Valve Trombone

vahlv truhm-bohn
The valve trombone is a brass instrument in the trombone family. This aerophone instrument is unlike any other trombone as it does not rely on a slide mechanism to change pitch but also has three valves in addition to this slide. The valve trombone is commonly in the key of Bb but it can also be in C and there have also been variations produced ranging from alto to contrabass.
History of the Valve Trombone
The valve trombone, like all other trombones, has an early history in 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. In the early 1800s, piston valves were invented and became immediately popular amongst brass instrument makers and innovators. Work on these piston valves that allowed players to press keys to change pitch were introduced to the trombone by Friedrich Blühmel and Heinrich Stölzel. These new valve trombones became the trombone of choice for players in the 19th century, however, by the 20th century they were outmoded as brass musicians wanted the versatility of the slide back in the music. The popularity of the valve trombone endured slightly longer in countries such as Italy and operas from the 19th century were still from this instrument. During the 1920s and 30s, jazz trumpeters occasionally used the valve trombone as the fingering is similar to that of a trumpet.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

£300 - £1,000

Hear the Valve Trombone

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How to Play

A trombone with three valves, allowing the player to produce a wider range of pitches.

In Popular Music

Canadian jazz trumpeter played valve trombone from time to time, including on 'The Italian Suite' from 1969. This rare instrument is rarely used in popular music as the standard tenor slide trombone is often preferred.

Famous Players

Bob Brookmeyer, David Steinmeyer, Urbie Green

Close Relations

Tenor Trombone, Bass Trombone
Video Credit: Schmitt Music Trombone Shop
Understanding the Valve Trombone
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United States

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1818

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