[Dixielandjazz] Trombones

Dick Miller Dick_Miller at pmug.org
Thu Oct 27 19:08:14 PDT 2005

The Holton Superbone is still made and sold and true, it's a bit odd, but
interesting. Inspired by Maynard Ferguson, I understand. If you'd like to
hear one play OKOM in very capable hands, check out the Black Swan Classic
JB from the Portland, OR area. Lew Chapman, former Air Force Band
trombonist, does some neat tricks with his. He gave me a chance to try it
out, and it was fun but seemed a bit stuffy to me.

I've got two horns: an old Holton large-bore with an F attachment (almost
a bass trombone, but not quite) and a Bach marching trombone (looks like a
cornet with a gland problem).  Yamaha makes a whole family of marching
brass, including a trombone, which they call a Flugabone, just to confuse
things. I've been enjoying playing the marching trombone more than the
slide for the last few years, largely because it's easier to carry around.
You lose the ability to play glisses, but the valves allow you to play
more trumpet-like licks.

Warning about the cheap new horns on eBay: many are from India and other
distant countries, and the shipping winds up costing more than half the
price of the horn. There are some reliable vendors in the states who sell
the inexpensive new horns. I just bought a new pocket trumpet from one for
less than $120. Just about what I wanted to spend to find out if I've got
the energy and time to develop yet another embouchure. :-)

Main things to check when you buy a used horn: 1) slide; 2) slide; and 3)
slide. Look at the stockings (4" or so sleeves at the end of the slide
that maintain the air seal in the slide). If they're worn, pass on that
horn. Both slide portions should be straight when the outer slide is
removed. Take the whole slide section (inner and outer) in one hand, cover
the short part with the heel of your hand and the longer part with your
thumb. Pull the slide down and then remove the thumb. You should hear a
strong "pop." Repeat while pushing the slide in. If you pause a moment
before releasing the thumb, the pressure you feel should stay constant.
All this pressure testing can be sabotaged by a leaky water key (alias
spit valve) cork, so check that first.

Secondarily, the tuning slide (or slides if you have an F attachment)
should be free and straight.

Remove the outer slide and stare down the inside of the inner slide. There
should be no crud visible.

Good luck!

--Dick Miller

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