Are you looking to buy a trombone but it’s your first one so not sure what to look for? Don’t know how much to spend or what type to go for? There are loads of different types of trombones, they’re made from lots of different materials, and knowing which is suitable for a beginner can be overwhelming.
In this post, we’re going to cover everything you need to purchase a beginner trombone as well as review what we think are the best trombones for a beginner currently on the market.
Quick Answer: The Best Beginner Trombones
The Top Trombones for Beginner Reviews
Before we get on to our beginner trombone buying guide, we’ll quickly review some of our favorite models of trombones for beginners. If you’re a beginner, we’d recommend going for a tenor trombone. Tenor trombones are typically played in school, marching, brass, and jazz bands and then, once you progress, you could purchase a bass trombone which has a deeper sound that complements orchestral music. But start on the tenor!
1. Selmer Prelude TB711 Trombone
- Genuine Vincent Bach 12C mouthpiece
- 8" two-piece yellow brass bell
- Removable balance weight
Selmer built the Prelude specifically for beginning students. It’s an affordable tenor trombone tuned in Bb. It comes with a small shank mouthpiece that’s comfortable for learning proper embouchure.
It has a yellow brass bell, a brass outer slide, and a chrome-plated nickel silver inner slide. The starter kit includes the trombone, mouthpiece, and a sturdy case with a handle and backpack straps. The manufacturer even throws in a jar of slide cream, but you’ll need to buy a separate cleaning kit.
2. Jean Paul TB-400 Trombone
- The Jean Paul Tenor Trombone is in key of Bb
- Comes with robust contoured carrying case for ease of use transportation
- Stunning yellow brass body construction with Lacquer finish
The Jean Paul TB-400 is a lightweight, affordable beginner trombone. While this instrument doesn’t have the same rich sound as a trombone made by Selmer, Yamaha, or Bach, it’s a genuine brass instrument that won’t break the bank.
These instruments last about three years, but since the company offers a one-year warranty, you’ve got some decent coverage. This starter kit comes with the instrument, mouthpiece, and hard-side case. You also get valve oil, gloves, and a polishing cloth to keep your trombone looking sharp.
3. Mendini by Cecilio MTB-L Trombone
- A must-have musical instrument for students, music instructors, and beginners of all ages. This junior trombone doesn't fall flat!
- These beautiful brass trombones are crafted with a .500” medium bore and an 8” bell to create a sonorous, full-bodied sound.
- Our premium band & orchestra musical instruments have a silver-plated mouthpiece, with smooth action slides for tuning and note changes.
This is another affordable brass instrument made for beginners. It’s tuned in Bb, which is standard for school bands and tenor trombones. It has an eight-inch bell, and a medium bore. As you become more comfortable with the instrument, you’ll want to upgrade, but it’s a great starter trombone.
When you order the beginner’s kit, you’ll get a great deal. In addition to the instrument, you get a carrying case, a mouthpiece, valve oil, gloves, a polishing cloth, and a music guide. It also comes with a chromatic tuner and metronome, which helps you stay in tune and keep the beat.
4. Costzon B Flat Tenor Slide Trombone
- Gold lacquer B Flat tenor brass slide trombone - Mainly crafted by gold brass while the tuning slide is made from chrome finished cupronickel. Costzon...
- Its excellent slide action allows for smooth note changes in all registers, while its small bore makes it the ideal instrument for a beginning student...
- SMOOTH OPERATION - Balanced weight distribution and standard cupronickel mouthpiece provide more comfortable hand positions and smooth airflow.
This gold brass tenor slide trombone from Costzon, tuned in Bb, is what you want as beginners and school bands. It has a nickel silver inner slide that moves smoothly and provides comfortable hand positions.
Accessories included with this trombone are a mouthpiece, white gloves, and cleaning cloth. The carrying case has a hard shell covered in fabric with a side handle or backpack straps for easy transportation.
Costzon also offers an alto trombone, so make sure you read the description carefully. Alto has a higher pitch than a tenor trombone, so that it would give the band a different sound.
5. pInstrument Plastic pBone Trombone
- MUSIC TRANSFORMS: The affordable pBone plastic trombone in energizing colors is as fun as it is functional! A standard .500 bore pitched in Bb creates...
