Trombone Care

Trombonists have to be more careful than most instrumentalists when caring for their horns. Due to the awkward shape, the slide, and new and improved valves, it's no wonder we don't spend more time in the repair shop.

I have included a few items below that will help you care for your instrument, but first I would like to make the following suggestions:

  • Don't rest your instrument on your slide (especially if you are a bass trombonist). This puts stress on the slide tubes and may cause alignment problems. In addition, keep your slide away from your music stand.
  • Maintain your valve(s). I've heard many complaints from players unhappy with sluggish Thayer valves. When I ask when they cleaned them last, I usually get a blank stare. Dropping oil down the tuning slide tubes is good for daily maintenance, but that doesn't take the place of cleaning them periodically.

The Edwards website has detailed instructions on how to maintain their axial flow valves. They provide information on slide care, as well.

Edwards Maintenance Page

Eric Swanson

Eric Swanson is the best trombone repair technician that I know. He is also a trombonist, so his customers feel comfortable letting him repair their horns. Eric has given me information on basic slide care and rotary valve maintenance.

Travel Cases

One of the worst feelings I have ever had is when the ticket agent at an airport in Helsinki, Finland said that my horn was going to have to go under the plane for a 10 hour flight. After the heart attack, I pleaded my way into caring my horn in its gig bag on the plane.

As soon as I got home, I decided that I had to make other travel arrangements from then on. I went out and purchased an SKB Standard Golf case. My Reunion Blues G-Series bass trombone gig bag fits very tightly into the case, so there is little chance of sideways movement. The case is longer than the bag, so I place towels at either end. I also place a towel around the bell, itself, for extra protection.

Update ›› Bob Sanders has kindly offered the following advice: "If you take your SKB case to a local foam or mattress store they will probably, for a nominal fee, cut and glue mattress foam rubber to line it to the exact shape of your G-series bag."

I have only had one minor mishap with this setup. As I was flying from New York to Washington, D.C., I had forgotten to wrap the bell with the towel. We experienced some major turbulence over Baltimore where the plane went straight down for a few hundred feet. When I checked my horn after the flight, it had some dents in the bell where the slide had hit it.

I have used the SKB case for domestic and overseas flights for a while, and I have never been charged for an oversized item. The case is relatively cheap (around $100) and is extremely light. Visit the SKB website to find out more.

It still is difficult, however, for me to watch as my trombone gets taken away on a conveyor belt.

Latest Project

Recent additions to my portfolio include OSU Trombones, ITF2007, and the Getzen Gazette.