This is quite an issue, and when you think about it, unlike automobiles(or what I can oughttamobiles, which are the ones that oughtta run better), trumpet-manufacterers are not so familiar. For the average person, it'd be just as easy to identify the best maker of potato-peeler I'd suggest the we use two guidelines in determining what the 'best' trumpet would be, which are 1. the actual sound that you desire. Say your all-time favorite trumpet recording is Hugh Masekela's "Grazing In The Grass", then you'd want a horn with lots of resonance, and that calls for a heavy horn. Same goes for getting the 'Al Hirt' sound(or Miles Davis' DARK tones. But, if you desire a medium-bright sound a la Herb Alpert, then a medium-gauge horn would be suitable. From there, if airiness and crackle are your bag, then a lightweight horn would be right for you. Not everyone likes the same thing, y'know! Now onto item # 2. buying from a trusted company. A considerable problem can happen when(or if) you need replacement parts...say you drop your horn squarely on it's 2nd-valve crook, and need a new one, or any other accident that necessitates a part. The last thing you'd care to deal with is either a totally oddball horn for which NO-ONE makes parts for. Or a 'fly-by-night' company that didn't make anything compatible with anyone else. I'm just guessing here, but I'd think that enough 'generic' parts are available to suit most any brand. That Bessen puts out instruments with such concerns in mind, and can sell you that crook, piston or whatever that you need, and even if they go out of business, they bothered to created trumpets that are sufficiently compatible with others, so that a Holton valve can be used, provided that the part is for an equal-gauge horn. This brings me to what became my choice of trumpet, the Cecilio from K.K.Music. I chose that for one reason alone, and that was cost. I hadn't played in some ten years or so, and quite frankly, had no idea of whether I'd play consistently, or just just toot around for old time's sake; a friend of mine suggested a used horn such as he'd seen on ebay for about 80 bucks or so. In other words, a cheap(but nonetheless name-brand trumpet. And I scoured ebay's list for something that would be suitable. Well, along came an ad that proclaimed that "you'll never find a better deal on the Internet" for some horn that I'd never heard of. Ever, that is, and so I thought "isn't Cecilio some Simon and Garfunkel thing"? I did research, and found Cecilio just about everywhere. In Yahoo! Shopping, along with MSN's Shopping Network, and Amazon. In fact, all of 'em carried Cecilio. Well, a brand-new horn that sports a guarantee appealed to my sensibilities. Oh, yes I did also read the criticism, too, and there are some unflattering things said about Cecilio, but from the customer's rating site of ebay, glowing accounts were also found, and that Cecilio just seemed to be a fave for ebay folk. And I assumed the risk of ending-up with a cheapie, but fortunately for me, it turned-out to be a Glorified cheapie. Cecilio eschews just about ever frill known to trumpets...in fact, the first prob that I encountered was because, unlike typical horns in which the 'valve-guide'(the raised rectangular thing that goes into the cylinder's groove that's normally molded TO the piston, with Cecilio, the valve-guide is found on that acrylic piece that sits atop the springs. Prob is that should that piece be just slightly tipped, the valves doesn't work right, and because I wasn't familiar with this peculiar way of doing things, the guide frequently slipped(or should I say was rotated) from it's groove. Well, I somehow got that corrected, and in time could actually produce some tones from the horn, but for couple of months, it was like starting all over again; I had all of this knowledge of how to play, and absolutely no ability whatsoever! It was just s-p-p-p-p- s-t--t-t-t-t<brief tone> and then sp-p-p-p-p-p-p-t-t-t-t-<brief tone again> and so forth. In other words, I didn't take on where I had left off some decade or so earlier. Talk about humbling! But, also talk about illustrating an earlier point that I made, that you'll want to be able to replace damaged parts, so here is the question that I have to be concerned with: will these odd pistons of Cecilio be replaceable ANYWHERE from ANYONE? Can I used a standard-style of valve(with the guide cast into the piston), or is everything about Cecilio so weird that part will never be found? Personally, as I'd said before, the chances are that amongst all the trumpet-makers, there must be one that puts out parts that I can buy, in the event that K.K. Music goes defunct. See, I'm not stupid, and yes! I have considered things. Ok, so this 'I can use a Holton(Benge, Conn etc) valve thing just occurred to me right at this moment, but wouldn't you think that it'd be so, with only one possible exception, being that K.K.Music didn't bother to co-ordinate their trumpets to any known standards. Well, that's the kind of issue that you have to weigh-out..."am I going to be able to service this horn, should I need to?" That, together with determining the gauge that will be best for you(weight and diameter of bore, etc) are what I think are the two most critical issues. From there, I don't give a fig. When I'm buy woodshedding, a Cecilio is good as a Pennies Cadet is as good as a Yamaha or a Holton, Selmer Bundy, or anything else; beyond that, it's just the maker's fancy engravings on the bell, and how they design the valve-caps. In other word, it's six or a half-dozen of the other to a person like me that thinks status is what you do with a trumpet, rather that it's name. If a trumpet named Inkle-Dinkle Droppit on A Finkle ever makes a reliable (and affordable horn, then I've go for it. I used to own a Bundy, while I was residing in L.A. near Bundy and Santa Monica Blvd, and so that name appealed to me then. But now I don't care for anything but having a means to becoming a darned-good living room player.