If you’re looking for the best student trumpet for a beginning student, you might at first be tempted to rent an instrument, since you can’t be sure he or she will stick with it. But there are some good reasons to purchase one instead.
Long-term rental fees add up quickly, and a year’s instrument rental might actually cost more than buying. When and if the student is ready to move up to an intermediate trumpet, a well-maintained horn can be sold for a significant percentage of its original cost. Plus, it’s nice to have a brand-new instrument with no signs of wear from a prior owner.
But how do you choose among the many student trumpets available? What features are most important? Which models offer the best value?
What To Look For In The Best Student Trumpets?
In your search for the best student trumpet, you need to evaluate both the quality and workmanship of the parts and how the instrument sounds. So let’s first consider a trumpet’s important physical characteristics.
Trumpet mouthpieces come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. The dimensions of the different parts of the mouthpiece (the rim, cup, throat, and backbore) can drastically affect the instrument’s tone quality, ease of playing, and comfort.
The size and shape is indicated by a series of letters and numbers. Most beginner trumpets include a 7C mouthpiece, which is relatively easy to play. Some trumpets include a slightly larger 5C mouthpiece.
The lead pipe (as in “leading edge”), or mouthpipe, is the tube connecting the mouthpiece to the main tuning slide. It can be made of yellow brass or red brass, or even sterling silver on professional instruments. Red brass, which contains more copper, is preferred because it’s less susceptible to corrosion. Yellow brass must be cleaned more often. Also, red brass lends a softer tone, which might otherwise be too bright.
The bore is the inside diameter of a trumpet’s tubing. It’s measured at the second valve. Trumpet bores range from about .455 to over .470 inches. Instruments with a wider bore are harder to play because more air is needed to produce notes. But they have a more powerful sound and are generally preferred by more advanced musicians.
For a new player, a horn with a narrower bore of .458 – .460 inches is preferable, because it’s easier to play.
To produce every note of the chromatic scale, a modern trumpet has three piston valves that couple different short lengths of extra tubing called “slides,” to lower the pitch of the instrument. Valves are made from a variety of metals.
Student instruments usually come with nickel-plated pistons because they’re durable and can tolerate infrequent cleaning. An alternative found in better instruments is Monel, a nickel-copper alloy that is extremely resistant to corrosion. It’s extremely corrosion-resistant but requires more frequent cleaning and lubrication.
To correct for any intonation problems, the player can usually adjust the first and third-valve slides while playing (see below).
Regardless of the material, the valves must work quickly, quietly and smoothly. Sticky valves are a sign of an inferior instrument and will make playing it a miserable experience. Not all valves are made the same!
The trumpet’s bell projects the sound outward. Bells vary significantly in size, materials, and construction. A smaller bell will produce a sharper and more focused sound. Many student bells are 5 inches wide, which is larger than on many professional instruments.
Most student trumpets have bells made of yellow brass. Rose brass bells produce a warmer, darker tone. Silver bells are uncommon and found only on top-grade horns.
The best trumpet bells are made in one piece, hammered into shape by hand. Student and intermediate horns usually have two-piece welded bells, which don’t vibrate as freely as one-piece models.
Most standard trumpets have a single vertical brace on the tuning slide to reinforce it. A few student models have stronger double bracing. Pocket trumpet slides usually have no braces.
Trumpets generally have a lacquer finish over a buffed brass surface, although some have a silver nickel plated finish. Plating is considered better than lacquer because the thinner coating allows the brass to vibrate more freely to produce a brighter tone.
Student trumpets usually come with a clear or gold lacquer finish. Many brands offer more exotic colors, including black, red, or purple. A lacquer finish can tarnish easily, so it needs to be cleaned frequently while wearing gloves. A lacquer finish can also scratch or wear down over time. Plating is more expensive but lasts longer.
A good trumpet has a bright tone that cuts through any musical texture without sounding shrill. As mentioned above, several physical factors influence overall tone, including bore, lead pipe, and bell size, and the type of brass used. The best judge is your ears or the advice of a teacher with good ears.
A trumpeter tunes by playing Middle C and adjusting the tuning slide. Intonation refers to how closely in tune all the other notes are. For various complex physical reasons, other notes will be flat or sharp to some degree. A carefully-designed and manufactured instrument minimizes that out-of-tuneness.
