What Are the Different Types of trombones?

By Kevin Christensen
Last updated: May 16, 2024

There are 3 major types of trombones in use today. Let’s explore them a bit. 

Tenor Trombone

The most common type of trombone is the tenor trombone. The tenor trombone is the trombone you’ll see in the hands of the players in the trombone section of a band. It has a sound that is deep and full. 

In its simplest form it is called a straight trombone, meaning “without F-attachment”.

It is pitched i Bb and sheet music should be notated in bass clef. Advanced players should also be able to read tenor clef, but bass clef is by far the most commonly used.

Tenor trombones often come with a trigger, or F-attachment, which add additional tubing to the horn and changes the tuning from Bb to F. 

See our buying guide for the best tenor trombones for beginners.

Bass Trombone

The bass trombone has a larger bore than the tenor and usually has an F-attachment (valve) and a secondary valve to extend the low-end even more. The second valve lowers the tuning to Gb, or (less common), to G. 

The bass trombone is pitched in Bb and has the same length of tubing as the tenor trombone. It has a lager bore, a lager bell, and a larger mouthpiece though. 

Alto Trombone

The alto trombone is pitched in Eb and is less common than tenor and bass trombones. There is orchestral music scored for alto trombone, but professional players comfortable playing the alto are few. It is common to use alto trombones in music schools for smaller kids as they are unable to reach the outer positions of a tenor trombone before a certain age.

Other kinds of trombones

There are a whole range of trombones that are rarely used. Some of them are:

  • Soprano 
  • Sopranino
  • Superbone
  • Valve trombone
  • Sackbut
  • Cimbasso
  • Contrabass

Read about the history of the trombone here

By Kevin Christensen
Trombone Geek, managed by trombone player Kevin Christensen, is a comprehensive resource for trombone players of all levels worldwide. Christensen's 20+ years of professional experience and training at prestigious institutions provide valuable insights into trombone playing. Trombone Geek offers tips, tricks, and advice on all aspects of playing the instrument. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced player looking to improve your skills, Trombone Geek is an excellent resource for learning and mastering this fascinating instrument.
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