Contrabass Trombone
kon-truh-bas truhm-bohn
Brass Instrument
The contrabass trombone is a brass instrument and the largest and lowest pitched instrument of the trombone family. It has a comfortable range between C1 and D4 and uses a slide mechanism to change the pitch of the notes. The contrabass trombone is often in F and uses two valves.
History of the Contrabass Trombone
The contrabass trombone, like all other trombones, has been thought to have been developed from ancestral brass instruments like the slide trumpet that shared the trombone's unique sliding mechanism to change the instrument’s pitch. These trumpets were frequently used in the 13th to 15th century to mark celebratory occasions amongst the nobility of German-speaking territories. During the renaissance era, an instrument called a sackbut lengthened the tubing of the slide trumpet and folded it in a recognisable fashion to today’s contrabass trombone. Early records about the contrabass trombone include a design by German instrument maker Carl Wilhelm Moritz who managed to create a trombone capable of these low contrabass notes in 1860 by using a double slide mechanism for pieces by Richard Wagner. Composers such as Richard Strauss went on to write trombone parts that were only deemed possible on a contrabass trombone. Berlin-based trombonist Ernst Dehmel is often credited with the two-valve trombone design in 1921, which ultimately became the standard design of a contrabass trombone. In modern music performances, the instrument is still best known for appearing in operas by Wagner and in trombone choirs and ensembles that need a contrabass range.
Inventor: Carl Wilhelm Moritz

Where to Buy

£2,600 - £8,999

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How to Play

The largest and lowest pitched trombone, played using a U-shaped slide to change the length of the tubing.

In Popular Music

The contrabass trombone is a very rare instrument in popular music recordings due to the low range. An example of a classical music piece performed solo by a contrabass trombone would be 'The Swan' by Camille Saint-Saens.

Famous Players

Douglas Yeo, Øystein Baadsvik, Mike Svoboda

Close Relations

Bass Trombone, Tuba
Video Credit: KarlWiederwohl
Understanding the Contrabass Trombone
Very Large




19th century






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