Chances are that if you've opened this page, you (or your kid) are somebody who is curious in learning to play trombone. If so, well done! You have picked an amazing instrument, able of playing anything from jazz to ska. You have also most likely entered into the unknown territory of buying an instrument. Fear not, I will do everything I can to guide you in the proper direction!
Earliest of all, you've most likely seen brands such as Tristar and Cecilio on eBay. These instruments have insanely minimal prices. My advice is stay at a distance! You may possibly get a decent horn off these guys, but you also may get a horn that is unplayable. The truth is that there is no conception of quality control with these brands and the instrument wont last. You're much better off with going for brands which I'll go more in-depth into later in the article.
You have likely been subjected to many various terms that you are unfamiliar with in your search for a newbie trombone. I'll try to explain what every single one is and exactly what it does.
Bore Size - The bore size of a trombone is the diameter of the tube of the instrument, measured in the handslide. Fundamentally larger bores will produce a darker, warmer tone. However, they also require much more air to play. In overall, your first trombone should be a small bore (.500" or.509"). If you are a mature newbie, you may really want to look into a medium bore (.525") however, I would continue to recommend a small bore instrument for your first trombone.
Bell Size - Bell size is usually directly related to bore size. It is is exactly what the name implies, how wide the bell's diameter is. A newbie horn should have a bell size of 8" unless you are utilizing a medium bore in which it may have a size of 8.5"
Shank - Shank refers to the size of the opening of the leadpipe. This determines whether the instrument will take large shank or small shank mouthpieces. Your 1st trombone should have a little shank as all small and moderate bore horns have a small shank receiver.
Material - Trombones usually are manufactured of two components: Yellow brass and Red brass. Yellow brass is the material used in many trombones, such as almost all student trombones. Yellow brass generates a strong straightforward sound that keeps its tone very well at all dynamic levels. Red brass generates a pleasant sound and is more flexible in the colors of every dynamic. Usually, yellow brass is what you'd really want for your 1st trombone.
Key - Tenor trombones should be in the key of Bb. This usually means that the fundamental note, in first position is a Bb. If you buy a trombone with a rotating valve, it ought to be in the key of Bb/F. Trombone is a non-transposing instrument even though its fundamental pitch is a Bb. This means that when a trombonist plays a written C, a C is sounded.
F - Attachment - This is the part of a trombone which is most easily identified as "the extra tubes around the tuning slide." With this feature, you have a trigger that basically turns 1st position into sixth and 2nd into 7th. I would recommend not getting an F - Attachment on your first trombone. A straight trombone is a great deal more free blowing, in addition you undoubtedly learn the last two positions with a straight trombone.
Which Trombone is Appropriate for Me?
Assuming you are a beginner I would recommend a straight, small shank, yellow brass,.500" bore, 8" bell trombone. This particular trombone will be the most lasting and will be the easiest to generate a good sound on. Here are a few models I would recommend.
Most of these are new trombones, price is one thing to be noted. Usually with instruments you have what you spend.
YSL-354 - this one is the Yamaha beginner model. This was my first trombone. It is really durable, has good make quality, good tone, and very good reliability. In my viewpoint Yamaha makes the best student model on the market, nevertheless it is more costly than other brands.
YSL-350C - This is a fascinating Yamaha model. This is nicknamed "The Short Bone" in the trombone community. It has a trigger which puts the instrument into C eliminating the need for sixth and 7th positions. This is perfect for a young instrumentalist who can't reach or someone who requires a more compact instrument to travel with.
Getzen 351 - This is a great choice for a beginner model instrument. Very nice student horn, and less expensive than the Yamaha.
Blessing BTB-1280 - This is yet another great model. Not quite as good as the preceding choices but still a quite viable option and cheaper than the other three.
Giardinelli GTB 512 - I have not heard much regarding this horn. However, everything I've heard is that it's a very good horn for the price. The most affordable option of all my recommendations.
Pre-owned horns are a very good option for newbies. They are much cheaper than brand new horns and frequently play just as well. Additionally, they will hold their worth well unless you do major damage to them.
Any of the above are good used. Also, you can most likely come across pretty good discounts on old instruments such as: Conns, Olds (any straight horn), and Kings.
Great luck in your first trombone purchase and in your quest of playing this great instrument!
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