Modern trumpets have individual small slides for each valve to adjust the intonation. The player can often adjust the first and third-valve slides while playing by extending or retracting them using the left thumb and ring finger. Because this requires greater hand coordination, many student trumpets have a fixed third-valve slide trigger.
The highest note a trumpet can produce depends mainly on the player’s ability to control the position and tension of the lips on the mouthpiece, otherwise known as his “embouchure.” But range is also influenced in complex and unpredictable ways by the physical characteristics of an instrument. The only reliable way to know the useful range of a trumpet is to play it.
By changing the embouchure, a trumpeter can play different harmonics of a very low fundamental note. Slotting refers to an instrument’s ability to find and stay on a particular harmonic and not slip up or down to a different note. Good slotting means more accurate note production.
All but the various cheapest (and usually unplayable) trumpets include a case. Hard shell cases generally offer better protection, but they can also be heavier. Soft cases often have backpack straps to make them easier to carry.
Other standard accessories include a bottle of valve oil, a polishing cloth, and white gloves (for polishing). The valve oil is often not a name brand, so you should invest in a high-quality oil like La Tromba. Some trumpets will also include a pocket tuner, stand, or other accessories.
Student trumpets generally come with a 1-year warranty against manufacturing defects. A few brands offer a 2-year warranty. A related question to consider is how that warranty would be serviced. Does the manufacturer have a good reputation for fast customer service? Are replacement parts easy to obtain?
Top 10 Best Student Trumpets On The Market 2020 Reviews
Here we have reviewed ten student trumpet models, listed roughly in order of increasing “street price.” These are all Bb (B-flat) trumpets, which is the standard size used for orchestra, band, and popular music.
1 Glory Brass Bb Trumpet
Like most student instruments, the Glory Brass Bb Trumpet is made in China. It’s the least expensive instrument reviewed here. This makes it a good choice if you’re not sure if the student in your family is going to stick with it, or if your budget is very tight. But despite its low cost, the Glory trumpet holds up very well against its competition.
First of all, it looks beautiful, with a high-gloss gold lacquered finish. And it’s lightweight, so it feels comfortable in a beginner’s hand. The tuning slide has a single brace for reinforcement. It includes a standard 7C mouthpiece.
Overall, the Glory trumpet’s construction quality is acceptable. But the valve alignment can sometimes be a little off and need adjustment. Also, like most lower-cost trumpets, the valves can stick if not frequently lubricated.
As for general playability, the response is okay, but it’s not the easiest trumpet on which to produce a clean note. Intonation is generally good, although the upper register sounds a little sharp, except for the slightly flat second line E. Slotting is a bit loose but acceptable. The overall tone is good, though perhaps too bright to some ears.
As with all the instruments reviewed, the Glory trumpet includes a case, valve oil, cleaning cloth, and gloves. The valve oil is an off-brand, so you’re better off replacing it with La Tromba oil or something similar.
- Looks beautiful.
- Very inexpensive.
- Decent sound.
- Values can be misaligned or sticky.
- Gold lacquer finish can tarnish easily.
The next of our Best Student Trumpets is actually the Mendini by Cecilio model MTT-L. It is a very popular model that has received many excellent customer reviews.
The MTT-L trumpet has a relatively narrow .460 inch bore and a 5-inch bell. The first-valve slide has a thumb saddle. The third valve slide has an adjustable ring. The valves have faux mother-of-pearl tops and generally work smoothly if lubricated frequently.
The instrument speaks easily, and overall intonation is very good. It comes with a 7C mouthpiece. A red brass lead pipe helps give the MTT-L a beautiful tone.
Included is a sturdy, soft case with a large zippered side pocket and backpack straps. Mendini by Cecilio trumpets include a 1-year warranty, and the company has an outstanding reputation for customer service. All instruments are tested twice: once at their factory in China, and again at their California warehouse.
- Red brass lead pipe.
- Smooth valves.
- Convenient case.
- Lacquer finish is easily tarnished.
- Valves can stick if not maintained.
3 Mendini MTT-30CN Nickel Plated Intermediate Double-Braced Bb Trumpet
The Mendini by Cecilio MTT-30CN Intermediate Double-Braced Bb Trumpet is aimed at the intermediate student who has been playing for a year or more, has developed some technique and shows an interest in continuing to study.
The MTT-30CN is basically a greatly upgraded version of Mendini’s MTT-L. Like the beginner model, it has a .460 inch bore, 5-inch bell, first valve saddle, and an adjustable third slide lock. But this horn has several significant improvements.