- LIGHTWEIGHT: Half the weight of a brass trombone, the pBone is easy to play and hold resulting in good form and allowing an enjoyable practice or...
- QUICK ASSEMBLY: Maintenance free! The pBone has a unique antimicrobial design and works straight out of the box! Includes two mouthpieces and a fabric...
You might think that playing plastic instruments makes you seem like a less serious musician. It’s actually an excellent investment—especially for beginners.
These pInstrument Plastic pBone Trombones are incredibly affordable and durable. They’re easy to learn on, and you might like them so much that you keep them as a practice or travel instrument even if you upgrade to brass.
Though the plastic is dent- and scratch-resistant, you’ll get a cloth carrying case to protect your instrument when you’re transporting it. You can choose from many different colors for the bell, including black, white, blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, or green.
Like the other brass trombones on this list, the pBone is Bb pitch and uses standard note positions. Unlike the other instruments listed, this one comes with free online music lessons. Whether you’re learning independently or from a bandleader, it’s an excellent option to have lessons when you need them.
6. pBone Mini Plastic Trombone
- MUSIC TRANSFORMS: The affordable pBone mini plastic trombone comes in energizing colors and is as fun as it is functional! The dual bore Eb alto...
- LIGHTWEIGHT: Half the weight of a brass trombone, the pBone mini is easy to play and hold, resulting in good form and allowing an enjoyable practice...
- QUICK ASSEMBLY: Maintenance free! The pBone mini has a unique antimicrobial design and works straight out of the box! Includes a mouthpiece, a simple...
While this trombone is great for beginners, you should note that it’s an alto trombone, so the sound is different. It’s an ideal size for small children. Since it’s a miniature instrument, they’ll feel more comfortable holding this trombone than a standard size brass option.
Though it’s an alto trombone, the included mouthpiece is large enough to get quality bass sounds out of the instrument. You can change the mouthpiece for something smaller or one made of metal to get even more varied tones.
The pBone Mini Plastic Trombone comes with blue or red bells and black slides, similar to what the pInstruments pBone offers. Like the other plastic trombone, this option also includes free online music lessons and a cloth carrying case.
7. Etude ETB-100 Series Student Trombone
- 0.495" bore 8" hand-hammered yellow brass bell Chrome inner handslide tubes Yellow brass outer handslide and crook Includes case and mouthpiece
This straightforward student trombone has a Bb pitch. It’s made of brass with an eight-inch bell and has chrome inner slides and brass outer slides. Their build is incredibly durable, which is nice for students taking their instruments to and from school each day.
The Etude ETB-100 Series Student Trombone has a weighted balance on the back of the instrument. This helps beginners handle the instrument correctly. When you learn with this instrument, you’ll have a solid foundation to move on to intermediate instruments in time.
When you buy this trombone, you’ll get a mouthpiece and carrying case as well. That’s about it because it’s a fundamental offering. But it’s a good starter instrument.
How to Choose a Beginner Trombone: A Buyer’s Guide
It’s tough to buy a trombone for a beginner because you’re not sure how much use they’ll get out of the instrument.
Some students only choose the instrument for band credit but don’t commit the practice time they should.
Before choosing from these beginner trombones, ask the student musician questions about what type of music they want to play and why.
Find out how long they want to stick with lessons or band class at school.
This can help you decide what starter instrument to get, as well as give you an idea of how their playing might scale up over the years.
Another thing to mention is that you don’t have to buy your first trombone as many music stores have rental options for school band instruments.
Some schools offer this as well or have a partnership with a local store.
You can also look into rent-to-own programs, so your investment pays off if your budding musician sticks with the craft.
Types of Trombones
The first thing to discuss is what type of trombone is suitable for a beginner.
There are a number of different types of trombones and each one varies in size and tone, though some have additional valves and slightly different note positions.
Not all are appropriate for a beginning player, but it helps the student know the range a trombone covers.
Tenor trombones are the best choice for beginning players.
They are in Bb and have standard sizes of bell, bore, and tubing.
