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Steve Shires is known for making

S.E. Shires Bass Trombone


Steve Shires is known for making some of the finest trombones in the world. Commercial and symphony players all over the globe are gravitating towards these fine horns. Why? Because they are the most versatile and well crafted trombones you can buy.  They are handmade in the suburbs of Boston in a small shop with a few dozen craftsmen, respond very fast and easily, and have many options to tailor the horn's characteristics to your own style and performing situation. There can be limitless options, but we have found some trends that seem to be the most popular and we try our best to keep them in stock. These options are detailed below.  We are one of the biggest and most knowledgeable Shires dealers in the country.  Know what you want already? Great, we usually have everything in stock ready to ship. Had a trombone dream last night and want a nickel slide with a yellow crook? No problem, we are glad to special order items for you with perhaps the fastest delivery times you can get on custom items. Have a look at our "Horns in Stock" page to see what we have now. Shires FAQ

A custom bass trombone like a Shires is an investment.  At $5945-$6245 plus case, you're putting out some serious cash compared to some other brands on the market.  However, we've found that no one misses the money.  These are the best trombones, carefully made, artfully executed, beautifully engraved.  They are designed for the professional player who's tried a few horns, has been around a bit, and wants to customize their new axe to respond at the highest efficiency for their playing style.  This is a long page with a lot of text about the Shires options, so start here with a few things to think about when designing your own custom bass trombone.



Single or dual bore slide?

Choose single if you're a tenor trombone doubler, if you like a more commercial sound, or if you want the classic dimensions and an efficient horn.  Choose dual bore if you want the modern wide orchestral sound and like an open feel. Yellow brass outer tubes is the most popular, giving a centered powerful sound. We've also had great success with nickel silver slides, especially dual bore. Nickel darkens the sound a bit and responds very quickly.

Stacked or inline valves

Stacked valves are the classic setup, and offer a more open feeling horn but have fewer technical fingering options.  Inline valves offer more technical facility.  Shires oversize valves have few if any negative effects on your sound in the inline version.

Rotary, axial flow, or Tru-bore valves

New oversize rotary valves are the fastest responding with the shortest throw and least maintenance.  Axial flow valves (Thayer) have a longer throw, more lubrication and cleaning requirements, possible neck interference, but have a very open, even feel.  New Tru-bore valves have the most open feel and an effortless response, with a short throw, but they come at a premium price.

Medium or large crook

Think regular or very open.  It's a minor detail, and mostly we stock the "C" open in yellow brass.

Bell taper, weight, and color

We prefer the larger Bach style taper for reliable response, and most players choose standard weight yellow or gold, or lightweight rose brass.  Yellow brass offers the best projection, gold brass offers a warmer soloistic sound, and lightweight rose is a classic Conn-style fast responding sound that is warm at soft volumes, but can be snappy and sizzling at higher volumes.  All bells are 9.5".  Other diameters are available by special order.

Examples of Shires Bass Trombones:

Conn Aficionado:  .562" slide, stacked rotary valves, medium gold brass crook, lightweight rose bell

Bach Bazooka: .562" slide, inline axial valves, large brass crook, BII 1Y standard yellow brass bell

Bob Sanders Pacific Symphony Cannon: .562/.578" dual bore slide, stacked axial valves, large brass crook,  BII 1YHW heavyweight yellow brass bell

Terry Cravens L.A. Opera Model: .562/.578" dual bore slide, inline Tru-bore valves, dependent axial valves, large gold brass crook, standard BII 1G gold brass bell

Conservatory Soloist: .562/.578" dual bore slide, inline rotary valves, large gold brass crook, standard gold brass bell. 1GT7 small bell rim



Here are the details of individual Shires parts.  Pick one each from the tables below, and we'll put a horn together for you.  Pricing details are at the bottom of the page.


Shires Slides

Slides are incredibly smooth and quiet. Slide tubing is heavier than Getzen and Edwards tubes, especially on the dual bore, making for a more solid sound.

B62 - the standard slide, .562" bore, brass outer tubes with nickel over sleeves, nickel end crook, in wide Bach width. This is a very fast responding slide, with a great hot sound, I prefer it for the more commercial style playing I often do.

