How To Buy a New Trombone

For the first time in decades I’ve bought a brand new trombone (a King 2B, nothing too fancy). While trying out instruments I was reminded about some advice that Donald Reinhardt had put together on how to test out instruments if you were purchasing a new trombone. I think that the manufacturing processes have probably gotten a lot better than when Reinhardt wrote this and the instrument standards have improved too, but the suggestions he offers are still probably good to check. If you’re interested in purchasing a new trombone, check these things.

Assuming that you have examined and found the case and instrument finish OK, check the following points:

1. Because of the high cost of good instruments, I strongly advise that you take a good musical friend with you at the time of purchase. Two opinions are better than one…

2. When checking the slide action, it is vital that you do so with a lubricant, because all slides run good when dry for the first few minutes. If the store forbids this, do not buy the instrument…

3. Do you like the “blowing resistance” over the entire playable range, AT ALL DYNAMIC LEVELS?

4. Does the instrument have tremendous variations in TONAL TIMBRE in the various registers, AT ALL DYNAMIC LEVELS?

5. If the instrument has a .547 bore or larger, SLIDE SPRINGS ARE A MUST! All too many so-called “first class instruments” do not have them. This is of particular importance if the instrument has an F and E valve attachment (or a double valve to include the Eb and D)…

6. Does the valve attachment “BLOW STUFFY” – if it does reject the instrument?

7. The low – middle – and high Bb’s should be a close match – “INTONATION WISE” without too much lip adjustment, so to speak…

8. If the high C in the first position speaks more responsive and freer than the high Bb, do not buy this instrument…

9. The instrument must possess a good high Bb in the third position…

10. Is the high D in the first position so flat that you cannot handle it?

11. Is the high D between the second and third positions a good sounding note?

12. Is the high Eb in the long first position a good note?

13. If the high E is unplayable in second position, reject this instrument…

14. Is the Ab in third position (the one below the high Bb) a good responsive note?

15. If the middle D is so flat and the F above it so sharp that you cannot handle it, do not buy this instrument…

Donald S. Reinhardt, How To Buy a New Trombone

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