(Bass) Trombones - What make do you use?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Mujician, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. Mujician

    Mujician Member

    Im thinking of getting a new hooter at some stage (a bass trombone), and I was wondering what kind of instruments people use. Not neccesarily in brass bands, could be for anything or do you use a different instrument depending on what kind of ensemble you are in. Many thanks, Ben

    (I play on an Edwards, but Im very aware that this has a very 'wild' quality to it. Im thinking about a getting a conn. However Im not sure what model)
  2. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    Yamaha 613H. Good all rounder for me. It's paid for itself many times over in all situations.
  3. Mujician

    Mujician Member

    I think for me yamaha bass troms are a little too light weight, they make good tenors.
  4. Tredegarboy

    Tredegarboy Member

    A good friend of mine who plays primarily with Orchestras (Steve Turton) always says to me "buy a Conn". I only play in Brass Bands myself (and 10 piece ensembles) and have an Edwards.

    I did try a Conn last year but could not get the same sound down in the low (trigger) register that I am able to get on my Edwards. A better player may well be able.

    My advice is try before you buy and definately with the band/group orchestra you play with.

    Good luck.
  5. Bones

    Bones Member

    Conn 62H. NIce bass trom to transition from tenor to Bass. Welcome to try it if you want Ben.
  6. MajorMorgan

    MajorMorgan Member

    Rath R9 - no contest.
  7. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    There's so many different professional-quality models out there, both modern and second hand...
    Bach: 50B(L), 50B2(L), 50B3(L), 50T(2/3)(L), 50A(2/3)(L)
    Benge (discontinued models): 290
    Conn (current models): 62H (not same design as older 62H), 62HG, 62HCL, 110H, 111H, 112H
    Conn (discontinued models): 60H, 62H, 70H (various models), 71H, 72H, 73H, 83H
    Edwards: B454 - many custom options
    Getzen: 1052, 1062, 3062
    Greenhoe: Custom-made to your specifications
    Holton (discontinued models): TR169, TR180, TR181, TR183, TR185, TR281
    Kanstul: 1585, 1662, 1662i, 1670, w/ or w/o CR ("Controlled Resistance") valves
    King (discontinued models): 6B/7B "Duo Gravis", 8B
    Reynolds (discontinued models): Contempora
    Shires: Many custom options + "Eastman by Shires" Chinese-made student line
    Williams (discontinued models): 10
    Schagerl: Aurora
    Besson/B&H (discontinued models): Sovereign BE943(R) w/ or w/o Hagmanns
    Rath: R8/R9 - many custom options
    Kruspe: 23-1, 23-2, 23-3
    Laetzsch: SL-410, SL-510, SL-450, SL-550, SL-570 (Cieslik), SL-580 (American style)
    Thein: Ben van Dijk model, "Bartok" model
    Throja: 5
    Yamaha (current models): 421-G, 620-G, 822-G, 830
    Yamaha (discontinued models): 613-H
    Haag: 43{A/L/H}V
    Willson: 510TA, 511TA, 550TA, 551TA, 551TAW

    And various different types of valves:
    CL (i.e. Christian Lindberg, made by Conn)
    CR (Kanstul)
    K (Bach)
    Rotax (Willson)
    Rotor (as traditional)
    Trubore (Shires)

    You can find info on all of these makes and features on the internet easily.
    I'm sure I've missed a good number of models too. The concept of the modern bass trombone was imported from the US, so naturally most of the famous makers tend to be American.

    These days I play on a Conn 73H much of the time. It's approx 40 years old, looks ugly, and has a rather rough slide, but makes the bass trombone sound that I want - meaty but colourful; can sound simply massive if you work at it, but can also get easily edgy while being nimble; plus it blends excellently well with the Conn 88Hs that are so common among tenor players - it sounds like a tenor in the upper register despite having a sturdy bass end. The big disadvantage is the stuffy rotors, but I'm willing to live with this in order to get the attributes I've listed.

    I played for a couple of years recently on a modern Conn 62HCL. This is a thoroughly 'modern' piece of kit, with fancy valves and a dark sound with an open feel. I've come to consider that the old 73H, with its rotors and tighter bell flare, makes a more trombone-like sound, and so I am not using this much now. It's for sale for the right price (about £2k; cf. about £4k in this country for a new CL-valve 62H). You're welcome to try it if you wish, just let me know. For the player with a matching sound concept, it is an excellent instrument.

    Prior to that, I played on a Holton TR181 for a number of years. This is a design well-suited to the modern brass band - the sound has a lot of meat in it, but can still get very edgy on demand. Ultimately though, I felt that the tubby sound didn't blend well enough with the tenors in sections, and that it was much too hard to make a decent trombone sound on in piano dynamics.

    And before that, I played a Bach 50B2L. I'm not a fan of the Bach bass trombone sound - there's been something consistently 'woody' about it on all the instruments I've tried, as if something that should be resonant is being damped. But that's just personal taste, a lot of people make them work well in bands and orchestras.

