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Trombones

Introduction

Developed from the trumpet in the early part of the 15th century, the trombone uses a U-shaped slide that performs the same function as the valves of the trumpet and other brass instruments.

There are five kinds of trombones: bass, alto, soprano, tenor, and contrabass, but the most commonly used are bass and tenor.  The tenor trombone has no tubing inside its main section and produces a very smooth and high sound. The alto’s pitch is an octave higher than the tenor.  The soprano produces the highest pitch of all five types, while contrabass produces the lowest tone. And the bass, having the largest bell, produces a deep tone.  Beginners tend to start on a tenor trombone since a wider variety of music has been written for it.

Star Wars mash-up feat. Twilight Trombone Quartet
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Why Play the Trombone

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Which Trombone Should I Choose?

The Orchestra Place requires all students to have an instrument from the teacher-approved brand list to ensure the best experience and sound for the student and the ensemble.

For beginners, we recommend the following two options.

Eastman Student Tenor Trombone

The Andreas Eastman Student trombones are made with the same high-end production techniques and materials used in making professional trombones. These quality Andreas Eastman trombones will quickly advance any beginning trombonist because of their noticeable fast action and rich, colorful sound production. Eastman trombones feature a shop matched slide with a nickel-silver outer slide tubing and an 8″ bell that is constructed of hand-spun yellow brass with a wire rim & torch annealed bell tail. The Eastman trombone outfit from The Instrument Place comes with a mouthpiece, slide oil and durable hard plastic case.

Jiggs Alto pBone Mini (for grades 1-3) and Tenor pBone Mini (for grades 4-5)

The pBone mini is the low brass solution for younger children, with two sizes available for grades 1-3 and grades 4+. It’s smaller size and light weight construction alongside the new mouthpiece design allows children as young as four years old to start learning the trombone. The instrument is fast becoming one of the most popular brass family instruments for young students.

With fewer ‘do’s and don’ts’ and no shouts of “be careful!”, the instrument allows teachers and pupils to leap into the learning experience in a more natural, informal and fun environment.  This little trombone is FUN to play and comes in different colors to delight kids and adults!

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How to Buy a Trombone

After a young trombone player has at least a year of experience, buying an instrument is often the best choice, both financially and in sense of ownership. Your student has demonstrated their commitment and is ready to maintain and practice on their very own instrument. Since purchasing a trombone is a bigger investment than renting, it’s important to make sure you’ve carefully compared retailers’ inventory, prices, financing options, setup and equipment options prior to buying.  If and when you are ready to commit and invest in purchasing a trombone, keep in mind the following guidelines and tips.

Stick with well-known brands when shopping.  While there are different types of trombones available, all are made of brass and are commonly seen with lacquered or silver-plated bodies.  There is no wrong or right answer as to which produces the best sound. Personal preference is best used in a situation like this where one should choose the trombone that best suits them price wise. 

Also, keep in mind that the bore size will alter the amount of resistance in your trombone.  Students should begin on a smaller bore horn in order to produce good tone. Intermediate trombonists with experience can go with a medium or large bore trombone that will give them fuller sound.

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How Much Should a Trombone Cost?

A student trombone will cost roughly $420-$700.  Intermediate players can expect to pay as low as $150 for an alto and $470 for a tenor.  The cost can go up as high as $5,000 or more depending solely on the brand and model.

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Rent-to-Own or Lease-to-Own Trombone Options

Installment plans are an excellent option if you’re ready to make the commitment of buying an instrument but can benefit from deferred payments. This way, you get the freedom to pay over time, with the ultimate reward of owning the instrument. If you choose a rent-to-own or lease-to-own option, however, it’s important to check the fine print to make sure there are no hidden fees, and you should investigate the cancellation policy as well. Never sign up for a plan that traps you into payments if your child loses interest in playing an instrument. Look also for retailers who offer affordable damage protection during the installment term.

Our instrument supplier, The Instrument Place, offers teacher-approved instruments and one of the best interest-free lease-to-own programs as part of their commitment to getting an instrument in the hands of every person who wishes to play, without it being a financial burden.

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Recommended Trombone Accessories

When buying a trombone, look for a store that offers all the accessories your child will need in order to best use and maintain it.  Along with your purchase, check that a protective carrying case, mouthpiece, slide cleaning rod, lint-free polishing cloth, and slide oil are included or can be added.  Some other items you could also pick up are a cleaning snake, mouthpiece brush, and tuning slide grease.