They play midrange notes, so they fit in perfectly with school bands. Intermediate and advanced players can add an F-attachment to lower the pitch of the instrument but you won’t need to worry about that yet.
Though Bass trombones are also in Bb like the Tenor Trombone, they are tuned an octave lower in pitch.
To reach this range, they have a lot longer tubes so as a result, they might be unwieldy for smaller children due to the additional weight.
However, the Bass trombone can be suitable for beginning players and is played widely in school bands, marching bands, jazz bands, symphonies, and even wind and brass ensembles (but we still recommend you go for a tenor to start with).
Alto trombones are tuned in Eb or F pitch and sometimes they have special rotary attachments which can allow professionals to play in Bb and D.
These instruments are usually played in operas, behind choirs, and by the first-chair player in a symphony and aren’t suitable for a beginner.
The Soprano trombone is also in Bb but it’s tuned an octae higher than the tenor trombone.
While you might think they’re a good option for a beginner (as they’re considerably smaller than a tenor) we wouldn’t recommend them.
Since the pitch is different, it’s not used by beginners because it won’t fit in with the rest of the school or marching band.
If you’re worried about the weight, we’d recommend the next trombone.
Another good option is getting a Plastic trombone which gives you a choice to spend less on an instrument while still getting a high-quality sound.
These instruments are either standard size or mini size, both of which are good for beginners.
They come with a plastic mouthpiece, but you can upgrade to a metal mouthpiece for a more genuine sound.
Other Types of Trombones
There are lots of other weird and wonderful trombones including the Cimbasso trombone which typically have an F pitch, but you can find them in Bb, C, and Eb as well.
They’re most often used in operas and aren’t suitable for beginners.
You can also get a Contrabass trombone which are tuned an octave below the bass trombone.
Because of two valve attachments, these brass instruments hit lower notes and can play bass parts in an orchestra.
Sopranino and Piccolo trombones are small with high pitches. They’re most often used to provide backing music for choirs since their sound closely resembles pitches of the human voice.
Trombones come with a lacquer finish that gives them their unique look.
You can choose from rose brass, yellow brass, chrome-plated nickel silver, and more.
Professional players like silver-plated trombones because of how they look under stage lights, however, they require a lot of cleaning and maintenance to prevent tarnish.
As long as you use a high-quality plated finish, you’ll have fantastic sound from your trombone.
This type of lacquer doesn’t dampen vibration the way cheaper finishes do.
You can remove the lacquer from your trombone, but know that it will change the sound.
If you plan to re-coat the instrument, choose the finish carefully since it can muffle the vibrations, you might find that messing with the finish might change the overall quality of your sound.
Silver plating is thinner, so it lets the vibrations ring out and gives your instrument a perkier sound. There are different types of finish you could choose to put on your instrument.
But, as a beginner, you don’t really need to be worried about this but if you’re interested, you can check out how the different styles affect the look and sound of the trombone.
Straight vs. F-Attachment
Beginning players should start with a straight trombone until they get a feel for the weight and positions of playing the trombone.
An F-attachment adds tubing to the bell bow so you can play lower notes.
They make the instrument heavier and harder to maintain, so it’s advised not to use this attachment until you’re more experienced.
Straight trombones are more affordable than those with an F-attachment.
You can usually find straight trombones in a beginner’s bundle where you’ll get all of the essential accessories, like a cleaning kit, music stand, carrying case, and more.
Small Bore vs. Large Bore
The bore of a trombone refers to the size of the tube where you insert the mouthpiece.
There are small bore and large bore trombones and this refers only to the type of mouthpiece you’ll need, as you can add an F-attachment to both small and large bore instruments.
Small bore trombones have a bright, perky sound and are most commonly used in jazz bands and school bands.
These trombones use small or medium mouthpieces.
Large bore trombones have a comparatively mellow sound and these instruments are popular with classical musicians and may also play in marching bands.
They use medium to large mouthpieces.
Some Trombones come with valves that change the pitch of the instrument when you press them like a trumpet.
Usually, you’ll find standard rotary valves on a beginner’s trombone, however, you might also see axial-flow valves, Hagmann valves, or Greenhoe valves.
