A faulty trumpet will not encourage your learning efforts.
As a beginner you want to spend more time playing and practicing with your instrument, than trying to fix sticky valves and loose tuning slides.
While a high end trumpet will play and sound better most of the time, there are plenty of well-made, budget-friendly beginner trumpets out there.
In this post I will cover what you should look for as you consider your choices for the best trumpet for beginners.
I will then review my top 5 student or “novice” trumpet recommendations across several price points.
The Rent or Buy Question?
This question confronts most people who go out shopping for a student trumpet.
You could be a parent whose child has shown an interest in playing the trumpet.
Music is a great hobby and is highly beneficial for a child’s cognitive development. Every parent would be excited and would want to encourage and support their child in every way they can.
But this interest in the trumpet could be a passing phase...
The last thing you want is to sink a couple hundred of dollars in buying an instrument that you will soon store away because the child has moved on to the next shiny object.
To cushion themselves against this, some parents may consider the option of renting the instrument from music shops who offer this service.
But quite a few have gone the rental route and discovered they ended up paying two or three times over the price they would have if they had just bought a new instrument.
Learning trumpet is more a marathon than a sprint.
As a result you need an instrument that will stay the course and not something that will break down just when you are starting to enjoy your music.
Considering all this, it is clear you need to balance any budget concerns you may have with the importance of buying a good quality trumpet.
How to Choose the Best Trumpet for Beginners
While there is no one best trumpet for everyone, there are some really bad ones out there.
By reading this guide you will at least know the ones you should avoid.
To get a better appreciation of what to keep in mind as you shop for your trumpet, you must understand the instrument’s basic anatomy.
By knowing the instrument’s individual parts you will also get to understand how each one contributes to the way the horn produces its signature sound.
The Shape of the Mouthpiece Determines the Character of its Sound
It may surprise you that, as small as it is, the mouthpiece is the most important part of your trumpet.
In fact, it is the mouthpiece that produces the sound. The rest of the instrument merely colors and amplifies the sound.
But it is the size and shape of the mouthpiece that you should really be concerned about.
A shallower cup produces a brighter, more piercing sound. It has a superior response, especially in the higher notes.
On the flip side, a deeper cup will give you a warm, mellow sound.
As a learner you will find that a smaller mouthpiece is more suitable as it relieves fatigue, which helps you to practice longer.
With more practice you will feel you can support your breath a lot better as you play. A larger mouthpiece will then give you greater control and a louder sound.
So as you can see, one trumpeter can have different sized mouthpieces in their kit. The one you use at a particular time will depend on the sound you want to play.
Generally, most mouthpieces are machined out of silver or brass, but you can find others made from other materials.
As a beginning trumpeter you shouldn’t be too concerned with building up on your mouthpiece collection. Use the mouthpiece that come with your new trumpet.
A mouthpiece change will naturally feel necessary as you improve and become a better player.
Your Trumpet’s Leadpipe Helps to Control the Pitch of Your Sound
Also known as the mouthpipe, the leadpipe is the section of the trumpet’s tubing that stretches from the mouthpiece to the first tuning slide.
This part of the instrument controls the airflow as you play, which consequently helps to give you greater control over the pitch of your notes.
But it is the bore size - the inside diameter of the leadpipe - that really matters.
A medium/large bore size is more manageable for beginners.
On the other hand, pro trumpeters will prefer a larger bore size as those produce a more powerful, fuller sound that is perfect for soloists.
Look for a lead pipe made out of rose brass, which is more desirable for its corrosion resistance. Yellow brass, on the other hand, corrodes easily and requires more frequent cleaning.
The Valves and Tuning Slides are the Trumpeter’s Main Composition Tools
Trumpets did not always have valves. They were nothing much more than a curly horn with a flared bell.
And as the valve innovation would prove, that early sound wasn’t perfect. For classical musicians in particular, the instrument lacked some of the 12 pitches or tones needed to produce the perfect timbre.
A complete 12 tones will make a trumpet fully chromatic. And to have the full chromatic tone spectrum the trumpet’s tubing will have to be longer.
But you won’t always use all 12 tones at once. Adding a mechanism to elongate the tube while still allowing the player to select particular tones would thus greatly help players.
It would certainly help skillful players who like to be more expressive with their instruments. Valves provide just the mechanism.
Trumpet Valves are Used for Lowering the Instrument’s Pitch
While you can find some with four, most trumpets will have three valves. When engaged each of the pistons will add to the tube’s length, which lowers the instrument’s pitch.
Pressing the first valve lowers the pitch by a full note, the second by a semitone, and the third will reduce the pitch by one and one half tones.
While the valve is what a player would naturally be more familiar with, because that is what they see, it is the pistons inside the valves that do the heavy lifting.
