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How Do I Choose the Best Trombone?

Micah MacBride
Micah MacBride

When you first start learning the trombone, you usually rent one from a store or get one on loan from your school's music program. As you advance in your musical abilities, however, you may want to take the plunge and purchase a trombone of your own. Choosing the best trombone usually depends largely on the quality of the instrument and the tonal range in which you want to play.

When it comes to looking for the best trombone, you have to make sure that the instrument is made of quality metals. You can get an initial indication of this aspect for a particular trombone by tapping a fingernail against the rim of the instrument's bell. A crisp clanging sound will tell you that the instrument is made from quality metals that will produce good tone, while a more dull sound can indicate that a metal plating covers cheap materials that will produce a weaker sound. You can confirm the instrument's quality by playing a few notes in different octave ranges. If you cannot produce a quality sound in the range of notes you are comfortable playing, then it is a low quality instrument.

Man playing a guitar
Man playing a guitar

When it comes to the size of the instrument, what constitutes the best trombone for you will depend on the tonal range in which you wish to play. Smaller trombones make it easier to hit very high notes with a good quality sound, but may make you work harder to play very low notes tat sound equally good. Larger trombones, on the other hand, provide a fuller, rich sound at low and intermediate octaves, but can make you work harder to reach very high notes while maintaining the tone quality.

Arguably one of the most critical factors in selecting the best trombone is the quality of the instrument's slide. Trombone players change notes by extending this slide at varying lengths, so the slide must move smoothly in order for a musician to play effectively. You can inspect the quality of the slide by looking at the outer portion for dents that could be pressing against the inner mechanism. This can create extra friction that damages the inner slide, impedes your playing speed, and interferes with your precision in moving the slide to a point at which a note is perfectly in tune. You should also check the slide's quality by slowly moving the slide up and down its range, paying attention to areas of increased slide resistance or catching.

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