A tenor trombone
Brass instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 423.22
(Sliding aerophone sounded by lip movement)
Developed In the mid 15th century. Until the early 18th century the instrument was called sackbut in English. In Italian it was always called trombone, and in German, Posaune.
Playing range
Trombone range.svg
Related instruments
More articles
List of classical trombonists
List of jazz trombonists
Types of trombone

The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player's vibrating lips ( embouchure) cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate. Nearly all trombones have a telescoping slide mechanism that varies the length of the instrument to change the pitch. Many modern trombone models also utilize a rotary valve as a means to lower pitch of the instrument. Variants such as the valve trombone and superbone have three valves like those on the trumpet.

The word trombone derives from Italian tromba ( trumpet) and -one (a suffix meaning "large"), so the name means "large trumpet". The trombone has a predominantly cylindrical bore like its valved counterpart the baritone and in contrast to its conical valved counterparts, the euphonium and the horn. The most frequently encountered trombones are the tenor trombone and bass trombone. The most common variant, the tenor, is a non-transposing instrument pitched in B, an octave below the B trumpet and an octave above the B tuba. The once common E alto trombone became less widely used as improvements in technique extended the upper range of the tenor, but it is now enjoying a resurgence due to its lighter sonority which is appreciated in many classical and early romantic works. Trombone music, along with music for euphonium and tuba, is typically written in concert pitch in either bass or tenor clef, although exceptions do occur, notably in British brass-band music where tenor trombone is presented as a B transposing instrument, written in treble clef.

A person who plays the trombone is called a trombonist or trombone player.


Basic trombone anatomy
  1. tuning slide
  2. counterweight
  3. mouthpiece
  4. slide lock ring
  5. bell
  6. knob/bumper
  7. water key/spit valve
  8. main slide
  9. second slide brace/stay
  10. first slide brace/stay
  11. bell lock nut
A disassembled trombone. From left to right: mouthpiece, outer slide, bell section, inner slide.
A tenor trombone mouthpiece

The trombone is a predominantly cylindrical tube bent into an elongated "S" shape. Rather than being completely cylindrical from end to end, the tube is a complex series of tapers with the smallest at the mouthpiece receiver and the largest just before the bell flare. The design of these tapers affects the intonation of the instrument. As with other brass instruments, sound is produced by blowing air through pursed lips producing a vibration that creates a standing wave in the instrument.

The detachable cup-shaped mouthpiece is similar to that of the baritone horn and closely related to that of the trumpet. It has the venturi: a small constriction of the air column that adds resistance greatly affecting the tone of the instrument, and is inserted into the mouthpiece receiver in the slide section. The slide section consists of a leadpipe, the inner and outer slide tubes, and the bracing, or stays. Modern stays are soldered, while sackbuts (medieval precursors to trombones) were made with loose, unsoldered stays (this remained the pattern for German trombones until the mid-20th century).

The 'slide', the most distinctive feature of the trombone (cf. valve trombone), allows the player to extend the length of the air column, lowering the pitch. To prevent friction from slowing the action of the slide, additional sleeves were developed during the Renaissance, and these stockings were soldered onto the ends of the inner slide tubes. Nowadays, the stockings are incorporated into the manufacturing process of the inner slide tubes and represent a fractional widening of the tube to accommodate the necessary method of alleviating friction. This part of the slide must be lubricated frequently. Additional tubing connects the slide to the bell of the instrument through a neckpipe, and bell or back bow (U-bend). The joint connecting the slide and bell sections is furnished with a ferrule to secure the connection of the two parts of the instrument, though older models from the early 20th century and before were usually equipped with friction joints and no ancillary mechanism to tighten the joint.

The adjustment of intonation is most often accomplished with a tuning slide that is a short slide between the neckpipe and the bell incorporating the bell bow (U-bend); this device was designed by the French maker François Riedlocker during the early 19th century and applied to French and British designs and later in the century to German and American models, though German trombones were built without tuning slides well into the 20th century. However, trombonists, unlike other instrumentalists, are not subject to the intonation issues resulting from valved or keyed instruments, since they can adjust intonation "on the fly" by subtly altering slide positions when necessary. For example, second position "A" is not in exactly the same place on the slide as second position "E". Many types of trombone also include one or more rotary valves used to increase the length of the instrument (and therefore lower its pitch) by directing the air flow through additional tubing. This allows the instrument to reach notes that are otherwise not possible without the valve as well as play other notes in alternate positions.

Like the trumpet, the trombone is considered a cylindrical bore instrument since it has extensive sections of tubing, principally in the slide section, that are of unchanging diameter. Tenor trombones typically have a bore of 0.450 inches (11.4 mm) (small bore) to 0.547 inches (13.9 mm) (large or orchestral bore) after the leadpipe and through the slide. The bore expands through the backbore to the bell, which is typically between 7 and 8 12 inches (18 and 22 cm). A number of common variations on trombone construction are noted below.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Tromboon
Alemannisch: Posaune
asturianu: Trombón
беларуская: Трамбон
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Трамбон
български: Тромбон
català: Trombó
čeština: Pozoun
dansk: Basun
Deutsch: Posaune
eesti: Tromboon
Ελληνικά: Τρομπόνι
español: Trombón
Esperanto: Trombono
euskara: Tronboi
فارسی: ترومبون
Frysk: Tromboane
Gaeilge: Trombón
Gàidhlig: Trombon
galego: Trombón
한국어: 트롬본
Հայերեն: Տրոմբոն
hrvatski: Trombon
Bahasa Indonesia: Trombon
italiano: Trombone
עברית: טרומבון
Basa Jawa: Trombon
ქართული: ტრომბონი
қазақша: Тромбон
latviešu: Trombons
Lëtzebuergesch: Trombone
lietuvių: Trombonas
magyar: Harsona
македонски: Тромбон
മലയാളം: ട്രോംബോൺ
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ထရွမ်းဗုန်း
Nederlands: Trombone
Nedersaksies: Skoeftrompet
norsk: Trombone
norsk nynorsk: Trombone
occitan: Trombon
polski: Puzon
português: Trombone
română: Trombon
Runa Simi: Trumpun
русский: Тромбон
Seeltersk: Posaune
Simple English: Trombone
slovenčina: Pozauna
slovenščina: Pozavna
српски / srpski: Тромбон
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Trombon
suomi: Pasuuna
svenska: Trombon
Tagalog: Trombon
Türkçe: Trombon
українська: Тромбон
Tiếng Việt: Trombone
中文: 长号