B62YC - same as above with a wide Bach style yellow brass end crook. Adds stability and a little darker sound.

B6278 - the dual bore slide, the similar to the B62, but the upper tube is .562" and the lower tube is .578", for a more modern orchestral style sound. It takes a little more air, but is very open down low. It can feel like stepping off a curb to the uninitiated. It's very popular among symphony players.

B6278N - dual bored slide, standard weight nickel silver. Yields a focused, quick responding feel.

B6278YC - same as above, but with a wide Bach style yellow brass end crook. It makes a slightly darker and more stable sound.

The above slides are also available in lightweight versions, which eliminate the nickel over sleeves at the hand brace, and are also available in all nickel.

$1330  including 3 leadpipes

Shires Leadpipes

Pipes are available in yellow or gold brass, nickel or sterling, in regular or long length, several tapers.  We try to keep as many variations of the pipes in stock, including some stranger custom pipes. Looking for something specific? Give a call and we might be able to steer you to a non standard pipe.  Pipes other than those listed below are best ordered direct from the Shires factory. 

Model 1 - Smaller taper, fast responding, Bach style

Model 2 - Most popular, more open

Model 3 - Very open

Model 2.5 - In between 2 and 3, good pipe, works well with B tuning crook

$130 each in brass, gold brass, or nickel, or $305 each in Sterling silver.  Three brass pipes are included with each Shires trombone slide.


Shires Bells

Bell Labeling:


B I - standard Conn 62H style taper.  Some of the bells made with this taper have a ring to them, so we prefer to offer the BII bells, below, to avoid numerous returns.

B II - larger Bach 50 style taper, faster taper, larger throat


1 - soldered bell rim, like Bach 50, better projection, smoother articulation sound

2 - unsoldered bell rim, like Elkhart Conn 62H, more diffused sound, faster responding, clear sounding attacks, snappier


Y - yellow brass, clear, good projection

G - gold brass, warmer sound

R - rose or red brass, very warm sound, less projection


LW - lightweight

M - medium weight

( ) - standard weight (no letter)

HW - heavyweight

Here are some examples of favorite bell choices, but others are available, just ask.

BII 1Y - the standard yellow brass orchestra bell, soldered rim, Bach taper. A very loud slap-me-in-the-face sound, with great projection to the back of the hall, big full sound

BII 1YHW - same but in heavyweight brass, slightly slower responding, better sound at loud volumes, for players who like to blow! Played by Bob Sanders, Pacific Symphony.

BII 1G - popular gold brass bell, soldered rim, Bach taper, less projection than the yellow bells, but has a warmer, prettier sound, more soloistic

BII 2R- big, warm creamy bass trombone sound, we love it

BII 1GT7 - same as the above 1G, but with a smaller rim wire, making the sound a bit snappier and faster responding

BI 2G- excellent commercial bell, you will love the phat sound and response, picks up well on microphones

BI 2RLWT7 or BII 2RLWT7- the classic Conn 62H style bell, in light weight rose brass, with the unsoldered bell rim, small bead, warmer, snappier, more commercial sound



Shires Tuning Crooks


B - standard medium size, faster responding, may feel tighter down low

C - larger taper, more open, most popular here

* seamed crooks are available on special order. They are made in the old style. Sheet brass is formed into a tuning taper and then brazed together. Very nice playing crook. Available in yellow, gold or red brass and in B and C tapers. We particularly like the Red brass crooks. They are $520


Y- Yellow brass for clearer sound, the standard, can work well with gold bells for more clarity

G - Gold brass for warmer sound, less harshness during loud playing when used with a yellow bell, works well with the 62H style bell (2RLWT7)

R - Red brass for the creamiest bass trombone sound. Only available in a seamed crook



