We've always focused on professional instruments here, but many clients wish to buy and play something that more realistically fits their budget and playing desires. We have many offerings not listed on this website that we primarily stock for local clients. We may buy them for use in our rental fleet or to have for a younger player on a budget. Here is some information that may help decode the difference between various quality levels of instruments, and we offer a few thoughts about specific models.
About Trombone Pricing
A new trombone costs the same as a used piano. - Alan Raph
It's easy if you like bicycles. A new trombone costs about the same as a bicycle of the same quality. For example, a $100 trombone is about as nice as a bicycle from Walmart, which means it's only marginally nice, and disposable. A $500 trombone is a good quality basic long term purchase. A $2000 trombone gets you near the top of the line for many domestic makers. $5000 buys you a premier custom model from a renown builder.
What makes a student model trombone?
These often have the standard dimensions of a .500" (1/2") bore hand slide and 8" diameter bell. Bells are usually machine spun from a hydro-formed piece of tubing rather than a sheet of brass. Hand slide components are built separately to spec, then inserted together and placed in the case for shipping. (Professional model hand slides have components built together to fit exactly for each individual slide. The hand fitting gives more accurate alignment and slide action.) Student models may be made of mostly brass, with little nickel trim to cut costs. Sometimes brass parts are chrome plated. Upper hand slide braces sometimes get this treatment. Mouthpieces are normally the smallest size, a 12C, which helps the new player support the tone. The mouthpipe, a tapered tube inside the horn into which the mouthpiece inserts, may be a bit tighter on a student model to offer an easier response with lower volumes of air. Many student instruments are imported form China and other countries, but you can still find high quality models manufactured in the USA at very fair pricing. With student models, ease of playing and durability are the prime directives. A heavier bell may not have the nuance of tone that a professional bell does, but the student model bell will be tough to withstand the somewhat rougher handling that may occur in the hands of younger players. You can expect to pay $600 and up for a trombone like this.
We offer a selection of student models including the Bach TB301 and King 606. Other respected models include the Getzen 351 and Yamaha 354.
About the King 606 and Bach TB301
These two trombones are identical except for a few trim pieces and the branding. Both are made in Eastlake, Ohio, USA. They follow standard dimensions of a .500" bore hand slide and an 8" brass bell. A compact plastic hard case with gold electroplated trim is included. An included shoulder strap attaches to D-rings on the case.
Compliments are due to Conn-Selmer and their Eastlake plant for producing some very nice student model trombones are very fair pricing. The slide action is very good on all our samples, the assembly is clean and perfectly aligned, the seamless bell spinning and buffing and lacquer is also perfect. The tuning slide area of the instrument tends to be narower in this design. It helps center the weight closer to the hand braces, aiding a new player not yet used to holding the weight of a trombone. These are trombones you can be proud to own, and should last you as long as you need them. My (Steve's) first trombone was a King 605 (like 606) in middle school, and I kept it through college for marching gigs and it was fine. At some point I upgraded to a King professional model, but the student horn was always great too.
The Bach TB301 is made of all brass, with nickel cork barrels (top of the hand slide) and nickel hand braces. It has a slightly warmer sound and feels a bit more open. The King 606 is identical, but the outside hand slide tubas are all nickel, as it the bracing and tuning slide sleeves. This trombone feels slightly more resistant, but has a clarity and center to the sound like it needs less air to respond and produce a clear attack. The TB301 includes a Vincent Bach 12C mouthpiece, and the King includes a King 12C mouthpiece. Either of these is a fine choice for a new player. Price, style, and response are all important when choosing a trombone, so it's likely one or the other should fulfill your needs. When adjusted for inflation, the price on these models has stayed very stable for decades, so they still are very fair value.
What makes an intermediate trombone?
These instruments add more features from the professional models, but with the limited options and volume manufacturing of the student models. Simplicity of trim and details help keep costs down. Designs are tailored towards more experienced players. Many intermediate models include the F attachment, larger bore tubing, lighter weight bells, and they respond better for a player who blows a good amount of air and can fill up a larger instrument with a more sonorous tone.
