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Buying A Trombone: What to Know

Trombone Breakdown

Trombone Diagram

Trombones are pretty straightforward brass instruments. However, people may still need guidance in finding one that suits their budget and needs. To get a better idea of what kind of trombone is right for you, here is a quick rundown on the basics of the instrument.

Types of Trombones

The 3 main types of trombones are straight tenor, trigger-type tenor (also known as F-rotor or F-attachment) and bass trombones. We won't bother getting into the specialty types.

The simplest of the three is the straight tenor trombone, which contains no tubing on the inside. The trigger-type tenor has extra tubing within its main loop, but until this tubing is activated with a trigger, it's basically a straight trombone. This also make the horn longer in length, with its tuning changed from Bb to F. The bass trombone is a bigger bore version of the F-rotor trombone, and contains an additional second rotor, which extends the horn's low-end even greater.

Normally, students begin with a straight tenor trombone, then later move on to a horn equipped with an F-rotor. But this isn't a requirement by any means. Without the F-rotor, your horn will play no different than a straight trombone. You can graduate to the F-rotor when you feel comfortable enough to do so. But in many cases even professional players will stick with a straight trombone.

An interesting modern trend in trombone manufacturing is the pBone plastic trombone. Both novice players and experts use the pBone has a legitimate instrument, and it comes in a variety of stunning colors, including green, blue, red, purple, yellow, and even more traditional finishes like black and white. A lot of purists will argue that a plastic trombone doesn't quality as a usable instrument. However, both teachers and even professional players have been equally blown away by the sound quality and sturdy craftsmanship of the pBone.

Student Trombones

Manufactured to be durable yet easily affordable, these trombones are machine-made; and although they play great, they're not as well-crafted as intermediate or professional models, nor do they contain high-end materials.

Student models are typically tenor models with a small bore, usually made of yellow brass. You can, however, find student models that are manufactured from rose brass.

Intermediate Trombones

Consisting of a .525" or .547" medium large bore, intermediate horns are crafted with higher quality materials than student trombones, and are usually made from rose brass. There are also many intermediate models made with sliver/nickel plate, and occasionally even sterling silver.

Professional Trombones

Only the finest craftsmanship and materials are used to craft a professional horn. For a guaranteed rich tone, they're usually made of sterling silver or rose brass. Lighter than intermediate horns, professional trombones also contain lighter weight hand slides for a freer response, specifically in the upper register. The sound of a professional trombone is also brighter than an instrument of regular weight.

Trombone Accessories

Every trombonist will need specific accessories to keep their instrument clean and maintained. A few necessary items to keep your trombone working properly include polish, slide oil, and a mouthpiece brush.

More Info

The F-attachment trombone contains a device that is occasionally known as an "F trigger" or an "F-rotor". When engaged, this trigger activates extra tubing within the main loop on the bell section of the instrument. This lowers the tuning from "Bb" to "F", and makes the horn longer. When not turned on, however, the trombone is no different than a standard tenor.

The Bell

A trombone bell consists of three different materials, each with their own specific influence on how the trombone will sound.

Yellow Brass

In most brass instruments, this is the most common brass used. In fact, student horns are usually made of yellow brass, and the material makes for a rich, bold sound.

Rose Brass

Sometimes called gold brass or red brass, the majority of intermediate horns are made of rose brass. It creates a warm and dark tone, much more so than yellow brass.

Silver/Nickel or Sterling Silver

This is the primary material used in professional instruments, and sometimes even intermediate. An extremely rich sound is produced from this material.

Trust Woodwind & Brasswind

When buying a trombone, both skill level and the musician's age should be taken into consideration, as well as what the instrument will be used for (school band, orchestra, etc). If it's for school, it might be a good idea to ask the band teacher for guidance.

Whatever Trombone you select, The Woodwind & Brasswind's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee means you have 45 days to be sure it's right for you. If it's not, just return it for a full refund.* And neither do you need to worry about paying too much. Our 45-Day Lowest Price Guarantee means that if you find the same trombone advertised for less elsewhere, we'll make up the difference. When you buy a trombone from The Woodwind & Brasswind, you can buy with complete confidence.

* All returned woodwind and brass instruments are assessed a $10.00 sterilization fee. Instruments priced over $3,000.00 are assessed a $20.00 fee. All mouthpieces are assessed a $4.00 fee.

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