Types of Trombones

As well as the Bb tenor trombone the broader trombone family is much larger than you might at first realise, with instruments of all sizes and some specialised for specific genres.

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The Trombone section

Trombones and their players are known for their gregarious nature and are usually found in sections! In most bands this will take the form of two tenors and a bass trombone and in a jazz genre big band, three tenors and a bass. Sometimes, especially when accompanying choral music, an orchestral section will have an alto, a tenor and a bass and will spend most of the piece supporting the choir’s singers.

Of course, there are plenty of times when there is only one trombone player like in a jazz combo or rock/pop band horn section. Sometimes music theatre productions only have one trombone player and quite often this takes the form of a bass trombone player.

The trombone family

The B♭, tenor, slide trombone is by far the most popular trombone and the one most players begin learning how to play trombone on. Like all brass instruments however, the B♭ tenor trombone is part of a whole family of trombones ranging from the tiny sopranino trombone, which is a quarter the length of a B♭ tenor to the big contrabass trombone which is up to twice as long as the normal B♭ instrument. Some trombones use the piston valves (like the B♭ trumpet) and are called valve trombones and others have short, round rotary valves either instead of the hand slide or to augment the tube length options, but they all do the same job, adding tubing.

The trombone family

B Tenor

A B♭ (B-Flat) tenor trombone is the most common type of trombone. The fundamental note, with slide all the way in, is a concert B♭.
The instrument in the hands of an expert player will have a range of four or so chromatic octaves plus some very low pedal tones.


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Other types of trombones

Alto Trombone


An Alto Trombone is the smallest common trombone, and has been the highest sound of the trombone section since around the 16th Century. Pitched in Eb (a fourth higher) than the standard tenor trombone, this instrument is shorter than the normal tenor trombone.

Bass Trombone

A Bass Trombone is bigger than the tenor trombone with the valve attachment. It has the largest bell of the common trombone family and the largest bore of the common trombones. Its larger sizes helps projection and how loud you can play especially when playing low. 
What's the difference between a trumpet and a cornet?


Card image cap


Card image cap

The main difference is the shape of the bore. Both a Bb trumpet and a Bb cornet have the same length of tubing, but the first two thirds of the cornet has a conical bore as opposed to the cylindrical or parallel bore used on a trumpet. A conical bore constantly increases in size, this creates a softer, warmer tone than that of the trumpet. Deciding factors when choosing to begin with a trumpet or a cornet include that the cornet is normally used in a brass band or wind band so if those traditions are strong where you live a cornet may be a better choice. Also, the cornet’s tubes are wrapped up more tightly than a trumpet’s making the instrument shorter and a little easier to handle. Some teachers and players feel that the cornet’s conical bore make it easier to get started buzzing and making a good sound than on the trumpet.