If you’re a parent of a student who’s about to attend their first band practice – or maybe you are that student – and you’re overwhelmed by the amount of information, recommendations, or suggestions about getting your first student trombone, you’re not alone.
It’s a lot of information to sort through, and that’s why we’ve prepared this info guide for all beginner trombone players.
But first of all, congratulations on deciding to play the trombone!
Trombonists are in high demand, and even if it’s not an incredibly popular instrument for young students, it has an extremely versatile sound that can be incorporated into almost every genre. This creates a high demand and low supply, meaning you’ll have several opportunities to make it a big part of your musician career if you intend to do so. Trombones are used in the music scores of famous movies, from Star Wars to Frozen, as well as in the live performances of popular artists.
Read on to find out more about how to decide which type of trombone is right for you, the best models and where and how to obtain one.
Types of Trombones for a Beginner or Student to Start With
The trombone has evolved into different types throughout history, and some are more used nowadays than others. The most common and standard trombones are the straight tenor, trigger-type, and bass trombones.
On the other hand, the less common are the valve trombone, alto trombone, soprano trombone, and marching trombones.
However, for students or beginner players, some types within the trombone family are more suitable and easier to start with.
Tenor Trombone – the Most Common Choice
First, the most common and the one most people are familiar with: the tenor trombone. This type is the easiest, as there is no tubing inside the main section. This is the standard straight tenor trombone with open tubing, lightweight, and ideal for beginners. If you’re playing in a marching band, this model is particularly ideal, as it’s the lightest and easiest to carry around.
Trombone with an F attachment
Second is what’s known as a “trigger trombone,” or simply a trombone with an F attachment. This adds an extra stretch of tubing and a trigger that can be pressed down on.
Although heavier, this type of trombone is also ideal for beginners (and those with shorter arms), as it makes it easier to reach the seventh position. The seventh position is the furthest position on the trombone’s slide, and some new players may find it difficult to reach it. Having the trigger attachment will allow you to press down on the trigger instead of reaching the seventh position every time.
If you are in a school band, your band director might also give you the chance to try out the bass trombone, which is a model that adds yet another trigger for reaching even lower notes. It has the same length as the tenor type but has a larger bell and a wider bore. The modern trombone models are pitched in B♭. It is much larger and heavier and is better suited for intermediate or more advanced players. However, if you’re feeling especially bold and adventurous, don’t be afraid to give the bass trombone a try.
Finally, if your child is very young, they may enjoy learning on a colorful plastic trombone, which is generally smaller and much lighter in weight. Like many other types of plastic instruments, It has its unique sound as well and is great for spending a year or two while learning the basics. Most children can make the switch from a plastic trombone to a tenor or bass trombone fairly easily.
Getting Your First Trombone – What Options Exist?
There are several ways you could take to get your first trombone, and we are going to lay out the pros and cons of each. The path you choose to take is mostly dependent on what you hope to get out of being a trombonist.
Opting to Use a School Trombone
One option is to use an available school instrument. Most schools’ band programs, especially those that are offered as elective courses, have a select number of instruments that are available for student usage. Of course, the primary benefit of this is the fact that you won’t have to spend any money on your first trombone.
The downside? Most schools won’t allow you to take it off school grounds, meaning you won’t likely be able to spend much time practicing. Additionally, school instruments are notorious for not being of great quality. They may be rusted, bulky, or fall out of tune. They also just might not sound great.
This may be the best route to go if you’re not sold on the trombone yet, or if you’re just trying it out along with a host of other band instruments to see which one is the “best fit.” It also may be good if you feel like your time here is going to be temporary, or relegated only to your class.
To Rent a Trombone
However, if your heart’s in it just a bit more, another option is to rent a trombone. You can do this from nearly any local music store or some rental programs online.
Your school may also have a rental option, but that would just be paying money to bring home a low-quality instrument, so if you’re going to rent a trombone at all, you might as well rent one from reputable music businesses.
On the upside, you’re probably going to be playing with a high-quality, decent-sounding trombone; on the downside, you probably won’t get to pick the brand or specific student models – meaning it may not be the perfect fit for you – and, depending on how long you stick with it, rental prices can get to be fairly costly.
Getting Your Own Trombone – Buying Options for Beginners
If you’ve chosen to purchase your first trombone, student trombones can usually be found online, through your school, or at a local music store, whether brand new or as a used trombone.
