Bass Trombone choice

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by ksmot, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. ksmot

    ksmot New Member

    I have been playing a year. Started on little Yamaha, replaced almost by accident with a very old and scruffy but sound and very nice Besson International wide bore instrument with a single plug and a 9 inch bell. Nice tone etc. Very happy for £75. The inner slide is worn and slightly corroded at the bottom and it needs a lot of Conn Slide cream to keep it happy.

    I always planned to upgrade originally before I got the Besson which I think may have spoilt me. I have had a look at Conns, (which I like), Bachs, (less keen to be honest not helped by the trigger jamming on the new instrument) a Werril (any thoughts - sounded quite nice but not sure about the build quality.

    I originally thought to go second hand but all its all either rubbish or so near the cost of a new instrument, that it makes no difference. I am going to have a look at a Holton 181.Any thoughts about this instrument would be most welcome.

    I am Second in a wind band and a Brass band but am moving down to Bass, bit by bit with the Besson. I also play in a central European ensemble where the thing that pays the rent as it were is the bottom end of the range.

    Any thoughts would be most welcome

    Many thanks

  2. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    I play a Yamaha 613H, soon to be replaced by a new Xeno model, so you might get a good deal on one somewhere. Very good trombone, I tried all the stock models before I bought it.

    I know that has a Dual Independant Weril in stock now at a very very good price. I played it on Friday, and for the money it's an excellent step up horn. I think it was less than £800, brand new, including Gig bag. Ask for John Bennett if you get in touch with them and mention my name!
  3. 1st Position

    1st Position Member

    If you are happy with your Besson, which generally it sounds like you are, why not have it reconditioned. It will save you thousands buying a new instrument that you may not be satisfied with. I had my 24 year old King 4B reconditioned earlier this year, should be about a three week job, but due to some shoddy workmanship took about six months, and now for a fraction of the cost of a new instrument I have a sparkling instrument, which should last another twenty years.

    If you do decide to buy a new trombone, then decide what you need. Is a 12" bell and three trigger combinations essential, or will a 10" bell and a single plug do the job. See what models fit your needs, and price bracket, and then try several of each.

    And last of all, don't sell your Besson, if you have a good instrument (whatever its condition) then keep it, you never know when you need a back up.
  4. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    If you are thinking about a Holton 181, you won't go far wrong. It is a very good bass trombone, and I played one very happily for many years. Sadly, production has recently ceased (Holton has been absorbed into the United musical Instruments/Conn/Bach/King empire), but that does mean that prices seem to be dropping as dealers naturally want to off-load their stock.

    I currently play a Rath R9, which I am very pleased with.

    Michael Rath currently have a second-hand Holton 180 for sale (similar to a 181, but with dependent valves) at what looks like a good price.


    I moved onto bass trombone about 4 years ago after playing tenor trom for many years. At one of my previous bands, when I was still on tenor, we purchased a full set of Bach 42 open wrap series troms. Was at the time very happy with the tenor, but the bass trom player at the time, Matthew Johnson, said he didn't like it as much as his Holton 181.

    Anyway, I left that band, and moved onto bass trom at my last band. They had a Bach Basstrom, open wrap. I hated it. I could see what Matt had meant. The mechanism was way too big for my hand size and the bell, a 10 and a 1/2 inch one, was too big, and made the sound woolly.

    The band then decided to buy some new ones for the section, so after a lot of deliberation and trying out, I chose Getzen Custom series for the whole section. I tried Rath bones, Conn, Holton (for me anyway - the tenor's were rubbish!), even newer VB's.

