Valve trombones

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by The Wherryman, Oct 4, 2008.

  1. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    Recurrent and painful shoulder and elbow problems have made me put aside by beloved trombone for the foreseeable future. Not wishing to give up my banding (or to become a shedbuilder ;)) I have started learning how to play a valved instrument (tenor horn, if you must know).

    However, it was suggested to me that I might try a valve trombone. I've always been led to believe that these are, somehow, not particularly acceptable. However, I found this on YouTube and, if they are in use by "serious" players, I wonder why they are not used instead of the slide variety in brass bands.

    What are your thoughts and what would be your reaction if someone turned up in your bandroom with one?
  2. Quaver

    Quaver Member

    Hi Wherryman - I suffer from problems brought on by doing those stupid things that look great when a teanager but come back to bite you in "later life".

    Have you found out why you are getting pain, does it only happen when play - playing Trom. I say this because a simple course of physio could fix the problem and you are back to 100%.

    If not you'll at least know that you are not making the problem worse by moving instruments.

    My real problem area is my kneck and so I blow Eb for a while, it changes my posture in the positive direction.
  3. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    I wish it was that simple, Quaver. I've got a ruptured ligament in my right shoulder and inflammation of the elbows, all of which is exacerbated by the positioning and arm movements necessary to play trombone. I've had physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment + shoulder injections, which only give temporary relief. I chose the tenor horn because I don't have to extend my arms very far from my body and the instrument itself is (comparatively) light.

    I doubt I could hold/play a valve trombone for very long either, but the comment made to me made me start thinking "why they aren't popular in brass bands?"
  4. AmandaD

    AmandaD Member

    One of the main reasons they're not popular is that you can't use them in contest, as the rules state you have to have slide trombones. Don't know why as I didn't write the rules.

    Sounds like you may be on horn for bit until the problems sorted, but take care, we need all the trombone players we can get.

    Last edited: Oct 4, 2008
  5. UncleStreaky

    UncleStreaky Member

    It's quite a subtley different sound as you can probably hear from the recording you highlighted. Not sure how welcome it would be in most brass bands although I have seen them in use in jazz bands where the sonority of a trombone is required combined with the flexibilities of valved instruments.

    As well as the change in sound of note transitions, most valve trombones (I exclude cimbassos here obviously, and I'm happy to be corrected here if somebody knows better!) are quite a narrow bore compared with the choice of many brass band trombonists, which might give a more coarse projection, and if you sit in the middle of a section it might lead to blending issues.

    My suggestion would be to sort out the medical issues first so you're certain about any significant changes, and then look at baritone/euphonium as options.

    In my opinion (and it's just that!) valve trombones don't have a place in brass bands unless there is a specific requirement to tweek the ensemble. It can take a lot of effort to build a good sectional sound, and I can only imaging it would be really hard to maintain that sound with one member playing on an entirely different sort of instrument.

    If you are set on using one, a good option would be the Yamaha YSL354V. I have a feeling that the valve secion can be interchanged with a standard slide from a YSL354E. Ok so they're not pro models, but you probably don't want to spend a fortune on one of these anyway!

    Next point to ask - does anybody know if the use of valve trombone would contravene any contesting rules? Don't want to put time and money into one if it means you can't play it on the contest stage.

    Finally, will a valve trombone make any difference to the aches and pains you are suffering with? You may find that you have the same posture and balance issues to deal with compared to a slide trombone anyway!
  6. UncleStreaky

    UncleStreaky Member

    Sorry - didn't see this before finishing my post!

    Sounds like valve trom might not be the solution for you Geoff, but the point you raise about the use of these instruments is valid. Would be particularly interesting to hear from anyone that has used valve troms to change the sound of their section, and how it worked out.
  7. Quaver

    Quaver Member

    Hi again, obviously you have done the "correct" thing.

    I used a valve trom for a young lad I was teaching a few years back. It had some advantages suitable to the young lad but as mentioned in several other postings the dis advantages unweighted them over time. From what I remember they tend to be a bit pee shooter bore which doesn't give a sound that mixes well in the section.

    As I said previously the Eb tends to be my treatment but I'm guessing from what you describe that you have the right instrument. If your Physio is anything like you should be able to take the horn in and get them to look at your posture just to check you're not aggravating anything.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery I know what you're going through
  8. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    This is because in a contest sometime in the late 19th century, Black Dyke's euphonium player walked off with both the euphonium AND the trombone prize by switching to valve trombone in the middle of the piece. I don't knock Brassneck off the podium for being a geek, as I can't remember which year it was or which contest. The man's name was Phineas Bowyer, if I recall. After that, valve trombones were banned.

    I have a real hatred of valve trombones simply because they don't sound like a trombone, as demonstrated by the youtube clip linked to the initial post. I feel you might as well play a baritone, as it would be easier to play and better in tune.
  9. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    Not being a geek myself I just Googled the name and came up with this. It appears that the ban was not on valve trombones per se but on a performer performing on more than one instrument.
  10. Bunnymonster

    Bunnymonster Member

    The valve trombone is used regularly by Italian opera orchestras and occasionally by French Opera Orchestras, but less so recently.

    In my experience I wouldn't really suggest that this is the best option for you as they tend to be significantly heavier than the slide trombone. The main problem with this extra weight is that as you are holding the instrument your hands will be about 30cm from your body and this will put extra strain on your upper arms and shoulders (even though your arm is static). I would strongly suggest trying to hold one up for the time of a test piece before laying out your cash!
  11. Cornet Nev.

