You’re planning to buy a trumpet, for yourself or a musician in your family, and you’re asking, “What’s the best trumpet to get?”
It depends. How good are you (or he, or she)? Beginner? Advanced student? Professional? What’s your budget? These are questions that shape your decision in choosing the best trumpet for your situation.
We’ve compiled a list of ten trumpets that represent the wide range of instruments available, from beginning student models to some of the world’s finest horns. One or more of these might be just what you’re looking for.
Let’s Talk About Trumpets!
The trumpet is a relatively simple music-making machine with few moving parts. Indeed, until the 19th century, it didn’t really have any. But that can be misleading. For a trumpet to play and sound right, the best materials and highest craftsmanship have to come together. Here are the important components common to every trumpet and how they affect playability and tone.
Trumpets come in many sizes, from the tiny piccolo to the bass. Here we’re considering only the most common size, the Bb (B-flat) trumpet. This is the one used in most orchestras, band, and popular music. The name means that a written C played on this instrument actually sounds as Bb, a whole tone lower.
Trumpet mouthpieces are available in many sizes and shapes. The dimensions of the different sections of the mouthpiece can radically affect tone and ease of playing in different registers and volume levels. Mouthpieces with deeper cups generally produce a darker tone. A deeper throat helps produce more volume but makes soft playing more difficult and demands greater physical endurance.
Mouthpiece shapes are described by a series of letters and numbers, and every manufacturer has their own system. Most trumpets come with a mouthpiece equivalent to a Bach 7C. It’s a good compromise size that’s easy for a beginner. As you advance as a player, you’ll probably collect more mouthpieces for different situations.
The leadpipe (as in “leading edge”) is the tube connecting the mouthpiece to the first tuning slide. It’s tapered slightly, with the slide end smaller than the mouthpiece end.
Some professional instruments offer a reversed leadpipe that’s a little larger at the slide. Players often prefer reverse leadpipes because they offer less air resistance and give better control over tone and intonation. Reverse leadpipes can cause distortion at loud dynamic levels, so non-reverse pipes are better for loud playing.
A leadpipe can be made of yellow or red brass, or sterling silver on professional instruments. Red brass better withstands corrosion and helps soften the trumpet’s tone. Yellow brass leadpipes must be cleaned more often, but they are less costly to produce.
A trumpet’s bore refers to the inside diameter of the main tubing. Trumpet bores range from about .450 to .472 inches. Generally speaking, wide-bore instruments require more effort to play but can produce louder notes. Student trumpets usually have a small bore of approximately .460 inches.
A modern trumpet has three piston valves that connect short sections of extra tubing (slides) to the main tube, lowering the pitch. Valves are made from a variety of metals. Lower-cost horns usually have cheaper nickel-plated steel pistons, which can tolerate infrequent cleaning. More professional instruments have valves made from Monel, a nickel-copper alloy that resists corrosion but requires more maintenance.
Valves must work quickly and smoothly. If they stick, the trumpet is unplayable. They must be regularly cleaned and oiled with a high-quality valve oil.
The first and/or third valves usually have adjustable slides. The player can move these with a finger grip to adjust intonation while playing.
The trumpet bell acts as an amplifier, projecting, and dispersing the sound. Bells vary significantly in size, materials, and construction. Important variables to consider when selecting the best trumpet for you are bell size, material, and construction.
The width of a bell is measured at the outside, flared end. They range from about 4.5 to 5 inches wide. Most student trumpets have 5-inch bells. Narrower bells tend to produce a more focused sound, although a more important factor is the amount of bell flare.
Cheaper trumpet bells are made of yellow brass. More expensive instruments have rose brass bells that produce a warmer tone. Some professional horns have bells made of silver brass.
One-piece trumpet bells, hand-hammered to shape, resonate most easily and contribute to a clearer tone. Student horns usually have two-piece welded bells, which don’t vibrate as freely as one-piece bells. Some newer models are laser-welded, with the claim that they sound as good as one-piece bells.
The majority of trumpets have a vertical brace to reinforce the tuning slide. Some have double braces, and some have none. Professional trumpeters debate the tonal effect of braces, often claiming that bracing improves slotting (see below) or changes the horn’s timbre in subtle ways. In general, more bracing is not necessarily better.
Trumpets are polished to a high gloss and then either lacquered, metal plated, or left natural. Bare brass trumpets become tarnished over time if not frequently polished. Some professionals prefer them, believing that bare brass gives them a better sound.
Trumpets can also be electroplated with nickel, silver, or gold. While protecting the instruments, the plating is so thin that tone is affected minimally, if at all. Plated instruments cost more, and gold plating can be quite expensive.
