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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningBeginners and Returning Trombonists(Moderators: bhcordova, WaltTrombone) Uprgrading from a student trombone-choosing the best instrument for the budget
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TCL1of4
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« on: Jul 21, 2008, 05:10PM »

Hi-I do not play.  My 13 year old daughter plays, and has been playing for three years.  She is in her school band (marching, concert and jazz), a community band and plays in an orchestra for an area theatre company.  She takes private lessons as well.  Her trombone instructor suggested that we start looking into upgrading her student instrument to one with a F trigger.

I am overwhelmed in what is out there and how much the various instruments cost.  I know our budget is going to require finding a good used instrument, but I am not sure what instruments to consider and which ones to avoid and what is even a fair price.  She doesn't want or desire something new and shiny-she understand that old and not as shiny can often produce a better sound. 

I am pretty sure our budget isn't going to be able to handle much above $600, so I am hoping we can find something used in that price range.

So I mainly don't know what to look for, what to avoid, and also any suggestions on the best places to find good, but reasonably priced instruments.  She currently uses a student Yamaha.

Any help would be appreciated.


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Chris Cline
« Reply #1 on: Jul 21, 2008, 05:13PM »

Send a private message to forum member DJ Kennedy.  He has an amazing array of used instruments, and an uncanny ability to match up players and horns.  He's sold me all three of mine, and all are beauties.  E-mail transactions can be a little nerve-wracking, but he's gotten nothing but glowing reviews from everyone on this forum.
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« Reply #2 on: Jul 21, 2008, 05:58PM »

Stick with name brand used pro line horns, and you should be fairly safe.  Yamaha, Bach, Conn, King, Getzen.  You might have to go a little over $600.  I have gotten a couple of good "plays well, looks ugly, isn't too expensive" deals for students of mine from DJ.
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dj kennedy

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« Reply #3 on: Jul 21, 2008, 11:43PM »

600  bucks 
pro  fatt 
  i  dunno  about  a   547  ????
thanks for the  references
  a  36b  ---might be first choice 
600  makes  pro line  challenging  to  find /ship
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« Reply #4 on: Jul 22, 2008, 08:22AM »

Hi TCL,

That's awesome your daughter is so involved! I know exactly how it feels to be overwhelmed by the price of instruments. I also don't know how familiar you are with the music world, so if I'm saying things you already know, forgive me.

As far as musical instruments go, trombones are among the cheapest. My girlfriend is a bassoonist and she's looking at dropping at least $10K to $12 on a new horn. That's not even for a top of the line pro model. The parents of a cellist friend of mine in high school spent upwards of $80K on a "new" (actually made in 1803) cello for him. Most other brass instruments are more expensive, even. Top-of-the-line French horns can top $7K. Tubas, $10K-$12K. Long story short, we trombonists are lucky.

While your daughter most certainly doesn't need a brand spanking new $4200 Shires, you definitely should make as much of an investment as possible. If there was any way you could swing around a $1000, that would open up the possibilities a LOT and would most likely get her a horn she could use through high school and college.
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« Reply #5 on: Jul 22, 2008, 09:32AM »

Another good source is a pawn shop. You never know what type of horns they carry.

I found a 354(yes,it's a student model,but a major upgrade from the bargain-basement crap I was playing)for $150 earlier this year.

I'm hitting the shops again later this year in search of a used pro-level horn...hopefully a 3B will be in my hands.
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« Reply #6 on: Jul 22, 2008, 10:07AM »

There is a place in San Carlos, CA called "Hornucopia".  They have a ton of really good used horns of all grades.  They just might have something for you.  Call them at (650) 593-3050.

Good luck!


- John     
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« Reply #7 on: Jul 22, 2008, 10:21AM »

It would be helpful to know a general area where you live to suggest a local store.

Thanks
Eric
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« Reply #8 on: Jul 24, 2008, 03:39PM »

Eric,

I do like your quote in your signature.

If you get what you know you need, and it is what you want, then you know you will not have to upgrade down the road.  It always cost more in the long run to buy cheap, just for the short term.

