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Jupiter Quantum 5050





Marching Mellophone

Jupiter Quantum 5050




Quantum's release of a full compliment of marching brasswinds this year raised eyebrows and stimulated conversation amongst drum corps observers and performers. Jupiter has garnered positive notice from professional musicians in recent years for their professional line of instruments. But in the marching world, a Jupiter bell-front marching instrument has been branded by many with a negative stigma.

As a reviewer, I'll admit to succumbing to this perception as I prepared to undertake a review of the Jupiter 450L last year (see review here). So, it's probably not surprising to learn that a lot of industry observers were skeptical of any significant improvements when rumors began circulating about Jupiter's pending rebranding of their marching brass winds.

The roll-out of the Quantum line of brass instruments from Jupiter occurred slowly and somewhat publicly. A MySpace site and a smattering of press releases set the stage for a complete redesign of trumpet, mellophone, baritone, euphonium, and tuba (all bell-front). In an interesting and somewhat concerning sign of the times, no marching French horn was part of the offering. Field percussion (Mapex) and sideline percussion were also incorporated into the Quantum family of marching equipment.

The Quantum 5050S Marching Mellophone in F from Jupiter.

The approach appears to be elegantly simple: identify the best attributes of the best marching brass available and incorporate them into one line of instruments. This simple approach was combined with some heavy hitters in the brass performance world. Recognized performers and teachers Sam Pilafian and Pat Sheridan consulted on the development of low brass instruments offered an instant air of legitimacy to the project.

Early reports indicated that some very good instruments were in the making. However, it was an announcement in December that the Arizona Academy Drum and Bugle Corps would be utilizing Quantum equipment exclusively on competition fields in 2008 that suggested something significant may be in the works.

The Quantum 5050S Marching Mellophone in F from Jupiter.

Rumors about the field tests undertaken at Arizona State University were all positive, or at least non-negative. A prototype baritone and euphonium made the rounds and it appeared Quantum was managing spin very effectively. Less positive rumors regarding manufacturing quality and a need for instruments arriving from Taiwan to undergo reworking before final delivery tempered the winter talk.

In early February, 2008, rumors of a prototype set making the rounds across the country increased the anticipation of seeing if these instruments were the real deal. A couple of instruments also appeared in the online retailer The Woodwind and the Brasswind (wwbw.com). This is the source of the instrument being reviewed by The Middle Horn Leader.

The Quantum 5050S Marching Mellophone in F is shipped in a small, but efficient case and features very quick, quiet, and smooth stainless steel pistons.

The Jupiter 5050 Series Quantum Marching Mellophone features a .462-inch bore with a 10.7-inch yellow brass bell with excellent projection and intonation. The 5050 Series also features stainless steel valves and a horn/mellophone hybrid mouthpiece. This hybrid mouthpiece is not part of this review. The instrument tested was shipped with a Jupiter 7C trumpet mouthpiece only.

The current street price places the Quantum 5050S (silver finish) approximately $200 less than the Yamaha 204MS.



While it's probably unfair to compare the Quantum 5050 with the Yamaha 204, using the Yamaha 204 as a baseline will help in illustrating some of the pros and cons of the Quantum 5050. The two share some similar traits, but also have their own unique characteristics.

The Yamaha 204 (left) is a bit taller and features a more dramatic flare configuration than the Quantum 5050 (right).

...but first a disclaimer:

Since the Quantum line of instruments has just been released, it's important for the reader to understand that the opinions expressed in this article are simply those of the reviewer. This reviewer is approaching the assessment of this instrument in a manner appropriate for a marching band instrument (as opposed to a custom-made professional trumpet). Obviously, my opinion may differ from others. If you don't believe me, just ask my wife.

The Quantum 5050 incorporates a very similar design that is used by the Yamaha 204. This particular “cornet” styled configuration has been popular since the late 1960s when it is generally believed F.E. Olds first marketed it to compete with the more popular mellophonium design of the period.

However, the Quantum’s bell configuration differentiates this instrument from its Yamaha counterpart. The flare is decidedly more gradual. The result is a more compact instrument that is better balanced than the Yamaha. It also results in more distance between the mouthpiece and the valve casing. Many first-time Yamaha mellophone users I’ve encountered (particularly those switching from the King 1120 or 1121) have struggled a bit with the closeness of the valve cluster of the Yamaha to the performer’s face when the horn is in playing position. The Quantum’s configuration keeps the hands a bit farther from the face, but it will still take a little adjustment time for folks used to the King design.


Note the difference in the flares of the Yamaha 204 (left) and the Quantum 5050 (right). The gradual flare of the Quantum helped to create a more compact mellophone. Also note that the leadpipes of the two instruments are at nearly the same height, but the valve cluster on the Quantum is more centrally located.

Without a mouthpiece, the Quantum weighs in at 3 pounds, 4.9 ounces (about a quarter pound lighter than the Yamaha 204 which has a mass of 3 pounds, 9.7 ounces). Based completely on the subjective feel of the Quantum in the hands, one would think it to be decidedly lighter than the Yamaha. This could result from a lighter gauge of brass or the more compact configuration.

