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.
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)