Which of the following are essential trombone accessories:
If you ticked them all… you are wrong.
No self-respecting trombonist would ever drink a pint of lager in a handled beer mug! Well, not unless there was no other alternative… and it was free! However, all of the other items above are a necessary piece of equipment required for a practicing trombonist.
In this blog I will take you through both categories: Essential and Helpful. In each I’ll be explaining the importance and function of each and letting you know our top best-buy.
It goes without saying that without a mouthpiece a trombonist sounds just like a bad trumpet player with a dodgy embouchure. Simultaneously the player will get very sore lips! After the purchase of a quality instrument, the second most important element required to produce a great sound is the mouthpiece. Nowadays, the majority of mouthpieces are expertly manufactured using high quality materials and finished with a lip-soothing hypoallergenic silver/nickel plating. They come in a range of diameters, rim, shank, bore and cup sizes.
The majority of professional and amateur trombonists I know have used the same make/model/size of mouthpiece for decades and longer! Do you actually need more than one mouthpiece? Well, some use alternatives for different trombones (especially if they alternate between a large bore and small/medium bore (large shank and small shank sized mouthpiece), and many amateur trombonists would use a smaller bore mouthpiece if they were playing in a higher register. In my experience, I have heard professional trombonists play as high on a Conn 8H as you can on a King 2B Jiggs Whigham! Yes, the tone, attack, response and agility are different, but not the ability to reach the stratosphere!
The answer is simple: practice, practice, practice! Flexibility, stamina, diaphragm control and breathing.
Here at Normans we stock a wide range of trombone mouthpieces, from the amazing value for money, Bach-emulating Sonata 12C (small shank) or Sonata 6 1/2AL (large shank), the ever popular Denis Wick’s BL, AL & BS range, and the high end Bach 12C & 6.5AL. We can however source and supply you with any model from these brands at a UK competitive price.
If you are unsure of what size mouthpiece shank you require just drop us a line and tell us what model Trombone you have and we can advise you.
Why would you want to interfere and hinder such a beautiful sound?
We all know what wonderful tones can be achieved through the use of mutes on a trombone. From the subtle sound of a Denis Wick DW5529 Cup Mute to the piercing, tin sound of the Denis Wick DW5505 Straight Mute. For a unique and ‘head-turning’ tone, you will love the Denis Wick DW5507 Tenor Trombone Extending Tube (Harmon) Mute, (listen to Paul Harts ‘Cartoon’ to hear the unique tones achieved.)
(Skip to 2.33 for the Bone feature)
Is there anything worse than a sticky, non-responsive slide? A non-responsive drummer possibly!
The effectiveness of your slide is paramount to playing successfully. A small ‘ding’ in your bell won’t affect your performance… but the tiniest dent in your slide will hinder the smooth, natural movement that is required and expected of a trombonist. Obviously, prevention of any damage to your slide is your initial focus, but the regular use of a top quality slide lubricant is vital.
Over my career I have used many lubricants to make my slide fluent:
1970’s – Ponds moisturising hand cream or Trombotine = needed lots of water spray and not brilliant.
1980’s – Superslick slide cream = very good, less water spray needed but slide required more frequent cleaning due to cream residue building up inside.
I remember as a child when I first started playing, holding my trombone in a vice-like grip between my legs as I attempted to turn large pages of manuscripts, and then attempting to pick them up off the floor! I think it was this manoeuvre, plus my lack of dexterity, that resulted in my slide regularly being strained. And I thought operating my ‘spit’ key with my foot and not being able to reach 7th position was an issue!
How much easier life would have been with a trombone stand to rest and care for my instrument.
There are many on offer now, my favorites being the Konig & Meyer or the very affordable Sonata Trombone Stand. If you have a limited storage space on your travels to concerts or rehearsals, a stand that is proving very popular, especially with students (think about the walk to school,) is the Hercules DS420B Stand, which actually folds down and fits inside your bell section inside your case.
You will always need to keep your ‘bone running smoothly; slide cream/oil, slide pull-through brush, mouthpiece cleansing brush and a lacquer cloth to keep it shiny and new! Why not save money by purchasing them all in one kit, the Trombone Care Kit, which at just over ten pounds is a sensible and value for money solution that will keep you performing efficiently for many years.
I once Scuba-dived using my trombone as a snorkel?
If you ever want to, or have been pressured into marching with your wonderful trombone, you will need a lyre, unless you have a memory like a computer and can remember the music? I personally find bell lyres move around too much and make reading the music difficult. That is why I would look no further than the Sonata Trombone Lyre which uses a solid engineered clamp to fix onto the upper slide below your mouthpiece. After marching and performing for many years I can confirm that these don’t move around as much and make the whole marching experience easier.
When you buy a lovely new trombone it always comes with a dedicated new case. If however you damage your case, or, as I found, you want a lighter ‘Gig Bag’ to transport your trombone on your back/shoulder, then here at Normans we can provide some brilliant alternatives for you.
For a replacement hard case we have the Champion Trombone Case with a molded solid design and a lined and protective interior. This will keep your trombone free of damage by drops, impacts or packed under a Tuba in the boot of a coach.
As for a ‘Gig Bag’, I personally don’t think you can buy any better than the Tom & Will 26TB Gig Bag: they are outstanding in both level of protection, comfort, features and looks. They are the ‘Aston Martin’ of trombone Gig Bags: watch your fellow musicians glare with envy!
Water Key Stoppers
They are called ‘water key stoppers’, but we all know two facts:
- It isn’t water that comes out of the end of your trombone.
- Without them, all your precious air escapes where it shouldn’t and you end up with a tonal quality similar to that of a wheezing Hippo
The stopper is smallest element of a trombone, but equally as important as the rest of it. For a mere 70p you can ensure an airtight result with the Besson Water Key Stopper. Simple to fit, using either molten wax (the traditional method) or my preferred option, a small amount of contact adhesive, it will keep your tone as wonderful as Dorsey’s!
So there you have it. Everything you need to ensure a proficient and effective performance.
Treat your trombone with love and care and it will treat you with harmonious offerings!