Rhinegold's Music Teacher Magazine is an invaluable resource for music education practitioners and is packed with reviews, news, comment and debate. December's issue included a review of the hyTech, which they have kindly allowed us to share...
Kay Charlton writes...
The first thing I notice about the pTrumpet hyTech is the excellent case. It is padded, light, smart looking and comes with both a single strap and backpack straps in a pocket. The case has some storage space and a roomy side pocket and is much sturdier than the thin covering that comes with the standard pTrumpet.
The other main difference is that the hyTech comes with a silver-plated brass 7C mouthpiece, in a case with Velcro fastening. The standard pTrumpet mouthpiece is plastic, so this metal mouthpiece straight away gives the player a clearer, more centered sound.
The instrument comes in silver, gold and black and at a glance looks just like the real thing. It’s only when you pick it up that the hyTech comes into its own. It is incredibly light, yet balances out the metal mouthpiece in a way that the pTrumpet can’t. Most important of all, it blows well and I think it sounds great.
This is a hybrid instrument. Like the standard pTrumpet, the main body of the hyTech is made from ABS plastic but the difference is the use of metal components. The manufacturer’s information says: ‘By using the latest manufacturing techniques, pTrumpet has been able to combine both materials, keeping the hyTech trumpet ultra lightweight [650kg] and durable while also being resonant.’
So which bits are brass? The mouthpiece and the beginning of the lead pipe are metal. The valves have stainless steel and brass inside the pistons and valve block, and there are metal water keys on both the main tuning slide and the third valve slide. This is much more like a traditional set up than a plastic trumpet, which is reflected in the sound. I’ll happily grab my pTrumpet to take when travelling, or if I’m cycling to teach locally, but I’m always aware that the sound isn’t really ‘my’ sound, even when using my own mouthpiece – whereas this instrument is definitely nicer to play and the sound is much brighter. It has some ‘zing’ to it!
The hyTech is less chunky too. The water keys and finger hooks are a more traditional shape (the right hand one is actually a ring). The tuning slide moves well, although the third valve is rather stiff; I expect it will loosen with use (standard valve oil can be used for this).
Various demonstration videos on the manufacturer’s website show the reaction of pro players to the hyTech: the Halle Orchestra’s Gareth Small plays the opening of Mahler’s 5th Symphony and it sounds very convincing indeed; and session trumpeter Craig Wild plays a fast, jazzy improvisation before launching into the high lead trumpet theme from James Bond, which also sounds great!
Ellie Lovegrove who teaches trumpet at Junior Guildhall thinks that ‘any kid would be excited to get something this shiny’ – I can only agree. Mathilda Lloyd plays a solo classical piece and comments on the hyTech’s resonance, saying, ‘If you were playing this in a school orchestra or band, I’m not sure if anyone would be able to tell it wasn’t a real trumpet’.
Alex Ridout, winner of BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year 2016 plays a jazz standard, again making it sound like the real deal. All the players comment on the look and feel of the hyTech: its robustness, vibrancy and resonance – not what you would expect from plastic.
Of course, a good player can make anything sound good, so I asked some of my pupils for their opinion. They too liked the look and feel of the trumpet and they all sounded pretty good. Jack, aged 10, said, ‘It looks just like a metal one.’ He found it easy to blow and loved the case with back straps.
Who might buy this? Perhaps students who are ready to move on from fun colours and plastic to something that looks more brassy or authentic. Young players will not only find its lightweight feel a definite plus, but will also enjoy the noticeably upgraded sound – it looks and feels more professional. Strap on the case and you barely notice it’s on your back.
All in all, the hyTech is a convincing instrument and a welcome step up from the standard plastic pTrumpet.
This independent review has been reproduced with thanks to the support from Music Teacher Magazine.
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