Trombone Buying Guide

What is the best trombone for a beginner? How do you know if a trombone is good? Follow this trombone buyer’s guide to choose the right trombone for you!

What is the difference between a Student Model and a Professional Model?


A Student Model trombone is designed for a beginner. Trombones from quality manufacturers like Yamaha, Bach, King, Selmer and Jupiter are made of durable materials, have simple design and are easy to repair. They also stay repaired once they have been fixed, which is important for students who are just learning. Cheap instruments from big box stores or 3rd party online retailers are often made of inferior materials and break quickly, easily and often. Rental programs can provide a quality, student model trombone for a low monthly price with options to buy, return and even pay for a service plan. Rental programs are a great way to introduce a student to an instrument with a low upfront investment.


An Intermediate or Professional Trombone is a higher quality instrument. They are made from more expensive materials and provide options to customize your playing experience. Most of them have a Trigger, which we'll discuss later. Options such as material, bell size and bore size will change the sound of the instrument to suit your preferences. The best way to find the right Trombone for you is to try them! Visit your local music store and talk through your needs with a professional. They will help you pinpoint what options are important to you, and make suggestions.

Trombone Player Female Yamaha Professional Trombone

What is a Trombone Made out of?

Trombones are typically made of Yellow Brass, but intermediate and professional trombones can be made from yellow, gold or red brass, or even sterling silver. The material of the trombone will affect its sound. Each metal will color the sound in subtle ways.


Why does the Bell Size matter?


The bell size is equally as important as the bore size when comparing trombones. Different sizes and thickness can impact sound, and more advanced musicians may have preferences for bells with certain features. Jazz trombone bells are often the smallest, and orchestral trombone bells are the largest. Bass trombones usually have larger bells than tenor trombones. Bells are either constructed by a two-piece welded assembly or a one-piece hand-hammered bell.

What is the Bore Size?            

You may notice that trombone descriptions often include a bore size. The bore size refers to the width of the inner diameter of the inner slide, expressed in thousandths of an inch. The range is from about .500” (student model) to .547” (for symphonic use) on up to .562” (for bass trombones). Bore size affects a horn’s resistance, or back pressure. A Small Bore is better for beginners as it is easier to create a quality sound. The amount of resistance is also a matter of taste, and the dynamics you are looking for in your chosen genre of music.

Smaller Bore: Have a brighter, more focused sound. Creates more resistance (allows students to produce good tone easier)
Larger Bore: Tend to have a darker or warmer and bigger sound


Trigger Trombone Yamaha Professional F-Attachment

What is a Trigger Trombone?

The F-attachment, commonly called a Trigger, adds complexity and extends the trombone’s capabilities. It adds to notes to the horn’s low range and also provides alternative slide positions for playing certain passages, making them easier to perform. The two basic types of F-attachments are traditional/standard wrap or open wrap. A Standard Wrap has more bends in it which makes it more compact, but also increases resistance. An Open Wrap has fewer bends for a freer-blowing trombone.

What Style do you Play?

When purchasing a trombone, it is important to pick an instrument that matches your style of playing. Some trombones are most suited to jazz playing or to orchestral playing. Make sure to take this into consideration when selecting a trombone. 

Which Trombone Should I buy?

After reading this guide, you may still be wondering how to pick the right trombone. The best way to decide which trombone to buy is to try out many different types. Try out trombones with various features and of various brands to help you narrow down which type of trombone you like. Once you find the trombone that makes playing easiest and most enjoyable for you, you’ll know you’ve found the right one!