Are they really so bad?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by samop, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. samop

    samop New Member


    I'm an amateur tenor trombonist (Vincent Bach 42B) in local wind bands and orchestras and occasionally double the bass trombone parts, so I was thinking of getting a cheap bass trombone.

    I appreciate this is Heretic and I'm going to get pelted with mouthpieces and poked with cleaning rods, but everyone says these cheap Chinese imports are serious rubbish and don't touch them, but in reality how bad can they be? As long as the slide is good and the value works then what?

    Obviously the tone isn't going to be up to a pro standard instrument but for the occasional bass bits where all that people will hear is the pedal notes does it really matter?


    What do you think chaps?

  2. samop

    samop New Member

    Sorry, typing mistake...

    I meant ".....As long as the slide is good and the valve works..." (not the "Value" works... that wouldn't make sense)?
  3. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Not heresy at all. Chinese brass instrument making started out poor but has been worth considering for some while.

    Avoid buying sight unseen direct from China. You'll pay less, but the chance you end up with a trombone-shaped object rather than a trombone increases markedly, anecdotal evidence suggests. Instead, go to one of the various importers of these things in the UK and try their stock out. Some of these options are Wessex Tubas, Mayflower (model EC5) and Virtuosi. You'll pay a bit more than for another new Chinese bass trombone, but you will be certain that what you get will have been properly quality checked, and you'll have the opportunity to try it out yourself before committing your money.

    For sure you can get great value this way. You can also get great value by shopping around second-hand - I have a 1970s Conn 73H that I have used happily in championship banding and in some of London's best amateur orchestras that cost me just £500, less than the price of any of these, and I suspect strongly a nicer instrument (disclaimer: I haven't tried the options I list above). Newness on its own really isn't as desirable a quantity as people tend to think in evaluating the quality of a trombone.

    Of course, if you are planning on going on holiday to China, you could always see if you are able to drop in on the Jin Bao factory and try them out there before buying direct.
  4. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    Don't panic, you're among friends. Things to note:

    1) The 'cheap' instruments are getting better. I played an Earlham (made in South American, iirc) copy of the old Bach 50 for a few years, but sold it on as I found it too heavy to hold, and it required more air to fill it than I could manage over a long gig.

    2) Retailers such as John Packer (among others) check over any instrument before sale, for quality-control purposes. It's only when purchasing direct that you might be vulnerable to a 'duff' instrument being sent to you. (I've taught on a primary education scheme in East London for several years, where instruments have been bought on the cheap/in bulk without proper quality control checks. A classic case was the trumpet which arrived having the 2nd and 3rd valves inserted in each other's valve housing. On trying to switch them back, I found that they had been machined to different sizes...) - in other words, as with most cases, a 'try before you buy' approach is best. Don't dismiss the idea of a good second-hand instrument, either - I now play a Reynolds Contempora which I picked up by chance at a contest trade stand. It doesn't look much, but it don't half go! ;)

    3) If you're primarily a tenor trombonist (as I am), don't be swayed by the 'bigger is better' approach - a good single-trigger bass trombone will blow and respond much like a big tenor, and not require a huge amount of extra air to fill. A sensible choice of mouthpiece will help as well - you will want something bigger than your usual tenor mouthpiece in order to get an open sound in the lower register, but anything too big will not give you the support (and focus) the embouchure needs throughout the range. For instance, I use a VB 5G on my tenor, and find a 2G gets the best results on the bass - though I do have some larger mouthpieces when long periods of orchestral obliteration are called for.

    4) You can edit your posts if you make a mistake :)
  5. Lots of great stuff coming out of China now, including Mick Rath's R100, R400 and R900. The R900 being the Bass Trom.
    John Packer trombones are designed in partnership with Rath so you get a good instrument for a very attractive price. There is a fantastic JP233 Rath single rotor bass trombone for well under £1000. Check out the reviews from pro players.
    As with any instrument, the only sure fire way is to try it first.
    Contact the John Packer Ltd shop on 01823 282386.
  6. samop

    samop New Member

    Cheers for that advice, very useful.

    Jack, I wasn't panicking, this is my sense of humour which I've been warned about before.

    But you've both confirmed what I thought, that they're OK as long as they're put together correctly and you get them quality checked by someone before parting with any money.

    Interestingly you can get them for £350-odd from Germany... and astoundingly an Italian company are advertising Bass trombones on ebay for £134. Yes, that's £134... just a bit too cheap I think but at that price it's nearly worth buying 4 of them, taking them to bits and making one decent one from the parts (OK maybe not but you know what I mean)

    Thanks for the advice about not getting into the biggest bore instruments, I hadn't considered that. When the time comes I'll probably still look for a double-value version but will steer away for the larger bones.

    Thanks once again for your comments


    (oh and yes, I thought I could edit the post but couldn't see how to do it)
  7. JDH

    JDH Member

  8. samop

    samop New Member