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You may have heard about in your 7th-grade band class or you might have seen your classmate lugging it to and from school, strapped on his back while riding his bicycle. Either way, this isn’t the first time you’re probably hearing about a trombone. However, this might be the first time you’re actually interested in it. If you’re looking to start playing this musical instrument, you’ll want the best trombone.
A trombone is generally designed with three parts that can be removed and taken apart to be stored. When you think of other brass instruments, the trombone has a much lower pitch than other brass or wind instruments—so basically it is one of the lowest sounds you’ll hear of the group. Since it has such a low sound, it is normally played to support the bass line and add depth to the other parts of an ensemble. To play the trombone, you’ll need to use a manipulation of your lip muscles and use the extension on the outer slide to play the full range of notes—whether you’re looking for that lower or higher pitch. The tenor trombone is one of the most common types, the bass trombone is a specialist tone, and an alto trombone is one of the most uncommon.
Even though you will often see trombones in musical ensembles like marching bands, orchestras, and jazz bands, you might not know a whole lot about them. To help you pick out your first trombone, also the best trombone, we’ve constructed this guide after a thorough research. Through the comparison table, in-detail reviews of each product, and a final buying guide at the end, you’ll know all you need to know about trombones—especially about various features like their size and weight, bore and bell sizes, mouthpiece included, and slides.
As our editor’s choice, the Bach TB711F trombone is a great choice for someone who is looking for great sound and projection. Since it has a .547 inch bore and an 8.5 inch bell, this trombone creates a very high-quality sound, projected through any room.
This trombone also is designed with a chrome-plated nickel silver inner slide. This makes it extremely easy to be moved up while performing. Fortunately, it also comes with a carry-case to make it easy to transport from your home to wherever you may be playing. The case keeps the trombone firm and safe, preventing it from moving.
The Bach TB711F has an outer slide that is also designed from nickel silver, although it’s yellow brass instead of chrome-plated. Included with this trombone, you also get a 12C mouthpiece.
The Bach TB711F is also perfect for intermediate students. Weighing just 4 pounds, you can rest assured that it won’t be too difficult to carry around, which normally will discourage beginning players. With the Bach TB711F, there is also an F-attachment, which encourages fantastic playability.
What ties it all together is the fact that it is easy-to-use, maintain, and clean.
What makes it special?
Perfect for intermediate students with a 12C mouthpiece and an F-attachment
More features: F attachment with string linkage, slide lock
The Yamaha YSL-448G is the perfect choice if you‘re looking to take your beginner lessons and upgrade. Designed as an Intermediate Trombone, with the Yamaha YSL-448G, you can play in a key of Bb. It is built with a .525 bore, and has a 8-1/2 gold brass two-piece bell.
The Yamaha YSL-448G is a medium-large bore horn that offers high-quality at an affordable price. The inner slide of the design is made of chrome-plated nickel-silver. While youre playing, you never have to worry about the response, since the slide is durable, sensitive, and quick.
The outer slide, on the other hand, is one-piece, drawn, and made with nickel silver. You’ll be sure to have air-tightness, smooth action, exceptional durability, and a great resonance to your sound.
The Yamaha YSL-448G also has a great balancer, with its weight measured out to be a great proportion to the full weight of the instrument. It is also designed with perfectly-rounded tubing. This extra attention to the shape will allow the player to benefit from less turbulence and a smoother air flow. The benefits of the design, however, don‘t stop there—the brass is fused with a high-energy laser, which makes the bell virtually seamless, allowing for continuous vibrations.
The Selmer TB711 is designed from a U.S. based manufacturer that enjoys producing instruments that are not only high-quality, but also specifically made for students.
Since the Selmer TB711 has a 0.509 inch bore, this allows the student—like you—to be able to play the trombone much easier develop a proper embouchure. It is designed with a chrome-plated brass inner slide on both sides, so that the player can enjoy smoother sliding action while playing.
As the best beginner trombone on our guide, all the things you need to get started is included upon purchase. When you purchase the TB711, you also will get a Vincent Bach 12C mouthpiece, removable balance weight, hard shell case, and a jar of Bach slide cream. Everything included is a helpful insert into the total student package. The hard shell case actually also has backpack straps, making it much easier to carry around.
The bell that it is designed with is a two-piece, hand-hammered bell. However, the outer slide is made out of nickel silver. The entire Selmer TB711 has a finalized lacquered finish so that maintenance and care is much easier.
Why are we impressed?
