Does anyone know what type of instrument this is? It looks like some type of Euphonium, but obviously very different.

enter image description here

  • 1
    It's obviously a sousoxaphonepet. ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 16:26
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    Take a look at this commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/…
    – JimM
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 16:28
  • 2
    @1_am_Jack - sorry... kind of :P I'd imagined it was a one-off. I hadn't imagined it was actually an Adolphe Sax one-off.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 16:46
  • 2
    I saw this instrument drawn in a Dr. Seuss book when I was a kid. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 5:01
  • 3
    It's clearly a Whoville Horn Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 13:14

2 Answers 2


The Musical Instrument Museums Online Catalog has an entry for this instrument here.

Made in Paris in 1876 by Adolphe Sax, it's simply titled "trombone with valves."

This instrument's entry on Carmentis unfortunately doesn't provide us with much extra information. Though, oddly, despite being named "valve trombone," it's classified under "valve trumpets." (Perhaps there's a distinction here among instrument classification systems that I'm not aware of.)

  • It reminds me of a Martinstrompete but with more valves and a lot more plumbing. I believe that the Martinstrompete is in the Schalmei family. Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 16:56
  • Is 'valve trumpet' tautological?
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 17:02
  • This is just a guess, but maybe it distinguishes from something like a bugle that has no valves?
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 17:09
  • 2
    @Tim - look up "natural trumpet"
    – MattPutnam
    Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 2:34
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    It's not to do with bore - a trombone has seven slide positions. The instrument illustrated has seven bells. So each valve is used individually rather than in combination with the others, and represents a slide position. It's different to a valve trumpet because that uses valves in combination - and there are seven combinations. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 12:11

When manufacturing techniques got good enough for valves to be practical, there was a crazy rush to try to invent fully chromatic versions of existing brass instruments. Inventors tried lots of different schemes, and most didn't make it. This seems to be one of those failed experiments.

The one-bell-per-note is reminiscent of the Schalmei:

16-bell schalmei

And the trombone range and position of the valves is reminiscent of the cavalry trombone:

enter image description here

Adolphe Sax did quite a bit of work experimenting with one-valve-per-note systems. They solve the inherent tuning problems of modern brass instruments, but the added weight and complexity isn't worth it.

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