10 Best Trombones in 2020 (Review)
Choosing a trombone that is the perfect fit for your needs is no easy feat. There are not only multiple types of trombones, but many trombones also come with special features that you may or may not need.
This is why we have created the 10 Best Trombones in 2020 buying guide based on the best trombone reviews, the best trombone brands, and the trombones that are in maximum demand right now. We have also gone into detail about the different features on each of these trombones and what they mean.
We will also include 3 important tips on how to buy, which trombones are best for beginners and which are best for professionals, how to tell the difference between a student and professional trombone, and more. Our goal is to help you to feel more confident in your purchase after reading our detailed product list and tips.
Short on Time? See our Top Rated Products From 3 Categories
The Best Trombones
1. Mendini by Cecilio Bb Tenor Slide Trombone
This is a great trombone for beginners. The slide action is smooth, which makes it easier for young children to make note changes in whatever register they’re comfortable with. As with any brass instrument, bore size matters when you’re looking at age groups and experience levels.
The Mendini by Cecilio Bb is a small bore trombone, making it an ideal choice for a child or an early learner. He/she will be able to play this instrument with less breath exertion than a more advanced trombone would require.
The trombone comes with a silver-plated mouthpiece, a hard case with backpack straps, a pair of gloves, and a cleaning cloth – a basic care kit that every beginner needs.
Our favorite thing about this trombone is it’s easy to play, and it’s the perfect choice for beginners. The instrument itself also has a classy look to it because of its silver accents. Another bonus is that this is a cheap trombone, and when you’re buying for an early learner, that’s typically the route you want to take.
- Multiple colors and silver accents
- Care kit
- Hard case
Colors: Gold, Nickel, Gold Cupronickel
Weight: 11 lbs.
Dimensions: 36 x 15 x 10 inches
2. Alto Glory Brass Trombone
This is another trombone that is good for a beginner, and it’s in the traditional brass trombone category. This one is an alto, so the pitch will be slightly higher than the tenor trombone. Alto trombones are great orchestral instruments, so if you or your child will be playing in an orchestra, this is a good choice for you. This model is great for beginners of any age, including those playing in their college orchestra or band.
The Alto Glory Brass Trombone is set to the key of Bb and comes in one color: Nickel silver. The small issue we’ve seen with this instrument is that the included case isn’t the best quality for it. The trombone tends to slide around once inside. This can be remedied by adding extra padding or purchasing a hard case with a thicker vinyl inlay.
One of the great things about this model is its ability to project. For a student trumpet of this caliber, that is a positive and unexpected feature.
- Loud projection
- Care kit
- Great for orchestra
Colors: Nickel silver
Weight: 8.25 lbs.
Dimensions: 38.1 x 12 x 9.3 inches
3. Mendini MTB-31 Trombone
The trombone we’re looking at here is an intermediate trombone. This is typically the kind that is good for students that have been playing for a while and are ready to take the next step. It’s also fine for budding musicians who would just like to add a nice trombone to their collection.
The Mendini MTB-31 Trombone is a large bore trombone with an F trigger. This one is a tenor, and it has an ultra-sensitive response. The instrument comes with a large shank size 12C mouthpiece, and it is made from brass with a nickel outer slide. The nickel is a durable metal, so you’ll have a long-lasting finish.
The large .547” bore and 8.75” bell make this instrument perfect for those who have the desire to increase their range of breath and advance their talents. This is also an F attachment trombone, which gives it a wider spectrum as far as pitch is concerned.
- F trigger
- Durable nickel slide
- Comes with a Cecilio 92-D chromatic tuner, a pro-deluxe durable hard case, a pair of white gloves, and a cleaning cloth
Colors: Nickel silver
Weight: 13 lbs.
Dimensions: 42 x 17 x 15 inches
4. Yamaha YSL354
This model is considered a good model for new musicians. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s for beginners only. It’s a well-constructed instrument with incredible strength and sound.
The inner slide is a chrome-plated yellow brass, while the outer slide is a one-piece drawn yellow brass. The inner slide stockings are very air-tight. What this means is that the slide action will be smoother and better aligned than the other models in this review.
The main reason why the Yamaha YSL-354 tenor model is good for new musicians is because of its effective weight distribution. This makes it much easier to hold. But again, even weight distribution is good for everyone that plays the trombone, so it isn’t necessarily just for new players.
A neat feature on this model is that the bell is laser-fused, which makes the vibrations coming out of it continuous – you will hear an even sound that you may not hear with other models.
- Comes with a high-quality case
- Laser-fused bell for precise tonal quality
- Even weight distribution
Colors: Nickel brass
Weight: 10.83 lbs.