Suits for beginning students
It has a medium bore, which makes it easier to play
It includes the whole package of accessories for beginners
What negatives must you be aware of?
Lacquer finish is susceptible to scratching
Is not equipped for an intermediate or advanced student
Doesn’t come with a cleaning or tuning kit to care for the instrument
More features: pro-deluxe durable hard case included, 1 year warranty against manufacturer’s defects
The Mendini MTB-40 is the best valve trombone on our list today. Since it is designed with such a unique finish, the Mendini by Cecilio MTB-40, is a perfect purchase—no matter if you’re a beginner or an advanced trombone player.
Since it is a valve trombone, it is uniquely designed with small bore tubing for playability. It also is built with an 8-inch bell that will overall help project and support the sound coming from the instrument. The trombone has 3 upright trumpet style valves, which are perfect for a smooth flow and quick transitioning between notes.
This is not the best trombone for a beginner, but can be adequately used by one. However, the Mendini MTB-40 is designed in a way that it makes the intermediate or advanced player very happy—with its housing monel pistons for smooth fast responsive action.
This trombone comes with a standard size shank and a 12C mouthpiece. It also is backed by a 1-year warranty against any manufacturer’s defects—perfect for someone traveling from their home to their music lessons or band practice.
The finish of the Mendini MTB-40 is Lacquer yellow brass. It also is a B-Flat tenor valve trombone with monel valves, measuring at a .488″ small bore.
Your purchase also includes a Cecilio 92-D chromatic tuner, pro-deluxe durable hard case, a pair of white gloves, and a cleaning cloth for maintenance.
What makes it special?
Comes with a cleaning cloth for maintenance and a carrying case
Has three upright trumpet style valves, perfect for transitioning
As our best student trombone, the Etude ETB-100 is also one of the most popular products out there on the market. It has great overall versatility and is easy enough to use—even for beginners, and especially for students.
The Etude ETB-100 is featured with a .495-inch bore, so you can expect a nice and melodic sound. The Etude ETB-100 also comes with a quality mouthpiece that can stand the test of time. Since it is perfect for the student, the Etude ETB-100 also comes with its own case, making it very accessible to travel from home to your lesson.
The Etude ETB-100 is designed with chrome coating on the inner hand slide tube which makes playing and transitioning between notes a breeze. Chrome is a durable material that is resistant to scratches and dings, so it is perfect for younger players who might be a little less careful with it!
Not only is it very affordable, it also is made with a simple design that’s perfect for beginners. Even though it is made with chrome coating, it has a gold lacquer finish, bringing out an attractive, advanced look.
The Etude ETB-100 also comes with a weighted balancer, perfect for younger students who need to adjust to the instrument’s weight.
What are its best features?
Comes with a high-quality transporting case
It has a strong and durable design which is perfect for a beginning level player
More features: 1 year warranty against manufacturer’s defects, includes hard case
If you’re past the beginning stages of your trombone lessons, you’ll need an instrument that can grow with you.
The Flanger F-860 trombone is the perfect intermediate trombone on the market and highlighted on our guide as a great addition to any young or old musician.
The Flanger F-860 is described and labelled as a Bb tenor trombone with an F trigger. This makes the sound pretty realistic sounding and reverberates nicely. This trombone has a 0.547″ large bore and a measured 8.5″ bell.
The outside of the Flanger F-860 is designed with nickel-plated lead pipe, making for a very attractive finish, despite the budgeted price. The inner and outer slide are also designed with this material, making for a smooth sliding and playing experience.
The Flanger F-860 comes with a 12C mouthpiece and a small shank that is matching colored, perfect for any player that also wants their instrument to look good—even if the playing part isn’t flawless.
While we’re on the subject of appearance, the purchase of the Flanger F-860 also comes with a pair of white gloves and a cleaning cloth for maintenance and care. It also comes with a durable hard case so you can transport the Flanger F-860 without imminent threat of damage. Weighing only 9.5 lbs, it also is pretty light to carry. The Flanger F-860 is backed by a 1-year warranty.
Slides: brass outer slides, nickel silver outer hand slide
More features: case included, nickel plated finish
The Moz Alto has a nickel-plated finish that sets it apart from other designs in its price range. Perfect for a student—especially one looking to save money—this trombone is a great find. With its design detailed in craftsmanship, the Moz Alto not only looks good but also sounds good, with outstanding concert level sound.
Weighing only 7 pounds, it is also easy for a beginner or intermediate players looking to own and play a trombone with an easy weight.
