Mike Buckley

trombonist and educator

Trombone Equipment Discussion



Beginners: I recommend purchasing an instrument from the start. A trombone is a good investment that you can resell if (heaven forbid!) you ever decide to quit. My favorite model is the Yamaha YSL-354. Yamaha's trombones are consistently made to high standards. As your child grows, these instruments will continue to be useful in middle school and high school marching and jazz bands. If you don't want to spring for a new one, there are plenty available on Ebay. I will be happy to help you in your shopping.

Taking the next step: So, your child wants a shiny, new trombone with all that extra tubing like the big kids? My advice is don't rush into bigger equipment. When you are ready to move up, I will be happy to help you through the process. First, let's talk about trombone bore sizes.

Student model trombones usually have a slide bore size of .500" with an 8" diameter bell. This size is ideal for small lungs and your child won't fall over when they try to pick it up! This size trombone is also very popular among professional musicians for commercial music. Tenor trombones are available in bore sizes up to .547" with 8.5" bells. As the horn gets larger, the tone will be darker. There are also other variables that affect tone including mouthpiece size, bell composition, and leadpipe design. The choices can be overwhelming!

That is one reason I have played on only three trombones in the last 38 years. I began on a King student model, which I played through high school in the marching band. I got a King 3B (.508" bore professional model) in 9th grade which I still use for jazz and commercial playing. In college, I bought a vintage Conn 88H (.547" bore) which I use for classical performance.

Back to your search. Ask yourself why you want another trombone. If you want something specifically for the Symphonic Band or Orchestra, then a large bore (.547") would be fine. Some examples are the Bach 42, Conn 88H, Edwards Tenor, and Yamaha YSL-610 or YSL-620

If you want a professional quality all around horn, then a .525" bore horn is a versatile choice. Some examples are the Bach 36  , Yamaha YSL-630, or YSL-640

If you want a professional model jazz trombone, the bones in the .500-.508" range are good choices. Try the King 3B or 2B, Yamaha YSL-691Conn 100HEdwards JazzBach 16 or 16M.

The next question you need to ask yourself is "Why do I want that extra tubing?" An F attachment allows you to play a low C, which is normally in 6th position, in 1st position. That may sound great to you, but I promise you that I will still make you use your slide to play low Bs, Cs, Es, and Fs when appropriate. You need to be able to play them both ways. The F attachment is invaluable for playing the notes from low Eb down to low B. If you plan on performing in that register, which you may if you become serious about the trombone or play the bottom part in the band, you need the F attachment.

If you have your sights set on playing bass trombone, you really should get a .562" bass trombone. Some examples are the Bach 50 or Edwards Bass.

It's important to try the various models available and get a feel for the differences in them. That is the only way to really learn what horn is best for you.

There are several local stores you can visit: Washington Music, Baltimore Brass, and Music and Arts are just a few. Online, you have numerous choices including Hickeys Music and The Woodwind and Brasswind.

Mouthpieces: For beginners, the mouthpiece that came with your horn (usually a small one) will be just fine. As you grow, I will recommend a Bach 6 1/2AL mouthpiece, which will build strength in your embouchure and warm up your tone. After that, there are hundreds of choices based on the particular player and the playing situation.

Accessories: You need to get a snake and cleaning rod, mouthpiece brush, slide lubricant (Reka Super Slide, Rapid Comfort, or Superslick with a spray water bottle), tuning slide grease, and a trombone stand.

Instrument Repair: Barton Winds, Baltimore Brass, Dave Scianella, Todd Clontz.

Please take the best care of your instrument! Give it a bath once a month. Wipe the slide and re-lubricate every couple of hours of playing time. Don't show up to your lesson with a dirty slide! Get your slide repaired as soon as it is damaged. Playing on a poor slide causes many bad habits!