The valves are made from Monel, and the bell from nickel-infused brass (white brass). The lead pipe is red brass that produces a less strident tone. The tuning slide has double bracing for greater strength. And most noticeably, it has a beautiful nickel plated finish instead of gold lacquer.
Also, the MTT-30CN includes a plush lined nylon-covered hard case with a large zippered pocket and backpack straps.
All in all, the MTT-30CN stands out among the instruments reviewed here in terms of build quality. Its significantly higher cost reflects that.
- Double braced slide.
- Monel valves.
- Red brass lead pipe.
- Durable nickel plating.
- Hard shell case included.
4 Le’Var BTRLV100 Student Trumpet
The Le’Var BTRLV-100 Student Trumpet is not as well known as some other models reviewed here, but it’s often recommended by music teachers as a good starter instrument. It feels more comfortable to play than most student horns, thanks to an adjustable thumb rest.
It has a .460 inch bore, so a beginner can blow without much effort. The body, bell, and lead pipe all are yellow brass and finished in gold lacquer. The valves are nickel-plated steel. It is important to keep them well-lubricated, so they don’t stick.
A sturdy soft case is included. It has a handle but no straps.
- Adjustable thumb slide.
- Excellent value.
- Lacquer finish can tarnish or wear.
- Some players report sticky valves.
- Finding replacement parts can be difficult.
5 Hawk WD-T313 Bb Trumpet
The next of the Best Student Trumpets on our list is the Hawk WD-T313 Bb Trumpet, which comes with a beautiful silver plated finish. It’s also available in a range of lacquered colors, including black and gold.
It has a narrow .459 inch bore, so it’s easy to play. The bell is 4.85 inches. The third valve has a fixed trigger, and the first valve has a thumb saddle.
Overall, the build quality is very good, and the valves work smoothly. However, if repairs are ever needed, it might be difficult to find replacement parts.
The WD-T1313 includes a 7C mouthpiece and a handsome soft case with backpack straps.
The instrument produces excellent sound in the middle and upper registers. The yellow brass lead pipe and slightly smaller bore and bell tends to produce a sharper, more focused tone that might make it more suitable for jazz and marching band than for classical performance.
- Durable nickel plate finish.
- Smaller bell for a brighter sound.
- Might be too bright for some styles.
- Finding replacement parts may be difficult.
6 LJ Hutchen Bb Trumpet
The LJ Hutchen Bb Trumpet, model 4218, offers several extras that make it a serious contender for best student trumpet.
For one, the lead pipe is made of rose brass, so it has a sweeter tone. The valves are stainless steel, offering a perfect blend of speed, smoothness, and durability. Tight tolerances ensure that intonation is very good. Also, the tuning slide is double-braced, making it stronger. Interestingly, it comes with a 5C mouthpiece, which is slightly larger than the 7C.
The LJ Hutchen trumpet includes an ABS impact-resistant hard case, so the instrument is very well-protected if accidentally dropped.
Perhaps most important, it’s the only trumpet reviewed here with a full 2-year warranty.
- Excellent intonation.
- Rose brass lead pipe.
- Double-braced tuning slide.
- ABS hard case included.
- Two-year warranty.
7 Jean Paul USA TR-330 Standard Student Trumpet
Jean Paul USA is a very well-known and respected brand. Its instruments are recommended by many music educators. But to be clear, despite the company name, the TR-330 Standard Student Trumpet is made in China.
The entire instrument, including the bell, main body, and the lead pipe is yellow brass with a gold lacquer finish. It has a narrow bore of .459 inches, which makes it easier to play. Also, the tube walls are on the thin side, which helps reduce weight.
Overall, the build quality is excellent, though some customers have complained of sticky valves. As with all student instruments, it pays to keep the valves clean and well-lubricated.
The TR-330 includes a strong, soft case with a large side pocket. It has padded straps, but no backpack straps.
For even more information, check out our in-depth Jean Paul USA TR 330 review.
- Brilliant tone.
- Easy to play.
- Lightweight and comfortable.
- Excellent intonation.
- A hard-shell case would be better.
- The gold lacquer finish can tarnish easily.
- Valves and lead pipe require diligent upkeep.
