The trombone – a budget-friendly instrument choice
If the trombone has caught your interest, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Not only is the trombone a versatile instrument, but it’s also quite budget-friendly. A used professional quality model can often cost $1,000 or less. Paying more doesn’t automatically mean that you get a better instrument. You might fancy the sound and feel of a standard 25-year-old Bach 42 and don’t mind some scratches on the bell. Congrats, you will get a high-performing trombone for a low-end price. It gets even better if you are a jazz trombone player. Then you are probably in the market for a small bore trombone without a trigger. Then it is just a matter of taste if you prefer a $650 vintage trombone or something newer and a bit more bespoke. But even the bespokiest small bore jazz trombones rarely exceeds $3,000 and can often be found for much less.
Trombones with F attachment cost more
Trombones with an F attachment (also called a trigger) add a bit to the price due to their added complexity during manufacturing. However, even with this feature, the majority remain reasonably priced, and pro models rarely exceed $5,000 to $6,000. Only the most high-end bass trombone models with dual triggers can occasionally exceed the $10,000 mark.
Don’t cheap out
You can find really cheap trombones for $200 or less, even new ones. Don’t go there. This will be an instrument that either sounds bad, is hard to play, can’t play in tune, doesn’t hold up too well – or all of it! However, I can recommend the pBone plastic trombone. It weighs next to nothing and is surprisingly durable; the plastic slide won’t break when (inevitably) being dropped on the floor. Get one for your child – they are a great way to get to know the instrument and still sound like a “real” trombone. But don’t play it on gigs… I bought mine a couple of years ago, and was so surprised by how it felt and sounded that I immediately brought it to a big band gig, and didn’t even consider bringing my regular trombone as backup. I was playing the lead part, and using the pBone turned out to be a bad decision. The plastic trombone’s output is quite limited, and I was exhausted after playing what would had corresponded to ffff on any other horn the entire night!
Bottom line, if your child has expressed interest in the trombone, it’s a cause for celebration. That’s opting for an instrument that offers rich musical experiences without putting a significant strain on the finances, leaving room for life’s essentials such as fine wine, clothing, travel, golfing, and stamp collecting.
Trombone pricing samples – new instruments
These are price estimates, and you might be able to find better deals. Also, the selection of trombones is for variety, not the best or only alternatives out there. But they are all good instruments and could very well be the first choice for any trombone player!
|Bach||42BOG Tenor Trombone||$4,300|
|Bach||36 Straight Tenor Trombone||$3,500|
|Conn||“Artist” 52HL Tenor Trombone||$3,000|
|Conn||88H Tenor Trombone||$3,600|
|King||2166 Valve Trombone||$3,300|
|Rath||R10 Custom Bb Tenor Trombone||$3,450|
|Shires||LIMITED EDITION TBALTSC-DF Alto Trombone||$4,000|
|Shires||Marshall Gilkes Tenor Trombone||$3,700|
|Yamaha||Professional Xeno series trombone, YSL-882O||$3,500|
|Yamaha||Professional Trombone, YSL-640||$2,600|
Trombone pricing samples – used instruments
This is a sample of used trombones. You can easily find even cheaper horns on Craigslist or Ebay, but his will give you a picture of the pricing landscape for used trombones.
|Trombone brand||Model||Used price|
|Conn||44H Bb Tenor Trombone||$700|
|Conn||4H Bb Tenor Trombone||$700|
|Bach||42B Bb/F Tenor Trombone||$1,000|
|Bach||12 Bb Tenor Trombone||$1,200|
|Yamaha||YSL-647 Bb Tenor Trombone||$1,200|
|Yamaha||YSL-697 Bb Tenor Trombone||$1,200|
|King||4B Bb Tenor Trombone||$1,200|
|Bach||16 Bb tenor trombone||$1,700|
|Shires||Bb/F Tenor Trombone||$4,000|
|Shires||Bb/F/Gb/D Bass Trombone||$5,400|
Where to Buy a Trombone
When you’re considering where to purchase a trombone, the options might seem overwhelming. Even Walmart offers a big selection of trombone in their webshop! However, I strongly advise against buying a precious musical instrument there. Why? Instrument selection from generalist stores are usually not the most relevant and/or best choices. More importantly, these stores usually don’t have specialists who can guide you in your purchase or provide after-sales service.
Instead, I recommend turning to dedicated trombone specialists. Shops like Dillon Music, The Horn Guys, and Schmitt Music Trombone Shop not only offer a wide range of quality instruments, but they also have experienced professionals who can assist you in finding the perfect trombone for your needs. These specialists can provide invaluable advice, ensuring you get an instrument that will serve you well for years to come. Disclaimer: I am not in any way associated with these shops, but I know that they have a solid reputation.
Pricing compared to other instruments
When considering the cost of musical instruments, the trombone offers remarkable value as it stands out for its affordability relative to its musical capabilities. It is not fair to the other instruments to make price comparisons – the trombone will take the win in most cases (campfire guitars and harmonicas excluded…)! A good violin bow (that’s just the bow, not the whole instrument) can easily cost more than a collection of professional small and large-bore tenor trombones and a bass trombone. And trombones don’t really wear out, so you can keep them for decades. As long as you don’t dent the slide, maintenance is really not an issue either.
Accessories are cheap too
Every musician knows that the cost of an instrument doesn’t stop at the purchase. There are always additional accessories to consider. For many instruments, these can significantly add up. For example, a single reed for a clarinet or saxophone might seem inexpensive, but over time, the cost accumulates. Drummers constantly need to replace sticks and skins. And guitar players always argues that they need a different amp or at least preamp for each tune they know.
For the trombone player, the scenario is quite different. Yes., you will need some trombone accessories:
- a few mouthpieces
- a selection of mutes
- slide lubricant and even a small water spray bottle
- a gig bag
- a trombone stand.
These accessories are – surprise – also dirt cheap. You have to struggle to find a mouthpiece above $250, and the best gig bags are not much more than that. Place your horn on your high-end $50 trombone stand while shopping all the mutes you will ever need for all genres for a few hundred bucks.
For less money than you would spend on almost any other instruments, you will be set with a great trombone that sounds great, looks good, and is versatile enough to find in basically all musical genres. What’s not to like? And from my subjective perspective, the trombone is objectively one of the best-sounding instruments out there. Go trombone.
So, in summary, if budget is a concern when choosing an instrument, the trombone is a standout choice. Even if money isn’t a factor, the trombone is still one of the greatest musical experiences, both for you and your audience! Even angels play them…