Even though the design of the case is a little odd, and the tuning slide needs to be pushed all the way in to fit, there are so many other positive features to the Moz Alto.
Once cleaned well, the slide action is smooth, almost like glass. The trombone comes with a supplied mouthpiece that is a standard b flat mouthpiece.
The sound of the Moz Alto has a great tone, range, resonance, and decent slotting—even for being a budget pick.
Even though it is designed with a flawless nickel-plated finish, it is built with a durable, high-quality brass body. The bore is sized at .48” and the bell is sized at 7.165.
You can also benefit from the case included in your purchase, plus the guarantee of the 1-year warranty.
What do we love it for?
Nickel-plated finish with detailed design
What were we disappointed with?
The tuning slide needs to be pushed all the way in to fit
Slides: fiberglass with brass slide stockings on the inner hand slide
More features: carry case included
If you’re looking for the best plastic trombone around, the pBone Jiggs has high-quality performance and is pretty light in weight—weighing in at just 1.8 pounds.
Not only is it easy to carry because of its weight, it also is easy to carry because it comes with a durable fabric carry-bag. The matching mouthpiece that it comes with is actually pretty durable, as well, although designed with ABS plastic.
Even though it isn’t seen as being extremely sought-out when considering the material of the design, it is ergonomically built, which makes it extremely playable. With its glass-fiber lockable slide, it can be fiddled with easily when you’re changing from note to note. With that sort of versatility, you can play several genres of music.
The pBone Jiggs is designed with an 8-inch bell that is indestructible through its strength. It is also highly-resistant to dents and scratches, even though made from plastic. Perfect for beginners, you can easily hold it, move it around, and transport it without worrying about damaging it.
Why is it special?
High-quality performance at a light, cheap weight and price (only 1.8 lbs)
Designed with ABS plastic which is pretty durable
Has a glass-fiber lockable slide
What are the flaws?
Not great for serious players since it is a cheap plastic design
Things to Consider
Now that you have a good idea of the top trombones on the market, it’s time to figure out you should best go about purchasing one. Knowing the importance of certain features of a trombone can help you sort out which one is most suitable for your needs and playing style.
Importance of understanding the instrument
To better understand your trombone, you need to understand the unique characteristics of the types of trombones. Knowing the differences between them will help you determine which one is best for you.
Each trombone also has a special, specific characteristic of sound.
However, one thing that brings it all together is that the modern system that is in place today has seven chromatic slide positions on a tenor trombone in B♭. Even though this was first introduced by Andre Braun around 1795, it still is in play today.
The Different Kinds of Trombones
There are five different types of trombones. Knowing which one is not only best for you to play but also which suits your orchestra or brass band can help you decide which one is best for you.
Here is a bit of information on each type of trombone:
This type of trombone, also known as the straight tenor trombone is the most basic design. It lacks tubing in the main section, which sets it apart from the others..
However, you can find a F-rotor trombone within a tenor trombone. What makes it a little different is the fact that the trombone is actually straight. It will also remain straight until it’s engaged by a trigger to turn it, making it longer and actually changing the tune from a Bb all the way to an F.
The bass trombone is about the same length as a tenor trombone, which was the previous type. The main difference here is that it has a bigger bell than the tenor.
When compared to the F-rotor trombone, it has a bigger bore, as well. It also has an additional second rotor which can reach out lower than before.
The valve trombone is a type of trombone that can vary in size. However, the valve tenor trombone size is the one most preferred on the market among other players. Normally, more players will prefer valve trombones over slide. The valves that this type of trombone is constructed with, allows the player to be able to speed through quick tempos and not have to worry about the difficulty of use and hitting all the notes, where they might have more of a problem with the slide.
The alto trombone is normally one of the most common trombones found in the orchestra. If you have an alto trombone in your hand, that might actually mean that you’ll be put up for a solo! It can reach a much higher pitch when compared to the tenor trombone, you can cover the majority of the range with the tenor trombone.
With the nickname of the slide trumpet, it actually looks like one. However, humbling from Germany, the soprano trumpet normally will be played when it comes to jazz, to bring out the smooth rhythm and music. Even though fewer and fewer people prefer the soprano trombone, it is still widely used. The soprano normally performs side-by-side and sounds good when paired with a woodwind instrument or with a trumpet.
Which trombone suits your level?
Whether you are just signing up your kid for music class or if you’re looking for a new trombone for an upgrade, there are certain trombones that will match certain levels of skill when it comes to music.
