Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, but it’s keeping an eye on where you’re going that really matters!
Everyone begins on a student-line trombone, which probably has a few dents and a "crunchy" slide operation. This is fine for most players as we are first learning the physical demands of the trombone. However, with some notable exceptions (body size, ability to blow and sustain sounds, reaching 7th position), most of us will feel like the student instrument has some pretty immediate limitations. It's time to consider stepping up to a better instrument.
For the most part, a full-sized .547" bore symphonic trombone is best suited for Orchestras, Symphonic Bands, and Wind Ensembles, due to its large, open, dark sound quality, as well as its broad range.
Another trombone size that is also usable in symphonic settings is a .525" bore trombone, a mid-size instrument that can fit into many musical groups, especially on the top parts. It is also a fine instrument for solo work, as well as chamber music. Most players prefer the larger .547" bore trombones for its larger sound and color possibilities.
Kinds of Trombones
There are many brands from which to choose, among them old standbys such as: Bach, Conn, Yamaha, Holton, and King; as well as the relative new-comers: Edwards/Getzen, Shires, Rath; all of which have models that are of high quality to fit almost any musical setting. These makers also have Intermediate lines of trombones with, perhaps, fewer options (kinds of bells, various metals and soldered beads around the flare), but still with the original dimensions and feel. In addition, there are many off-brand options available for reduced costs. Expect a top quality instrument to be in the $4000 range for a tenor trombone, and $5000+ for a top bass trombone. Intermediate lines are less expensive, in the $2000-3000 range.
Depending on the player's level of interest, longterm goals, and overall love for music, you will have a couple of choices for the High School player: take the intermediate approach and fit the player to a step-up instrument, or to go big right off the bat. The first choice will yield greater success, which I define as increased immediate feedback in being able to achieve an improvement over the student line instrument. However, this route will usually include re-visiting the store for the final upgrade to a full-sized .547" trombone for later in High School and through College.
Going big earlier means more initial difficulty filling the large-bore instrument, as well as increased weight in holding the instrument. However most students will eventually overcome the initial challenges with great success and enjoyment.
I can highly recommend several trombones, the first being the Getzen 700 Series- which is a great value, and blurs the line between intermediate and professional line trombones. To keep the same bore-size as a beginner's horn, I recommend the Getzen Model 725, a .525" bore size trombone that also comes with a case. While it offers an "F-Valve", it is also upgradeable to a dual-bore slide, meaning that the bore of the tube entering the bell section is larger than the tube in which the mouthpiece is inserted.
Shires Company makes a nice Intermediate horn, as does Yamaha.
Getzen Model 747 is a .547" symphonic sized trombone that will far outlast the needs of most trombone students into College and beyond.
Many younger students will ask "what is all that extra tubing on your trombone?" I tell them to just wait until they are a little bigger so that they can enjoy the benefits of an "F Attachment". This extra tubing allows us to play many more notes in more convenient slide positions, as well as to fill in the low-note gaps. This tubing can come in "open wrap" or "closed wrap", the former being more open flow to the air when engaged, though the closed isn't always hugely "stuffy".
Valves are the next selection: Rotor valves versus cone-shaped "Thayer" valves. These days, the top valves from all makers are pretty darn good, so valve selection will depend on personal preference.
There are many mouthpiece options from which to choose. First, let's discuss the exterior parts of the mouthpiece: rim, cup, and shank; the interior view: inside rim diameter; the shape of the interior cup (the relative bowl-shape or funnel-shape); and the backbore (size of the hole). The most popular brand is Bach, so much so that many other brands adopted the naming system and general size and shape that came from Bach, such as the popular 5G. Larger cup sizes increase with descending numbers, thus 4G is larger than 5G, and a Bass Trombone mouthpiece is mostly 1G.
Small bore instruments will require a small-bore shank (the mouthpiece tube that connects into the hand slide). The Bach numbering system for this is an added "s", thus a 5GS is a medium-sized mouthpiece, with a small shank. To further complicate things, there are larger mouthpieces for the small-bore shank that are numbered only the number and no G. Therefore, Bach 4 or Bach 3 mouthpieces are much larger in the cup, but have small shanks. Large bore instruments have no identifier aside from the G, like the aforementioned 5G.
Confused? Me too!
metronome, tuner, mirror, b.e.r.p., cut-away mouthpiece, recorder, additional apps - See me about implementing these tools.