good and the horn also feels good in my hands. I wonder if I might like the trumpet to be a bit more front heavy though. I’m thinking my upstream embouchure is the reason for this being my personal preference, when it comes to balance. This is just my persoal prefece though, so always keep that in mind.
The sound is Amazing! I absolutely love it. I love it so much that I would buy this horn in a heartbeat, if it wasn’t for one thing I’ll get into, just a bit further down in this article.
The “core” in the sound is heavenly on the Challenger II. I have always been quite hard to please when it comes to the optimal trumpet sound, and for me, the Challenger II is as close as it gets.
The sound is so rich and meaty. It is almost like you can see the overtones in the room, if that makes any sense at all. On top of that, I find the sound of the Challenger to be in the exact sweet spot, on the bright-dark sound spectrum, leaning a bit more towards the bright side. In my opinion, this is is the ultimate trumpet sound…
…but hey, we all know that this is a matter for taste, and this is just my opinion.
The intonation is okay. Fourth space “e” is a tiny bit flat, like on most trumpets, but other than that I have no problems with it. The lowe register is spot on and the middle and high resgister does not present any issues, when it comes to intonation either.
The notes speak without too much effort. However, I have to say that the response is not as good as on the Yamaha 8310Z for example. I give the challenger an average score, in this category.
The slotting is great. I have found that a trumpet with a good “core” to the sound, often go hand in hand with good slotting. I don’t know exactly why that is, but perhaps I’ll ask some trumpet makers about that some day. Anyway, the notes all “lock in” nicely. Excellent for classical music where we want secure slots.
The high register is somewhat difficult to master on the Challenger II. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe I would have needed more time, but I have to use quite a bit more energy to play in the upper register on this horn. More than on some other trumpets.
It’s not that it’s bad, but at the time of testing the trumpet, I was on the hunt for a lead trumpet and, for me, the Challenger was just a bit too taxing to play for a lenght of time in the upper register. However, I do know people who use the B&S Challenger with great success…
…playing everything you can think of on it. Difficult lead charts as well.
It’s good, but there is something about the Challenger that feels like it does not really agree with my chop setting, if that makes any sense at all. The slotting, sound and quality of build is all there, and the trumpet follows fast passages easily, but I just don’t really like the feel…
…which leads me to the next category:
Resistance & General feel
The Challenger kind of reminds me a bit of how the Bach 43 feels, but perhaps with a bit more resistance. There is something about the feel, though, that I can’t quite get along with. Again, maybe I just need some more time with it…I can’t really put my finger on what it is. This is just too bad, as I absolutely love the sound so much 🙁
Top notch here. The trumpet comes in a high quality, protective, hard trumpet case. Nothing to complain about in this category.
The B&S is not that expensive when comparing it to other professional Bb trumpets. I would put the trumpet somewhere in the middle of the price range. Perhaps a bit on the cheaper side, which is always a good thing.
Final Rating: 8,0 / 10
Ok, so when taking all those things into account, and taking the price into account, I will give the B&S Challenger II a final score of 8.0…
…a good score for a good trumpet!
I was completely in love with the sound of this trumpet, so I have to say that I was a bit sad when I decided not to buy it. Of course, the sound is a matter of personal preferenses, but to me this horn had one of the nicest core and ring to the sound, of all the trumpets I have ever tried. It was just such a gorgeous trumpet sound…
…however, at the time I needed something that would be very easy to play in the upper register, as I was mostly doing lead trumpet playing in a big band and the B&S Challenger II was more difficult to master in the upper register, compared to the Bobby Shew 8310z, which I ended up buying instead.
In addition to this, the general feel, when playing the B&S was also a bitt off. We just did not click, when it came to the feel for each other, but again, this might have changed if I had gotten some more time with the horn.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It was not that the B&S was very difficult to play, it was just that the Bobby shew Yamaha 8310Z was easier for me to play in the upper register and I also liked the feel of the 8310Z a bit more. For me the Yamaha was a bit easier to play, in all registers. So I went for that one.
I have been thinking a lot about thew Challenger II after that though, and someday, I still might end up buying one, as I loved the sound so much. And, as a true trumpet nerd, I need lot’s of trumpets 🙂
As I have stated so many times, in my articles, we are all different and for you the B&S Challenger might be the perfect horn, when it comes to the feel AND the sound…
..and everything else in between. So, if you are on the hunt for a new professional Bb trumpet, you should definitely give the B&S Challenger II a try. For you it could feel and sound perfect, and thus, be the perfect professional Bb trumpet for YOU.
Thank you for reading, and as always, keep practicing!
P.S. Have your tried this horn? If so, what’s your experience with it? Please leave a few words down below. I’m sure my readers would all love that 🙂