If you’re just starting out on the trombone, especially if you’re now investing in a trombone for your child, you should try and choose one with a smaller bore horn, like the Selmer TB711. These can be measured out at 0.500″ to 0.525”. That range number means that you need much less air put in a tone—which is perfect for a child or someone younger who doesn’t have a lot of lung capacity.
Another factor that will help you with your decision will be the bore size—since it has a huge impact on your sound. If you plan to lean towards being a Symphonic trombonist, you’ll be using bigger bore trombones, which normally measure out to be .547″. If you’re going to be sticking with bass trombones, you’ll have a bore up that’ll measure out be 0.562″.
If you’re past the beginner’s stage and are looking to upgrade, you’ll want to look into a medium or larger bore instrument. This will allow you to be able to play and reach a more forceful sound. Your music will also sound much fuller if going for the medium bore instrument. Try the Bach TB711F or the Yamaha YSL-448G.
How to choose the perfect trombone
First and foremost, you need to take a look at your budget and set numbers before you even head out to settle on the perfect trombone.
One of the biggest factors that will affect your choice of trombone will be the amount that you will or can spend.
After you first establish a price, then you can get into the needs and different levels that will sway your decision. You should try and gauge out how interested you are in music and if you are planning on getting better, quickly, you might need to get a different trombone!
First and foremost, you should start small—start with a small bore horn as a beginning student. If you grab one that is specifically designed for a student, like some of them above, you’ll be better off in the long run.
If you’re an intermediate student, try going for a medium bore horn. These trombones feature multiple “better” factors, like an F-rotor, dual bore, rose brass, sterling bells, and plated finishes. If you’re looking to get better, you can benefit from these.
Take good care of a trombone
When you have a trombone, you need to maintain it and keep it working well. To do this, you should:
Prepare the slide, first by cleaning dirt and then apply a bit of slide cream like the Slide-O-Mix Trombone Lubrication System on the thicker end sections of the slides.
Once done, go in with a water spray bottle and moisten the slide. For the best results, use mineral water.
After, insert the inner slide and then slide the two sections back and forth so the cream can reach all edges.
You should also oil the rotary valve if you’re playing with tenor bass trombones or bass trombones. This is done through the slide receiver.
You can maintain the exterior through using the same lacquer as the other parts. Do so by wiping gently with a polishing cloth. If your instrument is nickel-plated, you’ll want to use a metal polish.
Main features of a trombone
To best sort out which trombone is best for you and your musical venture, you need to compare the various features associated with each trombone. A few features that are extremely important are the bell sizes and construction, the types of bores, the F-attachment, the shank, the mouthpiece, the slides, the case, the warranty, and the material.
Bell sizes and construction
The bell of the trombone is extremely important—it is where the sound waves are designed to emerge out of. The size of the trombone bell is just as notable when comparing with the bore size. Since these various details can make a difference when it comes to sound, they can tell a lot about an instrument.
Generally speaking, the bell size can range from 7” all the way to 10.5”. Normally, the bass trombone will have a much larger-size bell than the tenor trombone. Size will also differ when it comes to a one-piece or a two-piece hand hammered bell. One-piece is generally preferred to since it helps perform a higher-quality sound.
Types of bores
This feature, called the bore is the measurement that counts the inner diameter of the inner slide. Normally, these measurements are written out to three decimal places since there is a such a minimal difference from one measurement to another. Generally, you’ll find the range being from .500″ to .547” like Flanger F-860 and Bach TB711F and can reach all the way up to .562”.
The smaller a bore is, the brighter it is, with a more concentrated tone. The larger a bore gets, the sound will be darker and bigger.
A horn’s resistance will also be affected by the size of the bore. When the bore is smaller, there is much more resistance. A beginner trombone player will benefit from a smaller bore size since it’s much less difficult to produce quality sound.
The F-attachment is a feature of the trombone that makes playing much more complex and is often suggested for more advanced players. With an F-attachment, a player can reach a much lower range of the horn.
The F-attachment generally comes organized into two basic types. You can either go for the standard or for the traditional wrap.
Normally, most brass instruments—including that of a trombone, will have a mouthpiece that is designed to produce a “one-sound” tube. Especially when we’re talking about the “shank”, you have to make sure you look at it as a whole—instruments and mouthpieces cannot be thought as a separate component.
To get the best shank and mouthpiece, try it out in particular with your trombone. If the taper of a receiver and the shank is different, it’ll be hard to then perform optimally. You’ll want your shank to stick to the standard taper of 0.05, even though some mouthpieces will have different size.
Either way, you’ll want your shank to fit firmly in the receiver.
