Musical instruments are an expensive investment, so it’s important that you find the right one for you (or your child). Whether you are looking for your first beginner trombone, wanting to step up to an intermediate trombone, or you’re serious about playing and need a professional level trombone, there are many things to consider. In this article, we will give you a rundown of the best trombone brands.
Best Trombone Brands 2018
We have listed our favorite trombone brands below. We’ll start with an overview of the best trombones for beginners, intermediate players, and professional players. We’ll then list the remainder of our recommended trombone brands below in the order that we recommend them.
Use this list as a guideline for which trombone brands to buy. While not every trombone brand on this list will fit your budget, experience level, or other search criteria, we hope it provides a great baseline to begin your search.
Best Trombone Brand for Beginners
• Case included
Best Trombone Brand for Intermediate Players
The extensive Yamaha line of trombones covers all stages of a player’s life – from beginner models in middle/high schools, intermediate models in high schools and in the hands of enthusiasts, and professional models used by teachers, orchestras, and jazz ensembles. The Yamaha YSL-448G is our favorite Yamaha trombone model.
• Highly rated
• High-quality sound
• Large bore
Best Trombone Brand for Professionals
Back in the 50’s and 60’s, no American orchestral trombonist would be caught dead without his trusty Conn 88h at his side. These instruments dominated the professional trombone scene in America and they have made a comeback today.
• Beautiful sound
• Superior quality
A Few Things to Watch For When Buying a Trombone
When first learning to play the trombone, especially if the beginner is on the younger side, it is vital that the instrument is fairly easy to play. The trombone needs to be in good working order, made with good materials, and assembled well.
It is recommended that the student stay away from instruments that are not associated with a company (these will not have any company logo engraved on the instrument or case), or cheap mass-produced models coming from places such as China. The low price tags on these trombones look enticing, and while once in a while there may be a “diamond in the rough” (don’t bet on it), most of these horns are made poorly and with cheap, inferior quality materials. As a result, they can be very hard for the beginner to play. The last thing we want is for a beginner to quit out of frustration just because of a bad instrument!
Additionally, it’s important that the student-model trombone, especially for a younger beginner, is very durable. Even with reminders, kids do forget that musical instruments aren’t toys. Accidents do happen, even with the most careful young students. This is one reason the beginner should avoid starting out with a professional instrument; professional model trombones are frequently more intricately designed and more delicate as a result. Furthermore, the mass-produced Chinese trombones or instruments without a brand name are often cheaply made with brittle material that will dent, warp, and crack with even the slightest misuse (sometimes with no misuse at all!), so they are to be avoided at all costs.
Best Trombones for Beginners
Some of our favorite brands of trombones with beginner models are: Conn-Selmer, King, Bach, and Yamaha. This article’s choice for best trombone brand for beginners is the King 606. For more, read our trombones for beginners guide.
Best Intermediate Trombones
It is not uncommon to find that some players will still be as excited (or even more excited) about playing than they were before, even after playing for a number of years. They are typically the students who are more committed to practicing and taking lessons than they were at the start. In many cases, after they have been playing for 4-5 years, they may have outgrown their beginner instrument, and it will be time to step up to a new and improved instrument. A number of these intermediate trombones will have what is called an “F-Attachment,” or “trigger.” What this means is that there is a lever operated by the left thumb that opens extra tubing on the trombone, making more notes possible! This article’s choice for best trombone brand for intermediate players is the Yamaha YSL-448G.
Best Professional Trombones
Some people that start on trombone will develop a particular bond to playing the instrument over the years, and will find ways to continue playing after going through school – whether they decide to pursue music as a career in some capacity (e.g., performing or teaching), or their career path lies outside of music, but they still play as a hobby. All of the players in that first group will have to get a professional trombone, and many of the trombonists in the second group will benefit from a professional model as well. These trombones are made very carefully and are top-of-the-line in terms of quality.
When a player is at this level, it is not recommended that you buy a particular trombone without at least trying out the same model in-person somewhere. At this stage, the trombones are a very personalized fit; they all have their merits, and some trombone brands will fit certain players better than others.
This is not an exhaustive list, nor does it include any customizable trombones (ordering one of these trombones cannot be done online). While customizable trombones, such as Edwards and Shires, are preferred by a number of players, high-end, non-custom trombones are still the choice of many professional trombonists. This article’s choice for best trombone brands for the professional player includes some of the most tried-and-true instruments out there – the Conn 88h, Bach 42B, King 3B, and Yamaha YSL-8820.
Back in the 50’s and 60’s, no American orchestral trombonist would be caught dead without his trusty Conn 88h at his side. These instruments dominated the professional trombone scene in America, and when they were introduced overseas, they were picked up there rather quickly as well. Conn suffered a loss in their dominance of the market in the 70’s, when their instruments suddenly stopped being made with the same care as before, but they have built their reputation back up when they resumed making superior instruments. If you happen to see a Conn instrument from the 70’s on eBay or in a used music store, it is unlikely that the instrument is very good (although there are exceptions), but any Conn instruments made today and before the 70’s are excellent.
