When you're testing a new instrument, focus on what the instrument can do. Don't try to play a passage that you would find difficult on your own instrument; just test the instrument - not your own abilities. Find out what the instrument will do for your playing. What are its limitations? Here are some suggestions:
1. Find a quiet place where you can really listen to the tone and pitch of the instrument.
2. Play a variety of music - some easy, fast, slow, high, low, middle range music. Play as naturally as possible without trying to have the instrument influence you, and try to avoid changing yourself to fit the instrument.
3. Ask these questions as you play slowly and listen carefully:
- How are the notes placed, and how do they feel?
- How uniform is the sound in all registers?
- How does the instrument project? Loud? Soft?
- How is the mechanical action of the instrument?
- How is the pitch of the notes in the scale? In tune?
4. Have someone else listen to you, without being able to see which instrument you are playing on. Play the same thing on both instruments, and then ask for their feedback. Play it twice, so that fatigue isn't a factor. Each time you play, get opinions back. Repeat until you have enough information to make a judgement.
Keep in mind that how the instrument feels to you is the most important thing. Everyone's lips, lung capacity, oral cavity, tooth size and shape, etc. is different. Therefore, your opinion is the most important.
By following these guidelines, you'll be able to successfully upgrade to a better instrument and improve your own abilities and ambitions, without blaming the instrument for a personal shortcoming.
Article derived from: "How to Play Test an Instrument" by Charlie Miller, Getzen Instrument Company.