    I now have bought my own after moving to my present band. I stuck with the Getzen Custom, which are exactly the same as the Edwards just with a different stamp on the bell, and you don't have to go down to London to test drive and build your own. I stuck with a 9 and a 1/2 inch bell as this centre's my sound a little more and fits in with the rest of the section (who play on a Conn 88H and something else which I can't remember cos it's a one off special build for Danny, our 2nd trom player).
  6. ksmot

    ksmot New Member

    Many thanks for all responses which are much appreciated. I saw the 180 at Raths. I have heard that the dependent valves can be problematic. The idea of reconditioning my Besson is interesting. Can this really sort out a worn slide? Theres a bit of corrosion at the bottom on both side of the inner slide. I also looked at some manufacturers I’d not given any thought too as well. Gets a bit pricier. The price for a 181 with trade in of my little Yamaha are £1500 or £1600. I did like the Werril Bb/F I tried. No bass in stock I’d like to try one. It seems to me I might be better with a 181 (2nd hand value and quality) assuming I like it when I have a go on one. I think what I have to do is to try an get a blow on one or two others as well even if they are outside where I want to be money wise (e.g. a Yam 613).

    Thanks again
  7. Bassbones

    Bassbones Member

    I must be honest I have been searching for the Holy Grail of Bass Trombones for a number of years now. I have tried most things including the Yamaha,Bach,Holton,King,Courtois and Rath these are my thoughts on the subject.
    The yamaha 613H I tried I found to be a little lightweight and flimsy a little bright for my taste.
    Had a couple of Bachs one magnificent which belonged to a friend which had to be returned. I did buy a replacement for it and quickly learnt what people mean in inconsistanties in manufacturing it was plain awful.
    The Kings were very hard work to keep in tune and the 8B i had was more like a Euph on a stick!.
    I've had 3 Holton TR181's and found them to have a really dark sound and the build quality is really consistant can't fault them if I had to be really picky I would have to say the closed wrap design makes pedal notes against both plugs heavy blowing with a lot of resistance.

    As with Brian Kelly I am also playing a Rath R9 which I can find no fault with at all it's a true work of art and it's modular design means you can modify and change the instrument as your playing evironment changes.
    Hope this helps.
  8. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    If it's any help, most pros are using Conns at the moment - and selling their Edwards trombones! I know a number of pro bass trombonists who originally swore by their huge Edwards machines but have since switched to Conns. Interestingly enough, it's the DEPENDENT version rather than the INDEPENDENT one which seems to be the instrument of choice (how often do you play a low B anyway?). Of course, if you really want a great instrument (and tons of kudos), get an older 'Elkhart' Conn 71H. I know some players who would happily sell their Mothers for one...

    One problem, though; UMI (Conn/King/Bach) have recently had some industrial relations problems and the workforce have been on strike, causing availability problems of new instruments over here.

    I'd leave the Weril where you find it, if I were you. They may be reasonably priced, but as the saying goes 'You pays your money, you takes your choice'.
  9. 1st Position

    1st Position Member

    Yes, it is possible to replace the inner slide legs, and with the the work they do on the outer casing the result is a new slide. You should talk to someone who repairs and reconditions. Try Michael Rath oop North(01484 549600), or Sharon Macullum if you are Darn south(01580 713901).
  10. Colin D

    Colin D Member

    I have heard some horror stories about Conn build quality recently though - basic things such as lacquer not being finished off on hand stays etc. As with any mass-produced instrument - try before you buy!

    The Holton 181 that Newstead let me abuse can produce a nice sound, but is quite hard work when you start putting the triggers down.

    As for the Edwards - they produce an absolutely immense sound that in my hasty experience of trying in shops and tradestands recently responds evenly in all the registers. However, bigger isn't always better... And that's coming from a bass trombonist!
  11. Texus

    Texus Member

    Basically i would recommend anything that makes you feel comfortable. i would personally stay away from anything with a ridiculous bell though!
    I played for years on a Holton, probably the best sounding instrument iv'e known and good for all uses - pedal notes can be a hard blow though. I had a good Edwards for a while, although it could be rather bright. I'm now on a Courtois - absolutely superb. It seems to like all registers except extreme high stuff. It is a ******* to play when you are out of practice though! Wonderful.
  12. JessopSmythe