- John
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« Reply #9 on: Jul 24, 2008, 07:46PM »

A Getzen is a great pro horn and you can probably find one on ebay for pretty cheap.
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« Reply #10 on: Jul 24, 2008, 07:57PM »

... If there was any way you could swing around a $1000, that would open up the possibilities a LOT and would most likely get her a horn she could use through high school and college.

This is great advice.  $1000 spent with dj kennedy would put your daughter into a used pro horn of the same type that many, if not most, leading orchestra players use -- a Conn 88H or Bach 42B.

If $600 is your limit, you might be able to find a lightly used step-up horn that won't break the bank.  These horns fall between the student and pro instruments in price and playing quality.  I'm partial to the Blessing B88, which is a lower-cost copy of the large-bore Conn 88H, and its medium-bore brandmate the B78.  The street price on these horns brand-new is under $1000, so finding a good used one for $500 or less shouldn't be that hard.  dj might even have one or two sitting in his bone pile.  The 400-series Yamahas are also very good, but will probably command more money than a Blessing in the used market.  I was less impressed with the Bach Omega (TB200B) step-up horns that I tried, but some players and teachers swear by them.
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« Reply #11 on: Jul 24, 2008, 08:17PM »

Elkhart 88H, I played with you once! Hi

Things to avoid:

I've never seen a .525 bore with a trigger that I liked. I think that adding a rotary trigger to that bore makes it too stuffy. Go with the .547 bore if you want a trigger.

Be wary of silver instruments. I've only played on one that I really liked - and that was an Elkhart Conn 88H made in the late 60s, and that horn was worth WAY more than $600. Some of the King silver plated horns are decent from what I hear, but most silver plated horns in general aren't worth more than the cost of the metal in it.

Horns that have unusual dimensions, like an unusually large bell, are usually not going to work well. There's a reason why, for the most part, trombones with a specific bore all have about the same dimensions.

Other than that, it's just a matter of making sure that the horn you buy from the dealer is what the dealer says it is. DJ Kennedy does have an excellent reputation around this forum, and www.hornguys.com has used horns as well - I've always had excellent business with them although I doubt that they'll be selling tons of quality used horns for $600.  Worth a shot, though.

Any large brass instrument dealer will have some kind of stock of used horns, but sometimes you can't tell exaxtly what quality of horn you'll get. The last time I visited the Woodwind and Brasswind in northern Indiana, I tried out some of their used horns, and there was a great variety in quality between some of their used Getzen stock .547 horns and used Bach 42Bs, but the quality really didn't reflect well in their price. In their case, you could find a great used horn IF you can go to their shop, but buying online can be iffy, because they do so much large business that they sometimes have a hard time trying to get the best product to any one particular person. That's where the seller's reputation is really important.
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« Reply #12 on: Jul 24, 2008, 09:24PM »


Be wary of silver instruments. I've only played on one that I really liked - and that was an Elkhart Conn 88H made in the late 60s, and that horn was worth WAY more than $600. Some of the King silver plated horns are decent from what I hear, but most silver plated horns in general aren't worth more than the cost of the metal in it.


Umm... wow.  That's a rather sweeping generalization, and one I think you would be very hard pressed to back up factually.

I have a silver plated Conn 4H and a silver plated Bach 42 that are absolutely fantastic players.  I also have lacquered horns that are fantastic players.

IMO, the plating is so thin that its affect on the sound the instrument produces is negligible.  In many cases, lacquer is thicker and should affect the sound more.  Unless you are a player at the highest level of the pro game, you're unlikely to be able to tell the difference.  Here we are talking about an upgrade from a student horn - I'd say grab the horn that plays the best and make the finish a non-issue.

I actually prefer silver-plated horns, because the finish is much more durable than lacquer. 
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« Reply #13 on: Jul 25, 2008, 04:20AM »

Umm... wow.  That's a rather sweeping generalization, and one I think you would be very hard pressed to back up factually.