    Cornet Nev. Member

    Just to join the debate regarding slide versus valve trombones, I have found a clip of a guy playing a valve/slide instrument, the music is "Sweet Georgia Brown" during the piece he deliberately switches from using just the slide, then using just the valves. The difference is immediately obvious, if only because of his sliding between notes while using the slide only.
    Here is the clip-

    I am just a ratty cornet player, but no doubt you trom players will have plenty to say.
  12. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I'm inclined to agree with Cornet Nev on this one. How's about trying this: There's a discussion on this forum about it already and I often use mine when my shoulder is sore (I have arthritis). They go for about a hundred quid, but if it takes the strain off your shoulder, I think it's worth it.
  13. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    Due to health problems (as well as covering what was needed at the time) I have been all over the band in the past 6 or 7 years! (Hence my nickname on here!)
    Baritone (due to the way you hold it) is definitely best as a solution, as Cornet (best for for lugging around, and I never ever thought I would be playing Rep!) needs so much change of approach, and as you have the darned thing hanging out in front of you, it puts more strain on your body than a Baritone for much of the time, (especially when using mutes), and I am convinced it is what set off the carpel tunnel syndrome in my left wrist, all that holding & triggering! :-(

    Only problem with Baritone is the parts - Solo... up in the sky, a prima-donna with nowhere to go tucked behind the Euph that always seems to spoil things; or 2nd, mostly tedious and you don't know who you are going to be playing along with next, 2nd Horn, 3rd Cornet, Flugal or Basses; and you can't win with any of them!! Drawback of both - you get your ear-wax forcibly cleaned out by the Bass Trombone behind! ;-)

    Baritone is surprisingly heavy for lugging aound though, which is why I went back to E flat Tuba where I feel I "belong," now I have down-sized the amount of playing - as at least it is on wheels, might even be better for you, but it is heavy, although not nearly as strenuous to pick up as you might imagine, and it is all mainly right handed stresses, it is easy enough on your left shoulder!
  14. stephen2001

    stephen2001 Member

    I've no problem with a valved trombone, but I've a funny feeling that they aren't allowed used in contests.
    Admittedly, the rules may have been changed since last time I looked.
  15. Despot

    Despot Member

    Agreed, they can be quite heavy and uncomfortable to play - and the reason they are not used in brass bands is because they are banned in contests for the reasons already mentioned.

    I ordered a cheap one from out of pure curiousity. Was wondering would it be of any use for our training band. Send it back after a few days. Fun, but far too heavy for a young player, and I suspect anyone with a weak arm!

    Horn or baritone as mentioned might be good options? Or even euph or bass if you can rest it in your lap or a stand?
  16. Despot

    Despot Member

    ......oh yeah, and it sounded like a baritone. Not really a trombone sound.
  17. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    There's a bit of confusion here about what a valve trombone sounds like. A good valve trombone doesn't sound immensely different from a slide trombone of the same bore. I think this confusion is arising because most of the valve bones that one sees in this country are pretty small bore and pretty cheaply designed. Compare the sound of one of these to a smaller bore slide trombone - a King 2B, say, rather than the large bore instruments that are used almost universally in brass bands. It's not so different, is it?

    It didn't take long after the invention of the valve (the first design patent suitable for a brass instrument was granted in 1815 in Austria, as I recall) for someone to think of replacing the trombone slide with a valve; various schemes were tried as valvesets evolved into the system(s) we use today. For much of the 19th century, valve and slide trombones were in competition in a number of locations. In Eastern Central Europe and Italy, valve trombones predominated for a long time - all Dvorak's symphonies were written for a section of valve trombones (two in Bb, bass in F) - an observation which makes that bar of slurred semiquavers at the end of his 8th symphony look a lot more sensible...

    I don't think that there is a clear reason why the slide trombone came to eventually dominate. If we make a list of the advantages of the two systems, we see that the slide comes out looking better on balance, and this is, I suspect, why it did win out.
    Slide advantages:
    Purer sound
    More even tone quality
    Much better intonation
    Glissandos available
    Mechanically simpler
    Instruments lighter and better balanced
    Valve advantages:
    Easier to learn to play to an acceptable standard

    If composers who wrote for the valve trombone had written passages that were impossible on a slide, then the advantage of agility that valves have might have grown large enough that the other outcome would have happened - but they didn't; easier-sounding cylindrical-tube middle-pitched brass running around just wasn't found to be a useful enough part of the orchestral palette for it to offset the advantages of tone that the slide has. There are some tricky passages that exist that were written for valves, to be sure - e.g. the Janacek 'Capriccio' has a pretty mad section at the end - but modern slide technique is perfectly capable of handling anything that I have seen written.
  18. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    Thank you, Dave :clap: and everyone else who contributed. I have a better understanding now, and it seems like I'm going in the right direction (but I won't be selling my trombone just yet!)
  19. JimboFB

    JimboFB Active Member

    You forgot to mention that the Acrobat came on the scene and coupled with Jonny Briggs, it changed the world of trombone playing FOREVER!!! :clap::clap::clap:
  20. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    What a dozy twonk I am, missing that off...

    I also forgot to point out that those of us who play the big bad modern bass trombone (or even a tenor with a trigger) already do play a valve trombone. It just happens to have a slide too...

Share This Page