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Best Student Trumpets: How To Buy a Student Trumpet

Updated on February 14, 2014

Are you trying to pick out a new student trumpet for your band student? There are dozens of brands out there. Many of them are perfectly reliable and respectable instruments, but there are even more that are musical nightmares just waiting to happen. With student trumpet prices starting at around $100 and running to well over a thousand, the price range alone can leave novice band parents scratching their heads and shaking their fists in frustration.

While working as a band instrument repair technician I heard a lot of good questions from band parents. Some of the most common ones included:

• What's the difference between a trumpet and a cornet?
• How much should I pay for a good quality student trumpet?
• What are some good student trumpet brands?
• What size mouthpiece do I need?

By taking a few minutes to read this article, you'll get the answers you need to help you find that all important first horn, without getting ripped off.

Note: The trumpet (left) is taller than a cornet.
Note: The trumpet (left) is taller than a cornet.

Trumpet or Cornet - What's The Difference?

Trumpets and cornets are usually both acceptable in most band programs, but there is a difference between the two horns. Without getting too technical, a trumpet is longer than a cornet, and has a brighter tone. If you look at the two side by side, the difference is fairly obvious.

How To Choose The Best Trumpet For Beginners

The least expensive student trumpets, usually made in China, start at around USD $100. These are usually cheaply built "throw away" horns, often marketed as "Band director approved", or "Built with German engineering." The truth is, no band director I've ever known would approve of these horns.

Another bad sign is a colorful trumpet. Any student trumpet that's worth your time and money is going to be lacquered brass (gold colored), or silver plated. If it's red, black, or any other wild color, walk away. It's easy to be seduced by a cool paint job and a low price, but what you'll have in the end is a really cool looking horn that won't play.

If you still think you want to try one of these, check with your local band instrument repair shop before you spend the money. A lot of them won't work on these cheap student trumpets because they're built so poorly that they're actually prone to being damaged during the repair process.

If you think your budding musician is going to stick with it for more than one or two semesters, your best best is to spend the money for a good instrument. If they do give it up, the best student trumpets hold their resale value much better than the Chinese imports.The average manufacturer's suggested retail price for a high quality student trumpet is around USD $700-$1000, but don't let that scare you. At the right time of year, usually spring or fall, you can often find these horns for up to 50% off of the retail price.

Conn-Selmer Manufacturers Two Of The Top 4 Student Trumpets.
Conn-Selmer Manufacturers Two Of The Top 4 Student Trumpets.

Top 4 Student Trumpets

This is a hotly debated topic among trumpet players, but for the most part, this issue boils down to personal choice. At the student level, comparable models of different brands perform about the same, and most have similar features. These are generally considered to be the top 4 student trumpets, and are among the most recommended by high school band directors.

Yamaha YTR2335

Most band directors agree that this is a good quality horn with better than average sound quality. Available in lacquer finish or silver plate (expect to pay about $100 more for silver), the YTR 2335 is one of the most popular student trumpets, and is manufactured by one of the most trusted names in the industry. Yamaha has been around for a long time, and with good reason. The company's quality standards are among the most stringent in the industry. With proper care, a Yamaha horn will play like new for years to come.

Bach TR 300

Vincent Bach is one of the biggest names in professional model trumpets, with customer loyalty that is second to none. Bach is also renowned for the quality and durability of their student trumpets. Their TR 300 student model horn is often described as a reliable, free flowing (easy to blow) trumpet. With proper care and maintenance, this horn will last for years, or until you're ready to upgrade to a pro model like the Stradivarius.

Conn-Selmer Prelude

Another Bach entry makes the list here. The Bach TR 711, also known as the Prelude model, is a great choice for band parents on a budget. The Prelude is designed for the specific needs of a beginning musician, offers reasonable quality at a reasonably low price, and is an excellent horn for learning the ropes. This horn features nickel-plated nickel silver pistons for smooth, fast action, and a first valve slide saddle allows easy adjustment.

LJ Hutchen Bb Trumpet

The LJ Hutchen line of musical instruments was developed by a music teacher who was disgusted with the low quality of the Chinese instruments that his young students were bringing to class. To keep them affordable, these horns are also made in China, but they are manufactured to a higher quality standard than most Chinese horns, and are crafted from much higher quality materials. While they don't have the history or reputation of the Yamaha and Bach student trumpets, they compare favorably, have developed a following in recent years, and are offered at a price that most band parents can live with.

Trumpet Mouthpieces

The most common size mouthpiece for beginners is the 7C. This mouthpiece is designed for ease of sound production for new players, and is what comes with nearly every new student trumpet. The size of the mouthpiece does affect sound quality. Once a student has played on the 7C for a year or two, it's a good idea to experiment with other sizes. As a general rule, a larger mouthpiece produces a better sound quality. The most popular upgrade is the 3C. The smaller number indicates a larger mouthpiece.


The last thing to keep in mind is that there are a few items that every player, beginner or pro, should have in their trumpet case. You can probably expect to spend $30-$50 for music books, valve oil, a cleaning brush, a polishing cloth, and slide grease.

If you're hoping to live peacefully with a trumpet player in the house, you might also want to invest a few dollars in a practice mute. A good one will quiet things down dramatically while your prodigy practices.

Happy Shopping!

With your newfound trumpet wisdom, and a little comparison shopping, you should have no trouble finding a trumpet that will help your beginning musician enjoy the learning process and expand their cultural horizons through music.

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