[Dixielandjazz] Trombones - which to choose?

Williams, Bob robert.c.williams at eds.com
Wed Oct 26 13:41:40 PDT 2005


The trombone is basically a Bb instrument because of its overtones - most of the notes you can play in 1st position are related to the Bb chord - just like the trumpet (Bb notes when no valves are pressed).

It's also often considered a C instrument because sheet music for trombone is not transposed like it is for other Bb instruments.  For example, if you want to hear an Eb on the trombone, you write Eb on the music (in bass clef).  If you want to hear an Eb on the trumpet, you write an F (in treble clef).

The only other distinction I can think of is this: sometimes early in school band programs, questionable trumpet players are demoted to the trombone, of which there are frequently too few.  To ease the transition, parts sometimes exist for treble clef trombone, in which the notes are written in treble clef and "transposed," like for the trumpet parts above.  I believe these parts are considered "Bb Trombone" parts, and can be identified by the fact they're in treble clef.  

More often, the deficient trumpet player is moved to the baritone/euphonium, parts for which almost always exist in both treble clef (transposed) and bass clef (untransposed).  It's usually an easier transition for the musician, who is usually somewhat challenged if he's there in the first place, because the fingerings are the same.  And it sounds sort of like a trombone.  If the trombone paucity is a problem, the trumpet-cum-euphonium player can easily be moved to the valve trombone, also called the "Italian," "Sissy," or "Girl's" trombone.  This looks nice in a stage band.

Usually you can tell a "real" euphonium player because he/she is reading in bass clef.

It is a source of consternation to trombone players that the euphonium players, nearly always failed trumpet players, get the sweet solo parts while the trombonists are left playing downbeats to the french horns upbeats.

As far as ebay trombones go - I would hesitate to buy a new, cheap trombone.  You will have much better luck buying a decent used professional model horn.  Trombones, like most instruments, usually don't benefit much by being new.  And the fact is, you can completely overhaul a trombone much more cheaply than other instruments.  Let's face it, it's a piece of plumbing.

I would be happy to advise you on a particular trombone if you send me a link.  If you find a pre-60s King 2B Silversonic for under $200, I can tell you right now you don't want it - but please send me the link anyway.  Ahem.

Bob Williams
Trombonist Extraordinaire and 
The Worlds's Most Modest Man
mailto:slushpump1 at comcast.net

-----Original Message-----
From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com [mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com] On Behalf Of Luís Henriques
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2005 12:50 PM
To: dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Trombones - which to choose?

Hi trombone players,

just a curiosity question:

Which trombones are better for OKOM?  Trombone in Bb or in C?  What about the models?  I've been looking at eBay and there are really cheap trombones there!  Do you recommend anything in particular (from these inexpensive models)?

Thanks a lot.

Luís Henriques

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