Dimensions: 35 x 10.8 x 10.8 inches
5. Bach 42BO
The Bach 42BO Stradivarius series is a high-class trombone with an excellent reputation. This one is in the key of Bb/F, which means you have a wide range of sounds producible. The f rotor section is what’s called an “open wrap”, which essentially means there are larger bends in the tubing. So when you’re playing it, your breath is actually being processed through the instrument differently. This makes for a nice, full, accurate sound.
The slide of this instrument is lightweight, which can aid in playing a faster vibrato (if that’s what you like). This particular model is best for advanced students and professional trombonists, one of the reasons being the large mouthpiece shank and bore.
This is by far the most expensive trombone in our review, but with the materials used and the precision of the instrument, it is reasonable. It’s also the highest-rated trombone on the market right now.
Our favorite feature is the hand-hammered one-piece bell. The detail and craftsmanship that went into this instrument is truly unique.
- Hand-hammered bell
- Open wrap trombone
- Non-heavy slide
Colors: Lacquer Gold
Weight: 23.8 lbs.
Dimensions: 40.4 x 16.2 x 12.6 inche
6. Yamaha YSL-882O Xeno Series
If you are an intermediate or advanced trombonist, the Yamaha YSL-882O Xeno Series is a model to consider. The main reason for this is its reputation for having excellent touch and sensitivity to movement. When you’re working on complex pieces that requires quite a bit of vibrato, this trombone will pick up on your every movement. This also makes for excellent accuracy whether you’re playing very loud (fortissimo) or very soft (pianissimo).
Another reason why this instrument is better for those that are more advanced (or older) is its weight: it comes in at 17 lbs., making it difficult for young children to practice with.
This trombone has a “bright” sound, which essentially means the sound is clear and crisp. The hand-hammered yellow brass bell aids in this unique sound. Similar to the Bach 42BO, this Yamaha was created by experts and has resulted in excellent craftsmanship. It also comes equipped with an F-attachment, which means you can reroute your breath from one tube to another, giving you a broader and more creative range of pitch.
- Sensitivity to breath and movement
- Open wrap
- Narrow slide (allows the player to get around the horn with ease)
Colors: Yellow brass with nickel silver inner slide + clear lacquer finish
Weight: 17 lbs.
Dimensions: 38 x 16 x 14.5 inches
7. Conn 88HO
This is a top-selling and popular choice for intermediate to advanced performers. It’s a good choice for symphonic performances, but what makes it really stand out is its ability to sound great in solo performances.
The Conn 88HO is a symphony trombone with a .547” main bore and a .562” bore when you utilize the open wrap F attachment. The inner handslide is chrome plated with nickel silver, so it’s smooth when you’re performing fast actions. The bell and outer slide are made from rose brass with a lacquer finish, which makes it a visually striking instrument, as well.
Unlike the Yamaha, the Conn 88HO has a warm sound. This is what makes it great for those solo performances. Warm sounds are easier on the ears when played alone, and they resonate brilliantly in smaller spaces or private concert halls.
This instrument comes with a sturdy, hard case to keep your instrument safe. It also comes with a Conn 5G mouthpiece. Tuning this instrument will be simple and convenient, as it doesn’t easily fall out of tune or have issues with intonation. The additional F attachment is smooth and rarely needs oiling.
- Rose brass bell for optimal performance
- Warm sound
- Open wrap F attachment
Colors: Rose brass outer slide and bell with clear lacquer finish + inner hand slide is chrome plated with nickel silver.
Weight: 21 lbs.
Dimensions: 38.8 x 16 x 12.8 inches
8. Jean Paul USA TB-400
The Jean Paul USA TB-400 is a basic tenor, and it comes in the standard key of Bb. This is a nice trombone for students or new musicians. It’s not ideal for children because of its weight.
When comparing it to earlier student models in this review, it is slightly superior due to its sensitivity and response. It would be a great choice for someone who is committed to sticking with the trombone for a long period of time, because it is slightly pricier than the others mentioned. The slightly higher cost is reasonable considering you won’t be paying out too much for repairs on this instrument due to its durability.
This trombone is yellow brass with a lacquer finish, creating an aesthetically pleasing look and feel. It has a sharp, bright sound, making it ideal for band or orchestra.
It also comes with the standard care kit every student needs: Carrying case, gloves, and a cleaning cloth. With a trombone of this caliber, the tuning slide isn’t as sturdy as some of the others mentioned in our review. You may need to tune your instrument daily (if you’re carrying it back and forth to school or for performances).
