New Bass Trombone Advice Sought

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Gtrom, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. Gtrom

    Gtrom Member

    Hi guys.

    I currently play a Yamaha 613 G and whilst it's been good to me in 20 + years I'm am looking for a replacement.

    Obviously open wrap and a bit lighter are pre-requisites.

    I have always had my heart set on a Rath but I have also been looking at Edwards and Shires. Interestingly it seems the Edwards Bell section measuring 10 inches is a much bigger seller now rather than the standard 9 1/2 inches.

    At the moment i find myself rather financially embarrassed and so my above expensive options may have to wait.

    However in the meantime I spotted a Thomann SL 50 Bass Bone on the Thomann website at a modest £880 inc post.

    It seems to be a modern design, other than the rotary valves, and comes with a good warranty.

    Does anyone know much about this make?? seems to me to be a rebranded chinese model perhaps but I admit I may be wrong in this assumption.

    Thank you.
  2. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    Hi Mark,

    Must confess I've never heard of Thomann.

    I'd keep hold of the Yamaha for the time being, or else keep an eye out for 2nd hand Bach, Yamaha, Conn, Holton etc.
  3. DRW

    DRW New Member

    Thomann is a German-based music retailer. When searching for musical instruments they always hit Google with the seemingly cheapest available deals. I've always avoided them on the basis of: -

    1. It is unclear if you pay the quotes GBP price or whether it is the current Euro conversion
    2. Their business model is based on buying container loads of instruments to optimise commercial leverage. A company that deals in this way is more likely to have lower interest in quality control
    3. Dealing with issues / returning an instrument is likely to be difficult and expensive
    4. Reviews of the company are very hit and miss. I'm guessing that if everything goes ok it's good, but when something is wrong, it is disastrous. The notorious variable build of brass instruments of any brand would steer me away from buying on this basis. If pushed I might take a chance on an electronic instrument with them, but never on something where the quality of manufacture affects the sound and playability.

    Looking at their website they are undoubtedly an impressive, large business and my concerns (based mainly of gut instinct) may be unfounded, but...

    Have you tried John Packer or any of the UK retailers that have branded instruments? Many of these get exceptionally good reports.
  4. Gazabone

    Gazabone Member

    Personally, I think for an "off the shelf" trombone, the Bach Strad 50 series (take your pick on configuration) is unbeatable. If money is too short the Holten is a relaible option. However, (IMHO) the best there is is Rath (by a mile). I recall before trying one reading a warning that you should try one unless you're prepared to buy it as you won't want to play anything else. Speaking from personal experience, I have to say that a truer word was never spoken!

    As you have a tight budget, I would recommend that instead of spending the money on a brand new instrument, you would benefit more by spending the same sum on a quality 2nd hand instrument - I would ensure you "try before you buy" so usually that would knock out most of the offerings on e-bay.
  5. Gazabone

    Gazabone Member

    Yes, can't recommend John Packer enough - I've bought a couple of used instruments from them and been delighted both times. Steve there knows his stuff and won't try to flog you something that's unsuitable.
  6. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Thomann's own-brand stuff is Chinese imported. Like John Packer or Virtuosi.

    Second the recommendation to go second-hand. Not so fond of Bachs myself - for one thing they tend to be priced in the 'boutique' bracket but not to perform at that level, and for another there's something 'woody' about the sound of all rotary-valved 50s, 42s and 36s that I've tried that I really dislike. Like hitting a plank with a hammer. Thunk. Don't know why they're like that - maybe something to do with the famous undersized valve ports? But Duncan Wilson used to have a lovely 88H with 42B valve section that didn't sound or feel that way at all... Confusing...
    The Holton 181 is a very popular band bass trombone for good reason - a big but edgy noise with an easy low register. Subtlety is hard on one, but that doesn't matter so much in this context. The older Holton 180 is liked more by connoisseurs in the main, but there are plenty of good 181s out there (I have one in my airing cupboard that belongs to the band).

    But it strikes me that we are all putting the cart before the horse a bit here... What does Mark *want* in a bass trombone? "Open wrap" - but why? Not many wraps actually affect the blow significantly - it's more often the layout of the tubing directly by and through the valves that stuffs things up. Would "a more consistent valve blow" be more precisely what he's after? There's a lot of modern valve designs, but they attract a hefty price premium, and you don't often see second-hand instruments with fancy valves. [The exception to this is the Besson Sovereign 943 bass with Hagmanns - but that design tends to be roundly disliked by those who've tried them.]
    "Significantly lighter" - you'll struggle with this one, the 613G is not a particularly heavy bone by modern standards - and a fancy valveset tends to weigh significantly more than a standard rotary set in any case. Maybe it would be worth investing in an Ergobone? The only double-valve basses I've ever tried that have been noticeably lighter have been older models that are no longer made - Conn 73H and King Duo-Gravis. Both of which are nice instrument designs, by the way, that offer something different from the modern vogue - they are bright and nimble where most modern designs are dark and massive.

    Perhaps you could describe what it is about your current instrument that you find unsatisfactory? What about your playing would you like to be easier? What could you afford to make harder? [Every change of instrument part is a trade-off]
  7. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    My guess is he's following a trend.

    I've heard many that advocate boutique models and sound cack on them.

