Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I own a student trombone, and I am looking to purchase a professional one with a trigger.

Does a trigger trombone produce the same sound as a non-triggered trombone of the same manufacturer?

share|improve this question
up vote 9 down vote accepted


All tenor and bass trombones are pitched the same. The difference between student instruments and professional ones is actually more in the bore size than whether or not the instrument has a trigger (which is typically called an "F attachment").

The F attachment's primary use is to extend the low range of the instrument, and enable technical facility in the middle-low range. For school band use, it typically only becomes necessary for literature played in a good high school band. It is required for modern solo literature and any 2nd or 3rd part orchestral playing. The extra tubing required by the F attachment adds to the weight of the instrument.

Bore size affects the dynamic range of the instrument, the amount of air necessary to play, and timbre in different registers. Smaller instruments aid the high register and are both lighter and require less air. Large bore instruments require a LOT more work, but are capable of a full low register and more volume.

  • Beginner student instruments are typically .500 bore (small-bore). We call instruments around this size "pea-shooters". F attachments are typically not found on instruments of this size. Professional jazz trombonists will often use instruments around this size (.508, .500) or smaller (<.500), and occasionally dual-bore instruments with large amounts of cylindrical tubing of two different diameters.

  • Instruments with the F attachment are typically medium-bore (.525) or larger. This size instrument is often used as a "step-up" instrument for beginners, and occasionally for jazz big band players who need the low notes.

  • Most orchestral players use large-bore instruments (.547, usually) with an F attachment. Some principal players will opt for an instrument without the F attachment because it is lighter, avoids the disruption in airflow caused by the trigger assembly, and they don't require the notes in the low range that require it.

  • Bass trombones are even larger (>.562) than large-bore tenor trombones, and typically (but not always!) have two triggers of varying tunings (usually F and G, or F and D if they are dependent).

Small- and medium-bore instruments typically accept a small-shank mouthpiece, and large-bore and bass trombones require a large shank mouthpiece.

A conservatory student will almost always require a large bore tenor trombone with F attachment. This instrument is also a good choice for an advanced high school student.

share|improve this answer
You hit just about every point I was going to make! – Josh Fields Jun 18 '12 at 0:44

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.