trombone slide positions

Valve Trombone

The valve trombone had it’s most popular times in the nineteenth century. This was due to the rapidly developing technology of the rotary valve. This instrument comes in all sizes from the alto valve trombone to the contrabass valve trombone.

The obvious difference here between the slide trombone and the valve trombone is the absence of the slide and the addition of a valve attachment in it’s place. One advantage of the valve is the speed at which it can be manipulated. This increased agility lends itself to some fast paced musical numbers, as they may be easier to execute on a valve trombone over the slide version because the valves can be pressed and released more quickly than the slide can be move back and forth. However, many trombone purist consider the valve trombone to be inferior in tonal quality to the slide trombone. In site of it’s diminished tones, it is capable of any pitch. The tonal range is that of the tenor trombone, and baritone horn however, the attacked is quite different because of it’s shape.

The B flat tenor valve trombone has the same valve fingerings as the B flat trumpet. For this reason you may see some jazz trumpeters playing a valve trombone. Notably, there is a version of the valve trombone that has a different valve system made by Adolphe Sax.  Rather than the three valve style like a trumpet it has one valve for each slide position of the traditional slide trombone.

A combination of basic tone production, as used on any trombone, and valve techniques used with the trumpet are some of the important skills required to master this instrument. As with most of the brass instruments, proper breathing and lip buzzing are the first things to learn.

Valve trombones are available on line for purchase. The King brand is one of the more affordable instruments. There are also many trombone forums where you can often find someone selling a used trombone.