The mouthpiece is obviously very important in a trombone. It is what transfers the sound from the direct air to the lip vibrations to the trombone. The trombone mouthpiece should be inserted around 25mm.
Normally, trombone mouthpieces are large and deep. This makes it extremely easy for beginners to play music since they don’t have to blow so hard. Normally, on a trombone, the mouthpiece will not go into the receiver deeply enough and move in the receiver—and you don’t want that happening either! That will make the pitch lower and produce a fuzzed sound.
What is a trombone made of?
Normally, the trombone is a part of the brass instrument family. However, there are instances where the trombone will be designed with other variations—like nickel or a combination of brass and nickel. In general, a trombone will use “yellow brass”, which is 7 parts copper and 3 parts zinc.
However, if you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can actually invest in a trombone made with plastic, it’s called a Tromba plastic trombone, like the pBone Jiggs trombone. Plastic is deemed a much cheaper yet moderately robust alternative to brass. However, if you are thinking of investing in a plastic instrument, note that the sound will be differently produced. Although it’s not necessarily taken seriously, plastic trombones are great practice tools, convenient for travel and for beginning players.
On an average trombone, you’ll want your slide to be designed using a configuration that is dual-bore. This means that the second leg’s bore is bigger than the first (if only just). This will make it seem actually quite conical. The trombone sizes will differ between tremor trombones and bass trombones—bass generally have larger slides.
Since the trombone is such a big instrument, you’ll want to take the necessary steps in order to protect it from harm—especially when you’re transporting it from home to your lessons. You’ll need the case to be a perfect fit for the size of your trombone, since it needs to stay still in its proper position. You should also check the casing for appropriate padding should so that it stops the trombone from moving around.
You can generally choose between soft and hard trombone cases. Soft cases are a better and cheaper alternative if you’re only going to be traveling for short distances. A hard case is a necessary investment if you’re traveling long distances,
If you have the extra money to invest, you can also get a case that has wheels. However, if your case doesn’t have wheels, you’ll at least want it to be padded and have thick straps.
It’s not all about the looks
Just like with anything else, the outer look of something doesn’t normally constitute as the quality for the inside.
With trombones, it’s no different. Even though a better-looking horn will not necessarily emit sound better than another, the way a trombone looks can actually help a student maintain care and take pride in it.
The outside of the trombone is called the finish. Here are some popular types:
Lacquer finishes: generally used among most of the trombones on the market.
Plated finishes: normally considered much better quality because they don’t affect the vibration as much negatively.
Silver-plated horns are for the show and are another finish for a trombone but have a lot of upkeep because they are more likely to tarnish quickly.
Plastic trombones are a much cheaper version that is popular among learners. They are also easy to maintain, much lighter, and actually don’t go down in sound-quality.
Of course, with every investment, you’ll want to make sure that your trombone has a warranty well worth your while! Before you purchase your trombone, make sure it has an adequate warranty, like the Mendini MTB-40 which comes with a 1-year warranty, which can last you through your lessons or playing time.
As a beginner student, it’s better to buy a used trombone. Renting comes with long-term fees, which can rocket the total price way up there. When you purchase a used trombone, costs usually less than a 1-year rental.
Most of the trombones suggested here come with their very own cases, which eliminates the need for you to go out and purchase even more things. However, a case with straps for the shoulders definitely recommended. You can get one of those, like a Gator Cases Lightweight Polyfoam Trombone Case. These cases are lightweight, designed with Polyfoam, has a removable Shoulder Strap and reinforced D-Rings for attaching and removing the straps and handle.
Of course, just like with any other skill, it’s not impossible. But it would be much easier with a teacher. Being able to nail the proper techniques can help you sound better.
For picking out the best trombone for you, here are our top three choices:
The Selmer TB711 makes the perfect beginner’s trombone. Since it is actually perfectly designed for beginners with a medium bore, it is much easier to play. The purchase of the trombone also comes with an entire package of accessories, specifically designed for beginners.
The Yamaha YSL-448G is a great upgrade trombone if you’re looking to take that step from beginner to intermediate level. It boasts a medium-large bore horn, which is featured as high-quality material, which you’ll be getting at a low price. It is durable and sensitive, with nickel-silver finish and has a high-energy laser fusion of the bell, making a smooth sound.
The Bach TB711F is one of the best trombones for you—especially if you are an intermediate student. It has a 12C mouthpiece and an F-attachment. One thing that often haunts young players is the maintenance of the trombone. However, the Bach is easy to maintain and clean.