I have 2 years of experience with a regular school trombone. I'm worried when I get an F attachment trombone, positions like 7th and 6th will mess me up for I am not used to going to 2nd/1st as replacement of 7/6. So how can I get used to the F attachment?


You'll get used to 6/7 the same way you got used to 1-7 - practice!

Actually, many trombone teachers find that students use the F attachment too much, not too little. There are many times where it will make much more sense to use the 6th and 7th positions instead of 1 and 2 for both E, F, B, and C. Further, there are many uses outside of T1 and T2. For example, some passages (Saint-Saens Organ Symphony No. 3) has a passage where T4 for a Bb will make much more sense than using 1st position: Saint-Saens Symphony No 3.


I personally learned the F attachment side of the horn by using Progressive Studies (for the bass trombone) by Lew Gillis. It takes an approach of using each new position exclusively for about a dozen etudes, so you don't have to worry about learning more than one position at a time. Eventually, you will use all 6 additional positions.

Wait, did he just say 6 positions!? Yes! When you add all the tubing from the F attachment to the length of the horn, you also proportionally need to add more distance between notes. For example, a trumpet 2nd valve is somewhere around 1/2 the distance of a tuba 2nd valve, even though they both lower the pitch of the instrument by a half step. Proportionally, the tuba is a lot larger. So with the F attachment, depending on how you tune it will be something like this:

  • T1: Ca 1st position
  • T2: Flat 2nd
  • T3: Almost 4th
  • T4: Sharp 5th
  • T5: 6th Position
  • T6: Almost as far out on the slide as you can go.

Here are some relevant threads you may find interesting on the trombone forum:

Re: F-Attachment Trombone Methods

Teaching the F-Attachment?


Here are some note patterns to help introduce an F attachment as more than just a hollow counterweight.


These patterns are good to repeat at all speeds and in a variety of styles, and can even be helpful once you are comfortable, which won't take long. These do not take the place structured instruction but may help prepare for it.
    In this narrative, notes are named in terms of bass clef. “Low” and “middle” refer to notes' positions in the clef. “Open” refers to playing as usual, without activating the F attachment. “Triggered” refers to playing with the F attachment activated by pressing its paddle (trigger) with your thumb.

Pattern A. Trigger only, single note and slide position. Middle F can be played in 1st position when the F attachment is triggered because the attachment is equivalent to 6th position, an alternate position for F.
    Playing middle F according to this pattern is also a good way to check that the F attachment is in tune. The attachment's tuning slide might need to be pulled out half a finger's width or even more.

Pattern B. Low C, the most usual triggered note. Triggered 1st position will quickly be internalized as being the same as regular 6th position. Notice how the attachment's broader tubing is slightly easier to play through.
    Playing low C according to this pattern is also a good way to reinforce 6th position accuracy.

Pattern C. Low F, the lowest note in most trombone music. Notice how a triggered note can sound fuller than an open note.

Pattern D. Triggered 2nd position is further out. When playing a note in 2nd position with the F attachment, you must extend the slide 3 cm or 1 18 inch further than usual. (The resulting reach is the same as the distance between regular 6th and 7th positions.)
    Playing middle E according this pattern helps you find the extended 2nd position so that the triggered note sounds and feels most similar to the open note in regular 2nd position. This also helps ingrain the coordination of your thumb's triggering and your arm's holding the slide further out.

Pattern E. Low B natural, without your slide falling off. This pattern helps associate triggered low B natural with the easy-to-check triggered position of middle E.

Pattern F. Trigger and lip coordination, all in 1st position. This helps familiarize various trigger and interval patterns.

Pattern G. Half steps, minimal slide motion. Accuracy is relatively easy to hear with this pattern that visits the two most commonly triggered notes and reinforces the difference between triggered and untriggered 2nd positions.

Bonus: Experimenting with very low notes helps you play all notes. The F attachment allows you to play down to C below the clef, with full tone. These notes may not be needed in performance, but practicing them has benefits for all notes because they help develop relaxation, breath control and vocal tract shape.
    You can also now play music an octave or two lower than written, for the sake of learning or just for fun. This not only gives structure to low-range expeditions but also significantly adds to your understanding of the music itself and of keys and transposition in general.

  • 1
    Good explanation. Only adding a small extra nuance. It is worth testing the intonation on your instrument with a tuner. On most trombones the C played as T1 will need a little extra tubing compared to the T1 sounding F. – ghellquist Dec 29 '17 at 22:31
  • Feel free to edit the post, @Gunnar Hellquist, wisdom like that needs to get outside of comments. I left out some +s and don't have the means right now to augment. And thank you for reminding that an essential advantage of tromboning is the freedom to twitch notes into tune without having to lip them out of tone. – lauir Dec 30 '17 at 1:30

You sound frightened of learning something a little bit new! How strange.

I'm sure you've already reached the stage of using "alternative" positions to facilitate agility and legato playing. Well, you're just about to gain a few more alternatives. You'll still use 6th and 7th positions where appropriate.

In fact, a F attachment isn't THAT big a deal for tromboninsts playing 1st and 2nd trombone parts. You get a bit more agility in the low Bb/Bnat area. You get a couple of extra low notes that are really bass trombone territory anyway.

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