We Know: All About Buying a Trombone

What Should I Know About Trombones?

Trombones are critical additions to the brass section of any band. They lend bottom to the sound of an orchestra, and are good beginner instruments for children who have arms long enough to easily reach all the positions.

Unlike most other brass instruments, trombones don't use any keys at all. Instead, the instrument's tone is controlled by a slide that works in similar fashion to a slide whistle -- the lower the slide, the lower the tone within the octave. Trombones have seven basic stops in the slide. Anyone with short arms or movement restrictions is probably better off with a different instrument.

Trombones also take a lot of wind out of you. Small-bore (the bore is the inside diameter of the tubing) trombones require less wind, and are better for beginners. But the larger-bore trombones have a richer sound. When you're selecting a trombone, you should try both types before settling on one.

What Should I Look For In Trombones?

After you've checked out the bore and chosen the proper one for your needs, make certain you have a good sturdy case available to you. Second-hand trombones should have no dents or squashed tubing, and most especially the slide should move easily and not have any constriction of its motion.

Look carefully at the tubing joints and the spit valve (where condensed moisture from the musician's breath can be released). None of these parts should have a leak or flaw. The spit valve especially should seal very well.

How Much Should I Spend?

Trombones, like other brass instruments, are not cheap. You might be able to find a new trombone for under $500, but these are student versions and may not have great sound. High-end trombones can cost upward of $2000.

If you just want a trombone your child can learn on, go for the student versions. You can also find payment plans for a student trombone at many instrument shops.

If you purchase a used trombone, check for dents, dings, loose joints or spit valve, and the smoothness of the slide.


Who Manufactures Trombones?

Manufacturers include Conn, Yamaha, Bach, Jupiter, Holten and King.

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