Updated November 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best plastic trumpets

If you’re thinking about getting a plastic trumpet, you aren’t alone. These inexpensive and colorful instruments have a lot of appeal, and you can find them advertised for a lot less than you would pay for a top-rated trumpet from a high-end company like Yamaha or even a budget-minded maker like Mendini.

Is a plastic trumpet worth the money? That’s the magic question. The answer depends on who you are and what you want out of your new trumpet. If you’re a novice looking for an inexpensive way to learn to play the trumpet, the answer might be yes. If you’re an advanced trumpet player, however, the answer is probably no.

plastic trumpets
Plastic trumpets aren’t impervious to drops, breaks, dents, and chips. Store yours in a secure carrying case to protect it from damage.

Key considerations

Pros

Plastic trumpets are inexpensive. We have seen them for as low as $60. Notably, those closer to the $60 mark receive more criticism than those closer to the $160 mark. For some consumers, however, the price is perfect, especially for kids who are curious and adults who just want to dabble without making a huge investment.

Plastic trumpets are lightweight. In fact, some makers boast that their trumpets weigh less than half of what a traditional brass trumpet weighs, making it easier for beginners to hold and learn how to play the instrument without fatiguing.

Plastic trumpets are durable. Because they aren’t made of metal, you don’t have to worry (as much) about dings, dents, and scratches. That said, plastic trumpets are not indestructible. These instruments shouldn’t be thrown around, stored carelessly, or otherwise mishandled.

Cons

Plastic trumpets can’t create the same sound as metal trumpets. People who are accustomed to the brass trumpet sound sometimes characterize the plastic sound as “stuffy,” “flat,” or even “dead.” These criticisms are more common with poorly made plastic trumpets, but the fact remains that metal is usually a better conductor of sound.

If the horn needs to be repaired, you may have trouble finding someone to do it. Plastic trumpets don’t come apart the same way metal trumpets do. Therefore, repairing a damaged or broken one might be difficult or even impossible. Depending on the degree of damage, it might be more practical to simply get a new plastic trumpet.

This type of horn is best for beginners. If you’re a beginner who intends to play the horn for years, a plastic trumpet could be a waste of your time and money. Why? It’s likely that you’ll eventually want to switch to a polished and refined brass horn. As affordable and surprisingly good as plastic trumpets can be, they don’t have the tone quality or command the amount of respect that brass trumpets do.

Hardware material

Some plastic trumpets have internal hardware made of stainless steel or brass. Others contain no metal whatsoever. You can find both iterations for similar prices, so what’s the difference between the two options?

Some players believe a trumpet with metal internal hardware is easier to manipulate and feels more like a real trumpet. However, the weight of a trumpet with metal hardware is slightly greater than the weight of an all-plastic trumpet.

If you get a plastic trumpet with metal valves, you still need to use valve oil. With a completely plastic trumpet, you supposedly don’t need valve oil, although some makers advise that it can be used sparingly.

A professional trumpet player is more likely than a beginner to get a gorgeous tone out of a plastic trumpet. If you decide to comparison shop by watching and listening to videos of people playing plastic horns, listen to average people play, not just the pros.

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Features

Trial period

Manufacturers rarely offer a trial period for their plastic instruments, but some do. If you have doubts about investing in a plastic instrument and want to try it out first, look for a product that comes with this offer.

Antimicrobial coating

Some plastic trumpets have a coating that deters the growth of microorganisms. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to clean the trumpet. It should still be cleaned regularly per the owner’s manual. However, an antimicrobial coating may give some peace of mind to germ-conscious players.

Extras

Mouthpieces: Some plastic trumpets come with more than one mouthpiece (two are common) so you have an extra on hand. Note that trumpet mouthpieces are not one-size-fits-all items. Most often, a beginner’s trumpet comes with a size 7C mouthpiece.

After you’ve been playing for a while, you might want to switch to a size 3C or even a size 5C mouthpiece. Each size has a different cup shape, and the choice is a personal one.

Some plastic trumpets come with all three of these standard sizes so you can experiment, but most only come with two choices.