Because of the constant movement as the player depresses the piston to change notes, the piston needs to be strong to withstand the inevitable friction forces. For this reason, the best pistons are made of an alloy called monel, which is trusted for its superior strength.
However, it is not unusual to find a valve with steel or nickel pistons, which aren’t that strong.
But, while helpful and a very recognizable part of the trumpet, valves on their own can only marginally lower the instrument’s pitch.
The tuning slides, which are basically extensions of the valves, are much more effective at this.
Used together, the valves and the tuning slides are the perfect tools for composers and trumpeters who want to be more expressive with their instruments.
The Right Bell Shape and Size Ensures Perfect Sound Projection
A trumpet will not sound the way it does if it weren’t for the bell.
The bell is the flared, bell shaped end of the trumpet’s tubing. Also known as the flare, the bell is where the sound is actually discharged.
And three bell factors in particular affect the quality of the sound the trumpet produces. These are:
- The metal used on the bell
- Its shape
- Its size
Interestingly, where a large bore size produces a bigger sound, with the bell the opposite is true. A larger flare actually discharges more mellower, softer tones. If you prefer a brighter sound you will be best served with a smaller bell.
In the end, the character of your sound is ultimately a product of your trumpet’s bow and bell size.
There is one last feature that you need to consider:
The Type of Finish Used on a Trumpet Has Some Effect on its Sound
Traditionally, trumpets spotted a raw, polished brass finish. But at some point it was discovered that lacquering the instrument would help protect the brass.
Though purists may be put off, modern manufacturers also found lacquering gave a nice aesthetic touch to the instrument.
But what is also true is adding a lacquer, or any other finish, affects the brass’ vibration properties, which alters the timbre of a trumpet’s sound.
The lighter lacquers used today may not have the same effect as the heavy ones on the older horns.
But you can tell that a gold plated horn will sound noticeably darker than those spotting a raw brass finish. A silver finish, on the other hand, brightens the horn’s sound.
We have covered the most important areas to consider for a beginning student when shopping for a trumpet.
But before you check out our reviews for the best trumpet for beginners....
Secondary Features to Consider When Shopping
Another important part of the instrument that beginners may not watch out for when shopping for a trumpet is the water key.
Also known as the spit valve, this key is used to drain all the saliva that may build up inside the instrument as you play.
It would appear beginners need this feature the most as, due to inexperience, they will find more trouble with spit building up in their instrument than more experienced players would.
While some trumpets will even have two spit valves, others ship with none. So keep that in mind as you shop.
Your trumpet must also have two braces holding the lead pipe and the tuning slide firmly aligned. A well braced instrument will be sturdy and will give you years of trouble free playing.
Lastly, check the trumpet’s warranty.
Even student trumpets are sold with warranties as long as 5 years. One year warranties won’t give you adequate cover against a defective instrument.
Hats off to you for sticking with me this far.
We had a lot to cover before we reviewed the shopping options available to you.
Without wasting more time, let’s check out those reviews:
The 5 Best Beginner Trumpets
|Mendini by Cecilio MTT-L
|Jean Paul USA TR-330
|LJ Hutchen Bb
There are quite a few options for the best trumpets for beginners out there.
It is safe to say you have a lot of choice.
But therein lies the difficulty in singling out which one is the best fit for your musical preferences and budget.
I have done my best to isolate the best based on the aforementioned factors and will now summarize my findings.
Let’s dive in:
1. Mendini by Cecilio MTT-L Trumpet, Gold, Bb
I debated with myself a lot before I finally decided to include this Mendini by Cecilio MTT-L Trumpet.
The reason I agonized about the decision is I strongly believe, with musical instruments, you get what you pay for.
This trumpet is dirt cheap.
The instrument’s sales on Amazon meanwhile are through-the-roof. And the buyer reviews are surprisingly very good.
After going through the 490+ verified buyer reviews on Amazon I noticed most people were buying for young trumpet students.
Since the quality is decent, but obviously not great, I figured this is probably the best starter trumpet for a young student you may not be sure will keep their interest beyond the first few lessons.
Features and Benefits
- A great price (you won’t find anything cheaper)
- You will need to first oil the valves, but overall, it plays beautifully
- Has a beautiful lacquer finish in several shades including red, purple, gold, and nickel plate
- Comes with a nylon covered hard case, with a soft lining inside to prevent scratching
- There is also a cleaning cloth, valve oil, and a pair of gloves included
- Has a copper lead pipe, which isn’t the best quality
2. Jean Paul USA TR-330 Standard Student Trumpet
You would generally expect a lower, ‘starter price’ for any beginner’s instrument.
And in most cases what you get at that price point are mostly low end instruments. But there is always an exception to the rule, like this Jean Paul USA TR-330 .
