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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningBeginners and Returning Trombonists(Moderator: bhcordova) What bass trombone for a high school student?
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Klwklwmom
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« on: Aug 17, 2017, 10:37AM »

Writing to ask for guidance for my soon to be 9th grader. He is wanting to move to a bass trombone for jazz band. He's most likely not going to continue playing after high school. Wanting a decent instrument but can't pay a lot for one. Any suggestions? would a Yamaha intermediate bass be better or than a lesser branded double rotar bass? I know NOTHING about trombones brands or what I should be looking for. Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 17, 2017, 11:38AM »

you'd be better off posting this question in a separate topic.....mods can you do anything?
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 17, 2017, 02:38PM »

Moved here and made it's own topic. OP, let me know if the title works for you, I can change it to something else.

In general, my opinion is that a single rotor bass made by someone like Yamaha will be a better fit long term compared to a lower quality double.  But there are also good used doubles (independent or dependent) that can be had for a reasonable price (1-2k) if you can swing it. Also, people have reported good things about particular inexpensive double basses such as the Mack brass, jp rath, and Wessex.

Rule of thumb: Stay away from Chinese instuments on eBay. They're often a little cheaper than from a distributor but you also don't get any of the vetting and customer support. Some people have been quite happy with the savings and been fine with the instrument they got. Others... Not so much. If it's the only horn you have, you probably would best shy away. At least that's my two cents.
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 17, 2017, 03:01PM »

A quality made ( brands mentioned ) double rotor bass that's affordable. I started on a Holton TR-181 on high school and I don't think that if I had been playing most any other bass trombone that my progress would have been different. As mentioned a great used bass trombone can be had for between 1-2K. As for mouthpieces a good ol' 1-1/2G is a great starting point without knowing anything about the player. And don't forget about lessons to soak up some good information.

A single rotor would be fine in the average HS band, but as your son progresses and so does the literature he plays it will get harder to play without the facility of two rotors. This has been discussed more than once on The Forum. Buuuut no reason to rule it out if the price is right and the window of time is small to get an instrument.
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 17, 2017, 03:36PM »

How much are looking to spend?
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 18, 2017, 05:25AM »

Mom,

I've been playing bass bone professionally since the 1970s. Some free advice before you get advice here from some usual posters who are in high school themselves. ( Internet chat rooms are dangerous places to read without comprehension of who you are reading. Lots of opinion here, and little hard facts.)

No child needs a bass trombone. They are large instruments designed for adults. Ergonomic nightmares for the casual player. Most players eventually buy devices to hold the horn without pain...even adults. Especially adults.

The repertoire for beginners and high school band do NOT require a real large bass trombone-- just a large bore tenor trombone. A trombone with ONE valve pitched in Bb/F.

Find out if one of the schools in your school division has a trombone with F attachment and use horn until it is well learned and played to death.
When your child has learned EVERYTHING there is to learn about the large bore Bb/F TENOR trombone then they will be accomplished enough to make the decision whether they wish to switch to bass trombone or not-- on their own. That decision, and that progress musically and physically may take anywhere from 5 to 25 years, depending on their private lessons and how much they practice.

A quality USED American made Bb/F trombone will last up to 75 years. Your child will find lots of use for it as an adult. Resale value of quality used American large bore trombones ( Conn, King, Bach) will remain high should your child quit in future. Should they continue it is a wise investment, and should inspire your child to continue playing into adulthood in community ensembles.
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Matt K

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« Reply #6 on: Aug 18, 2017, 06:35AM »

That's pretty dismissive of the people who have replied. I believe I've seen that all of us have experience teaching high school.  As to whether or not a large bore horn will be sufficient is really dependent on the situation.  Several friends of mine started on bass; and didn't so much as touch a tenor until college where they had to double to fill ensembles.  They are doing just fine with two of them having made it to the semifinals of two major auditions.  If you really want to do bass there's hardly any reason to spend limited funds on something that isn't a bass with the idea that later you'll buy the thing you actually want to do.  The biggest indicator of success in a music program is interest, so if they are interested in bass then they'll be quite fine on a bass. 
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 18, 2017, 07:52AM »

I'm a bit doubtful a ninth grader is ready to hold up a double valve bass trombone for real rehearsal and practicing durations.

Over on a Facebook group a college freshman-something guy posted about how he had just switched to bass trombone and was having arm pains and wrist pains and numbness... and people are chiming in with suggestions about this or that mechanical support device, but i look up the guy's picture on his profile and, geez... the guy had matchsticks for arms!   Yeah, RIGHT.  No wonder he was in pain.

