Reviewing a student trumpet is always an interesting task for a professional player, because the temptation to compare it to professional caliber horns is always there. Obviously, such a comparison would be unfair – after all, if it is meant to compete with high-end horns, it would have a high-end price. But there are some horns in the lower price range that fare well and stand up to scrutiny, and Allora AATR-101 is just such an instrument.
The first thing I noticed out of the box was that it's pretty. Judging a horn cosmetically may seem trite, but remember, this is for students. I remember that I was the first kid in Junior High School to have a silver trumpet, and I was so proud of how my horn looked compared to everyone else's – and they were all a little jealous. That matters to a kid, and will go a long way in helping teach the student about taking care of their instrument. This Allora trumpet, with its mix of lacquer colors (rose, brass & nickel) is very nice looking and looks far nicer than its price range suggests. It even comes with a pair of fabric gloves, which hint at handling the instrument with great care!
But the real issue is…how does it play? Straight out of the box I was impressed with this horn. It has a clean, bright sound and stayed pretty even from the lower to higher registers. I felt no resistance or change as I moved around the two primary octaves, which is not common for student horns. It played in tune well, also.
The case is a hard shell enforced plastic that appears to be able to handle the rigors of student life. The included mouthpiece is a 7C, which is right in the range of a good student size.
A student horn doesn't have to be great - it just has to be good enough that it will allow a student to learn without impeding the process (how can a student learn to play in tune if the horn won't?). The idea behind a student horn is that it is affordable enough for a family to "try it out" and see if their student will actually embrace the instrument, which can then lead to the upgrade to a better horn. In my opinion, the Allora AATR-101 would be a great instrument for any young student and, with proper care and maintenance, this horn could take a student from the beginning process straight through to more advanced studies.
If you're looking for a low-priced entry-level horn for a student, or even for an adult who is "getting back in the game", the AATR-101 is a very good option. It absolutely offers more than your money's worth.
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Tony Guerrero is a freelance trumpet player in Los Angeles California. Performing and recording with a wide range of artists ranging from John Tesh to High School Musical, Tony is at home in nearly any style on both trumpet and piano. For more information on Tony including his latest Recording titled "Blue Room," visit www.tonyguerrero.com
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