In another thread I mentioned what I thought the best way to 'waste' $100 was.
I was in an experimental mood, so I ordered one of those nasty 4-valve Indian piccs a few days ago. I figured, for under $100 (US, shipped), just how bad could it actually be? It came today, SAI musical written all over the place. Here's a mini review:
1) It actually looks OK. Valves are a bit stiff, but not crunchy. Quite presentable, really. Bore is 0.458" measured at the third slide. (The second valve loop is fixed, which is typical for a picc.) The slides are dreadful, don't take them out without a good reason as you'll have some difficulty getting them back in.
2) It hurts to hold it. Sharp edges and pokey bits. Two finger hooks, they feel like they were maybe inspired by fish hooks! Perhaps Steve Martin, in his "Cruel Shoes" days, was the designer?
3) For that price it's [S]silver[/S]chrome-plated, has 4 valves, 2 leadpipes, a mouthpiece, and a case, and was shipped FedEx. Wow. No white gloves, so you know they're serious. Declared value on the import paperwork was $40. I think that's probably accurate, you could probably buy one for that if you dropped by the factory in India.
4) The trumpet-shank mouthpiece is a bit shorter than standard, and wobbles a bit unless you ram it in some. No size marking. A standard trumpet mouthpiece bottoms out and won't stay in place.
5) It doesn't sound too bad. There are a few wonky notes, and it doesn't play well down low, in 4th valve territory. but on the whole I was pleasantly surprised. (I have a Chinese pocket trumpet that cost more than this, and the picc is much closer to my good picc than the pocket is to any other trumpet I've tried.)
6) Next time I need a G#/A picc I'll be ready! It's really flat, basically 1/2 step across the board. The lead pipes are too long. I guess I can use the Bb pipe when I want an A picc? But I never do. And if I did, I'd use the Benge.
For the record, every picc I try is flat for me, slide all the way in. It's a personal problem. I don't think they sound all that bad, they're just.... flat. For me. This one worse than most.
I haven't decided what to do with it. It may just sit there as a house toy, waiting for the rare occasions when the party is starting to get a bit likkered up. (Horns might come out then, but never any of the good ones.) Somebody wants to borrow my piccolo? Sure, here you go! Or, I could chuck the cheap-ass leadpipe into a metal lathe and see if I can't take 1/2 step out of it...