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Thread: Should I switch to Tenor or Bass Trombone?

  1. #1

    Should I switch to Tenor or Bass Trombone?

    Hi everyone, so I've been wanting to play in an orchestra when I get older and out of high school. I do know that euphonium is not an orchestral instrument, which is why I am here to ask this question. Should I switch to Tenor or Bass trombone? Firstly, I do enjoy playing euphonium, don't get me wrong, but I personally would rather play in an orchestra. And by no means am I being disrespectful to people that play euphonium and or the instrument itself, I would just rather play an instrument that can play in an orchestra. Now, I like the sound of trombone. I like the low sound of the bass trombone as well as the high register that tenor has. I just want to know what the forum has to say and there opinions on this, thanks. And sorry if this seems all over the place.

  2. #2
    Well, a lot depends on what your goals and aspirations are regarding music in your future. Do you plan to go to college and major in music? Are you interested in obtaining a professional position in an orchestra or some other musical organization, or would you be interested in a teaching career in music?

    If you play euphonium now, I assume you play in your school band, but not the school orchestra. There is the option of learning trombone (tenor or bass) and still keep playing euphonium. You may have to pick which ensemble you play in, band or orchestra. But you don't necessarily have to give up euphonium if you pick up the trombone.

    If you are looking for a career playing in a professional group (orchestra, military band, etc.) there are more opportunities (numbers wise) on trombone. There are many more professional orchestras than professional bands (not counting military bands). And more opportunities to play in big bands when you play trombone. So, you have to evaluate all of those options and keep in mind your future goals in making your decision.

    Another thing to consider is that many communities have a community band, probably many more so than those that have community orchestras. So, a euphonium would probably work fine if your plans for the future were to play as an amateur and pursue another type of profession for your career. But a trombone would work in this situation just as well.

    Then the final consideration is just the plain simple question, which instrument do you prefer to play (regardless of what group you can play in)? If I liked the euphonium more than a trombone, for instance, then I would never give up the euphonium, but I might add another instrument or two (which is what I have done in my life). Because I wanted to play in an orchestra, just like you, really, that is why I learned trombone. But I was in my 40's when I picked up trombone. And I had been asked if I wanted to play in an orchestra, told the person I played trombone which was a bold-faced lie, went out and bought a trombone, practiced morning, noon and night for 2-3 weeks, got the music for the orchestra concert and learned it, then started playing regularly in the orchestra (and practiced a whole lot during this whole episode).

    Good luck with your decision. You have options, follow your heart and dreams.
    Last edited by John Morgan; 03-16-2021 at 12:06 AM.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  3. #3
    An old friend of mine plays both, (bass trombone and euphonium) really well, and is as busy playing as she wants to be.

    The better you play your primary choice, the easier it is to develop skill in your secondary choice.
    Last edited by ann reid; 03-16-2021 at 05:52 AM.

  4. #4
    Thank you guys so much for the responses. I think I should have clearly stated that I don't want to fully give up playing euphonium, but more so of what I want my primary instrument to be. But as Mr. John Morgan asked, I do plan on going to college for music and major in music and obtaining a professional career in an orchestra. But I think I'm going to go ahead and follow with my dreams, that's if my band director lets me of course!

  5. #5
    I have only doubled on tenor trombone - never tried bass. One consideration is that bass trombone will probably need a different mouthpiece to do it justice. With tenor you could might find a mouthpiece that works well for both euphonium and trombone.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  6. #6
    This may not work for you, but I'll tell you what I wish I had done -- started learning cello when I entered high school. As a eupher, I had "orchestra envy" really bad, and just prior to my senior year our director suggested that I take up contrabass. I did, and within three months I was good enough to stand 3rd (actually tied for 2nd, the director told me, but he gave Pam 2nd because she had been at it longer, and that was fine with me, because I just wanted to play). But when I was taking the string methods class in college, I played the cello, and I thought that I had really missed an opportunity.

