Launched in the not too distant past the HyTech Trumpet was met with some confusion by the Normans Team. On the outside it seems it had lost all the benefits of the pTrumpets (it’s light weight, bright colours, etc) while surely being unable to measure up to a traditional Brass equivalent, what with it being mostly plastic.
We’re happy to say that, in short, we were wrong.
There are many differences between the two, the cases, finger hooks, mouthpieces, water keys and – most notably – the materials used to build them. With the HyTech the all plastic build of the pTrumpet has been thrown to the wind. While still mostly plastic, key components are now more like a traditional Brass instrument. The idea behind this is to combine the pTrumpet and a classic Brass Trumpet to create a Hybrid that offers the best of both.
So, did they succeed?
When un-boxing either instruments for the first time the initial thing you’ll see is the case. These would struggle to be more different if they tried.
The HyTech case oozes quality. It is light weight, yet well padded. Durable, but comfortable to hold. Compact while still having plenty of storage. To top this off it has BACK 👏 PACK 👏 STRAPS 👏
In comparison the term dust-cover comes to mind as the best descriptor for the pTrumpet case.
While not as flashy as the HyTech bag, the robust – entirely plastic – build of the pTrumpet means it doesn’t need the same level of padding to be protected. As such this case is more than adequate.
From the Outside, In
Once you’ve seen the case it’s time to peer inside. How happy you’ll be with what you see depends very much on what you want from your instrument. The pTrumpets are bright and vibrant. Very clearly they are not a traditional brass instrument. However, for many, these bright colours are a huge part of their appeal. (My personal recommendation is always the Orange and Green models.)
On the flip side is the HyTech Trumpet. Visually, the Silver and Gold finishes are stunning. These could easily slide into the top stand of any Big Band, Jazz Ensemble or Wind Orchestra without suspicion. One has to get pretty close to see these are not the ‘real deal’.
Of course there is also the Black HyTech. To be blunt, it doesn’t have the same lustre as the Gold and Silver models. If you have your aesthetic heart set on a Black Trumpet then maybe look to the pTrumpet. It’s cheaper and prettier.
Empty the Case
Both instruments are supplied with a Mouthpiece so you can start playing as soon as you get it out of the box.
The HyTech comes with a metal, 7c style mouthpiece. While no Vincent Bach 351, it’s still a nice piece of kit. It responds well and helps the player create a clear, centred sound.
The pTrumpet comes with not one, but two mouthpieces. The first is a 3c and the second a 5c. These are nice, mid depth mouthpieces that provide balance between tone and range. In keeping with the pTrumpets M.O these are ‘pMouthpieces’. The drawback of this is the fuzzier sound players generally get from using plastic over metal.
If you’ve spent a lifetime playing a Brass Trumpet then the mechanics and maintenance of these instruments are going to seem a little odd.
When playing the HyTech the most notable oddity to me was the finger hook/ring. Generally I found myself wrapping my finger around – rather than through – the hoop on the HyTech as this was more comfortable. Turns out I’m not the only one! Judging by the video below Gareth Small feels the same way.
(Skip 15 seconds in to see what I’m on about.)
For me, the pTrumpet finger hook is the superior of the two. That being said this really isn’t a huge deal and shouldn’t affect your playing over much, if at all.
Another thing that quickly becomes apparent when you play the pTrumpet, then the HyTech, is how great the water keys are on the latter. Having a key on both the 3rd valve and main tuning slide is a great way to ensure you’ve got all water out and won’t gurgle while you play.
The valves of the HyTech and pTrumpet are also notably different. Staying true to its all plastic design the pTrumpets are – obviously – all plastic. This makes them light and greatly reduce any maintenance, (no oil!) This, combined with the light feel, does have the draw back of making fast finger passages a little more challenging. They are also a little loud. This is because the plastic has to bed in. Over time the pTrumpet valves become smoother, quicker and sound quieter. All you need is a little patience and practice.
The Hybrid construction of the HyTech Trumpet really comes into its own with the valves. The weighty metal valve caps make the valves quick and responsive. The inside of the valve casing is lined with stainless steel, increasing the responsiveness of the valves further. This, (and the metal mouthpiece) helps the player to produce a far sharper sound.
Straight out of the case, both instruments slides can be moved without any strain. This makes it easy to tune your instrument. As an added bonus the HyTech has a Third Valve Tuning Slide and Ring. This is more of a feature you’d expect to see on an instrument at a higher price point.
That being said, it’s pretty difficult to actually use this slide while you play. It may be, with time, the slide will loosen up. However, this is initially pretty frustrating.
For young players, or those with grip issues, the size and weight of an Instrument is an important factor.
As it happens, most Trumpets are more or less the same size, with only slight variations. The HyTech and pTrumpet are no exception. The only size difference between the two is the Bell diameter. The former is 5″ while the latter only 4 and 3/4″.
Weight-wise there is more of a difference. The pTrumpet comes in at 500g while the HyTech is substantially more at 650g. However, when you consider than most traditional Brass trumpets weigh 1000g plus, they’re both comparatively feather-light.
To Thrive and Maintain
The pTrumpet is known for it’s simple, quick, borderline foolproof upkeep. It’s even coated in antimicrobial BioCote, which kills microorganisms and helps inhibits their growth. It doesn’t need oil and it’s virtually impossible to put the valves in wrong. The most you’ll ever need is some warm water and a soft cloth to keep this model squeaky clean! Have a look at the full pTrumpet Care Guide here.
While still pretty straight forward the HyTech has a bit more going on. As you can see from the Care Guide there is once again the need for valve oil and slide grease. For some this is a notable disadvantage.
It’s in the Sound
At the end of the day these are Musical Instruments. They need to at least have the potential to sound great.
On the whole, the HyTech has the superior sound.
At different pitches and volumes the instruments respond differently. Like all instruments, they sound their best at the middle of their range. As you can see on the Graph both have a distinct sweet spot.
You work hard for your money and it’s important that anything you buy is worth the price tag. At the time of writing the pTrumpet costs £100 while the HyTech comes in at £179.
So, is the HyTech worth the extra? In all, we think yes. The case is excellent and will last many years of use. The response and tone is so much better. Although it is heavier, this is a small price to pay for the big jump in quality, (and really it is only a little heavier.)
Be this as it may, the pTrumpet is by no stretch a bad choice. For players to whom weight is very important, (ie the very young,) the pTrumpet still comes out on top. Furthermore, the maintenance is as easy as it could possibly be. Finally, this Instrument can bounce from a noteworthy height and be no less worse for ware. See for yourself here.
Stripping it to the Bare Bones
*LOOKS* Either you love or hate the bright colours of the standard pTrumpet, (personally, we love them!) As such we’ve given these looks a score slap bang in the middle.
Since it’s launch the pTrumpet has been a huge hit in the Education sphere. The bright colours available make them visually engaging to younger (and some older,) players. Due to the all plastic build they are incredibility light, making them accessible to all ages. This plastic is also great for younger, and perhaps clumsier, players as it is extremely robust.
When you take the above, and couple it with the minimal maintenance the pTrumpet needs, it’s clear why this is a fantastic edition to any school music department.
In contrast the HyTech is a little heavier and available in fewer colours. Nevertheless, it is still very popular in schools. Many feel it offers a tangible improvement on the pTrumpet, almost an ‘upgrade.’