Jazz is one of those genres of music that has captivated musicians and fans for generations, with many aficionados being able to tell apart bebop from free-from improvised jazz with the naked ear alone.
This is a music genre with a varied and rich lineage, one key instrument that features prominently in that lineage is the trombone.
Trombones are often an overlooked instrument in the cannon of jazz. Very seldom seen as a solo instrument, it is often sidelined by the more commonly seen trumpet or saxophone, however, this isn’t to say that there haven’t been landmark players of the trombone.
One of the major differences between this instrument and its contemporaries is the absence of keys. When it comes to hitting those notes, you’ll have to operate a slide into 7 different positions, each one articulating a distinctive note.
This is why, even among jazz players, the trombone is regarded as being one of the most challenging instruments to play.
If you’re a newbie player or a seasoned musician, there might be some things that you don’t know about the trombone, including the number of keys, the size of the bore, the warranty information about your particular trombone, as well as the features and accessories that come with it.
But where can you buy the best jazz trombones? What distinctive features does your jazz trombone need to have to deliver those notes that will enable you to gain the respect of the often hard-to-please jazz pros? What much can you be expected to pay for a decent jazz trombone?
Well, jazz trombone enthusiast, you won’t have to worry yourself with these questions any longer, because we’ve compiled a list of some of the best jazz trombones currently featured on the market.
We’ve also got a buyer’s guide that will help you decide how to choose the best jazz trombones from the worst, as well as some frequently asked questions.
OUR TOP PICK
Our first jazz trombone comes with an impressive 8-inch bell with a balance in the front and the back that is easy to wield and will allow you to focus on your playing.
This trombone comes with a lot of accessories such as white gloves, a hard storage case and a cleaning cloth, elevating it to the standard of a deluxe trombone - introducing the Mendini by Cecilio Bb Tenor Slide Trombone.
This trombone comes with a 92-D tuner, so you can make sure that you’re in tune with every other instrument with digital precision.
Within the first year of purchase, if you find yourself suffering from a defect, then you can simply ship it back to the manufacturer and they will repair any injuries or malfunctions for free.
The case for this trombone comes with a hard backed carry case that will enable you to dismantle your trombone and take it with you to practice or a concert.
Trombones will commonly suffer lots of wear and tear on the way to the venue. The trombone itself measures 36 x 15 x 10 inches and weighs only 11-pounds.
- The tuner will be an incredibly useful item for you if you are a student jazz player - when articulating notes fast, the last thing you’ll want is to be out of tune.
- This trombone is built especially for jazz playing, the mouthpiece is more generous and the bell larger, allowing you for a greater articulation between the notes.
- This trombone is well balanced from the bell to the base, meaning that you won’t be distracted trying to keep it balanced on your shoulder, meaning that you can keep it stable if your playing becomes very animated.
- The warranty - having the assurance that your trombone can be repaired from any superficial or mechanical damages will be important for giving you that confidence when first picking it up.
- This trombone has been known to make squeaking sounds in the transition between notes, which certainly won’t appeal to those jazz players for whom accuracy and articulation of notes will be crucial.
Next up we have something a little different from your standard gold finish trombone, it’s a plastic trombone. But why chose plastic over a metal trombone?
Well, there is a multitude of reasons, the first being that this trombone is perfect for practicing on, delivering much the same tone as a full-sized trombone - introducing the pIntsrument Plastic pBone Trombone.
This trombone is also very light to use, coming in at just under 1.8-pounds, it is something that you can lift easily, allowing you to practice longer without experiencing any aches and pains in the shoulders or arms.
The ergonomic handle will also help you overcome any injuries that you might experience through repetitive strain.
This trombone is one of the most robust and durable, with a metal handle and a lockable slide that can withstand the wear and tear from fast and intense jazz playing.
If you want a smooth and rhythmic transition between notes, important in jazz playing, then this is the model for you.
- The build quality of this trombone is second-to-none, with a fiberglass slide and a plastic body, this is the perfect unit for practicing your scales at home.
- This plastic trombone will deliver much the same sound as the professional metallic unit, making it perfect for rehearsals or a supplement to your main metal trombone that you won’t mind getting letting loose on.
- This has an 11 C mouthpiece and a .500 bore that will give you those deep, rich and warm notes that you’re used to hearing on a full-sized gold finish trombone.
- The price - it goes without saying that a plastic trombone will be significantly cheaper than a metal finish one. You can pick this one up at half the price and use it as the perfect backup for your concert model.
- The weight - this won’t cause any excessive injuries when playing or negatively impede your wrist and hand mobility. Use this one in practice and save significant stress on your body.
- Being a plastic trombone, this is no substitute for the real thing. We would recommend only using this as a practice model.
Our next trombone comes from the very successful and established brand of instrument maker Yamaha, who have a tried and tested reputation amongst their consumer base.
This trombone is no different, with great resonance in the bell and outstanding performance both live and in the studio - introducing the Yamaha YBL-822G Xeno Series Bass Trombone.
This trombone produces a great bass tone, giving it that rich and warm quality that is often favored by a lot of jazz musicians. It has a clear lacquer finish that gives it that shiny bright sound that will be important for musicians who value a professional look as well as a sound.
This has a solid brass bell that will be able to handle the rich and bright sounds from the mouthpiece. This is a model that can handle the rapid transition between notes that is common amongst jazz players.
When it comes to having the best quality jazz sound, finding that balance between thickness and clarity is crucial.
- The bell of this instrument is probably the most generous feature, producing a very loud and warm sound that jazz players savor.
- The slide handle has a very fluid action, allowing you to seamlessly glide from one note to another. This will also be very important for the articulation of notes, preventing that muddy sound that cheaper trombones can suffer from.