- Durable for band/orchestra
- Bright sound
- Comes with basic care kit
Colors: Yellow brass
Weight: 16 lbs.
Dimensions: 38.5 x 12 x 12.5 inches
9. Conn 62HI
The Conn 62HI dual independent rotor bass trombone outfit has a much deeper sound than the others in this review, and it is set to the key of B. It is also a one-of-a-kind in its class due to its 9.5” annealed rose brass bell, which because of its size, produces the largest and fullest sound out of all of the products we’ve talked about thus far. It’s also considered the best jazz trombone in our review.
This trombone is set to the key of B, with a .562” primary bore and a .580” bore through the rotor sections. It functions quite differently than standard trombones because it has side-by-side rotors that function as an independent system. This model has two valves and is considered a professional trombone because of the amount of breath power needed to play it. It’s also quite heavy at 21 lbs. It comes with a 1-1/2G mouthpiece.
One of the things we love is that it comes with a deluxe wood shell-case. This is a unique case to fit a very unique instrument. It’s also tremendously durable and will keep your 62HI safe from falls and spills.
- Deep, resonating sound
- Independent rotors
Colors: Gold lacquer
Weight: 21 lbs.
Dimensions: 40 x 21 x 14 inches
10. Mendini MTB-40
The Mendini MTB-40 is an intermediate, tenor valve model. This one is different than all of the others in our review because instead of the typical slide you get with standard slide trombones, you have valves. This makes the instrument slightly easier to play, as you don’t need to rely solely on your precise hand movements with the slide. The monel piston valves on this trombone provide comfort and precision during performances and practice.
The bore is smaller with this Mendini at .488”, and so is the bell at 8”. This doesn’t compromise the sound, however, as it has a strong projection and can be heard quite clearly in an orchestral or band setting. Rather than the larger shanks we have seen in this review, this model comes with a standard size mouthpiece of 12C.
The one thing that isn’t exactly the greatest about this instrument is its ability to stay in tune. Unfortunately, while the material is strong, the tuning facilities have a tendency to slide around. This can be remedied by daily tuning with the Cecilio 92-D chromatic tuner that it comes with.
- Monel piston valves
- Strong projection
- Comes with basic care kit and carrying case
Colors: Yellow brass lacquer
Weight: 16 lbs.
Dimensions: 36 x 12 x 13 inches
Trombone Buying Guide: 3 Important Tips
Know who You’re Buying for
This may seem like a fairly obvious tip, but knowing the age, motivation, and experience level of the trombonist is an important factor. If you have a child who loves multiple instruments, and you’re looking to just give the trombone a try, go for a less-expensive option. If you’re a professional, you may want something with an open wrap or F attachment.
Know What You’re Buying it for
Solo trombonists and symphonic trombonists may desire different sounds and features. A solo performer or a jazz/pop musician may want a warmer sounding trombone (this will have a slow-tapered bell). A bright sound (fast-tapered bell) is great for orchestral settings. Don’t forget: trombones come in a variety of octaves. You may want a mini trombone, a soprano trombone, or a piccolo trombone for a higher sound. On the other hand, you may want a contrabass trombone or a baritone trombone for a lower sound. (The standard trombone is typically a tenor.)
Don’t Forget the Care kit
Care kits can be fairly expensive when each item is purchased individually. Many trombone manufacturers include care kits with their trombones. They’re especially important to have for new learners, as they often include oil and a tuner. A tuner is a must-have for your trombone.
What is the Best Student Trombone for a Beginner?
When you’re looking at any trombone for a beginner, you need to consider a couple of factors including age, motivation, and the size of the beginner.
If you have a small child with small arms, you’re going to want to choose something with a light weight and a with bore of .547” or smaller. The Mendini by Cecilio Bb tenor slide trombone is our favorite for this type of beginner. Not only is the bore the perfect size, but it is the perfect weight for a child or for someone who doesn’t quite have the arm strength to hold up some of the heavier ones.
This model has a bore of .500” and weighs only 11 lbs. On top of this, it is one of the most highly sought-after beginner models on the market because of its reliability. Another fantastic feature is that it’s aesthetically pleasing, with silver accents and three colors to choose from. It has a lightweight slide and bell, making it easy to play. This is what makes it the best choice for a young learner.
What is the Best Professional Trombone?
This actually depends on quite a few factors, including which features the professional wants on his/her instrument. Typically, professionals will need a trigger trombone for a wider range of sound. They’ll also need a trombone made from excellent material so the instrument will last and resonate with perfect intonation. Whether or not they want an open wrap or a closed wrap is also a factor.
