the trombone triggers - a help or hindrance?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by madandcrazytromboneguy, May 15, 2005.

  1. hi everyone

    this question just came to mind and i wondered what you fellow trombone players especially, think about the triggers on a trombone. do they help, or hinder your playing in general? do you prefer a trigger or a straight trombone?

    ive found that obviously for certain notes, possibly low D the most common, trigger and 1st position is used. but does any1 think the extra weight of the extra tubing make any difference to the players balance of the instrument? i might be talkin a loada rubbish here but i would be interested to know what you all think

    i remember that i went straight from a pea shooter student v.bach to a full sized trigger getzen custom and it took me ages to get used to the weight difference!

    any comments would be appreciated, Cheers :)

    TIMBONE Active Member

    Some may consider me old fashioned, (but the old ones are always the best :) ). I have already mentioned Terry Nagle in another thread. Terry always said (and Dennis Wick held the same view), that a tenor trombone was a straight trombone. Back in the 1970's (and things do not change that much), the ideal trombone for the 1st or 2nd player was a Conn 8H. Now, if you could afford it, you had a Conn 88H as well. This was for those rare pieces where the 2nd tbn (even rarer, the 1st) went below bottom E concert pitch. If you couldn't afford two 'bones', some tenor players went for the 88H, which meant they could also get 'bass trombone gigs'.

    I have never had a trombone with a 'plug', Fortunately, I have never needed one. OK, occasionally I could have done with it (I am speaking of low notes here) but that is rare and easily overcome (it is called bluffing or shadow boxing :) ).

  3. Boneman

    Boneman Member

    As I am a tenor trombone player I play without a trigger (Conn 8H) - This doesn't cause me any hinderance - occasionally it may be easier to have played with a trigger, but I can't recall any pieces which had notes below a bottom Gb.

    I guess its down to personal preference - I know some young players have triggers as they can't reach 6 & 7th positions!
  4. Sharpy

    Sharpy Member

    I play on a Rath R4 and a Yamaha Bousefeild model both without triggers. Although I do have a Holton TR159 Bb/F. Got to admit to prefering the straight trombones. But I never really need to use a trigger in the stuff that I play anyway. But I wouldnt mind getting a Rath with a trigger or a 88H if i ever win the lottery!!!
  5. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    I am the other way. I feel like I am playing a toy wiehn I play a straight tenor. Whereas, with a trigger 'bone, or a full size bass trom, it sit nicely on me (I have a VERY straight posture, and tend to play dead parallel to the ground). The extra weight helps my posture, not hinders it.

    I admit I may tuse the trigger a little too much (Concert C, B natural, F on downwards and when I have fast sections up high because I am not a brilliant slidesperson), but I like a good trigger system.
  6. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    I'm poor. I can't afford a decent trombone. never mind one with a trigger...

    When I was asked to got on Trombone at Harlow, I did find that to have a trigger for sixth position made a difference early on. We played several gigs within weeks of starting, and purely on a confidence basis, it was gratifyng to know I could play the concert Cs and Fs in tune, thus not letting the conductor down.

    As I played for longer, I practiced 6th and 7th positions, and found that when playing, I would instincivley not use the trigger. I can't remember what the make of the trombone was at Harlow - it was a copmparative peashooter, even compared to my Stagg model of today, and I found the concert Cs and Fs would "speak" in a more precise and defined style when not using the trigger.

    Last edited: May 15, 2005
  7. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Crikey - I haven't seen a subject this ripe for BOCcage in months...

    madandcrazytromboneguy, I think Okiedokie has a point; at what angle does your bone stick out when you play? If the extra weight of a trigger (which isn't really very much, after all) is giving you balance issues, it sounds like you play with it tilted quite far downwards at the front. Players who play with it out parallel to the ground tend to find that the extra weight behind their heads aids, not hinders, the balance.

    TIMBONE, you are correct; I do consider your view old-fashioned! There are plenty of passages out there in both orchestral and banding repertoires that can be played smoothly with a trigger that sound comparatively rough on a straight instrument even when played by a pro player. The 70s was also the time in Britain when pro orchestral 1st players refused to use an alto instrument when appropriate, and it seems to me that these two ideas combine under the somewhat macho ideal of "1 part, 1 instrument; I can play anything on this, me!". The question of whether altos should have a trigger is a slightly sillier one, but there is also a case for them...

    Will's observation about how trigger notes are significantly stuffier is only half accurate, in that a wide range of designs exists these days to mitigate this effect (Thayer valves, Greenhoe valves, Lindberg valves, etc..., etc..., open vs. closed wrap). Many of these do make a significant difference, and, whilst I haven't BOCced enough to have performed a comparison of all of these, an open wrap large bore bone with (a) Thayer valve(s) does feel remarkably similar when you play whether or not the trigger(s) is/are engaged. In any case, if your trombone is stuffier with the trigger, you just need to put a bit more air through it... If bass trombonists can manage it, it can't be that hard!

    Another point that people sometimes bring up is that the addition of a valve to the almost bendless tubing of the trombone could in itself make all of the (even non-trigger) notes stuffier. However, I have never found this to be true.

  8. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    No argument about there being instruments where the plugged notes speak just as well as the others, Dave. On that particular instrument, though, it was a must, as even with lots of rehearsal of off beat accented syncopation in a test piece, the plugged concert Cs still sounded weedy.

