Bass trombones - any recommendations?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Brian Kelly, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    I am thinking of changing my bass trombone. I currently play on a Yamaha 613H. It does what it says on the tin, is reliable, well-made, easy-blowing, but I am a bit of a Jeremy Clarkeson when it comes to trombones, and it just isn't any fun to play.

    I used to have an Edwards, which was great to play, and I loved it, but I had a lot of trouble with the Thayer valves, and I got rid of it when the valve problems came to outweigh the "fun" factor in playing it.

    I might be getting a Shires, an American bass trombone which is basically an Edwards but with Shire's own make modified rotary valves instead of Thayer valves. But they are expensive and hard to get hold of (only available from Phil Parkers in London) and I am not sure if they have the same variety of bell options etc as Edwards do (at least not available in Britain anyway).

    Rath are popular, and Mark Frost (Grimethorpe and the Andy Prior Big band) and Chris Stern (of the Scottish National Opera) both sound great on them, but having come a cropper with Thayer valves, it puts me off trying a bass trombone with unusual valves. Plus I understand that they are expensive.

    Vincent Bach are notoriously hard blowing.

    What about the Besson 943? Adrian Hirst (Black Dyke) sounds great on his (you should have heard him tonight at the RNCM), but Besson sponsor Black Dyke and he would sound good on anything. And it has Hagmann valves like Rath and Courtois. Is the Besson 943 any cheaper than other bass trombones? Besson have not had a good reputation for making trombones. Is it still justified, or are they the Skoda of trombone-manufacturers?

    Any ideas, comments, observations or suggestions welcomed please!
  2. Fridge

    Fridge Member

    Get a Rath!!!!

    No questions asked.

    I'm taught by Mark Frost, when I started tuition under him I was playing on a Besson Sovereign bass trombone, for my taste far too much edge, easy blowing, but generally a bit thin. Played on an edwards for a while, but I agree, the valve problems can cause problems, used a Bach Stradavarius for about 6 months, made a nice noise, but the valves were awful.

    Go get a Rath,

    If your willing to spend the time at the workshop putting one together and waiting for it to be built then this is the way forward!!

    Don't be put off by the Hagemann vavles, they are VERY easy to maintain!!!

    Hope i've helped.

    Bass Trombone
    Sellers International Band
  3. Frosty

    Frosty Member

    Bass trombones

    Personally I can't fault the Haggmann valves.I've had my Rath for over five years and had no problems with them.
    As you mention Brian, both Besson and Courtois use them.That's a lot of Haggmann valves out there.If you count some of the other manufacturers that also use them I wouldn't say they were an uncommon valve!
    In my experience Thayers do tend to need more TLC!!!

    If you want any help in selecting a Rath the best thing to do is pm me with some possible times to go over there when I'm free.Might not be of any help,but an extra set of ears doesn't go a miss.I can also try to make sure the guys have most options available to try! You certainly wouldn't get that choice if you picked a Shires!!!

    Let me know if you need anymore help.

  4. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    I don't think you'll get a better offer than this Brian! I'd bite his hand off!

    Although I'm quite happy with my 613H :)
  5. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    Watch this space...
  6. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    Well. I've got one!

    A Rath R9, red 91/2 -inch bell, yellow tuning slide, yellow brass slide, independent Haggman valves. It's a beauty, with a terrific sound, and its the easiest trombone to play I've ever had. I got it yesterday, and used it this morning with the band at a VE Day service at Stretford Cenotaph, where quite a few of my fellow Flixton-ites said how good it sounded.

    A big thank-you to everyone who responded to my original appeal for help, both in public and by pm.

    If anyone is thinking about a new trombone, I can thoroughly recommend a Rath!
  7. ju33les

    ju33les Member

    It sounded great Brian! :biggrin:
  8. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    will look forward to it's rehearsal debut tonight! :cool::tup
  9. good luck with that brian, it looks like you could be onto a winner there.

    im currently using a getzen custom which is my own instrument and ironically enough, the solo and bass troms were also using getzen/edwards instruments.

    the solo trom doesnt like it as far as i know, but the bass trom likes hers and she gets a really good sound out of it.

    the thing is tho is that ive owned this getzen for a few years now and altho ive not had any major problems with it, i just wondered what you trombone players would recommend.

    it does help for the fairly similar sound/tone between us 3 but i am actually struggling with tuning at times so i need to figure something out coz it wont help if i have to move my main slide in and out every rehearsal.

    i recently got a practice mute and i feel it is helping me get a nicer sound, and perhaps a rounder sound, but it still sounds a bit harsh and blasty if thats actually a word, lol.

    any suggestions on how i could improve my alround performance would be appreciated as i would like to try and close the gulf a bit between myself and the other 2 troms i sit between. PS dont suggest more and more practice, ive heard that already and im trying it out as much as i can. :p

    any sensible answers would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers guys+girls, and enjoy whit friday if your going :)
  10. btrommatt

    btrommatt Member

    I am currently playing on a Bach Stradavarius 50 3B. Have never had any problems with it.

