When it comes to playing in a brass band, a jazz band or an orchestra, most of us will recognize a small trumpet or the S-shaped curve of a saxophone, but some of us might not be that familiar with the paperclip-shaped trombone.
Trombones give that deep rasping bassy sound, often the most commanding that you can find in an orchestra. They are used to herald the coming of a great army or some grand celebration of love, that deep warbling getting right into the very pit of your stomach.
The trombone is a challenging instrument to learn, having to memorize various notes by the position of your arm. It requires a great deal of hand-eye coordination as well as the ability to put your mouth in certain positions in time with the note.
Trombones are also beautiful-looking instruments, often manufactured from shiny brass and nickel elements, with a shiny brass bell that will resonate and fill out the horn section, complementing the much higher pitches of trumpets, french horns and saxophones.
Having a solid trombone that you will be able to transport from the rehearsal room to the concert or gig and back home again will be very important for preserving the instrument’s integrity.
You’ll also want something with a protective lacquering that will stop it from succumbing to spit and water damage over time.
But where can you find the best trombones? What features does a trombone need to have and what materials should it be made out of to give you the richest and most resonant sounds? How much can you be looking to pay for a top-of-the-range trombone?
Well, trombone heads, you won’t have to worry about where to find a new horn instrument, as we’ve compiled a list of some of the best trombones currently available on the market.
We’ve also got a buyer’s guide that will help you determine the good trombones from the not-so-good ones, along with some frequently asked questions.
OUR TOP PICK
Our first trombone is a highly-regarded model from a very well-respected brand, Yamaha.
Judging by the hundreds of top-rated reviews on this instrument, you can guarantee the best tones from your instrument, with a polished yellow body that will certainly give you that sophisticated edge when you bring it to the audience - introducing the Yamaha YSL354 Trombone.
This instrument is great for the student, as it is of decent quality and very reasonably priced, giving the beginner a professional caliber of sound, allowing them to articulate notes very well.
The body is made from solid brass, which will help with resonance and will also survive a lot of the high impacts you might experience when taking it from gig to gig. The slide is made from nickel, with a golden finish, although you can also get a silver slide.
The joints are precision-fused with lasers and it features silver nickel tubular braces that will make sure the whole instrument holds very well.
The mouthpiece has been designed by computer, giving you accurate notes and smooth playability.
- This is a superior model for students - you can pick it up at half the price of a regular trombone without sacrificing any of the professional-standard qualities.
- The construction of the body is extremely durable, it can withstand the battering that naturally occurs during transportation, with a lacquered outer shell that will make it resonate and protect it against water damage.
- The mouthpiece, rim and cup are very well-made using computer technology. The sound you can achieve from this instrument will rival those of the very best models.
- The joints are professionally made and are laser molded, with an airtight slide that will ensure a very smooth transition from one note to another.
- Some users might not be happy with the nickel slide that will bend and warp if played too hard.
Our next selection gives the users a wide range of options to play with in terms of functionality and sound, manufactured and tried in the shop before going out for sale.
This bass trombone is another made by Yahama, so you can expect that attention to detail in terms of construction reserved only for professional musicians - introducing the Yamaha YBL-822G Xeno Series Bass Trombone.
This trombone has a resilient brass body with a slide that is drawn in one piece. Generally, the rule is that the fewer parts to a trombone then the more solid the construction.
In a trombone, you’ll ideally want that good balance between being solid in body but also flexible in the playing style.
This trombone has a very warm sound, so you can be sure that you’ll be sounding like the professionals, even if you are a newbie struggling to get the right-hand positions.
When it comes to playing the trombone the smoothness of your slide will be the most valuable thing and this one has that in spades!
- The construction of this trombone is a gold brass body with nickel and silver-plated insides, which will prevent water damage from your sweat and spit.
- This model is developed in conjunction with the Boston Symphony, so you can be sure of having that top-tier quality when it comes to your sound and action.
- The rotors are offset from the body and hand-lapped with a metal linkage, which will make sure of a smooth transition between different notes.
- The bell in this trombone has a very wide diameter of 9.5-inches, which gives you a very rich, resonant sound that will fill out the sound of most orchestras and jazz bands. If you want to leave an impression on your bandmates, you can be sure to make one with this trombone.
- The price - this trombone is a lot more expensive than some of the other trombones on this list and might deter players who are on a budget.
Our next trombone is certainly one of the more affordable models on this list, although that certainly isn’t to suggest that it skimps on that professional warm sound that you have come to expect from the big bands.
This trombone has a larger bore, which will be perfectly suited to older beginners who have a decent lung capacity - introducing the Mendini by Cecilio Bb Tenor Slide Trombone.
This trombone has a medium bore that is made from nickel and a silver-plated mouthpiece that is both durable and will produce a rich sound. This is more adapted to older users who can blow harder and sustain notes, rather than younger students.
This comes with a cleaner, which will be invaluable when keeping your trombone in top-notch condition.
The solid construction will also prevent you from sustaining serious damage from transportation, the lacquer on the outside will help you sustain those richer notes and prevent the inside of the trombone from getting damaged by accumulated saliva and sweat.
- The welding - this trombone has been solidly put together by Yamaha, a world-class instrument maker who ensures that no trombone leaves their factory without being rigorously tried and tested first.
- The price - this is one of the more affordable units on this list, making it the ideal choice for those who have a limited budget but still want all the features of a professional level trombone.
- With enough oil, the action on the slide is very smooth, you can easily get accustomed to the 7 positions of your trombone and commit them to memory.
