The Trombone is a German instrument designed in the 15th century and was first mentioned in 1495 when King Henry VII married a Portuguese princess. 1
You may hear about it with other names like sackbut. Pronounced /ˌtɹɒmˈbəʊn/, from the Italian meaning “big trumpet” and called trombón in Spanish. A person that plays it’s called a trombonist.2
What’s the difference?
The difference with a trumpet is that instead of playing pressing valves, you use a slide. The trombone is also bigger and you need to hold it over the shoulder instead of using only one hand for support.
The Brass family meaning it makes sound from vibration on the metal when you blow air.
The types are determined by range3:
- Tenor: Most common in Bb, also found in F.
- Bass trombone
- Alto trombone
- Contrabass trombone
- Soprano trombone
There’s also the valve trombone that has 3 valves instead of the slide making it more like a trumpet. You also have the superbone that has both the 3 valves and the slide that lets you play either style or a combined one.4
The best for you
For a beginner we suggest a tenor Bb trombone since it is the most common variant with the biggest repertoire, it’s also cheaper compared to the other variants and slightly lighter too.
For kids, we recommend a plastic tenor Bb trombone to avoid the problem of the weight, but because of the size, it may be difficult for short arms, so we recommend the alto trombone since it is the smallest trombone and you can combine the recommendations and solve for size and weight (and also price) by buying a plastic alto trombone.
If you’re going pro, you’re going to find that each trombone variant serves a purpose, if you already have a tenor, the 2nd most used one is the bass and then the alto, so we recommend increasing your repertoire in that order, soprano and contrabass are the rarest, so you can leave those to be the final ones you get.
It’s important to mention that you can play the instrument with only one hand, so some disabled people can still play! You only need something that helps you for support and the hand you choose (even the feet) can play. We recommend the valve trombone to avoid using the slide and because you can transition easily to the cornet, flugelhorn, and mellophone if you want to.
Now that you know, you can check on Ebay here.
Getting it another way
So far we have talked only about the physical instruments, but there are more options than that.
You can get an app for android called professional trombone you want to play for free, right now, but it will not let you choose the type of trombone and it won’t show you the sliding positions, but it’s a start. A similar app for IOS is trombone pro lite.
|Variant||Lowest price||Highest price|
|Alto||$99 USD||$150 USD|
|Tenor / Valved Tenor||$150 USD||$400 USD|
|Bass||$150 USD||$3,300 USD|
For reference, the cheapest was a plastic alto with a mouthpiece and the most expensive was a Sierman Bass trombone with gold lacquer.
|Alto||38 x 14 x 11 In (96 x 35 x 28 Cm)||36 x 14 x 14 In (91 x 35 x 35 Cm)|
|Tenor / Valved||36 x 15 x 10 In (91 x 38 x 25 Cm)||38 x 14 x 11 In (96 x 35 x 27 Cm)|
|Bass||36 x 15 x 10 In (91 x 38 x 25 Cm)||37 x 13 x 12 in (94 x 33 x 30 Cm)|
|Alto||2 Lbs (0.9 Kg) (plastic)||7 Lbs (3.1 Kg)|
|Tenor||3 Lbs (1.3 Kg) (plastic)||11 Lbs (4.9 Kg)|
|Bass||10 Lbs (4.6 Kg)||12 Lbs (5.4 Kg)|
Brass (copper with zinc) and it might have a lacquer (layer) of gold, silver, or steel with some additional painted color on top of it. Material has no effect on sound but it does in price and durability.
How to play – first lesson
This instrument is easy and fast to learn. First, you need to get used to the instrument, that means the way you hold it, efficient warmups, then you can start learning each note so you can start playing songs.
Trombone – “The only thing that ultimately matters is to eat an ice-cream cone, play a slide trombone, plant a small tree, good God, now you’re free.”-Ray Manzarek