Lower-cost horns generally have a clear or colored lacquer finish, usually gold. Some trumpet makers offer trumpets in different colors.
A lacquer finish is less expensive to apply, and if you dent your instrument, the finish is more easily repaired than a plated trumpet. But they tarnish more easily and require more frequent cleaning. Lacquer finishes also wear faster. Also, the coating dampens the tonal brilliance somewhat, depending on its thickness.
A good trumpet should have a tone that’s bright and clear without sounding shrill. Many physical factors influence an instrument’s tone, including bore, leadpipe and bell size, and the type of brass used for the different parts. But the ultimate judge of good tone should be your ears, or at least the advice of a professional or teacher with good ears.
To tune his instrument, a trumpeter plays Middle C and adjusts the main slide. Intonation refers to how closely in tune all other the notes are. Some may be flat or sharp to some degree. A well-designed and carefully made horn has minimal out-of-tuneness.
To adjust intonation, modern trumpets have additional small slides connected to each valve. Usually, a musician can adjust the first- and third-valve slides while playing, using the left thumb and ring finger. This skill requires some practice, so some student trumpets have a fixed third-valve slide.
The upper range of a trumpet is theoretically almost infinite, limited only by the player’s ability to control the position and tension of the lips on the mouthpiece, or “embouchure.” However, range is also influenced in complex ways by a trumpet’s physical characteristics. Playing is the only way to know a trumpet’s useful range, or listening to others who have.
By changing the embouchure, a trumpeter plays different harmonics of a low fundamental note. Slotting refers to a trumpet’s ability to hold on to a specific harmonic and not jump to a different note. An instrument with good slotting produces high notes more reliably.
Any trumpet worth owning includes some kind of case. A hard shell case will provide greater protection and provide more storage space inside for accessories and music, but they’re also heavier. The best soft cases have a tough nylon outer layer, thick padding, and backpack straps, so they’re easy to carry.
Trumpets almost always include a minimum set of standard accessories. These include valve oil, a polishing cloth, and white gloves to wear while polishing. The valve oil may be an unknown brand of questionable quality, in which case you should discard it and invest in a high-quality oil.
Some trumpets may also include a pocket tuner, stand, notebook, or other accessories.
Student trumpets generally come with a 1-year, or occasionally a 2-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. Better models offer warranties up to 10 years, and a few have lifetime warranties.
Regardless of the length, an important consideration is how well a warranty is serviced. Can you easily return your instrument to the manufacturer, and do they have a reputation for speedy service? How easy is it to find replacement parts?
Trumpets You Can Buy
Here’s our selection of 10 Bb trumpets, ranging from the most basic student models to the very best you can get. They’re listed roughly in order of increasing “street price.”
Top 10 Best Trumpet in 2023
The Mendini by Cecilio Gold Standard Bb Trumpet is more commonly known as model MTT-L. It has become a very popular instrument for beginning students, just about the least expensive horn you can buy that’s still playable. It features a red brass leadpipe, remarkable in an instrument at this price.
The MTT-L trumpet is brass with a lacquer finish. It has a .460-inch bore and 5-inch bell. It includes a first-valve slide thumb saddle and third-valve adjustable slide ring. Valves with faux mother-of-pearl tops generally work smoothly, but they require frequent cleaning and lubrication.
Overall intonation is good, and the narrow bore helps notes to speak easily.
The MTT-L comes with a silver-plated 7C mouthpiece. Also included is a strong, soft nylon case with a large zippered side pocket and backpack straps, valve oil, a polishing cloth, and gloves.
Mendini by Cecilio trumpets are covered by a 1-year warranty against defects in workmanship. All instruments are tested both at the factory in China and again at Cecilio’s warehouse in California.
- Lowest price for a decent instrument.
- Red brass leadpipe.
- Convenient, sturdy case.
- Valves may stick if not carefully maintained.
2 Glory Brass Intermediate Double-Braced Bb Trumpet
The Glory Brass Bb Trumpet might be ideal if you don’t want to spend too much for a beginning player who may or may not continue studying for more than a year. But despite its low cost, this instrument is quite playable and provides good value.
Perhaps most important to a young school student, it looks great with its high-gloss gold lacquered finish. It’s also lightweight, so it feels comfortable in a beginner’s hand. The tuning slide has a double brace for stronger reinforcement.
Overall construction quality is acceptable for a mass-produced instrument, although some customers have reported misaligned valves that needed adjustment. The stainless steel valves will require regular maintenance to keep from sticking.