    JessopSmythe Active Member

    I played on a Holton TR181 for years and thought it was fantastic. Nice sound, good response etc but a bit of a sod when you get the plugs down. However, I've spent the last 3 years on open wrap instruments and a quick blow on a mates 181 recently had me checking to see if I'd accidentally left the practice mute in. When I joined Abergavenny, I took on the task of taming "the beast", a huge Bach 50BL which sounded beautiful when I could find the air to fill it. 2 1/2 years ago I bought myself a Getzen Eterna. It's a quite a bit smaller than the Bach but is open wrap with dependant plugs so it's a nice easy blow, even playing down in the pedals. It took me a month or two to get really comfortable with the dependant valves but I now find that I very rarely use the second plug at all. In fact it's helped improve my slide speed and get rid of some lazy bad habits. It's such an easy instrument to play that I even did one concert with Wem last summer where I used it to dep on solo, using a 1G mouthpiece. If it has a downside, it would be that it lacks the outright power of the big Bachs and Edwards' down in the pedal register. Since I was smoking 20 a day when I failed to tame the Bach beast, I've decided to have a go at it again with clean lungs so I've got it out of hibernation in the bandroom and am cleaning it up ready for use again after the Treorchy contest this month. I'll probably use it for the christmas concerts then decide whether to stay with it for the Areas or go back to the faithful Getzen which, as far as I'm concerned, at £1200 offers the best value for money of any instrument I've had.
  13. sunny_jimbob

    sunny_jimbob Member

    I'd echo the comments about the Holton - cracking sound but when the triggers go down it's a swine! Also, I've found that the instrument is terribly balanced - when you're playing it, it feels about five times heavier than it actually is.

    I did have an open wrap Bach and that was superb although it didn't half drain the lungs! But it even made my upper register somewhere close to in tune, which is a fair achievement in itself!
  14. salefc

    salefc Member

    Ha. That's cos I probably plew it through for you.

    It all depends what you look for. Some people like resistance on lower notes because it can produce a fatter sound without sounding harsh and brass bandy. I find dynamics at pp with bottom Cs. Of course you do then get issues going to open for bottom Bbs etc.

    I don't recommend having a dependant trigger (T180). I had one of these and don't regret going to a 181, which I am still happy with. Having all of the extra optional positions available by using trigger 1, 2 or both makes a lot of technical passages a damn site easier.

    I have blown Edwars, Bachs and Yamahas, but it's just what I'm happy with and I suggest you do what feels right. It goes the same for mouthpieces.

    14 years of bass trom and counting....
  15. salefc

    salefc Member

    Using alternate positions is not lazy, and that includes triggers. What is important is how the notes, phrasing etc sounds, not the speed of your arm. It is ideal to ensure slide direction continues in the same direction and only changes if necessary on the major beats. I know legato playing is a ****** when you say have to go Eb to C, which is either 3 to 6 or 3 to 1, but just plonking a trigger down and staying in 3rd just makes more sense.
  16. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member


    I repairer has just told me this afternoon that UMI have ended their strike, so the availability of Conn/King/Bach stuff will get back to normal soon :clap:
  17. simonbassbone

    simonbassbone Member

    I've recently bought a Conn, having played on a Yamaha and Holton previously, and absolutely love it.Lots of good deals available if you take your time, but best advise is to try plenty and choose the one you like not the current trendy model.
  18. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Definately agree with that one. It took me years to find a trombone I really love to play, and I've been through them all!
  19. 8th position

    8th position Member

    Just a quick note about the Conn-Selmer strike. The striking workers rejected the last contract offer on Monday, by 169-23. If you have a look at you can get some more information on this. On speaking to sources in the US today, it seems as though Conn-Selmer won't be making a fifth contract offer, and that negotiations to resolve the strike have now ended.

    As far as manufacturing is concerned, Conn-Selmer have been hiring workers for the plant whilst the strike has been on-going (they had an advert on the Conn-Selmer website) and are now at the stage where apparantly they are only 20-30 short of a full workforce for their professional models. Production on these instruments is underway. Student instrument production at the plant has stopped and will not start again.
  20. ksmot

    ksmot New Member

    Hi Everyone

    Many thanks heres what happened. I am now the happy owner of a s/hand Holton 181 in lovely condition. Tried to Bachs a Conn (and just for fun a Shire). Did'nt like the new 181 as much as the s/hand one. Love the sound and the build. Now getting to know it. Arms are going to get stronger I suspect.

    Many thanks for your help


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