Plastic Trombone Review
The plastic trombone is a recent innovation, but are they any good? This plastic trombone review discusses the benefits and the drawbacks of playing a plastic trombone.
I am often asked by parents and students about the pros and cons of playing a plastic trombone vs a brass version of the instrument. I own both and here is my opinion;
Pros of the plastic trombone
- very light to carry
- very light to hold while playing
- easy to hold correctly
- won’t dent at all if bumped or dropped
- the slide won’t dent – keeping it in new condition
- inexpensive to buy new (< $300)
- available in a range of colours
Cons of the plastic trombone
- the sound is not very bright
- the slide has lots of friction
- can break if dropped or mistreated
- the slide section and the bell section can separate spontaneously if not held correctly. The two sections don’t bolt together securely.
Who should buy a plastic trombone?
A plastic trombone is a great option for very young players as their first instrument. The price of buying a plastic trombone is approximately the same cost as renting a brass instrument for a year. Young children are still learning how to handle their instruments in a respectful way, so the resilience of plastic is a great option for them. But perhaps the most pronounced benefit is the lack of weight in the instrument. Younger children will struggle to hold a brass trombone up if playing for any length of time and will resort to resting the slide on their legs or other creative ways of playing a heavy instrument. For a relatively small investment, you’ll own the instrument which may be a benefit if a child has younger siblings who might also want to learn how to play the trombone.
The dullness in sound can be partially overcome by using a metal mouthpiece instead of the plastic mouthpiece that is provided with the instrument. The resistance in the slide will be frustrating for a more experienced player, but a young player who is new to the instrument won’t know the difference and will appreciate a relatively frictionless metal slide when they upgrade.
For any other category of player, a brass version of the trombone will be a better option. If a player is capable of taking care of their instrument, (the slide in particular), can easily hold the weight and affordability isn’t an issue, then a brass trombone with a working slide will be a better option for them. The brass trombone will produce a better tone and the slide will operate more freely. As a player becomes more competent, focussing on producing a great sound will become a high priority and a plastic trombone simply won’t cut it.
Beware of cheap brass options
However, beware of a new brass trombone that costs about the same as a plastic trombone. They do exist – but they shouldn’t. Unsuspecting parents who proudly buy their child a new brass trombone for an unbelievably cheap price will soon realise they get what they pay for. These trombones can be difficult for a young child to hold (the cross bars can be too far apart) and the slides could be worse than a plastic trombone. A second-hand name-brand brass trombone would be a much better option.
As usual, the following principles still apply;
- It’s horses for courses
- You get what you pay for.
I hope this plastic trombone review was useful.
For more information about playing a trombone, please check out my ebook on How to Play Trombone.