I was similarly concentration camp thin in college but over the years before that I had gradually moved from beginner tenor to tenor with F-valve to single valve bass before I finally got to a double valve bass in my junior year of college.







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« Reply #8 on: Aug 18, 2017, 08:16AM »

The second valve on a dual rotor bass trombone is NEEDED for 1 note, a low ("pedal") B natural.

Pedal Bs don't occur very often in orchestra, band music or older big band charts. They come up reasonably often in newer big band charts.

Your son could easily get by with a single valve bass in high school and, if he is not studying music, beyond. He might not ever NEED a double valve bass.

A used Bach or Conn typically goes for ~$1000. People like intermediate Yamaha bass trombones.

WANTS is a different story.



« Last Edit: Aug 18, 2017, 12:55PM by Ellrod » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 18, 2017, 08:38AM »

Your profile shows that he already has a Mendini with a F-trigger. Not the best horn, but it may get him through anything he needs to play on bass in a jazz band. Ask his band director what they'll be playing, and whether two valves are needed. From what I remember of jazz band, a double-valve bass would have been overkill. Depending on how developed his playing is, the Mendini might even be a better choice than a true bass trombone. How long has be been playing?

There are some good used single-valve vintage basses on Ebay right now, (I've got a Besson bass on there that's reconditioned and I can't believe no one has bid at $375) and as long as they're in good shape, they should serve him well. No need to go over $600 or so.
« Last Edit: Aug 18, 2017, 10:30PM by Euphanasia » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 18, 2017, 09:25PM »

Mom,

I've been playing bass bone professionally since the 1970s. Some free advice before you get advice here from some usual posters who are in high school themselves. ( Internet chat rooms are dangerous places to read without comprehension of who you are reading. Lots of opinion here, and little hard facts.)

No child needs a bass trombone. They are large instruments designed for adults. Ergonomic nightmares for the casual player. Most players eventually buy devices to hold the horn without pain...even adults. Especially adults.

The repertoire for beginners and high school band do NOT require a real large bass trombone-- just a large bore tenor trombone. A trombone with ONE valve pitched in Bb/F.

Man, here I was thinking my opinion actually mattered...

Seriously? Some of us high-schoolers play professional music just like you do. In the Youth Symphony I'm in--we play the originals; exact same pieces of paper the Des Moines Symphony players use in fact.


For the OP:
You may not NEED the 2nd valve...but it sure is helpful sometimes. When his director asks him if he can play tuba for a big band chart and he says no, so he has to play the tuba part on bass tbn he is gonna wish he had that 2nd valve or a second set of arms for when he gets worn out. When he gets a little better at playing bass and is given free will to play some sets down the octave, he's gonna have a lot more fun when he can because he has that 2nd valve. When he decides to play for solo and ensemble, and his director/private teacher pulls out Bach's Cello Suites, he's going to have a much easier time with his 2nd valve. My opinion/experience with a single bass: It works, but it certainly doesn't make certain things easy. In your situation, I'd go for the Mack Brass bass trombone (http://www.mackbrass.com/MACK-TB831L_Bass_Bone.php). For $850 you have 2 valves, a horn/dealer with a great reputation for good products and customer service, and a horn that is new and shiny which will motivate your son to keep practicing. The Mack will last him through high school at the least, but probably well into adulthood should he decide to play in college or beyond, and this horn has a great re-sale value if/when the time comes to sell it.
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 18, 2017, 09:38PM »

I played and typically needed a double valve bass in high school. "high school music" is a misnomer- either schools are playing really difficult new music written for bands recently or original orchestra or jazz rep. Sounds like some people are out of date.

A Chinese bass like a Wessex would be a great choice for this situation, IMO.
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 18, 2017, 10:37PM »

Every summer I go to a week long reading seminar put on by JW Pepper. We sight read all the new music that is out for the upcoming school year. I would say the vast majority of band and jazz charts don't need a double. However, if the band teacher tends to program charts that do, having a single could be a challenge. I would talk to the band director and see what he says.
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 19, 2017, 12:47AM »

You might want to find out if the school has a bass trombone to loan him.  A lot of schools seem to.  If he decdes he really likes it, then you can consider whether to invest the $$$.

