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Holton TR181 Series Bass TromboneThe Holton Model TR181 Bass Trombone is in the key of Bb. .562" bore, 10" hand-hammered red brass bell, chromeplated nickel-silver inner slide, nickel-silver outer slide, traditional wrap with F tuning and G/Gb slide, inline independent dual triggers with ball-and-socket linkage, lacquer finish. Holton includes mouthpiece and deluxe wood shell case with the TR181 Trombone.
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This horn has a great sound, but the rotors are sub-par. They expectantly loosen, and the screws fall out. when it is oiled, the action improves, but the screws come out faster. I've talked with several people that play this horn, and say similar things are happening. It may be a uncommon thing, but this is happening to 10+ year old horns. Without the rotors, the horn has a good sound slide.
I began playing this horn in HS in 1983. Ever since I have received compliments on my big beautiful sound on the bass trombone. Could it be me or the horn with the 10 inch bell? I think its both! Throughout my career as a musician I have only used the TR181 for bass bone. I highly recommend this horn.
the TR-181 of today is a little bit different than yesteryear. Once upon a time they only had a 9 inch bell, not a 10. Bear that in mind with the reviews you see here (it is more difficult to produce a focused sound on a larger bell than a smaller one)
I cannot reccomend the TR-181 as a professional horn, and here's why... it's still (after all these years) a closed-wrap horn, which means it offers a lot of resistance when you play with the valves down, and secondly the plastic linkages on the valves (although quiet at first) eventually wear out after a few years and create a lot of noise.
This is an excellent horn for someone first learning the dynamics of the bass trombone.. and the option to set the second valve to G is very nice. It is capable of producing a very quality sound, but there are so many other horns on the market that do it easier.
As I recall, Holton was the first company to produce double valve bass trombones in the 1970s, and the two bass trombonists in the Stan Kenton band most ably demonstrated this great product throughout the US. Right off the shelf - these were the positives of my recently purchased TR181 from Brasswind:
1. Absolutely flawless workmanship out of the box. I have owned many trombones in the last 50 years, but never tried one that didn't have at least a hairline scratch somewhere on the surface. Bravo to both Holton and Brasswind!
2. Fantastic slide - very quick for a large bore - only my small bore Martin is faster.
3. Smooth and even action from both valves...it helped when I ran some light valve oil through the valve tubing when I first took it out of the case.
4. Surprisingly good responsiveness in the upper bass trombone range (through high Bb and above).
5. Good, clear sound quality in all registers.
I believe it is a great bass trombone value when comparing price with Holton's outstanding reputation for producing professional level instruments. This bass trombone has traditional wrap for the valves, and unless your technical performance level is above university graduate (MM), the response/resistance performance efficiencies between traditional wrap and open wrap are negligible. I have two open wrap trombones myself - very good instruments - and great marketing on the part of those companies that produce them. The true key to performance quality is the dedication, diligence and discipline of the player - and the TR181 will enable any bass trombone player to reach their full potential.
40 years ago, I bought my Holton 181 for use with the San Diego Symphony. Since then, I've used it in a variety of contexts, including band, orchestra, big band, brass quintet (trombone or tuba part), Broadway shows, etc., and in all ways it has proven to be wonderful. I've visited trade shows, played the newest products, and feel great that my instrument still sounds better than the newbie?s. It has been a great horn for me, still going strong after all these years.