8 Jean Paul USA TR-430 Intermediate Trumpet
For players who have some experience and want to upgrade to a better instrument, the Jean Paul USA TR-430 Intermediate Trumpet is a good choice. It has a gold lacquer finish and offers several improvements over their TR-330 beginner’s trumpet.
The lead pipe is made from durable, and sweeter-sounding rose brass. Also, it has an adjustable third trigger that supports a natural hand position and proper playing technique. The piston valves are premium quality, more accurately machined, and more durable than on the beginner instrument.
The soft case includes a full-length zippered pocket. It’s quite rugged, but at this price, a hard case would be nice. The TR-430 ships with a 7C mouthpiece, valve oil, polishing cloth, and gloves.
- Rose brass lead pipe.
- Premium stainless steel valves.
- Relatively expensive.
- Soft case.
9 Yamaha YTR-2330 Standard Bb Trumpet
Yamaha is a very well-known musical instrument brand, and their YTR-2330 Standard Bb Trumpet is sure to satisfy the needs of both the beginning and intermediate student. It’s significantly more expensive than any other trumpets reviewed here.
This reflects both a higher level of craftsmanship and Yamaha’s reputation for quality. Made in China, all instruments are tested in Japan before being shipped to customers.
The YTR-2330 is made of yellow brass and has a gold lacquer finish. It has a .459 inch bore and durable Monel valves. A state-of-the-art manufacturing process produces the two-piece 4-7/8 inch bell that offers superior sound projection and resonance. A third-valve trigger helps the student to maintain a natural hand position. Two water keys are provided.
Overall, this instrument feels quite solid. Intonation is excellent, notably in the lowest register, where many instruments go flat.
The YTR-2330 includes Yamaha’s TR-11B4 mouthpiece. This is very similar to a 7C mouthpiece, though the rim is slightly more rounded. It also ships with a hard case.
- Very high-quality construction.
- Excellent intonation.
- More expensive than other student trumpets.
- Slow delivery, ships from Japan.
10 Mendini MPT-N Nickel Plated Bb Pocket Trumpet
And as we come to the end of our reviews of the Best Student Trumpets currently available, we have The Mendini MPT-N Nickel Plated Bb Pocket Trumpet. This has been designed for musicians looking for an instrument that is compact and easy to carry around in normal luggage.
It is priced modestly enough to be considered a student instrument. As a second horn, it enables a student to keep up his practice while on the go.
With a .460 inch bore and 3.75-inch bell, the Mendini pocket trumpet has the same range as a standard trumpet. It features a rose brass lead pipe and valves that work smoothly and quietly. The high-gloss nickel plated finish looks gorgeous. A third-valve trigger lets you adjust the intonation.
The sound is nearly as big and rich as a full-sized trumpet, with a warm tone. The intonation is okay in the middle and high registers but starts to go a little flat below Middle C. This horn is easy to play, with excellent response and acceptable slotting.
In addition to an excellent soft case and the usual accessories, you also get a small stand fitted specifically for this trumpet, a Cecilio pocket tuner, and a small book with fingering charts and daily drills). The MPT-N comes with a full 1-year warranty
- Compact and lightweight.
- Beautiful nickel plate finish.
- Phosphorous copper lead pipe.
- Pocket tuner included.
- Small size not ideal as a primary student instrument.
- Intonation a little flat in the lowest register.
Best Student Trumpets Conclusion
All the instruments reviewed here are acceptable for a beginning student, but some are better than others. And a few would be fine for a more advanced student.
Best At Any Price
Here there’s no real contest. Among the instruments we’ve reviewed, the…
…is an excellent instrument that can last several years until a student is ready to move up to a professional horn.
Especially attractive are the reliable Monel valves and comfortable .459 inch bore. And you have the security of the Yamaha name and the company’s reputation for reliability and quality control. On the downside, this instrument is considerably more expensive than other instruments in this class.
A close second is the…
…with its rose brass lead pipe and lower cost.
We are especially impressed by the
Its rose brass lead pipe and stainless steel valves give it excellent intonation and a beautiful tone. Double-bracing on the main tuning slide makes it strong. Its ABS molded hard case is the best in this group. And it has a full 2-year warranty.
Picking a student trumpet will always be a compromise between performance and price. A student who keeps up her studies will eventually outgrow it and want something better. So a higher-quality horn might ultimately be a better investment.
On the other hand, a less expensive instrument might be more appropriate for a younger student who might get bored and quit after a year.