- This trombone is known for a high-pitched sweet sound, as well as a decent bass. It will be perfect for a soloist for whom a dark and somber mood is important.
- This lacquer finish of this trombone is very water-resistant, perfect if you’re playing a lot of live shows where sweat and fluids will be in abundance.
- This trombone is very hefty, as it is often used by professionals. If you are a student and haven’t fully gotten to grips with the mechanics of a trombone, we recommend a smaller unit.
To become a true jazz virtuoso, you’re going to need something with a decent finish, a durable composition and a smooth action in the slide handle - and this model delivers all of those things with a high degree of excellence.
The outer cover of this trombone is nickel silver, which makes it very easy to clean and will avoid rusting over prolonged use - introducing the King 2102 2B Legend Series Trombone.
Jazz enthusiasts the world over have rated this trombone one of the best to use in a live scenario, and we can’t help but agree.
It has a great projection of sound from the generous bell size, with the silver nickel giving you great resonance. The lacquer finish will also prevent it from rusting, which can severely affect the instrument’s functionality.
This has a yellow brass bell and a 12.9 mm bore, with a 12C mouthpiece that will allow you to articulate those notes better during faster playing.
You can wield this trombone in the studio or at an outdoor event, it comes with a sturdy padded carry case, which will also reduce the number of impacts that you’ll receive during transportation.
- This instrument has all the features of a great jazz trombone - great resonance in the material, a generous bell that will amplify the sounds over drums, bass and guitar, and a slide that will give you liquid-smooth transitions between notes.
- The nickel silver construction of this instrument is durable and easy to clean, meaning that it won’t succumb to bacteria or rust corrosion, as is common with a lot of inexpensive trombones.
- The mouthpiece and the bore will help you achieve a greater articulation of notes, which is important for faster jazz-style playing.
- This trombone is perfect for intermediate to professional style players, having all the premium features of a professional instrument.
- The design of this trombone isn’t the most pleasant to look at, with the combination of silver nickel and gold making it slightly asymmetrical.
Our final trombone is one that can certainly be held up to the gold standard, coming as it does in a brass lacquered finish, with all the features that you can expect to find on a professional jazz instrument.
The sound generated by this trombone can penetrate auditoriums and outside venues - introducing the Eastar Tenor Trombone.
The Eastar will deliver you a rich and accurate sound, making it a very versatile instrument for all different types of musical genres.
It’s a great unit for professionals, with a cleaning and carry kit that is hard and padded, preventing your sleek trombone from getting dented. Keeping your trombone spotless is one of the keys to preserving it for as long as possible.
This is one of the best trombones to use for outdoor parties, with a lacquer that will prevent all sorts of corrosion from water and sweat.
It has a very smooth action that will allow for a decent articulation between notes, ideal if you are playing fast, as most jazz players cannot help themselves!
- With a waterproof brass finish, you can be certain that this instrument will last you for months, even years if maintained properly. If you are planning on playing a lot of outdoor gigs, then this is the instrument for you.
- This is great as a lead instrument - with the perfect articulation of notes and a great slide action that will allow you to hit notes easier, you won’t be let down by this trombone.
- The amplification of the bell is also a testament to this instrument’s capacity to function in outdoor or larger venues.
- This comes with a hard carry case that will prevent your trombone from succumbing to numerous scuffs and bangs. This superficial damage will soon begin to affect the ability of your trombone to function.
- The price - due to its superior features, this trombone comes with a hefty price tag. This will certainly deter student players who have to stick to a very tight budget.
Best Jazz Trombone Buying Guide
When you are playing for a proficient jazz ensemble, you won’t be able to skimp on the quality of your instrument.
There are also distinctive types of trombone that will better suit a jazz scenario, such as one that has a nice bass sound that can rise over the sound of the drums, bass and other horn instruments.
What Size Is The Bell And Bore Of Your Trombone?
In most instances, the bell will determine the volume of the sound that comes out of your trombone.
If you are going to play a lead jazz trombone, then you’ll generally need a narrower bell, to concentrate the sound in one direction.
The bore size will affect the resonance, tone variation and sound projection of your instrument. We would recommend one of the Yamaha brands for achieving both a high and low sound, respectively.
What Lacquer Does Your Trombone Have?
If you’re going to be spending a lot of money on your trombone, you’ll want something that has a sleek, shiny and sophisticated finish.
However, the wrap of your trombone will affect the blowing feel, the compactness and will protect it against certain corrosive elements such as water and sweat.
What Valves Does Your Trombone Have?
Valves will dictate the type of sound that your trombone will produce.
The more valves that your trombone has, then the more notes that you will be able to articulate, producing several different styles of pitches.
Traditionally, a trombone should have around 3 valves that will enable you to cover all the keys.
The Slide Of Your Trombone
This is one of the most important things about your trombone, the smoothness of its action will determine how quickly you can move between the notes.
If you want to play the fast notes as they do in bebop jazz, then you’ll need a slide that flows extremely smoothly.
Some jazz players prefer a trombone that emits a deep bass sound to all of their notes. These bassy notes give the whole ensemble its traditional somber tone.
Best Jazz Trombone - FAQ's
How Can You Play Jazz On Trombone?
You’ll need to know how to swing those eighth notes on a trombone if you want to learn how to play jazz. You have to tie the notes together in 3’s so that there is no break between them.
Then you’ll need to know how to move the slide, often switching between the notes as fast as you can. This will require extremely intimate, almost involuntary knowledge of what slide position you should have. It should feel as if your arm is moving without you having to think about it at all.
Then you should learn how to play each note with a slight vibrato, which will give your jazz playing that added character.