I'm playing on a very old Yamaha YBL bass trombone. Back when I played tenor I had very good tone quality, but now in the notes above the staff I'm getting a very sharp tone. Is there anything I can do to get a more rich tone quality on such an old instrument? I did take it in for a tune-up which helped a lot.

1 Answer 1


Bass trombones take more air than tenors, so loss of tone is natural / may not be down to the state of the instrument but rather the type. To improve your tone you'll need to improve your breathing.

Do exercises such as:

  • Lie on the floor (facing up). Breath in for 2 beats (@ 120bpm = 1 second), hold for 2 beats, breath out for 2 beats, hold for 2 beats, repeat for 4 beats, then 6, etc. Keep going until you reach your limit, then rest. Do this every day.
  • Use only your diaphragm to shout "Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Haaa" loudly (Ha for 1 beat, Haaa for 3, pause for 1); repeat 10 times. You may take quick short breaths between each Ha.

When playing trombone:

  • keep your throat open / relaxed.
  • adjust pitch by smiling; not tensing.
  • try to allow more air through your mouth whilst playing the high note (i.e. open your mouth slightly whilst trying to avoid affecting the pitch).
  • increase the speed of airflow into your instrument.

If you've tried other bass trombones and believe it really is the instrument that's causing issues, you could try these:

  • try out different mouthpieces
  • try out different lead pipes
  • ensure any fittings on valves are securely fastened (don't overtighten though, or you may damage screw threads)
  • 1
    Great. I will try these :)
    – Someone
    Jul 31, 2014 at 13:54

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