    Have you tried a Holton 181? Pretty decent instrument and could be worth a try.

    TIMBONE Active Member

    Hi. I think the word you are looking for is 'thwack' :biggrin: This is a common problem with bass trombones :) I have even come across the odd thwacker in the professional arena :p

    Having heard the results of Brian's purchase of a Michael Rath bass tbn, I would throroughly recommend it, although you may need a second mortgage :D

    As far as sound is concerned, many tbn players (including myself) benefitted from the teachings of the late Terry Nagle, who was principal tbn for many years with the Halle Orchestra in Manchester, (in fact, he was originally their bass trombone). Many of his pupils (including Peter Gane) have been successful pro trombonists, also his pupils' pupils'.

    Terry developed what to us contemporaries of his became known as the 'Nog' sound, (Nog was his nickname by the way). This sound is based on producing notes from the diaphragm - the tongue is just a trapdoor to let this immense column of air get out. The best excercise for the 'Nog' sound is huffing. Part of my warm up routine is to play a running scale of F (G treble clef) where I huff the notes - no tongue.
  12. cheers guys, when i win the lottery i'll take in those ideas and buy a new trombone, lol

    seriously tho that warm up with the G scale sounds interestin, i'll give it a go.

    dont suppose anyone can recommend me a good private tutor fairly close-ish to hebden bridge, west yorkshire?, i think i could do with having lessons again, perhaps i need a professional opinion on the way i play from face value, some1 in a different post mentioned that a tutor told them that their ombushure (bad spelling i know, lol), was completely wrong and they had to change it, maybe mines a bit naff, i dont know.

    thanx for the comments so far and keep them coming, sorry if ive kinda knicked your post brian, keep us all posted on how your playing goes on your new rathbone :)
  13. Frosty

    Frosty Member

    Bass trombones


    I give lessons and would be willing to perhaps give you some advice.
    PM me and we might be able to set something up.


    TIMBONE Active Member

    madandcrazytromboneguy (and we all are) just remember (embouchure) that your bottom lip does all the work.
  15. sounds good i think i'll book a weekly appopintment for my bottom lip to have a make over very week now, keep it in good knick at all times :D

    it dunt need a workout as it gets that from the many hours of practicing that i do ;)

    on a more serious note (i know thats a really bad and old joke), ive found that i suffer from a number of mouth ulsers and it can really B|_|99£R up your playing(soz if that is classed as french and totally unacceptable for tmp postings), is there any cure or prevention that you know of to help me keep my gob in shape for future band engagements. (soz if thats a bit of a gross subject, lol)

    TIMBONE Active Member

    Back in the 1970's, when I was storming the manchester music scene with my 'nog' sound, I had terrible problems with little cystic/acne spots in vital places - the embouchure! However, the worst one was when I had imnpacted wisdom teeth removed. There I was, with stitches in my gums, playing a professional gig. Boy, did that hurt, I thought my mouth would explode. Still, it improves your pain endurance! I have found that red wine is a very good medication, it doesn't prevent anything, just makes it easier to cope with!
  17. Just Crazy

    Just Crazy Member

    Got to Boots and pick yourself up some vitamin B complex capsules (not the tablets they repeat on you badly)

    I have taken vitamin b complex everyday and it keeps them away, if i forget to take 1 i get an mouth ulcer.

    They do do work give them a try.

    They wont work straight away but give them a couple of weeks.
  18. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    Also have been known to get acne on the embouchere, but I play through it. I have no choice. Whereas the principal Eb tuba play in the band I dep with is such a fuss pot. Every time he nicks his lip or over practises, he comes to rehearsals and just sits there. OK he is benefitting from the finger practise, but the rest of the section (myself included) are all in agreeance - he needs to learn to play though it!!

    The Edwards customs are sweet, and when I get the dosh, it's what I am gonna get. But yes, tim has the point. Big thick columns of air. Its the same approach I have with all my brass kids, and it gets results.
  19. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    No worries. Although I have just got the Rathbone, I will be using the band's bass trombone on Whit Friday, a Holton TR181, so I've been practicing on that. That is another very good instrument (I had one of my own a few years ago).

    Don't forget that Raths have been around a few years now, so keep an eye out on the Michael Rath website - they have 2nd-hand Raths for sale which are a real bargain.

    I also echo Timbone's advice about the importance of supporting the notes. The tongue is only used to clean up the start of the note. You should be able to play anything, even fast semi-quavers, without using the tongue. I wouldn't do it with the band, but its good home practice now and again (though obviously you wouldn't do it all the time). Like Timbone, I include playing without using the tongue as part of my warm-up.

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