If given the option to purchase a music stand, go for it! A music stand promotes proper playing posture, which helps to prevent back aches and hunching over.  

The Instrument Place instrument outfits come equipped with everything needed to get started in class, plus a free music stand with every instrument purchase!

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Trombone Maintenance and Care

Assembly

  • Always consult your teacher if you are not sure how to put together your instrument.
  • NEVER force the parts of your instrument together.
  • Always lock the slide when you are assembling or not playing your instrument.
  • Assemble your trombone so the bell is over your left shoulder. With their teacher’s close supervision, young children should make sure that the hand slide is a comfortable distance from the bell brace for the left hand position.
  • Make sure that you tighten the bell to hand slide fastening nut until it is snug and secure without over tightening.

Hand-Slide Lubricant Application

  • Always consult your teacher if you are not sure how to apply slide lubricant.
  • You should apply lubricant to your instrument at least once a week.
  • To apply, put the hand slide in approximately third position and apply a generous amount of lubricant to each slide.
  • Your teacher can instruct you on how to determine the amount of lubricant that is needed.

Tuning Slide Grease Application

  • Always consult your teacher if you are not sure how to apply tuning slide grease. You should grease your slide as needed according to your teacher’s instruction.
  • Remove slide and wipe off the old grease.
  • Apply a bit of grease to one end of one of the slide tubes and re-insert this side. Gently rotate the slide as it is pushed in, evenly distributing the grease to all parts of the slide.
  • Repeat this process with the other end of the slide tube.
  • When completed, insert the slide as normal and remove all excess grease.
  • NEVER use Vaseline in place of slide grease. This will corrode your trombone.
  • A properly set tuning slide will slide in just by pushing on the outer edge of the crook. If you need to manipulate the slide to push it in it should be repaired.

Maintenance

  • Every trombone player should have a maintenance and care kit.
  • Your mouthpiece should not have any dents in the end of the shank. If you notice any dents in your mouthpiece you should immediately take it to a technician for repair.
  • You should move and grease the tuning slide at least once a month and oil the hand slide at least once a week (or more frequently if needed).
  • DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE MOUTHPIECE OR SLIDES IF THEY BECOME STUCK. A lack of oil and grease will cause the parts of your trombone to stick. If they do stick take it to a technician immediately for removal. NEVER try to remove stuck parts with pliers or hammers!  You can also purchase a Bobcat Mouthpiece Puller to safely remove a stuck mouthpiece.
  • Wipe off your fingerprints from your trombone after every use. A clean, non-treated cotton cloth will work the best. If you do choose to use a treated polishing cloth be sure that it is for the proper finish. Using the wrong cloth could cause scratches.
  • Always store your instrument in its case with the lid closed when not in use. This will prevent any excess tarnishing and lower the risk of damage.
  • Do not put anything (including sheet music) inside the case with your instrument that does not belong. Closing the case with extra contents can cause damage to the valves or dents.
  • Also, make sure that all the latches are securely closed before transporting your instrument.

Student trombone prices can be considerable so take care of your instrument.

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Famous Trombone Players

Looking for more inspiration? The trombone is equally at home in the orchestra and the jazz hall and is often heard blasting from a horn section in rock and pop music as well. Below are sound bites from famous trombone players from all a range of music categories.

Famous classical trombone players include Joseph Alessi, Alain Trudel, Ian Bousfield, Christian Lindberg, Ralph Sauer, Branamir Slokar, Dudley Bright, Ron Barron, Jay Friedman, Abby Conant, John Marcellus, Weston Sprott ,Chris Houlding and Denis Wick.

Well known jazz trombone players include Brandon Marsalis, Frank Rosolino, J.J. Johnson, Wycliff Gordon, Albert Masingdorf, Bill Watrous, Don Lusher, Jack Teagarden, Arthur Pryor, Lawrence Brown, Nick Hudson, Curtis Fuller, Carl Fontana, Tommy Dorsey, Al Grey, Slide Hampton and Kid Ory.

In rock and pop music, the trombone has been heard prominently in bands such as Chicago, Huey Lewis and the News, Prince and Blood, Sweat and Tears.

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