- This is one for older beginners or intermediate players - the solid nickel and precision-designed mouthpiece will allow you to get comfortable with using this instrument.
- The action needs a lot of oil to function at its maximum efficiency, which might out of more experienced players that want a reliable instrument.
Our next trombone is something a little bit different, coming in an entirely plastic body that is perfect for young players who have never held a trombone mouthpiece to their lips before.
When it comes to starting young children on such an instrument, they can obviously be very rough, so having one made from a cheaper material makes a lot of sense - introducing pInstrument Plastic pBone Trombone.
This is a great way of gauging a child’s commitment to this instrument, it is durable and produces something approximating a trombone sound except that it’s a quarter of the price!
This has a glass fiber lockable slide that will teach your young trombonist how to learn the slide positions of their instrument, as well as how to take care of it.
The whole weight of this trombone is only 2-pounds, so a young child will be able to hold it for hours on end easily, again, very useful for practicing.
The mouthpiece of this trombone is also plastic, with a smaller bore hole and a shank that matches those of ordinary smaller trombones.
- The affordability - when it comes to price, this plastic trombone simply will not be beaten. It is the perfect gift for a child that you feel might have a budding interest in playing orchestral or jazz music.
- The mouthpiece and the slide are all built to scale reproduction of a full-sized trombone, allowing a young player to perfectly grasp the rudiments before graduating to a real brass or bronze instrument.
- There are brass elements to this plastic trombone, mainly in the slide stockings on the inner side, which will give your newbie trombone player an even more realistic depiction of the trombone.
- Despite its plastic composition, this unit is surprisingly durable, it can withstand a lot of punishment from a smaller player and can last them a few years if maintained correctly.
- Obviously, this plastic trombone will be no good to an intermediate player that is looking to expand their playing horizons with a heavy-duty brass trombone.
Our final trombone is one that can be described as being made out of a ‘classic’ material, build to last many years, it has a solid timbre, made from a combination of brass, nickel and silver.
This is one for those who want to advance their playing to somewhere approaching professional levels - introducing the King legend 4B Series Trombone.
The hand slide of this trombone is extremely fluid and gives you a very smooth transition between notes. It is quite lightweight, so you’ll be able to hold it for many hours while you practice.
The mouthpiece is very generous and made of highly durable nickel-silver, so you can articulate those notes with maximum ease.
This trombone is gold-lacquered with an F-rotor attachment that has an excellent response and allows for a seamless transition between notes.
The entire body of this trombone is very solid and you can count on it lasting you for years with the proper care and attention.
- This trombone is probably one of the best constructed on our list, with brass and silver-nickel composition that mirrors the very best trombones on the professional circuit.
- The crooks are made from lead pipe and bell, again, giving you that extra sturdy quality in every part of the trombone.
- The price - this is very reasonable considering all the features that it has. You can pick this one up if you're a student or older amateur, quickly becoming accustomed to how a real trombone moves and plays.
- The brass of the body will produce a very harmonic resonance, giving you and your band that rich and raspy sound that will wow any audience.
- This might be a little too advanced for the beginner who has barely put their lips to a trombone before. You might want to consider something with a smaller mouthpiece.
Best Trombones Buying Guide
A lot of people might be asking themselves whether it is worth playing the trombone, as it does not have keys like a sax or a trumpet.
Inside it has a slide that seems to involve more guesswork. But exactly how easy is it to play the trombone compared to any other horn instrument?
If you ask a lot of brass players, then they will corroborate this opinion - that the trombone is indeed the most difficult brass instrument to play.
The trombone, therefore, can certainly be considered an extension of a truly virtuoso player. There’s certainly a lot more respect to be given to a premiere trombone player than a premiere trumpet player, that’s for sure.
But there are some basic things that you need to know about a trombone before purchasing. There are various styles of trombone and it will certainly be worth figuring out which one you’ll need for your uses before purchasing one.
The Tenor Trombone
This is probably the best trombone you can pick out for a beginner, with a lot of the most basic features that will be fairly easy to get your head around.
There are a lot of online tutorials on Youtube that will teach you how to play this entry-level trombone.
The Alto Trombone
This alto is also a good beginner’s trombone and, although they aren’t that common outside orchestras, they are still very basic and can be easily picked up even by the most entry-level player.
You probably won’t even need a music tutor to get to grips with this instrument, simply find a few online tutorials and get learning.
The Tenor/Bass F-rotor Trombone
This is certainly not one for the starting trombonist, most suited to the intermediate or professional player, it comes with plenty of complicated features and materials.
The weight of this trombone is a lot more than the ones we’ve listed above, so unless you are very well-practiced, you probably won’t get on with this style of trombone straight away.
The Valve Trombone
This is one only for the experienced trombone player, someone with at least 10 years of experience.
If you are looking for something more adventurous than your tenor or bass f-rotor instrument, then we would certainly recommend amping up your playing with a valve trombone.
The reason why this horn is so complicated is that it’s a hybrid: mixing the slide of the trombone with the keys of a trumpet.
This gives you a much richer tonal quality and more precision over your notes, although trying to learn keys and a slide will only be something a real expert horn player can accomplish.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can You Keep Your Trombone Clean?
As with a lot of woodwind instruments, your trombone will soon become gummed up with moisture from your breath.
Over time this moisture will lead to a significant buildup in damage, corroding the metal elements of your instrument.
Luckily, trombones are very easy to clean and most of them come with their own cleaning accessories.
We would recommend that you polish the bell with a dry cloth and the mouthpiece with the tiny brush that it comes with, both on a weekly basis.