Conventionally a tenor trombone is held in the left hand, with the bell crook over the left shoulder, and the slide is moved with the right hand.

Is there any reason a left-handed player shouldn't have the bell crook over the right shoulder and move the slide with the left hand?

I realise some trombones have a trigger, which expects the player to be right handed and operate the trigger paddles with the left thumb. But if the trombone itself didn't have any triggers, is there anything more than convention that dictates it be played right-handed?

  • 1
    Might affect the answer when considering the valve trombone.
    – Tim
    Nov 13, 2022 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


Yes, the trombone can be played left-handed.

The potential problem is that the slide-arm has to avoid running into the bell, which is also on the left side of the instrument. However, the bell can be swung across to the opposite side to keep it clear of the arm.

There are some trombone players who have put the trombone bell over their RIGHT shoulder moved the hand slide with their LEFT hand – jazz trombonist Locksley Wellington “Slide” Hampton comes to mind. (Source: The Last Trombone)

Slide Hampton

Slide Hampton
(Source: The Last Trombone)

  • A repair person can probably move the trigger to the other side rather easily. MIght be dependant on exact design.
    – ghellquist
    Nov 13, 2022 at 7:27
  • 1
    The water key would be awkward to operate left-handed
    – nuggethead
    Nov 13, 2022 at 11:07
  • 1
    @nuggethead - I can't reach the water key either way. Price I pay for being a short-arms! Although, I believe the trombones used by Sally Army have a slightly different key, which operates when the trombone is put down while in church - a sort of self-drainer.
    – Tim
    Nov 13, 2022 at 13:39
  • 1
    For those of us who have an F-attachment valve, that valve and especially its key becomes pretty awkward as well.
    – Arthur
    Nov 14, 2022 at 9:26

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