Over time, valves may lose tension, which affects your sound even when you’re not engaging them. Installing custom rotary valves can prevent this problem.
If your instrument already has rotary valves, keep them properly maintained, so your sound isn’t negatively impacted.
Maintenance and Cleaning
- SAVE MONEY by making your trombone last longer and look better
- STOP WORRYING about how dirty, smelly, and gross your trombone is
- Make your trombone PLAY and SOUND BETTER by keeping it clean
The cleaning kit is especially key when familiarizing yourself with a new instrument.
Keeping your trombone clean and being careful when you play it will help it last for years, which means you get more for your money.
Before you play, clean the slide and apply slide oil (something like this one below).
- Trumpet cleaning and care product
- The Package heigt of the product is 1.5 inches
- The Package Length of the product is 5 inches
Then spray water to moisten the slide and move the outer slide a few times to distribute the oil.
After you play, open the water key, so the moisture drips out of the slide.
Put gauze on the cleaning rod and clean both the inner and outer slide. You can clean the exterior of the instrument with a polishing cloth.
To clean your trombone, you’ll bathe it. Put a towel on the bottom of the tub to prevent scratches, then fill the tub with warm water.
Hot water will damage the lacquer finish, so pay attention to the temperature.
Take apart the slide and bell section of the trombone, then separate the outer and inner slide and the tuning slide.
All of these parts, along with your mouthpiece, can go into the tub. Let them soak in the water for ten minutes.
Wipe the bell section with cotton rags, rinse it with cool water, and dry it with a clean towel. Use snakes to clean the inside of the slides, buff the exteriors with a cotton rag, and rinse them all in cool water.
Dry them as much as you can with a towel, and then let them air dry completely before you reassemble your instrument.
Rent or Buy?
If you can’t afford to buy the trombone you want, consider finding a music store with options to rent or rent-to-own.
If you’re determined to become a stellar trombone player, you might want to rent your first instrument and buy a more advanced model later.
Similarly, if you have a student who only wants to play for the school band, you might prefer to rent an instrument for a few years.
This keeps you from buying a trombone that your musician won’t play for the long term.
But, buying a new brass instrument is a great option if you have the money.
It’s an investment that will pay off as you or your child learns new skills and enjoys making music.
If you buy new, you can also get a warranty from the manufacturer to protect your instrument.
Some rental stores might offer insurance, but usually, the only way to get a warranty is to buy new.
Your budget is the big factor that will influence the trombone you choose.
Most beginner trombones start at a few hundred dollars and go up to just under $1,000.
In this price range, you’ll get a decent model, from a reputable brand that is durable, has a decent sound, and will help to learn the basics.
If funds are tight, you could also choose to buy a new plastic trombone as these models are more affordable than any real brass instrument.
They’re made of ABS plastic, so they’re reasonably durable as well and will last for years without getting a dent or scratch on them.
Most sound like traditional trombones on their own, while others rely on a metal mouthpiece to elevate their sound.
When you choose a trombone to buy, you should also factor in what’s included.
Many beginner kits come with enough accessories to get you started and you might get a music stand, fabric or hard-side case, and a mouthpiece pouch and brush.
They’ll also include a cleaning kit. These accessories add a lot of value to your purchase as you won’t have to purchase them separately.
Conclusion: Which Beginner Trombone Should You Buy?
So that wraps up our article on how to choose a beginner trombone. We hope it’s helped to shed some light on what are the important factors to look for when picking one.
Just remember that beginners should go for a straight tenor trombone.
Students need time to learn the basics of a beginning instrument and then they can try advanced instruments with different pitches, positions, and attachments.
If you’re still on the fence about which one to go for, we’d recommend specifically, the Selmer Prelude TB711 or Jean Paul TB-400 as best for beginners.
They’re standard trombones with the right sound for a school band and as a bonus, they come with high-quality carrying cases and other accessories that make them really good value.
Once you or your child becomes an intermediate or advanced player, you might find that you need to upgrade your trombone.
However, student trombones can last for several years and you’ll be able to sell them on after.
- Genuine Vincent Bach 12C mouthpiece
- 8" two-piece yellow brass bell
- Removable balance weight