Beginner Model – Conn-Selmer TB711 Prelude
Conn has joined with another instrument manufacturer, Selmer, and the beginner model is advertised with the Selmer name. Coming in at less than $600, this is a great starter instrument at a very reasonable price.
Professional Model – Conn 88h
As mentioned above, the Conn 88h was the standard horn that everybody used to play on, and the instruments still get plenty of use to this day. There are different options with this horn – having an open or closed wrap, the color of the brass (which changes the sound; it is not just an aesthetic change), and there is even a special version of this horn that Conn developed with Christian Lindberg, who is arguably the most famous and best trombonist in history. The classic version of this model is the Conn 88ho, which has the rose brass bell. The options and overall quality of this instrument makes it one of the best trombone brands for professionals.
You might be asking yourself: When Conn instruments weren’t made as well, what instruments did people buy? This is when Bach came in and took over the market with their 42B model. Since that time, they still haven’t lost popularity, and many professional players use these horns to this day.
Beginner Model – Bach TB701
While Bach is very well known for their professional trombones, they also offer a beginner model. On Amazon, it costs less than $600, a great deal for a beginner instrument offered by a leading manufacturer.
Intermediate Model – Bach TB711F
Bach also offers an intermediate model for the player who is ready to step up to a better instrument with an F-Attachment. At a little over $1000, this makes for an excellent step-up trombone.
Professional Model – Bach 42B
This trombone is a very popular choice, particularly in American orchestras, and is one of the tried-and-true professional trombones. Like the Conn 88h, it comes with a variety of different options. The standard for the Bach 42 is yellow brass, although there are other brass options available. It also has a closed wrap option, along with several different valve options. This particular model features the standard rotary valve. Different configurations have varying prices, each one of stellar quality; it merely comes down to the individual preference of the player. This trombone fits very well with its counterparts in the best trombone brands for professionals and aspiring professionals.
The professional line of King trombones is unique on this list, as these instruments are more tailored to jazz and commercial playing, rather than orchestral playing. While the professional King trombones are most commonly found in the jazz setting, their beginner trombone sits at the top of this list as the best trombone brand for beginners because of its quality, consistency, ease of play, and durability.
Beginner Model – King 606
While the King professional trombones are most commonly used by jazz musicians, their beginner model trombone is excellent for kids just starting out. To many band directors and private teachers with brand new trombonists, this particular model sits at the top of the list as THE model to get for a young beginner. At a little less than $1000, it is on the more expensive side compared to other student model trombones on this website, but you do get what you pay for; users have given this trombone rave reviews.
Professional Model – King 3B
The King line of professional trombones are excellent for fitting into the jazz scene, and the 3B is excellent, especially for fitting into the section on middle parts in a big band, or playing in a jazz combo (lead players, on the other hand, might prefer the King 2B). The King 3B can come with or without an F-Attachment. It is not (usually) something that you remove from the instrument though – you either buy the trombone with it or without it. There are advantages and disadvantages to either option, and it comes down to which makes more sense for you. This particular model is the “straight” horn (without F-Attachment). King earns a spot on the best trombone brands review because this model, as well as the 2B, has been the industry standard for jazz.
The extensive Yamaha line of trombones covers all stages of a player’s life – from beginner models in middle/high schools, intermediate models in high schools and in the hands of enthusiasts, and professional models used by teachers, orchestras, and jazz ensembles.
Beginner Model – Yamaha YSL-354
This particular Yamaha trombone is one of the tried-and-true horns for beginning trombonists, and is almost always on the list of recommended student model instruments used by teachers and schools for young budding trombonists. It is not the cheapest beginner trombone on this list, but is an excellent horn for the beginning player.
Intermediate Model – Yamaha YSL-448G
This instrument has all the features that you would want in a step-up trombone – most notably the addition of the F-Attachment, and the fact that the horn has a larger bore. The bore size especially makes this instrument a poor fit as a beginner instrument, as it will be harder for someone just starting out to play. However, the player with several years of experience under his or her belt will have no problem being able to fill up the horn with sound. This horn comes in at a more expensive price for an intermediate trombone (at $1,959.99), but is definitely on the higher end of quality for intermediate instruments. The Yamaha YSL-448G is our pick for the best trombone brand at the intermediate level.
Professional Model – Yamaha YSL-882OR Xeno
The professional line of Yamaha trombones has gone through a fairly steady incline of quality. Therefore, as time goes on, more of them are starting to find their way into the hands of active professional musicians. There are a sizable amount of professional-level trombones on Yamaha’s lineup, and the YSL-8820R is one of their more recent releases. This horn has the price tag of $3,393.99, but it has a quality that’s tough to beat! A comment about Yamaha that is fairly consistent among professional players is that they are instruments that are easy to play.
Whether you are looking for a beginner, intermediate, or stock professional trombone, this list recognizes what are widely accepted as the best trombone brands on the market. It is not an exhaustive list; there are plenty of other brands out there such as Courtois, Getzen, and Holton. For the beginner trombone, it is great to talk to the band director or a private teacher who specializes in trombones in order to get his or her. When looking to step up to an intermediate or professional trombone brand, it is ideal to try the trombone brand in person before buying one.