When looking at the best quality and the best features, nothing quite compares to the Yamaha YSL-8820. This model is well-known for its sound quality, reliability, and sensitivity to movement. As a professional trombonist, that responsiveness and sensitivity to movement is absolutely key. It allows professionals to perform much more advanced pieces, and it also helps them to further progress and work on their craft. The materials used in this model are superb, with the sturdy nickel-silver inner slide and clear lacquer finish. It also has an open wrap and a narrow slide, which allows the musician to get around the horn easily.
How to Tell the Difference between a Student Trombone and a Professional Trombone
There are quite a few things that separate the beginner and the professional styles of trombones. Beginner and student models are typically tenors in the key of Bb. They are lightweight with smaller bell and bore sizes, and the intonation isn’t smooth as that of a professional trombone. Beginner trombonists should typically start with the smaller bores and the lighter weight, in spite of imperfect intonation.
Beginner models are also astronomically different in prices. A professional trombone will be closer to the $3,000 – $5,000 range, whereas a beginner or student trombone won’t typically cost more than $500.
Professional models will also have a myriad of features that you won’t see with the beginner models. These features include: F triggers, open wraps, dual valves, larger bores, hefty shank mouthpieces, independent rotors, and the option to buy models inlaid with gold and silver.
If you were to go into a store and pick up a student model and a professional model, you would typically be able to tell the difference in its weight alone. Student models can be anywhere from 8lbs. to 12 lbs. A professional model can range from 16lbs. to 23+lbs. The larger the model, the larger the sound, and the more breath exertion required.
What is the Best Bass Trombone?
The Conn62HI is the best model we have seen in a long time as far as the bass family is concerned. The sound alone cannot be compared to any of the others in our review. With its deep, resonating tones and perfect intonation, it’s the epitome of what a bass model should be.
The Conn62HI also comes with many desirable features. One of these features includes the independent rotors. This means that both of the rotors on the trombone can be engaged separate from one another, creating a one-of-a-kind sound. It also has two bore sizes: one for the main bore and one for the rotor section. It also has two triggers.
Conn has taken measures to assure quality and advancement in their instruments, and this one is no exception. The sound isn’t going to “break up”, even if you’re exerting extreme amounts of breath. It is also equipped with chrome-plated nickel silver inner handslide tubes, making it easy for the musician to make swift movements because of the smooth surface. The lacquer finish also aids in the sound quality of this instrument. It is one of the warmest sounding trombones on the market.
What is the Best Tenor Trombone?
For the best tenor model, our favorite is the Bach 42BO. The amount of detail that went into this instrument is superior to most of the others on the market. With its hand-hammered one-piece bell and open wrap f rotor section, it’s a unique and high-class choice. This tenor is in the key of Bb/F because of the trigger.
The slide of this model is lightweight, which ideal when you’re thinking about vibrato. When working and practicing as an intermediate to advanced musician, vibrato is important. It is difficult to get complicated vibrato sounds with a heavy or sticky slide.
This model comes in at 23 lbs., with a larger shank mouthpiece. The color of lacquer gold is simply stunning, and it aids in the perfect intonation that comes with this instrument.
What is the Best Valve Trombone?
The Mendini MTB-40 is an excellent choice regarding trombones of the valve class. The model is equipped with monel piston valves, which means they’re going to last and they’re not going to stick nearly as often as other inferior models.
The bore is .488”, and the bell is 8”, so the size alone makes it easier to play than some of the larger trombones. Even with the bore and bell being smaller, the sound quality of this instrument is quite advanced when it comes to projection. This makes it ideal for orchestral settings. While quite a few trombones in the valve class can be placed in the plastic trombone category, this one is made from quality yellow brass. This model could also be placed in the marching trombones category because of its excellent grip ability.
How Much Should You Expect to Pay for a Good Trombone?
How much you’re paying for a good trombone is an important factor when buying. It’s easy to go for the most expensive one on the market, thinking it will be the best. This isn’t necessarily the best way to go about it.
Keep reviews in mind, do your research, and decide on the key features you want included in your purchase. For a quality standard Bb tenor, you’ll be looking at trombone prices from about $1,500-$3,000. You may lean toward the $3,000 if it has additional features that you like (like a lighter slide or a nickel-plated inlay in the bell).
For more advanced trombones with professional features, or for baritone or bass, your budget should be upwards of $4,000-$5,000. Buying inexpensive trombones could lead to problems later on if you’re an advanced or budding intermediate student. Compromising quality is not something you want to do. If you’re looking at a beginner trombone or a kid’s trombone, the price will drop dramatically.