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A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Trombone

A trombone is one of the most popular and versatile brass instruments, featuring prominently in genres as diverse as classical and jazz. As a result, people who are buying one for the first time may wish to consider which type suits them best. It may be a
A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Trombone

What is a trombone?

A trombone is one of the most popular and versatile brass instruments, featuring prominently in genres as diverse as classical and jazz. As a result, people who are buying one for the first time may wish to consider which type suits them best. It may be a relatively simple brass instrument, but it is vital for learners to make sure they get the right one.

Different types of trombone

There are two main types of trombone - the straight tenor and the F-rotor. The main differences between the two come from the fact that the former has no inner tubing, while the latter has extra tubing within the main loop.

In essence, an F-rotor trombone works in the same way as a straight trombone, but there are a number of other notable differences. For instance, pressing the trigger can change the tuning of the instrument from a Bb to an F. This extends its capabilities and opens up various playing styles to musicians, including the opportunity to use the horn's lower range.

Choosing a trombone

Since the F-rotor trombone offers a wider variety of features, people who are learning for the first time may be better off starting with a straight trombone - indeed, this is the one usually favoured by most students. However, the F-rotor can be played straight, as the trigger does not have to be pressed while it is being played.

But people who decide to invest in an F-rotor may also have to think about whether they want a Standard Wrap or Open Wrap instrument. Musicians who choose the first option will be able to make use of a greater number of bends, which therefore makes it more compact and increases the slide's resistance.

Technical factors of choosing a trombone

Another of the main factors to look at when picking a trombone is the size of the bore - the inner diameter of the inner slide. A smaller bore (up to 0.525") could be better suited for younger players, as it requires less air to support tone, while it can also offer a brighter and more focussed sound. It would also have more resistance than its larger counterparts, which again can be good for beginners, as it supports tone more easily.

However, larger bores have their own advantages, including a fuller and more powerful sound that is often favoured by more advanced trombone players. People who are looking for the bore that suits them can choose from a wide range of options, starting at around 0.481" for students to about 0.547" for symphonic use.

Yet models aimed specifically at students have the advantage of often being more durable. This makes them well-suited to regular transportation, such as if they are being taken to school regularly by young learners.

Trombone players will also have to think about the type of bell they opt for, as this can also be a big influence on the sound of their instrument. Most trombone bells are made of yellow brass, although rose brass is favoured by some as it gives a much warmer sound, while silver can be warmer still.


So in conclusion, a person who is planning to invest in a trombone has more to consider than how much they are willing to spend on their instrument. Their level of musicianship should be the main influence on what they buy.

Posted on 24 Jul 2009 16:18 to category : Tips and advice

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