Bach offers a professional model trombone called the 36, which is well respected worldwide for generations. The intermediate model 200B is very similar, but has less nickel trim, less hand work in the making of the bell, and no options available. But the price is about two thirds that of the 36, so it makes a great setup for the developing player.
We only sell a few intermediate models here. It may be regional. Lots of younger players aspire to a professional model trombone, so we often see them step up to a professional trombone after previously owning only a student model. Sometimes the small different in price between an intermediate and professional model leads people to say, "I just want to buy it once. Let's get the best one now." But if your budget does not permit such nonchalance, we can recommend something similar with most of the features you might seek. You can expect to pay $900 and up for a trombone like this.
We offer a selection of intermediate trombones including the Bach TB200B, Conn 52H, Getzen 451, 725, 547, Jupiter 636, and Yamaha 446, 448.
About the Intermediate Models
The Bach TB200B is a medium bore trombone with F-attachment modeled after the popular Bach 36. It has an all nickel hand slide, more brass than nickel trim, and a traditional wrap F-attachment which is designed to fit smaller hands.
The Conn 52H is built alongside the professional model 88H, and shares many of the same parts. The F-attachment tubing wrap and trigger mechanism is an older design, and two hand slide options are available. The red brass bell is distinctive.
The Getzen 451 is a small bore model aimed at the new player, but we mostly sell them to adults who may be occasional players and want a beautiful instrument for not much money. Made in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, it has an all nickel hand slide and a gold brass bell. The nickel slide adds durability and centered tone, while the gold brass bell is stunning and its higher copper content offers a warmer, broad, full tone.
The Getzen 725 was formerly sold as the Canadian Brass Conservatory model, and has a medium size dual-bore slide. The F-attachment is a very sleek open wrap design and the red brass bell is stunning. Except for the smaller bore, you give up little to professional large bore horns when you buy choose the 725. The new Getzen 547 is similar but is built of all yellow brass with a large bore hand slide and a new larger bell mandrel shape.
The Jupiter 636 is made in Taiwan by KHS, and this group of four models was their former professional offering. It's since been upstaged by the XO series, but the 636 is still worthy, and the price is very reasonable. Despite being imported, the quality is top notch, and parts and service are readily available in the USA. Red or yellow brass bells and open-wrap or traditional-wrap F-attachments are available.
The Yamaha 446 and 448 are built in medium bore and large bore respectively. They feature Yamaha's flawless construction and finish work, and have a compact wrap F-attachment for a nice compromise between durability and an open feel. Gold brass bells are standard, which help produce a warm, broad tone.
What makes a professional trombone?
These instruments have a more sophisticated design, and may have been tested with many component options before a final design was completed. These may use the newest, most accurate tooling and dies. Hand slides are assembled and hand fitted together for smoothest action. Bells are made of one or two pieces of sheet brass, and are generally hand hammered, hand spun, and then annealed to offer the most color of tone and the easiest response. Gold and red brass and other bell options may be available, and nearly all trim pieces would be made of solid nickel. The nickel is partly for style, but nickel's density adds strength to the instrument and improves projection of your sound. In general, you'll find a professional model will be lighter, will have a more sophisticated sound, and has a more open feel for the experienced player. A professional model can be a work of art in itself because of the attention to detail. Every maker wants premier artists to endorse their instruments, so the professional models are often designed in cooperation with some of the top players. For example, Conn worked with Ralph Sauer, principal trombonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, to perfect the Generation II design for the venerable Conn 88H trombone.
Professional instruments tend to be specialized for different types of music. Our smaller bore trombones tend to be used for commercial music like, jazz, salsa, rock, dance music, recordings and live shows. The larger bore models tend to be for symphonic and chamber music use, styles aligned with music conservatory and classical education. Many players may own one of each, along with an auxiliary model like an alto or bass trombone. You can expect to pay $1800 and up for a professional trombone. Some premier models cost $6000 and up.
Our professional trombones include varieties of the Bach Stradivarius, Conn Symphony, Getzen Custom, King Legend, S.E. Shires Artist, XO and Yamaha Xeno models. You can find detailed descriptions and pricing of these instruments throughout this website.