You also should consider asking your band director or school for advice; they will likely have more knowledge of discounts or music shops in the area that provide high-quality instruments at low prices, especially at the local level. Never hesitate to ask them for advice, as their expertise may end up proving very helpful!
Purchasing your instrument will cost more up-front but will allow you the option of sticking with it for longer without having to pay rental fees or rely on a low-quality, poorly-sounding instrument. And, honestly, there are plenty of perfectly good trombones that only cost a couple of thousand or some hundred dollars. You can find a brand that fits perfectly with you, it’ll be brand new, and you will own the instrument yourself.
What Accessories Will I Need to Start Playing?
Depending on whether you or your child is looking for a music career, you’ll want to consider purchasing a good-quality mouthpiece. Having a high-quality mouthpiece that meets the needs of your physique is essential to obtaining a full, open-throat sound. You’ll want to start with a mouthpiece that has a wide, round rim, as this is the most comfortable and easy to play for beginners.
A Music Stand
If you know you’re going to be doing a lot of practicing at home, it may also be beneficial to invest in a music stand for at-home practice and travel. There’s nothing more annoying than having your papers slip down in the middle of a song because you tried to prop them up on the bookshelf.
This is a must. Without regularly cleaning your slide and applying the cream, it will become choked up and sluggish and may scratch the interior of the slide, ruining your trombone or causing expensive damage.
A Case or Gig Bag
Depending on the traveling or transportation you make with your trombone, as well as the need for protecting it from impacts and outside environments, a trombone case or gig bag can be essential for you. Check our full guide on the best trombone cases and what to consider before buying one.
How Much Does a Beginner Trombone Cost?
Trombones can range in price from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand. Expect to pay between $400 and $1,500 for a beginner trombone.
For step-up or intermediate trombones, you might pay from $1,400 to $2,800.
Of course, the type, brand, and quality of the trombone can all factor in on the cost. Some types of trombones just cost more.
For example, trombones with F attachments can be several hundred dollars more expensive than trombones without them, and bass trombones are also typically more expensive, while plastic trombones will be in the cheapest range.
Typically, you get what you pay for in the musical instrument industry: the higher something is priced, typically the better quality it is.
What Is the Best Student Trombone?
Based on our research, experience, and testing, here are some of the top-rated models that you can purchase on specialized instrument stores, online music retailers, or general e-commerce websites like Amazon and eBay.
They are also some of the best brands recommended for beginner trombones:
- Best Overall:: Bach TB301 USA Student Trombone
- Best for the Price: Mendini by Cecilio Bb Tenor Slide Trombone and Etude ETB-100 Series Student Trombone
- Best Trombone with F Attachment: S.E. Shires TBQ30YA Q-Series Axial F-Attachment Trombone
Best Beginner Trombone Brands
The four specific models pointed above might suit your needs but aren’t of course the only ones in the market. With so many instruments in the market targeting an entry-level player, it could be quite difficult to choose which one to get as your first instrument.
However, some brands will offer some good quality instruments at reasonable prices if you are a beginner trombonist. For each of the brands, we point to a trombone model specifically targeting beginners:
- Bach Student Trombone: The Vincent Bach TB301
- Yamaha Student Trombone: The YSL-354 trombone
- Conn-Selmer Student Trombone: The Conn-Selmer TB711
On the other hand, some brands aren’t of great quality even though they are cheap. We’ve identified those in the following article, targeting what trombone brands you should avoid.
Final Take Away on Getting Your First Trombone
Once again, congratulations if you started your journey as a beginner trombone player. You have chosen one of the most interesting and complex instruments in the brass world.
The trombone is fun, versatile, and difficult to master – but once you do, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment like nothing else.
If you take anything away from this, let it be to ask for advice, shop around until you find the best fit for you, and know that you will likely have to pay more for better quality.
How Much Does a Student Trombone Cost?
The cost of a student or beginner trombone ranges from $400 to $1,500.
What is the Most Common Trombone?
The most common trombone is the tenor trombone, usually the number one option to start learning this instrument.
How Much Does a Student Trombone Weigh?
Bach, Yamaha, Mendini, and Conn-Selmer are considered to be the best brands of trombones aimed at beginner trombonists.