O.J.'s Trumpet Page Articles and reviews

Trumpet Factory in China

In May 2009, I had the opportunity to go to China for a 16 day round trip.
China is roughly 1400 million people. Nobody knows, but about 30 million live in Beijing.
As a first time tourist you’re lost without a guide.

To make a long and complicated history short, one of the days in Beijing was “on your own” and I had succeeded in getting an appointment with a trumpet factory.
By the way, I got the impression that such a request from an ordinary tourist is rather unusual in China.

The Chinese themselves are fully aware their trumpets (and other musical instruments) have a bad reputation both in the west, and surprisingly enough also in China.
As our excellent and official guide Mr. Jilly had never seen a trumpet in his life, and as the letter “r” doesn’t exist in China, funny situations arose when we tried to discuss “tlumpets”.

For the moment the Chinese are in a copy/paste stage. But things are changing very rapidly. As with Japanese cars, in a few years the copy will probably be as good as or better than the original.

Let the traffic sign below (pointing west?) represent the situation:

Trafic light with trumpet 

Beijing Sunrise Musical Instrument Corp. Ltd. is about an hour drive outside Beijing, in the Qing-Yun-Dian industrial area (got it?).
Actually they consist of three different companies, and we visited their instrument factory Chen-Guang Yuan Musical Instruments Co. Ltd. (got that too?), which was situated in two buildings behind concrete walls, guard and watchdog.

In one building they made drums (and strings?), and employed about 200 people.
Woodwind and brass were made in the other building, and about 80 people were said to be working there. Our visit seemed both expected and well prepared.

We were showed around by a very nice lady Mrs. Chang Rui, who turned out to be the sales director and was joined by the production manager (another nice lady) as soon as we asked about trumpet making. Also we were allowed to take pictures everywhere we wanted;

Mrs. Rui and production manager 
Right: Sales director Mrs. Chang Rui, left: The production manager

Inside was like any other instrument factory with quite ordinary machinery.
No fancy NC’s or anything.
It seemed like they were making up parts in batches to be assembled at a later stage.
They were making everything themselves, also valve-sections and bells.
Mouthpieces and cases were made by another and smaller company.
When we asked about quality control, the answer was simply “play tested”.

From the Factory
Both ladies were very surprised when I pulled out my plastic Kelly and asked if I was allowed to try some horns. To their amusement I tried about 10 of the Bb trumpets and some pockets, and they all played surprisingly well and consistent.
No need at all to describe them as junk.

Storage room 
Storage room: Trumpets all over. Right: Our guide Mr. Jilly, left: The production manager

Their production is about 1000 trumpets a year, mostly Bb trumpets and pocket trumpets (in all colors). In the storage room I saw only one cornet and one flugelhorn (didn’t try them, had no mouthpiece).

As you can see from their web-site, Sunrise has a rather extensive product range, and probably makes parts for Yamaha as well (and who knows where the parts for other well known brand names actually come from):


Sunrise sell their products on three different fairs, one in Beijing, one in Shanghai, and the Frankfurt fair in Germany. All instruments are unlabelled, i.e. the customers get whatever label they want.
Trumpets like these sell for about $250, mouthpiece and case included.

Olaf B. Brattegaard,  Oslo – Norway, September 2009