Of all the decisions a new trombonist will face when first learning how to play the trombone, none is quite as important as choosing the right instrument. Playing the trombone is a skill that requires patience, practice and good instruction, but a good instrument is necessary to make good progress. A beginner trombone should be a relatively simple instrument that balances quality and price with a few technical considerations, including size. The new trombonist also should try out different models and types of trombones before making a final purchase.
Most trombones marketed for beginners are low in price compared to the instruments used by professional musicians. Compared to an instrument used by a professional, a beginner trombone is relatively simple and of lower quality. This does not necessarily imply that a beginner trombone is incapable of producing a quality sound.
Trombones come in several sizes and styles. The three basic types of trombones are the straight tenor trombone; the trigger-type, or F-rotor, tenor trombone; and the bass trombone. While F-rotor trombones include additional tubing that can increase the instruments' range, simplicity makes the straight tenor the most common beginner trombone.
Size is an important consideration in choosing a beginner trombone. The bore size, or the inner diameter of the inner slide tubing, can have a large effect on the instrument's sound and the player's stamina. For younger players, a bore size of 0.481 inches (1.22 cm) to 0.525 inches (1.33 cm) is recommended. This bore size in a beginner trombone tends to provide a focused, bright sound. The smaller bore also provides additional resistance, making it easier to sustain a tone without using as much air as would be required by a standard 0.547-inch (1.39-cm) bore.
For most beginners, it can be helpful to consult with an experienced trombonist or a band director before purchasing an instrument. Most qualified instructors will have enough experience to provide a novice with a good idea of which models to consider and which to avoid. More often than not, a good band director can provide the guidance needed to pick the optimal beginner trombone based on the student's playing style and economic factors.
Before purchasing a beginner trombone, it is advisable for the student to try the instrument out. All the advice and economic considerations in the world may be useless if the student is not able to produce a good sound with the recommended trombone. The student should physically test the instrument to determine its compatibility with his playing style. Particularly if the instrument is being learned through a school music program, it may be possible to rent a trombone for a while before buying. This can prevent a large and immediate out-of-pocket expense and give the new trombonist a chance to try a few styles before buying one.