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Best Trombones

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 39 Models Considered
  • 7 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 114 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best trombones

    Last Updated December 2018

    The trombone is a versatile instrument that’s part of an orchestra’s brass family. It’s used widely in jazz, classical, and pop music, not to mention marching bands.

    Shopping for a musical instrument isn’t easy, especially if you’re a new player. You’ll find hundreds of trombones on the market, and then you have to decipher terms like “F attachment,” “bore,” and “closed wrap.” It’s no wonder many beginners end up with an unsuitable instrument that either puts them off playing or requires an upgrade within a few months.

    At BestReviews, our mission is to make your shopping experience easier. We’ve done extensive research in order to bring you this no-nonsense shopping guide that cuts through all the jargon. Just keep reading for everything you need to know about buying a trombone, and soon you’ll be playing like a pro!

    Though most trombones feature an epoxy lacquer finish, a plated finish is generally superior because it doesn’t dampen the instrument’s vibration as much.

    Types of trombones

    There are a number of trombones on the market, so how do you choose the right one for you? Let’s take a look at the common types of trombones.

    Straight tenor trombone

    The straight tenor is the standard trombone that most people start out on and many professionals continue to play. It doesn’t have any tubing inside the main loop, so it can only be played in B-flat.

    F rotor trombone

    An F rotor trombone is a variation on the straight tenor trombone. You can play it just like a straight tenor, but it also has a valve that engages the extra tubing inside the main loop, allowing you to play in F. This also opens up the instrument’s lower registers.

    Alto trombone

    Pitched to E-flat, the alto trombone is the only instrument in the trombone family that isn’t principally pitched to B-flat. Due to its higher pitch, it can tackle music that other trombones can’t. The alto trombone is usually played in orchestras.

    Soprano trombone

    The soprano trombone is pitched to B-flat but an octave higher than the tenor trombone. Although it isn’t the most popular type of trombone used today, it can still be found in some jazz and orchestral settings.

    Bass trombone

    With extra tubing, a large bell, and a wide bore, the bass trombone has a much lower, deeper sound than a tenor trombone. Although principally pitched to B-flat, bass trombones have either one or two valves that allow you to play in F and/or G.

    Valve trombone

    Rather than a slide, the valve trombone features keys similar to those on a trumpet. While it isn’t often used in orchestras because the sound is less open than that of a standard slide trombone, a valve trombone is useful for tackling fast passages, which can prove challenging with a slide.

    A very versatile instrument

    The Bach Prelude Trombone, F Attachment can be played in both B-flat and F, making it a versatile instrument for any trombonist. It might not have quite the quality of a professional trombone, but this is a great step up for intermediate players who want to trade in their beginner instrument.

    Features to consider for trombones

    Material

    Trombones are traditionally brass instruments, and until recently you could only find them made from various grades of brass. Some brass trombones are plated with nickel, while others have a lacquer finish.

    A recent arrival on the scene is the plastic trombone. Advances in molding and 3D printing make it possible to craft intricate shapes out of plastic, including musical instruments. Plastic trombones are extremely durable and less likely to get dented or scratched than brass instruments. While you’ll never get the same sound out of a plastic trombone that you can get from a quality brass instrument, plastic models sound surprisingly good and are inexpensive, too.

    Bore

    A trombone’s bore is the internal diameter of the tubing. The bore is measured in inches and ranges from about 0.480 inches for small-bore trombones to 0.562 inches for bass trombones.

    A narrower bore produces a brighter, more focused sound that’s popular with jazz players. Trombones with narrower bores are also better for beginners because the increased air resistance makes it easier to get a good, consistent tone. On the other hand, a trombone with a wider bore produces a bigger, warmer sound.

    Bell

    A trombone’s bell is the large, round, flared end that emits the sound. A bell with a larger diameter produces a more dynamic sound. The sound from a smaller bell is more focused.

    Taper

    How the bell’s flare tapers also makes a difference in the sound. Bells with a slow taper produce a bright sound suitable for jazz and pop. Bells with a fast taper give you a richer, warmer tone that’s more suited to symphonic music.

    Closed wrap vs. open wrap

    In trombones with an F attachment, the extra tubing is traditionally wrapped within the body of the instrument, which is known as a closed wrap.

    Some manufacturers now make trombones with the F attachment wrapped outside the body of the instrument, called an open wrap. Since these trombones have fewer bends in the F section, they tend to have a more free-blowing feel and less slide resistance.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Trombones with lightweight slides have a quicker response, which is especially useful for playing fast pieces of music.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Student trombones are often more durable than professional models in order to stand up to the rigors of being carried to and from class and handled by inexperienced players.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    The majority of trombones are principally pitched to Bb, but some types sound higher or lower than others, depending on their construction.

    Prices for trombones

    You can spend a little or a lot on a trombone, depending on your needs. Although beginners don’t need a professional-quality instrument, you do get what you pay for in terms of quality, so don’t expect to get an incredible sound from a cheap instrument. You can expect to pay between $80 and $10,000 for a trombone.

    Trombones for beginners start at about $80 to $200 for basic brass and plastic models and go up to $400 to $500.

    Trombones for intermediate to advanced players cost between $500 and $1,000. These trombones are great for people who want an instrument that sounds good and plays well but aren’t ready to shell out for a professional model.

    Trombones for professionals can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 for basic models and up to $10,000 for the high-end instruments played by world-class trombonists.

    A great deal for beginners

    The Mendini by Cecilio Bb Tenor Slide Trombone proves you don’t have to break the bank to own a quality trombone. What’s more, it comes with a bundle of accessories that any beginner or intermediate player will love, including a chromatic tuner, carrying case with backpack straps, cleaning cloth, and white gloves.

    Tips

    • Consider the style of music you want to play. If you’re interested in jazz or pop music, you’ll probably want a narrow-bore trombone with a small, slow-tapered bell. A wide-bore trombone with a large, fast-tapered bell is better for playing in an orchestra.

    • Think about your skill level. Sure, that beautiful $5,000 trombone might be dreamy, but it’s overkill if you’re just starting out.

    • Make sure your chosen trombone isn’t too heavy. Plastic trombones are especially lightweight and therefore ideal for children or people with limited arm strength.

    • Decide if you need a starter kit. Players who are just starting out might want a trombone that comes with a starter kit, which includes items like tuners, cleaning cloths, and instructional books or DVDs.
    While nothing will replace brass trombones for experienced players, a plastic trombone is great for beginners.

    FAQ

    Q. What’s the best type of trombone for beginners?

    A. Although there is no single best type of trombone for beginners, most new players start out with a straight tenor or a basic F rotor instrument. You might also find it easier to produce a good tone using a narrow-bore trombone of 0.50 inches or less. New students should consider plastic trombones, too.

    Q. Can children play the trombone?

    A. Full-size trombones are quite large and heavy, and the slide requires a good degree of arm extension, which means that the trombone isn’t really suitable for young children to play. Most kids can start playing the trombone at around eight to 10 years old. That said, if a younger child is extremely eager to play, you can find some smaller-scale trombones designed for kids, which are lighter and have shorter slides.

    Q. I want to learn to play the trombone. Where do I start?

    A. Professional lessons are always the best place to start when learning a new instrument. However, if you can’t afford lessons or you want extra resources for practicing between lessons, you’ll find plenty of instructional videos online, as well as books and DVDs.

    The team that worked on this review
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      Katherine
      Editor
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
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