    If boutique models really make all the difference, I dread to think what they sound like on a stock machine.
  8. Gtrom

    Gtrom Member

    Thanks for your replies guys.

    Brian, do you remember our conversation at the Regionals last year about how free-blowing your Rath is compared to my Yamaha?

    I have certainly found my Yamaha Rotary valves "stuffy" and the amount of work required to fill the trombone to the edges of the tubing and indeed the concert halls with sound difficult without the tell-tale over edginess.

    I picked up a Conn (think it was a 62) to try from a trade stand at the Regionals and nearly fell over due to it's lightness, I found it close in weight to my brothers Bach, certainly at least 2/3rds the weight of my Yamaha.

    Bayerd, I normally say I don't follow trends, I make them, but I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw a close wrap Bass Trombone at any competition or concert. I am relatively happy with the sound I produce on the Yamaha but I feel I have to evolve to a more up-to-date design. A more modern design can only improve my sound surely, and if I invest in a change why not to the best like a Rath, Edwards or Shires? This is likely to be my last Trombone change and I don't change them that often (20+ years on my Yammy) so yes, I am looking at one of the "boutique" makes with many professional endorsements and proven track records.

    Dave, I think I'll pass on the Ergobone...looks rather like a Borg implant !!

    Think I'd better get saving.
  9. Gtrom

    Gtrom Member

    P S Incidentally Dave I agree with your views on the Bach. I have never liked the noise they make and will definitely not be investing in one.
  10. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    Hi Mark,

    Bear in mind that there is no such thing as "the best" trombone, only the trombone which is best for you - which may well be different to what is best for me, or for Dave, or for Bayerd, or for Gazabone, or for DRW. Always try before you buy, otherwise it could be a very expensive mistake.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to put you off a Rath if you want one - I love mine to bits - just don't be too fixed on the most expensive option, especially if cash is tight. Frank Matthieson, who played bass trombone for the London Symphony Orchestra for many years and is still playing, plays on an old Holton TR 183 Bb/F single trigger, closed wrap bass trombone which has seen better days, yet he still sounds far better on it than I ever will on my Rath (or on any other trombone for that matter).

    It's worth keeping an eye out on the Rath website for 2nd hand Raths - that's how I got mine in 2005, when it was 5-6 years old - and of course they get other makes in as well (they had a 2nd hand Edwards in recently, but it's gone now).
  11. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    I play a King Duo Gravis, which is a closed wrap dependent model. It's always served me well, and will continue to do so.

    A more modern design may improve your sound, but I doubt it. The sound produced largely comes from within. At the end of the day, you will sound like you regardless of what you play.

    If you're mind is already set on spending the money, then go ahead. You've only got yourself to convince and satisfy after all...
  12. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    Just to say that I have bought from Thomanns many times (although never Brass) and they are excellent.
    Speed of delivery is brilliant and value for money on own branded products is exceptional.
    I have needed to send back items under warranty and this has been a straightforward process.
    Purchases range from valve oil to a Double Bass.......
  13. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I was accompanying at the local solos and quartet contest today. Couple of bass trombones there - both closed wrap. I've played my Conn 73H at various band contests in the last few years - and that's not just closed but stuffy because of it (not all closed wraps are problematic, really worth bearing in mind - it's the tightness of the tightest curve that's usually the parameter you need to look at - winding around in itself is not a problem). Anyone who plays a bone more than 20 years old or so will be on a closed wrap. Manufacturers are tending to offer open wraps as standard more and more though, even if it doesn't make any difference to the blow - because that's what people want. People think it makes a big difference, and so they are more willing to part with their money if they see an open wrap, regardless of how the thing actually plays. It is in quite an important way simply a trend.
  14. BOB

    BOB Member

    My take on instruments - I've had 3 in the last 20 years
    Holton TR 181
    Edwards custom 10 inch bell
    Rath R9
    Have played at the highest level including winning the Yorkshire area (Edwards), and qualifying twice in the Midlands area (last time 2011) - plus winning 1st section nationals (Rath) and my verdict is - Rath - they take a personal interest in their customers that just isn't there with the other mainstream suppliers - even if you buy second hand.
    Mind you that Holton was a good instrument as stock!
  15. AndyMaz

    AndyMaz New Member

    I have a King Duo Gravis (original dependant valve model) up for grabs if you are looking for a quality second hand instrument. Seems to get rave reviews on here and one does not often come up for sale. PM if you would like more info :)
  16. Gtrom

    Gtrom Member

    PM sent.
  17. Trum

    Trum Member

    All I could really suggest would be to get out there and try some. It might mean travelling unfortunately - but I'd avoid buying a bone without getting a chance to give one a go - or at least a similar one.

    From my experience - I found the Holten 181 to be a very thin metal - making it very bright in tone and prone to a less than cultured sound.

    I used Bach 50s (an old one - brilliant - the new one - not really that nice) for about 10 years and found them to be an easy blow for power - but not neccaserily control. The linkages on the triggers are also horrible in my opinion - so I would check out a Hagman option if you could.

    I tried the Rath bones but didn't really like the feel and response however, its very much a personal preference.

    I current have an Edwards with a rose bell which in my opinion would be impossible to beat. The sound is cultured - the feedback and back pressue works great and the Thayer Valves are absolutely fantastic.

    Once again though, try and find somewhere that might have a selection and see what you like - different strokes for different folks and all that.

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