I realize this is Early Pleistocene, but I played bass trombone parts on an Olds Ambassador with F.
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 19, 2017, 03:11AM »

A number of composers also attend the JW Pepper seminar. I have had a chance to speak with many of them and one thing. I found out is many times it is the publisher who is dictating instrumentation and range to the composer. The Publishers know what types of orchestration is selling best and ask that the composer write to that level. Most of the music currently being written for beginners through high school doesn't require a bass. Many schools don't own one. The vast majority of the music is one or two part lower brass music.
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 19, 2017, 05:19AM »

Sorry for the sidebar, but do the publishers also require that the Euphonium and Tenor Sax parts be identical?  Drives me nuts. >:(
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 19, 2017, 06:59AM »

An aside-

Bruce, there is a very practical reason why beginner and introductory arrangements are made so that multiple voicings are done in different instruments. Children with intellectual or physical difficulties used to be streamed onto euphonium or baritone horn. Then when it became obvious that the aural difficulties matching ear and embouchre were a bit much, educators decided to stream those of different ability onto sax, where less finesse is needed on an embouchre, to successfully play in ensemble.
   Tenor sax and euphonium play in the same register and shore up the bass line in beginner bands where tuba isn't usually available. The voicing and instrument isn't as important as the accomplishment of playing in ensemble with your friends successfully.

Mom,

   The responses have run the usual course here now. A few from concerned adults, educators of long experience, players of long experience and a few responses from the community here who repair the horns and keep them going.
   Then the usual smattering of players still in high school
  And, of course, the players in their 20s who defend their positions, as they make their way in the world burdened by crippling student debt and not a whole lot to do with their time, aside from reading the internet and wait for a school to throw some money at them to continue their educations....or pay those debts off doing work in a field far far away from music.

  Mom, the one thing you can take from all of this is that there hasn't been a lot of negative comments here against good quality used American instruments.
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 19, 2017, 07:06AM »

Well you do have to take the advice you get on forums with a grain of salt, because there are a lot of varying degrees of expertise, from Pro level, semi-pro, advanced amateur, advanced students, and beginners.  The biggest problem with on-line advice is that none of us know your son, his playing abilities, size, or strength.  So it is hard for us to recommended equipment without knowing him personally.  You have some options to consider and I would talk to his band director before you proceed. First find out if the school has a bass trombone for him to use many high schools do.  If they don't then you have other choices to make like, is he ready for a bass trombone or would he be served better with a better large bore tenor, new or used, brand (there are multiple good options including Yamaha, Getzen, Holton, Conn, Bach, etc.).  I've always been able to find good functional instruments in the used market at reasonable prices, if you're on a tight budget.  Most of the high schools around here are playing very advanced literature and the bass trombone parts in high school Jazz bands are just as challenging as the ones I'm playing in my paid bands, the concert bands in H.S. also play some advanced grade 6 pieces.  Getting some guidance on what his needs will be from his high school band director would be my first step, he knows where your son is in his advancement.  He can tell you best if your son is ready for a bass trombone. You might want to consider renting a bass for a year (many places have rent to own programs).  after a year he may decide bass trombone isn't for him, or the director may decide to move him off bass back to tenor, or he may just give up band altogether (which would be unfortunate, but it happens).    

Many of us here didn't go into Music as a full time career, but that doesn't mean your son necessarily will stop playing after highschool, I would give him encouragement to keep up his playing as a hobby if not a career.  There are plenty of good playing opportunities for amateurs, and in college for non-music majors.  It's a great outlet and pastime.  We can't all be full time professionals, but many of us pick up a little bit of money on the side from our playing, or do it just for the enjoyment.    
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« Reply #18 on: Aug 19, 2017, 08:46AM »

Sorry for the sidebar, but do the publishers also require that the Euphonium and Tenor Sax parts be identical?  Drives me nuts. >:(

Copying and pasting saves so much time though !  ;-)
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« Reply #19 on: Aug 19, 2017, 09:19AM »

Mom,

An intermediate Yamaha is an excellent choice. Here's a used one from a reputable dealer for under $1000: http://www.dillonmusic.com/p-25649-yamaha-ybl-322r-bbf.aspx  This is an older model, but these are nice horns that are very easy to play.


Yamaha also makes an intermediate double valve instrument: http://www.dillonmusic.com/p-624-yamaha-ybl-620g-600-series-professional-bass-trombone.aspx

I know they call this a professional model, but really it's targeted for the school market (very clear from Yamaha's description of the model, as well as some of the design aspects). If you were prepared to buy the single valve 421 new, this is only a few hundred dollars more. In my opinion, if you're buying new, it's worth digging a little deeper in your wallet for the double valve, both for the utility and for easier resale.
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