The bell flare incorporated into the Quantum is gradual, but not as open as the Jupiter 450L. To the naked eye, the Quantum’s flare is somewhere between the Yamaha 201 and 204. The result is a throaty timbre that, depending on the mouthpiece, can be somewhat nasally, but is generally appealing. The tone is particularly pleasing at softer dynamic levels, sometimes evoking a marching French horn. The flare diameters between the Quantum and the Yamaha are nearly identical (the Quantum flare appears to be only slightly larger).


The Yamaha 204 (left) and the Quantum 5050 (right).

Mellophones are almost always a study in compromise. The design elements that help create the best tone and playability often wreak havoc with intonation. In the case of the Quantum, the same flare that provides the instrument its characteristic tone quality is also likely responsible for intonation or slotting issues. The Quantum’s slots are somewhat less assured than the Yamaha, particularly in the extreme registers. This is instantly noticeable when the horn is first played. For musicians with relatively strong pitch reference, they’ll be able to accommodate this flaw over time. Anyone who ever spent a summer behind a two-piston mellophone bugle can testify to this phenomenon.

Playing Samples -- Yamaha 204 vs. Quantum 5050

In each of these mp3 samples, the Yamaha 204 is heard first, followed by the Quantum 5050 (both used with a Monette B2 Flumpet mouthpiece).

Slur Exercise

Skylines Henry V (1 of 2)
Henry V (2 of 3) C to C Runs
Brass Gym Excerpt Arban Excerpt Over the Rainbow

Of particular interest is the intonation tendency of the Quantum. The instrument’s tendency is to blow flat below the staff (which isn’t an unusual characteristic in mellophones), but it’s sufficiently below pitch to not require a slide extension to accommodate the low D or C#. On the plus side, the fourth space E is very nicely in tune (not flat as with most valved brass instruments). The high G is also under pitch, which is somewhat unusual. From the perspective of a trumpet player, it’s kind of nice to play an instrument with a fourth space E locked in tune. The acclimation time required for the instrument will likely depend on the performer’s ability to adjust to these unique pitch tendencies. While the under pitched low register will be a challenge, the other tuning concerns can be accommodated by most players.

Although the angle of this photo amplifies the difference in length of the Yamaha 204 (foreground) and the Quantum 5050, the Quantum is a more compact instrument.

The issues with the high F that plagued the Yamaha mellophones is utterly absent from the Quantum. The upper register blows free and easy with no “shudder.” It’s somewhat reminiscent in response encountered with the King 1121. The Quantum also plays more open in the extreme high register when compared to the Yamaha.

Another unique characteristic of he Quantum is encountered at upper volume levels. The Quantum appears to “top out” at high volume levels. When a gradual crescendo is applied, there’s a point when a maximum volume is reached. Applying more gas left this reviewer with the feeling that the volume wasn’t increasing. So, it’s not a particularly easy instrument to over blow. This could be a great attribute for a younger group of performers who may approach performance a bit too aggressively.

A critical component of any modern marching mellophone is the ability to adjust the instrument's pitch through the movement of slides. The first valve slide on Quantum 5050 (shown above in the extended position) was unfortunately too tight to be of much use. All other slides worked great.

The Quantum utilizes a thumb saddle for the first valve slide, as well as an adjustable finger ring for the third valve slide. On this copy, the tuning slide and third valve slide move freely and appear to be fitted very effectively. Regrettably, the first valve slide on this specific unit is too tight to be of much use. I applaud Quantum for having a third valve ring. While the adjustable ring is the hallmark of student level instruments, it’s a welcome feature with this instrument, allowing performers to find a comfortable position for this ring for maximum benefit and room beneath the flare.

A very nice touch on the Quantum 5050 is the removable slide portion of the third valve slide.

The pistons on the Quantum are lightning fast and smooth with no noise. The slightly rounded valve buttons are very comfortable. The valve stems appear to be approximately the same length as the Yamaha’s. However, faster valve passages felt easier on the Quantum than the Yamaha. This could be due to a lighter spring weight in the Quantum.

Overall, I like the Quantum. Its scale isn’t as even as the Yamaha and there are some intonation concerns. On the plus side, the Quantum is better balanced ergonomically and produces a very pleasing tone quality. If I had a choice between a Quantum 5050 and a Yamaha 204, I would choose the Yamaha 204. However, I would have no hesitation about performing with a Quantum if I were a member of an ensemble featuring them.

- Scooter Pirtle (email)


Be sure to check out Episode 39 at mellocast.com for a discussion about the Quantum 5050.

Where to Buy

This instrument is available at the Woodwind and the Brasswind and should be available in early July 2008.


A cordial email was received on February 26, 2008 from Edward Gobbel, Wind Instrument Product Manager for Jupiter Band Instruments, Inc. regarding the specific instrument featured in this review. Ed disclosed that this instrument was actually a prototype:


The most major problem with the mello that you have is that the third valve slide on that particular instrument is not of the correct specification. The one that you have is too long–resulting in the intonation concerns that you mentioned. The ring on that slide will also be fixed and non-adjustable.

 Also, this review is discussed in Episode 39 of the Mellocast.

John Ericson obtained access to one of the Quantum 5050 mellophones issued to the Arizone Academy Drum and Bugle Corps in April 2008 and offered the following review.