    The same applies on Tubas, mind. My current Courtois speaks beautifully when the fourth valve is used. With the old EEb Imperial I used to play at Waltham Forest it was a case of use the fourth valve for long sustained tones to aid the tuning, but if it short crisp notes (like the start of the final section of "Dimensions"), then 1 and 3 worked better.
  9. kiwiposaune

    kiwiposaune New Member

    I couldn't imagine playing without an F attachment. The main downside has been the perceived stuffiness that a trigger causes - for my money the Greenhoe valve has rendered that excuse obsolete. There are a number of examples bandied about of leading players who play straight horns - in the orchestral world, at least, many of these guys (note many, not all) are close to retirement. Much contemporay repertoire now requires an F attachment to play the complete range. The exception to all of this is big band / session / rock / etc. where smaller horns still rule and playing low enough to require an F attachment is an infrequent thing for lead & second players.

    On the other hand, use whatever works best for you and, if that's a straight horn (it sure works for Chris Thomas), pray to God that you don't run into anything between (treble cleff) pedal C and low F#.

    (P.S. On a lot of Bach 42s the only decent (treble cleff) high Bb is flat 2nd position with the trigger down.)
  10. JessopSmythe

    JessopSmythe Active Member

    There shouldn't be much difference in the balance whether you have a plug or not. Most straight tenors have a heavy counterweight on them anyway.
  11. NAS

    NAS Member

    When I was playing regular I never used my trigger. I just found it really lazy and if I could avoid it I would. I also felt more comfortable on a note in 6th postition rather than the trigger... Just felt more open and natural.

    TIMBONE Active Member

    MoominDave, some good points, especially the one concerning the use of an alto trombone for alto trombone parts. It is interesting to note that Dennis Wick, who held the view that except in certain circumstances, a tenor trombone doesn't have a plug, was one of the first pros (when he was Principal with the LSO) to use an alto trombone - although there is a rumour that he only did it so that he could get a doubling fee :)
    I do not think that these two issues are connected however.The only time in band music where I have thought a plug would make things easier, is when I am faced with a passage involving fast movement between bottom C & C sharp or vice versa. A good friend of mine who is a pro freelance trombone player was a bass trombonist only for many years. Several years ago, he decided to work on playing tenor trombone also, (and alto). He does his tenor work on a Conn 8H.
    One final note. Band music is not just classically orientated, in fact, there are more and more arrangements (and compositions) appearing with a definate big band swing style. In my experience, (and I played jazz and big band semi-pro for many years), it is not possible to get a satisfactory tone, attack or flexibility for this kind of music if you use a tenor trombone with a plug.
  13. some interestin info here guys, cheers :)

    i tend to play nearly parallel but not quite, 1 of the things i struggle to cope with tho is playing with as little amount pressure on my lips so thats something that needs sorting otherwise i'll carry on to struggle with getting a big sound and a high range.

    it has been suggested to me that i get the straight tube attachment for my getzen, would this help my notes above G just above the stave or would it make no difference?

    also this is weird but im ok with Bflats but not A's above the stave, altho ive been told that A is an awkward note anyway.
  14. stephen2001

    stephen2001 Member

    I only use the trigger instead of 6th if it makes playing a passage easier. I find that I can't get a good loud sound with the trigger which I why I normally prefer 6th.

    At the end of the day, it's up to personal preference and what you are used to and in most cases, I don't think that it makes much difference to the sound.
  15. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    My trombone has a trigger, and that's because my teacher at the time just said it would make life easier. I have to say, I don't use my trigger very often, but occassionally it will make a passage easier if it's moving between 6th/7th and 1st/2nd quickly. I've played on an 8H (the straight equivalent of my 88H) and I haven't noticed a change in the sound without the plug engaged, it's worked fine for swing bands, orchestras and brass bands, so I can't see a reason to not have one except for budgetary restrictions. As has been said, straight tenors are counterweighted anyway, so the weight difference shouldn't be anything significant.

    I wouldn't use my trombone to dep on bass trombone, I always try and borrow an actual bass trombone for gigs that I'm asked to play. It's not the trigger that makes a difference between bass and tenor trombone, it's a completely different animal.
  16. Bones

    Bones Member

    Got 2 trombones for band work/chamber work.

    8H and an 89H (convertible 88H trom)
    Rarely (and I mean I wash the pots at home rarely) use the trigger on my 89H, much prefer a straight trom.
  17. Wendy

    Wendy New Member

    Surely it's not the plug - but the bore of an instrument which is important for the big band sound?
  18. Bones

    Bones Member

    For big band work use a small bore trom (if on lead, if on 3rd might get away with a large bore, depends whether or not the lead trom wants you to take a couple of of lead charts)

    The plug for me sounds restrictive and unbalances the trom. Not to say they are not useful, I just feel comfier when I am playing a straight trom. Down to personal preference I am sure.
  19. Wendy

    Wendy New Member

    absolutely - I use an 88h for Orchestra etc --- and a Bach 16 for Big band. Can't see why a plug would make a difference to tone.... Most small trombones won't have a plug - though a 3b with plug seems fairly popular - though essentially the low register on a small bore is less 'lovely' = so wouldn't see the point of a small bore with f valve
  20. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    Interesting point of view, considering James Morrison does all his jazz trombone work on the Yamaha "James Morrison" signature trombone, and Bob Johnston uses the King!

    I have played the 88H and I get a modest sound from it which impresses my conductor - he says it complements his section nicely!!! The lead trombonist plays on a Bach 38....very small bore and gets a nice jazzy sound out of it, with no register problems whatsoever.

    I think in the end however it comes down to personal preference. Maybe Edwards/Getzen has a good idea in their attachment.....???????

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