Due to the price on this trumpet your first impression will likely be that it is made in China. You will be right. But that’s just part of the story.
The Jean Paul company takes the quality of their instruments so seriously that, though production is outsourced, all their instruments are made to their exact specifications.
Once they receive the trumpets, each one is individually inspected and play tested by an experienced musician.
Only after passing the quality and playability checks is the company happy to engrave their brand logo on the instruments.
Features and Benefits
- Has a rose brass lead pipe that withstands corrosion
- Projects sound very well and produces a soft, warm sound
- Has a yellow brass body with a gorgeous gold lacquer finish
- Comes in a sturdy carry case and includes accessories like a pair of gloves, valve oil, and a polishing cloth
- The company has been commended for its outstanding customer service
- A few customers have complained about sticky valves
3. LJ Hutchen Bb Trumpet with Plush-Lined Case
There is a large market for trumpets targeted at the school going beginner trumpeter.
I figured it would be prudent to include another option for that buyer category. And this LJ Hutchen Bb Trumpet fits the bill perfectly.
Designed by Paul Effman, whose music service has educated hundreds of music students, this trumpet is masterfully crafted with the needs of student trumpeters in mind.
Perhaps to validate the many glowing reviews on Amazon, this trumpet has a smooth valve action.
The company ensures their band instruments have flawless quality by having two experienced repair technicians bench-test each one separately.
Features and Benefits
- Professional level bore and bell size guarantee excellent resonance and a great sound
- Great clarity of tone thanks to a rose brass leadpipe that also has superior corrosion resistance
- Corrosion resistant nickel slides offer years of trouble free playing
- The tuning slide is supported by a sturdy brace
- Comes with a sturdy carry case and a bottle of valve oil
- The warranty could have been longer
4. Yamaha YTR-2330
Until now we have mostly looked at the low to medium end student trumpets.
These are trumpets parents would likely consider buying for their school going children.
But if you are a more mature student and you are buying for yourself, or you're an adult just looking for a great beginner model, you may want a more reliable trumpet that bridges that gap between student and intermediate level instruments.
In short, if you are willing to spend the right amount for an instrument you can learn and grow with, the Yamaha YTR-2330 will be an excellent choice.
The trumpet features a beginner friendly design, produces a vibrant, consistent tone, and is made by a company known for making musical instruments of the highest quality.
Features and Benefits
- Robust construction that guarantees durability
- A two-piece, yellow brass crafted bell marked by the consistency of its tone
- An adjustable third valve trigger that improves hand positioning and helps build the right playing technique
- Monel pistons and redesigned valve caps maximize the instrument’s sound quality and durability
- A lightweight, compact, and yet rigid carry case protects trumpet while in storage and to and from gigs
- New tuning slides that use same production methods as the brand’s higher end models gives the instrument a more refined tonal quality
- Is a bit too pricey for the average beginning trumpeter
5. Bach TR300H2 American Student Trumpet
I was on one trumpet forum where one poster made the very valid point that even a good, high end trumpet will still not sound any good in the hands of a poor, unskilled player.
But the truth is we all would like to own a Bach (if we could afford one). And it’s largely for that reason I included this Bach TR300H2 American Student Trumpet.
This is a student trumpet, though you wouldn’t immediately think so from the price.
But being Bach, while not a Bach Strad, it is satisfyingly well made.
Features and Benefits
- Made from very high quality red brass (leadpipe) and yellow brass (bell) that produce a beautiful tone
- An adjustable third ring slide improves the trumpet’s handling and playability
- A clear lacquer finish produces a warm sound while preserving the charm of the brass underneath
- A sturdy double walled case provides ample cushioning for the trumpet
- The case also has nice built-in mouthpiece holder and enough storage space for your valve oil bottles, cleaning cloth and other accessories
- Stainless steel pistons aren't the strongest
And Our Pick Is…
The Yamaha YTR-2330.
In terms of its robustness, playability, and tonal quality, this is as solid a beginners trumpet as you will get.
In terms of value, the Jean Paul USA TR-330 and the LJ Hutchen Bb Trumpet are hard to beat.
But for my budget pick, and maybe swayed by the company’s outstanding customer service, I will go with the Jean Paul USA TR-330.
I will also recommend the Mendini by Cecilio MTT-L Trumpet for parents looking to gauge their young children’s interest in the instrument.
While the Bach TR300H2 is overpriced but obviously tempting, maybe for the prestige of the brand, the Yamaha YTR-2330 has the most value and is the most pragmatic choice.
And by attaching a long 4-year warranty, the people at Yamaha seem confident the trumpet is worth its weight in… brass.
Now what’s left is for you to pick the one that fits your budget and quality expectations.