The Glory trumpet comes with a 7C mouthpiece. The intonation is generally acceptable, although the upper register can be a bit sharp. Slotting is a bit loose but good enough. The overall tone is okay, although the yellow brass construction puts it on the bright side.
The Glory trumpet includes a case, some generic valve oil, a cleaning cloth, and gloves. We recommend you replace the oil with a professional brand to ensure trouble-free performance.
- Looks nice.
- Good sound for a beginner trumpet.
- Values can be misaligned or sticky.
- Intonation can go sharp in the high register.
3 Lexington Student Intermediate Trumpet
Chinese manufacturer Aileen Music produces a dizzying variety of musical instruments, including one sold as the Lexington Student Intermediate Trumpet. Aileen refers to this model as TP8398G “Intermediate Model Professional Trumpet.” In fact, in terms of price and features, it’s really a beginner’s instrument.
The Lexington is made of yellow brass with a lacquer finish. It has a .460-inch bore, yellow brass leadpipe and a 4.85-inch yellow brass bell.
The piston valves are made of stainless steel. They work acceptably but require regular cleaning and lubrication, about what you expect in an instrument at this price.
Included is an adequate carrying case, valve oil, polishing cloth, and gloves.
- Good starter instrument with decent sound.
- Low price.
- Not an intermediate instrument, as claimed.
- Valves require regular care.
4 Mendini MTT-30CN Nickel Plated Intermediate Double-Braced Bb Trumpet
The Mendini by Cecilio MTT-30CN Intermediate Double-Braced Bb Trumpet is suitable for an intermediate student with perhaps a year of playing on a beginner instrument who now wants to upgrade. It has a lustrous nickel-silver finish that is more durable than lacquer. And it looks great!
The MTT-30CN has a .460-inch bore. The red brass leadpipe and 5-inch bell made from white brass help produce a sweeter tone than a beginner’s instrument. It also includes a first-valve saddle and an adjustable third-slide lock. The Monel values generally work okay, although some users have had problems with sticking.
And as the name makes clear, the tuning slide has double bracing. This should boost the horn’s structural integrity, but whether it improves playability or tone is an open question.
Intonation is decent but not as accurate as with a more professional instrument.
The MTT-30CN comes in an excellent nylon-covered hard case with a large zippered pocket and backpack straps.
- Beautiful nickel-silver finish.
- Red brass leadpipe.
- Hard shell case included.
- Valves can become sticky if not carefully maintained.
- Intonation could be better.
5 Jean Paul USA TR-430 Intermediate Trumpet
The Jean Paul USA TR-430 Intermediate Trumpet is a good choice for the experienced student who is looking to upgrade to a better instrument. It has a clear lacquer finish over polished brass.
The leadpipe is made from rose brass, which lends the instrument a mellower, less strident tone than most instruments at this price. It has an adjustable third-valve slide for a natural hand position and proper playing technique. Accurately machined, durable stainless steel piston valves should last a long time if properly cared for.
Intonation is generally excellent. However, for some musicians, playing in the high register with this horn can be difficult.
The included soft case provides multiple zippered pockets and padded straps. Although it looks robust, most musicians would prefer a hard case for better protection. The TR-430 ships with a 7C mouthpiece, valve oil, polishing cloth, and gloves.
- Rose brass leadpipe.
- Durable stainless steel valves.
- May be harder to play high notes.
- Soft case.
6 Levante LV-TR6305 Professional Bb Trumpet
The Levante LV-TR6305 Professional Bb Trumpet is made by Belgian instrument company Stagg. Although promoted as a professional trumpet, the LV-TR6305 is priced very attractively as a mid-range student instrument.
The LV-TR6305 has a clear lacquer finish. It features a .460-inch bore, gold brass leadpipe, and 4.92-inch bell for a mellower tone, plus long-lasting Monel pistons. It has a first-valve slide saddle and an adjustable third-valve slide saddle.
Also included is a 7C mouthpiece and a soft case with backpack straps. The LV-TR6305 is covered by a 1-year warranty.
- A quality instrument affordably priced.
- Monel valves.
- Gold brass leadpipe.
- Warranty only one year.
7 Jupiter JTR700 Standard Series Student Bb Trumpet
The Jupiter JTR700 Standard Student Series Bb trumpet is a good choice for a beginning or intermediate student looking for a higher-quality student instrument. The JTR700 normally comes with a gold lacquer finish, although nickel-silver plating is available as an option.
This horn has a .460-inch bore and a .480-inch bell. It features stainless steel piston valves, a first-slide thumb saddle, and adjustable third valve slide.
