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Best Trombones From Beginner To Professionals

Updated on March 6, 2017
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Trombone Skills

Trombones and music have been part of my life since I was a little girl of age 11. I have played so many different styles of trombone that it has been tough to pick my favorites for each level of skill.

The boundaries between beginner, intermediate and professional standards will always vary in benchmarks but there are certain elements that will group the student into one of the three categories.

Beginner players will be someone who has been playing consistently for approximately four years and will have a good grasp of the basic elements. The student will be able to read bass clef, improvise a bit and perform well in a band.

Intermediates will be able to read tenor clef, start using an F valve, be proficient in solo performances and should start becoming noticed in classical and symphonic settings, whether that's local or national. For many younger students this will start to happen around the age of 14-16, perhaps sooner if they began at a younger age.

Professionals are what they say on the tin; you will be able to read all clefs and can switch between them with ease during sight-reading, have knowledge in bass, tenor, alto and soprano trombones and have built up a reputation for yourself as a soloist and symphonic player with a wide repertoire.

This article will provide you with three of my favorite trombones: one for beginners, one for intermediates and another for professionals. I'll also include maintenance kits for cleaning and polishing as they are also vital to your trombone's health.

Beginner Trombone

I would always recommend testing out a new instrument in person before committing to the purchase.

The Blessing Trombone

Blessing B128 Scholastic Student Trombone lacquer
Blessing B128 Scholastic Student Trombone lacquer

The Blessing is a great manufacturer of trombones. The instrument ages very well and the tone remains consistent and doesn't diminish with age. Trombones are often very fragile but these stand up well to the test of time and to the occasional knocks the instrument will get especially if owned by a younger student.

The instrument itself is very well balanced, has a great tone and is very easy on the diaphragm and air flow; it is light which is great for smaller students, easy to hold and has a nice grip; very responsive but also makes learners work for the instrument; they have a very slick and agile slide; and finally the dynamic range is good for pp and ff (very quiet and very loud).

My favorite piece to play on this trombone is The Acrobat as it makes exceptional use of the slide with glissandi and getting the beginner used to alternative positions of notes on the harmonic scale.

Unless you have a preferred bore size for your mouth piece I would recommend that you stick with the one provided by the manufacturer. The mouth-piece will be a standard 12C bore which will be medium in cup diameter depth providing a nice round tone, decent flexibility and average endurance to the student.

Overall a fantastic trombone for a beginner at a very reasonable price and the delivery time is great too.

 

For The Beginners

A very fun piece of work to get you into the spirit of trombone playing

The Acrobat

Intermediate Trombone

By this stage you may have been through a couple of beginner trombones and have a preferred mouthpiece depth and width.

Intermediate Trombone

Mendini MTB-31 Intermediate B Flat Tenor Slide Trombone with F Trigger with Tuner, Case, Mouthpiece, Gloves and Cleaning Cloth
Mendini MTB-31 Intermediate B Flat Tenor Slide Trombone with F Trigger with Tuner, Case, Mouthpiece, Gloves and Cleaning Cloth

When you have been playing the trombone for 4-5 years it is normally a good time to upgrade your instrument. The next step up in your training will be to start using an F trigger with your Bb slide.

The Mendini series of trombones are very durable and fairly lightweight: perfect for the younger or smaller player. I regard these trombones in very high standing as they have never let me down yet, I have played pretty much everything on one of these and have always got a great tone and speed from the instrument even when in a marching band.

The bore is 8.5 inches which allows for some great projection if you happen to play in an orchestra or even during solo work. A bore this size also provides enough resonance to get a beautiful round sound for your fluid or rubato playing styles. However, if you need to get a raspy effect just pump a bit more air through, open up your lungs, and be prepared for the fantastic sound that will rupture from the end of your bell!

The mechanics of the trigger work very well as it is on a cylindrical rotator which allows for quick movement and they very rarely clog - if it does clog just take of the top cap and pop some slide oil in there.

The slide is nickel plated and when properly oiled creates an amazing playing experience, especially for glissandi. Nickel plated slides are one of the best materials as they are durable, rarely dent, are very responsive and have very accurate slide positioning.

Tuning the instrument is fairly simple, I've found that I only had to take out the tuning slide a fraction, however, this may change for you depending on your embouchure and playing styles.

This particular deal from Amazon is very good as it also comes with a case, mouthpiece, gloves and a cleaning cloth too. By buying this as a bundle I would estimate a saving of about £150/$230.

 

Symphonic Work

As a trombonist you will fall in love with any Russian composer, they just know how to write amazing pieces for the trombone. This video is an amazing demonstration of the trombone's place as a soloist in an orchestral setting, enjoy.

Rimskiy-Korsakov - trombone concerto, soloist Alexander Demidenko

Professional Trombones

By now you will have a clear understanding of what you want in your instrument and your abilities.

Music Styles

What do you like to play on your trombone?

See results

Professional Trombone

Bach 42A Stradivarius Trombone with Hagmann Valve Lt42A Lightweight Slide
Bach 42A Stradivarius Trombone with Hagmann Valve Lt42A Lightweight Slide

The Stradivarius is a highly reputable trombone and rightly so. This professional trombone is perfectly suited to symphonic work where it can dominate the orchestra with it's large raspy sounds or subtly blend in to create warm under-tones.

The instrument itself is perfectly balanced so you wont end up with hand cramp after a couple of hours playing. The new valve system is absolutely amazing, the axial flow valve allows the air to move through without any resistance so you are not getting any back pressure or altered tone when using alternative notes with the valve.

The Stradivarius uses a chrome-plated nickel silver inner slide which is amazing! When moving the slide it is almost silent and incredibly light and responsive. The slide positions are very accurate and you don't need to adjust the tuning much when the instrument changes temperature.

Overall it is an absolutely amazing trombone and should be seriously considered by professional trombonists.

 

Skillful Performance

Someone said to me once that trombones are only good for two things: playing loudly and slowly. This video clip just proves everyone wrong who has that particular mindset about us trombonists. This is an amazing video demonstrating the trombone's versatile nature and flexibility.

The Carnival of Venice - Bob McChesney

Caring For Your Trombone

Looking after your trombone is vital to its health and your performance. Before playing you should give the exterior a quick wipe with a soft cloth to remove any dust, check for blockages in the mouthpiece and service the slide. To keep your slide in working order you should follow these steps every time you play:

  • Clean the slide all the way down to the stocks with a clean soft cloth
  • Apply some slide cream on the stocks and a little oil at the top near the lock
  • Spray the slide liberally with water
  • Slowly move the slide up to get good coverage
  • Apply more water as and when it is necessary, especially when playing.

After each session you should full empty the spit valve and wipe your instrument off with a soft cloth.

Occasionally your instrument with need a bath to clear any gunk out. Soak your instrument in lukewarm water (if you have a ceramic bath then put a towel in first to protect the instrument and bath from scratches) for a few minutes then flush through with water. Use a thin flexible brush on the slide to remove any residue. Fully dry the trombone and apply lacquer cleaner as per the manufacturers instructions to keep it nice and shiny. Treat the slide as per normal.

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