Shires Valves

Stacked rotary - the classic style, with the first F valve placed on the neck pipe, and the second D valve is off to the side. This allows the proper conical taper of a long neck pipe, and a very open sound, often better blowing pedal tones. If you don't mind giving up a few alternate positions, and use the D valve as an extension of the F, this is the setup.  Made in house at Shires, this new oversize rotary valve maintains constant bore throughout the air passageway. It's a larger, nicer made version of the classic rotary valve. Shires has a new rotary porting system that significantly enhances the blow of these valves, we like them very much. These rotaries have a more centered, compact, focused sound than axial flow valves, with a shorter lever throw, and more ergonomic shape for those players who find axial flow valves too wide. These play similarly to Greenhoe valves, whose design is based on a similar concept. Earlier Shires horns had Greenhoe valves on them. New tubing wrap style on the stacked rotary valve section is said to play more consistently between Bb, F, and D, though some players (including me) report that the tubing wrap intrudes into their neck placement. The older very clean looking wrap style is occasionally available.  New style includes adjustable thumb rest. $2860
In line rotary - with both valves in on the neck pipe, there are more versatile fingering options because you can use the second valve by itself, which is pitched in Gb. You can play C and F in second position with the second valve only, along with many other interesting alternate positions. Both valves together are still pitched in D. The neck pipe is shorter with less of a conical taper, so some older bass trombones suffer in the pedal range or by having a colder, harsher sound. That difference is minor if it even exists on Shires at all, due to the high quality valves and the open feel all these horns have. I find that in line rotary valves make a snappier more commercial sound with more present high overtones in the sound.  New style includes adjustable thumb rest. $2860

Inline Axial Flow - the classic Ed Thayer design, made in house at Shires to very tight tolerances, as some similar valves from other makers have been leaky. This is the best sealing valve of this style, very open feel, big broad sound. These valves may need oiling and cleaning more often, the lever throw is a little longer, and some players get bothered by the intrusion in to their neck due to the large size of this valve. If you're a symphony player, you might consider these valves as a chassis.  New style includes adjustable thumb rest. $2860
Stacked axial flow valves are rare from other companies, but we've sold quite a few on Shires horns, and they play very, very open, and have a long tapered neck pipe. They don't intrude much into your neck space compared to in line axial flow valves.  Pictured at left is a custom lightweight version made for us. What can I say, very cool.  New style includes adjustable thumb rest. $2860
Inline Trubore - This new proprietary patented valve from Shires allows the airway to go straight through the valve on the Bb side.  No bends.  On the F or D side, the air is gently channeled out the back, in a similar manner to a Hagmann valve, but with fewer opportunities for leaking.  The valve is placed slightly off axis to avoid intrusion into your neck placement.  The price penalty is $150 extra per valve, so that's $400 extra for most bass trombone players.  Shown at left is a single Tru-bore valve on a Shires tenor trombone.  It looks big, but the action is fast, and it's out of the way.  Double Tru-bore valve sections for bass trombones are mostly made in the inline setup. Once in a while we get a dependent set of these. The response of a horn with these valves is just stunning.  It is absolutely effortless to start a note, even down low. We've also found that the upper register is more solid on these valves. Because these valves are heavier than a standard rotary, I'd say the sound is somewhat in between that of an axial valve and a traditional rotary. Think of it as free blowing, Thayer sounding, awesomeness.  New style includes adjustable thumb rest.

Also available in a stacked setup, also $3160, which is the most open Shires setup available.


Buy a Shires

How to decide? Let us know what you play now, and what you want similar or different from your current axe. Choose a slide, valve setup, bell and crook style, and we'll send you one. We are experts on Shires horns and can assist you with your choice. Drop us an email or give us a call to open a dialogue. Includes 3 lead pipes,. Case and mouthpiece are sold separately.



Double valve bass trombone, complete, rotary or axial $5945
Double valve bass trombone, complete, Tru-bore $6245
Single valve bass trombone, complete, rotary or axial $4795
Single valve bass trombone, complete, Tru-bore $4995
Bell only $1330
Slide w/3 pipes $1330
Tuning Crook $425, $535 seamed brass
Double valve section, rotary or axial flow $2860
Double valve section, Tru-bore $3160
Single valve section, rotary or axial flow $1710
Single valve section, Tru-bore $1910
"No valve" straight neck pipe, yes, Shires make a straight bass neckpipe! $410
Lead pipes $130 brass or nickel, $305 sterling silver


We offer the following cases for Shires bass trombones:

Glenn Cronkhite in leather or cordura

Protec 309CT

Marcus Bonna MBB