Cleaning rod: Although it’s uncommon, some plastic trumpets come with a cleaning rod.

Music stand: You’ll occasionally find a plastic trumpet that includes a music stand.

Carrying case: With your purchase, you might receive a carrying bag or case for your plastic trumpet. Although plastic trumpets are usually quite durable, a hard-sided case provides better protection against accidental drops and damage than a soft-sided case.

trumpet
DID YOU KNOW?
A trumpet may be a B♭ or a C instrument. With plastic varieties, the B♭ trumpet is more common. The B♭ trumpet is also the type that most beginning students play when they start school band.
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Pricing

Inexpensive: If you encounter a plastic trumpet for less than $20, it’s most likely a party favor or toy. While party favors and toys are fun to play with, they aren’t the type of instrument we’re talking about here. The least expensive authentic plastic trumpet we have seen sells for around $60. If you want something that resembles a brass trumpet in look, feel, and sound, we advise spending at least this much.

Mid-range: Between $60 and $100, you will find a few good plastic trumpets and a few that aren’t worth the money. Tone quality is hit-or-miss in this range because less money was spent on the raw materials, manufacture, and quality assurance of the instrument. Still, it’s possible to find something for under $100 if you search diligently.

Expensive: If you can afford it, we recommend opting for a plastic trumpet that costs a minimum of $100. These high-end instruments can cost as much as $160. Tone quality tends to be better because the materials and manufacturing process are of a higher quality. Bear in mind that low-end metal trumpets for beginners can also be found in this price range.

If you’re drawn to plastic trumpets because they come in many fun colors, note that brass trumpets can also be purchased in different colors. Though not as common, we found several good companies that make red, purple, and blue brass trumpets.

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Tips

  • Read the literature that comes with your new trumpet. Not all plastic trumpets are the same. For example, some have metal internal components (valves, pistons, and so on), while others are 100% plastic. Because each trumpet is unique, the care and maintenance instructions may also be unique.
  • Do not expose a plastic instrument to long periods of direct sunlight. Exposure to sunlight could warp or discolor the horn.
  • Find out the details when a seller offers “free lessons” with purchase. You might imagine that free lessons entail meetings with a live music teacher, either in person or online, but this isn’t always the case. Often, the touted free lessons are actually videos or simple backing tracks that you can play along with. While helpful, they aren’t quite the same as meeting one-on-one with a teacher.
plastic trumpets
If you’ve ever played a brass trumpet outside in the dead of winter, you know how cold the horn can get. A plastic trumpet also gets cold, but it warms up quickly as you begin to play it.

FAQ

Q. Are sticky valves common with plastic trumpets?
A.
Sticky valves are a common complaint with all trumpets, but the problem may occur even more often with plastic trumpets. With a metal trumpet, you can apply a bit of valve oil to solve the problem. With a plastic trumpet, the oil may not help. This is one of the reasons we advise potential buyers to spend up; a costlier plastic trumpet is likely to be made better in the first place, and the valves are less likely to stick.

If you have tried applying valve oil to your plastic trumpet to no avail, another approach is to remove, clean, and dry the pistons and valve casings with a clean, dry cloth.

Q. Are plastic trumpets environmentally friendly?
A.
Some companies list “environmental friendliness” as a selling point for their plastic instruments. If the horn is made of recyclable ABS plastic, then yes, you might consider it to be more environmentally friendly than a brass horn.

However, if a horn is not made of recyclable ABS, then no, we wouldn’t say that the instrument is an environmentally friendly product. Plastic does not decompose. It does break down, but it takes years to do so in a landfill.

Q. The teacher said my four-year-old needs to work on fine motor skills. Would a plastic trumpet help?
A.
Fine motor skills are definitely required when playing the trumpet. However, at your child’s age, they might get more out of playing with sensory toys or music toys in terms of developing fine motor skills. Although kids as young as five can start learning to play the trumpet, age eight is more common. That’s because other skills are needed to play the trumpet as well, including listening skills and the ability to form a proper embouchure with the lips.

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