Tone and intonation are excellent for an instrument in this price range. But, some professional players have claimed that the JTR700 is less comfortable to play in the high register.
A wood frame hard case is included. Best of all, the JTR700 is guaranteed to be free of material or workmanship defects for ten years.
- Reliable stainless steel valves.
- Ten-year warranty.
- Possibly constricted high-register performance.
The Yamaha YTR-2330 Standard Bb Trumpet is designed to satisfy the needs of both beginning and intermediate students. Although manufactured in China, all instruments are tested at the Yamaha factory in Japan before being shipped. While this might ensure better quality control, it can also slow delivery.
The YTR-2330 is made of yellow brass with a gold lacquer finish. It has a .459 inch bore and Monel valves for long life. The 4.875-inch bell is two-piece, but Yamaha employs a special manufacturing process to deliver superior sound projection and resonance. A third-valve trigger helps the player to maintain a natural hand position.
The overall tone and intonation is excellent in all registers.
Yamaha’s TR-11B4 mouthpiece is included, similar to a Bach 7C mouthpiece. A hard case and maintenance accessories are included.
- High-quality construction.
- Monel valves.
- Excellent tone and intonation.
- Expensive for a student trumpet.
- Delivery from Japan can be slow.
9 Getzen 590S-S Chrome Trumpet
The Getzen 590S-S Bb trumpet is part of the company’s premium Capri line. They are designed as dependable and reasonably priced instruments to help young players transition from the practice room to the stage.
The 590S-S has a beautiful nickel silver finish, with custom etching available as an option. It weighs approximately 3 pounds.
Its .460-inch bore makes it easy to play. It comes with a nickel-silver leadpipe and slides, a 4.75-inch two-piece yellow brass bell, and a 7C nickel-silver mouthpiece.
The 590-S features a dependable first slide saddle for quick intonation adjustments and an adjustable third slide ring. The nickel-silver valves are protected by a lifetime warranty.
- Beautiful finish.
- Lifetime valve warranty.
- Two-piece bell.
10 Bach LR180S37 Stradivarius Series Bb Trumpet
The Bach LR180S37 trumpet is just about as good as gets, and deserving the “Stradivarius” name. Master craftsman Vincent Bach introduced the first Stradivarius professional trumpet in 1925. Handcrafted in Elkhart, Indiana, a Bach trumpet offers unparalleled performance and durability, and a unique sound that is actually preferred by more professionals than any other brand.
The LR180S37 features a lightweight body, a one-piece hand-hammered bell, and reverse taper #25LR leadpipe. Its .459-inch bore gives the performer a comfortable, open response that is suitable for all musical styles. The bell is 4.8 inches with a #37 taper (Bach’s nomenclature), providing strong but not overpowering projection.
The valves are Monel alloy, and there is a first-valve slide thumb saddle and an adjustable third-valve slide ring. A standard Bach 7C mouthpiece is included.
The LR180S37 looks as beautiful as it sounds, with a brilliant silver-plate finish. In comes in an elegant and sturdy C180 case with top and side leather handles, alligator trim, and gold-plated hardware.
Unless you’re a professional musician looking for a different sound than what this beautiful instrument delivers, there really are no negatives, except one: It is expensive. The Bach LR180S37 trumpet is what you buy when you finally reward yourself with the best horn possible at any price.
- Incredible sound.
- Solid construction all around.
- Beautiful to look at.
- Excellent resale value.
- Only for the truly serious musician.
Even More Options…
So, What Is The Best Trumpet?
If price is not a consideration, then the answer is obvious, it’s the…
…is in a class by itself, one of the very finest instruments available anywhere. If you want the best and don’t care about cost, get this one.
But what if you’re shopping for a beginning student? You don’t know if she’ll stick with it beyond the school year or if it will end up in the attic. At the same time, the horn has to be good enough to be fun to play. What’s the best student trumpet?
You can’t really go wrong with the…
It comes with a very competitive price tag; in fact, the least expensive instrument we reviewed. And yet you get a very playable instrument with a red brass leadpipe, an excellent case with backpack straps and a 1-year warranty.
Finally, what if you’re looking for a middle-range trumpet, one that’s not too expensive but is suitable for a more advanced student or beginning professional? Is there a “best” intermediate trumpet?
In this case, the…
…is worth a closer look. It fills that niche for advanced student players who want a horn good enough for professional performance. The beautiful silver finish, nickel-silver leadpipe and valves, and a lifetime warranty all help justify its moderate price.
In the end, the best trumpet is the one you enjoy playing, and that sounds good to your ears, without breaking your budget.