    D
    David Bjornstad

    1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
    2018 Wessex EP100 Dolce, Denis Wick 4ABL
    2013 Jinbao JBEP-1111L, Denis Wick 4AM
    2015 Jinbao JBBR-1240, Denis Wick clone mouthpiece of unknown designation
    Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
    Brass Band of Huntsville (2nd Bari)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    NYC metro area
    Posts
    396
    When I took up euphonium again in my 60s (piano had been my main instrument for over half a century), I joined a local orchestra that needed a trombone section - I played the bass trombone parts on the euphonium, and they tolerated me. We lost some trombone players, I became section leader, and I picked up a P-bone to see if I could learn how to play with a slide. I later got my Bach 36B and I've been the section leader for several years now (of course, rehearsing and performing is on hiatus due to the pandemic). I also play euphonium in a local band that plays in a park in the summer.

    Dave's comment about mouthpieces may be important to you - I use a Bach 6.5AL on the trombone and a Bowman BB1 on euphonium, and their rim sizes are very similar. A bass trombone mouthpiece is generally bigger, and it may be harder switching back and forth between them. To Dave's comment, I'll add another one: what orchestra positions are open for you? If every local group has a full complement of tenor trombones, you may be better off playing bass trombone.
    Last edited by dsurkin; 03-16-2021 at 02:49 PM.
    Dean L. Surkin
    Mack Brass MACK-EU1150S, BB1, Kadja, and DE 101XTG9 mouthpieces
    Bach 36B trombone; pBone; Vincent Bach (from 1971) 6.5AL mouthpiece
    Steinway 1902 Model A, restored by AC Pianocraft in 1988; Kawai MP8, Yamaha KX-76
    See my avatar: Jazz (the black cockapoo) and Delilah (the cavapoo puppy) keep me company while practicing

  8. #8
    I do not make a living playing music, so I am no expert in the matter, but if your goal and passion is to be a professional orchestra musician, then you will need to learn another instrument in addition to playing the euphonium. Tenor or bass trombone seems like a logical move. I played euphonium from middle school through college and have continued playing as an adult in community bands and things like that. Looking back I wish I had also learned another instrument, as much as I love the euphonium, just to have more opportunities. I can think of many people I have come across in my college and adult days that play the euphonium and tenor trombone/bass trombone/tube/piano/guitar/bass/etc... very well.

    Keep studying and playing the euphonium in addition to the trombone if you enjoy it and then one day when you are a huge trombone star in a major orchestra you can play all the euphonium parts that come along and continue raising the euphonium's profile for the next generation.

    My personal doubling experience seems to be a little like Dean's in that I picked up a pBone a few years ago to see if I could manage it well enough to maybe play in a community band or orchestra one day. I still play jazz transcriptions and orchestral parts and things like that on it for fun. No Bach 36 yet but maybe one day
    Last edited by aroberts781; 03-16-2021 at 10:15 AM. Reason: grammar

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Tucson, where tacos are real.
    Posts
    26
    I am not a trombone player, but my brother-in-law is. He has been playing for more than 50 years. He played tenor for decades and got himself a bass maybe 25 years ago, and has not looked back. Bass and tenor have essentially the same upper range, but bass has more range at the bottom. Because of this, he has gotten many gigs over the years because he plays bass. He can cover tenor parts with no problem, but the bass gives him more opportunities. He was not a professional musician--he was a doctor. But he is a good example of what a bass bone gave do.

    My advice: get both, if you can. The "fingering" is the same, so why not?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    2,045
    Bass. Double valve -- choice of tuning and dependent/independent valves up to you. It's simply a different instrument from the tenor trombone. Get a copy of this: New Method for the Modern Bass Trombone (though it's not so easy to get) and study it. You won't use all of it, but the tuning and technique stuff is critical, and a different approach than most others in terms of how to visualize the positions and use the valves. Also read stuff by Doug Yeo. Have a good time.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

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