I have a silver plated Conn 4H and a silver plated Bach 42 that are absolutely fantastic players.  I also have lacquered horns that are fantastic players.

IMO, the plating is so thin that its affect on the sound the instrument produces is negligible.  In many cases, lacquer is thicker and should affect the sound more.  Unless you are a player at the highest level of the pro game, you're unlikely to be able to tell the difference.  Here we are talking about an upgrade from a student horn - I'd say grab the horn that plays the best and make the finish a non-issue.

I actually prefer silver-plated horns, because the finish is much more durable than lacquer. 

Fair enough. Maybe my experience is not the statistical average.
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« Reply #14 on: Jul 25, 2008, 07:21AM »

I also want to take exception to the stricture about .525" (and smaller) horns with F-attachments.  I play a Bach 36C (CONVENTIONAL wrap) and don't find it stuffy at all.  I know people playing (and sounding good on) King 3B-F horns too.

Other good choices for "step-up" horns are the Conn 52H, King 607, Benge 165/175, and the Yamaha 64x horns (646, 647, 648).  All discontinued, and well-made instruments.

As a "1 horn to do all, including bass" a .547" horn is a good choice.  If you take out the "bass" part, a .525" horn or .500" horn is a better choice.  Easier to fill and not too tubby when pushed high.

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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #15 on: Jul 25, 2008, 08:24AM »

Other good choices for "step-up" horns are the Conn 52H, King 607, Benge 165/175, and the Yamaha 64x horns (646, 647, 648).  All discontinued[Emphasis added], and well-made instruments.


The Conn 52H is still in production.  It's a dual-bore (.525/.547) F-attachment horn with an 8-5/8" bell.  Perhaps you were thinking of the .525-bore 50H, which Conn discontinued when they brought the 52H out around 1999.  The last 50H I played was a nice, responsive medium-bore horn that didn't seem overly stuffy on the trigger side.  A used 50H in good condition would be a fine choice for a step-up horn.
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« Reply #16 on: Jul 25, 2008, 10:48AM »

I also want to take exception to the stricture about .525" (and smaller) horns with F-attachments.  I play a Bach 36C (CONVENTIONAL wrap) and don't find it stuffy at all.  I know people playing (and sounding good on) King 3B-F horns too.

Other good choices for "step-up" horns are the Conn 52H, King 607, Benge 165/175, and the Yamaha 64x horns (646, 647, 648).  All discontinued, and well-made instruments.

As a "1 horn to do all, including bass" a .547" horn is a good choice.  If you take out the "bass" part, a .525" horn or .500" horn is a better choice.  Easier to fill and not too tubby when pushed high.

LOL

I suppose that I've had some odd experience with horns, then, or at least I have slightly odd tastes. Don't know

Anyone wanna disagree with my third proposition:

Quote
Horns that have unusual dimensions, like an unusually large bell, are usually not going to work well. There's a reason why, for the most part, trombones with a specific bore all have about the same dimensions.

 Eeek!

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« Reply #17 on: Jul 25, 2008, 11:34AM »

Nope.  I have played a King 5B and found the oversize bell spread the sound more than I like.  I also tested a Bach 50B3LO and didn't like how the sound spread.

Your prejudice toward a .547" seems to be typical of today's younger classical trombone player.  You probably had to play one almost from the get-go and that's your main point of reference.

Back in my day (Late Pre-Cambrian Era) large bore trombones were no where near as popular as they are today.
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« Reply #18 on: Jul 25, 2008, 12:38PM »

Well, I am actually developing myself as a jazz player using a .508 bore horn right now, but I do have a lot of classical background in my instruction. I just have never played on a horn smaller than .547 bore with a trigger that I've liked.
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« Reply #19 on: Jul 28, 2008, 09:14PM »

Quote
I'm partial to the Blessing B88, which is a lower-cost copy of the large-bore Conn 88H, and its medium-bore brandmate the B78.

This is one of the trombones her teacher recommended we look at.

I admit to still being overwhelmed when it comes to this kind of purchase though.
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