    So there you go, a lot of info, not all of it hugely relevant...

    You need to decide what you want - a custom maker like Rath can give you most things that you want (though they do struggle to duplicate the old-school Conn sound - NOT the sound that comes out of a modern 62H, note), but you'd better have deep pockets - a custom double-valved model will cost you a minimum of £3,475...
    So if that is out of your financial reach, consider what is important to you, and then balance those characteristics against the models that are out there and the prices that they are out there at. What kinds of ensembles do you play in? What dynamic levels do you need to work with? What tone colours do you want available? What mouthpiece(s) do you favour? What kinds of tenor trombones are you interested in blending with?

    Who knows, perhaps you're subconsciously looking for a G bass peashooter!
  8. Bassbones

    Bassbones Member

    Glad you're enjoying it Tim. I've tried many over the years on the hunt for the Holy Grail of Bass Trombones. Have tried King, Conn, Holtons by the bucket load, Bachs with and without Thayer conversions. Yamaha,Courtois,Kulhn and Hoyer, Edwards and Rath.

    I mention Rath last as this has been my weapon of choice for the last eight or nine years now. Love the modular design as I never have to buy another instrument just try and replace what I need to change the sound to what I'm looking for.
  9. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    My opinion is definitely the try-before-you-buy one, but I will say this; lets take a handful of our country's top bass trombone players and see what they play on -

    Christian Jones - Conn
    Rob Goodhew - Conn
    Adrian (Benny) Morris - Edwards
    Pat Jackman - Holton
    Paul Milner - Bach
    David Vines - Edwards
    Keith McNicholl - Conn
    Les Lake - Reynolds Contempora
    Paul Lambert - Bach
    Dave Stewart - Edwards
    Roger Argente - Edwards

    So, there's a cross section of orchestral players. Notice the lack of Raths in this list? I cannot think of any professional player who uses one. Not to say they're no good, far from it, but perhaps the Rath is better suited to a different environment.

    I think what I'm trying to say is that the player needs to assess what exactly he/she needs before buying an instrument. Brass band bass trombonists do tend to play a lot louder and lower than in 99% of orchestral music, so perhaps the choice of instrument will be different.
  10. Bassbones

    Bassbones Member

    Many good points in this post and it really is a suck it and see evironment. I assumed that this being a brass band site that would be the main use.

    As for pro's playing Rath you the most obvious uk Basstrombonist I can think of is Mark Frost. His roots are in brass bands but his big band credentials with Andy Prior and varied orchestral experience as well as his current position with the West End production of Sister Act would sit him in the pro club for me. :)
  11. MajorMorgan

    MajorMorgan Member

    As mentioned, there is obviously Mark Frost who plays a Rath. Not to mention New York bass trom John Rojak and Csaba Wagner of Deutsche Oper. Before buying the R9 I spent 16 years playing a Bach 50 and yes you're right I find the Rath much better suited to the brass band environment than my Bach was. As mentioned the lower register I find much easier and freer in the Rath. I completely agree that other instruments are more appropriate in an orchestral setting (my Bach 50 for example!) but I don't do so much of that any more and as far as brass band/big band music goes I think the R9 is hard to beat.
  12. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Would I be right in thinking that all of these are older Conns? I know Keith McNicoll plays on a 73H w/ 2G, and I can think of a few more around the UK who either play now or used to play before retiring either Elkhart 62s or 73s - but I can't think of a single one who uses a modern 62 (or a 112, come to that).

    On the subject of Raths and orchestral pros, could what we discussed briefly the other night have a bearing? - Raths are expensive, and music is a poorly paid profession!
  13. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    No, no, yes. In that order!
  14. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    depends which profession you compare it with.

    I am a 'professional', (yes someone really does pay me to perform certain tasks) - when i am sober.

    I spent 6/7 years to gain the required qualifications, and 15/20 years of experience in my world of expertise to reach a position where i receive a 'reasonable' salary.

    I assume professional musicians should go through a similar career.
  15. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    I play a 1968 Conn 62H, Tuning slide on the slide. Dependent triggers.
  16. 8th position

    8th position Member

    Also Lyndon Meredith at the London Philharmonic uses a Rath R9. Alan Swain at Welsh National Opera too.
  17. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Right, that's the final straw! Now I'm definitely going to visit you some time, Bill. If you could just leave the Elkhart 62H out on the porch, I won't bother you at all...
  18. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I was only giving information off the top of my head! Alan was using a Bach last I saw him, but that was some time ago!
  19. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Anyone any ideas what kinds of setups the pros with Raths use? For example, I believe Mark Frost's equipment is rather an exception in most ways to what other pros tend to use - huge mouthpiece, dual bore slide, etc., but have few details.
  20. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    Check with "She Who Must be Obeyed". Many times she has threatened to turn me out and sell the instruments for the price of scrap brass.

    I am the original owner of this trombone. I had sold fourteen 88H's for a music company, and they had a bass trombone player pick this out and send it to me. I payed $450 in 1968. It just keeps getting better. Unfortunately, I am not.

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