Step-up Trombones

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Step-Up Trombones

step-up trombone | Amro Music, Memphis

Trombonists who get past the basics soon discover the advantages of step-up trombones.    Among them are a bigger, fuller sound, more control over dynamics (louds and softs), quicker transition between notes, and an extended range.  The result is often not just improved playing, but increased inspiration to practice and play.

Step-up Levels

Trombones are often classified as beginner, intermediate, performer, and top-line. 

Beginner trombones have small bores (the inner diameter of the tubes) to make the instrument easier to play.  A small bore requires less air but also produces a smaller tone.  Beginner trombones come with small to medium mouthpieces and rarely include any special features--they are very much basic instruments for getting started.

Intermediate Trombone

Intermediate trombones should have slightly larger bores.  As students develop stronger embouchures (the facial position when playing a mouthpiece) and lungs, they can fill a larger bore with air and create a fuller, more resonant sound.  Many intermediate trombones come with F-attachments--a valve and tubing that extends the low register, and allows the trombonist an alternate way to reach difficult slide positions.   Intermediate trombones are popular in junior high and high school bands.

In addition to larger bores and F attachments, performer trombones usually incorporate slightly larger one-piece bells, special annealing of the brass, and hand-hammering.  As a result they have very full, rich tones and allow the player to more easily control the dynamics (louds and softs).  These models are appropriate for young musicians who take their music seriously.

Top-line trombones are almost always large bore with an F attachment and typically incorporate all of the manufacturer's best features.  Music majors or professionals most often play top-line trombones, although others sometimes choose them too. 

step-up trombone | Amro Music, MemphisA step-up trombone, particularly a performer or top-line, should last through school and longer — with regular maintenance a trombonist should not have to buy another trombone. (Ask about Amro's Maintenance and Replacement plan.)

Many schools with strong music programs like their players to play similar brands and models of trombones so the sound blends well and the instruments are in perfect tune with each other.

The charts below show some of the differences between each level of instrument.

Features Found on Most Beginner Trombones



Small bore (inside diameter of tubing)

Requires less air                                                  

Lighter weight

Easier for beginners to hold

Medium mouthpiece
Easier for beginner to play


Features Found on Most Intermediate Trombones



Medium to large bore                                 

Bigger sound

F attachment
Quicker performance between notes and added lower range


Features Found on Most Performer Trombones



Larger bore                                                 

Bigger sound

Larger bell

Richer, fuller tone

Hand-hammered one-piece bell

Superior tone fidelity

F attachment

Quicker performance between notes and added lower range

Medium large mouthpiece

Produces a larger sound


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