To describe an entry-level instrument can be challenging for a professional trumpeter, since it is difficult to resist the impulse to compare the trumpet to very high-end models. Naturally, that would be an imbalanced comparison: without commanding a professional price, it isn't reasonable to expect a student horn to compete with one that does. Having said that; even a budget model can hold its own if it's well made, and the Allora AATR-101 is a fine example of a trumpet that does just that.

One of the first impressions the trumpet gives when you open the box is an attractive aesthetic. Obviously, appearance is not the first priority for musical instruments, especially student models, but it is nonetheless one of the first things anyone will notice. Students benefit from having instruments in which they can take pride—for better or for worse, young players will always think about their trumpets in comparison to their classmates'. With a beautiful instrument, a student will be encouraged to learn proper care to keep it looking like new. The Allora AATR-101 gets its handsome looks from a blend of rose, brass and nickel lacquer colors and is even shipped with a pair of cloth gloves to promote careful handling.

Even more important than appearance—and less evident at a glance—is how the trumpet actually plays. While some student instruments can demonstrate resistance or change around the two primary octaves, you won't encounter this limitation with the Allora. Its sound is bright and clean, remaining pleasantly even across all registers and keeping well in tune.

Bundled with the AATR-101, a rigid plastic-shelled case puts up a good defense for the trumpet against the day-to-day handling inherent in student use. Allora supplies this instrument with a 7C mouthpiece, an ideal size for most students.

The purpose of a student horn is to allow a beginner to get a feel for an instrument and develop his or her skill enough to decide whether or not it's a good fit. Then, if the student embraces the instrument, investing in a higher-end trumpet will be justified. Because of all this, a student trumpet does not necessarily need to sound flawless; rather, it has to be a good value for the money, be able to stay in tune (after all, how can the student be expected to do so if the horn doesn't?) and produce a tone sufficiently accurate for study and practice. In these areas the AATR-101 is more than capable, making it an excellent choice for any student. As long as it is well-maintained and cared for, this trumpet could handily see a student from his or her very first class straight through to advanced lessons.

Whether you're searching for an economical beginner instrument for a student or possibly a starting point for an adult player to return to a former hobby, you can expect the AATR-101 to satisfy. This Allora trumpet offers fantastic "bang for your buck."