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Summary: Knowing how to find the best Piccolo trombone means deciding what type of music you want to play and determining your level of musical experience. The piccolo trombone is the smallest trombone, but you still get options in terms of material and size.
What is the Piccolo Trombone?
The piccolo trombone is the smallest member of the trombone family. The piccolo trombone has a much higher pitch and uses a trumpet mouthpiece. Because it is the smallest member of the trombone family, and because it shares the same mouthpiece as a trumpet, most people who play the piccolo trombone actually play the trumpet as well.
This video shows you the difference between the piccolo and soprano trombone:
Parts of the Best Piccolo Trombone
A piccolo trombone has the same essential parts as for any other trombone, including the inner and outer slide tubes, the valves, the bell, and the mouthpiece.
I suggest getting a bumper and a counterweight if you have a child beginning with the best piccolo trombone.
With the best Piccolo trombone, your child can still smack into things. The bumper doesn’t impact the sound, but it helps protect the trombone from hitting other things when you play it. The entire purpose of the bumper is to rest at the end of the trombone end, just like the bumper on a car, to protect the instrument from accidentally hitting other surfaces (or, very likely, other students in the head).
The counterweight helps new players, especially children, with the awkward size and balance required to play the trombone. Even though the piccolo trombone is the smallest of the trombone family, it can still be uncomfortable, especially for small children to play and hold the instrument for a long time.
A counterweight looks like a hockey puck, and you fasten it to the end behind the musician so that it helps to counter the weight of the length of the trombone literally.
How to Find the Best Piccolo Trombone
When you set out to find the best Piccolo trombone, you need to consider the size of the bore and bell and the material for the instrument.
Bore and Bell Sizes for the Best Piccolo Trombone
The best Piccolo trombone will have a bell diameter of around 4 in or 10 cm. The bore sizes run between 0.430 and 0.400 inches.
To hear what the best piccolo trombone sounds like and what the parts are, you can watch this video:
As with any trombone, the thicker the bore size (or diameter of the tubing), a thicker bore size means a bigger breath. Smaller bore sizes mean a softer, mellower tone, but it also means the instrument is easier to play.
Given the size of the piccolo trombone, you might very well have a child in your family who wants to start playing, and beginners or children need an easy instrument to play so that they can focus on learning how to hold the instrument and apply the appropriate technique.
A beginner doesn’t need something overly complicated or designed to show off different breathing techniques and fingering because they don’t have the musical skills to apply either of those.
So, a smaller bore and bell size will be most appropriate for children and beginners.
This does not imply that the only people who play the piccolo trombone are children or beginners. I learned to play it immediately after playing the trumpet for three years. I wanted to play something new and found that there was a lot of crossover, especially with the mouthpiece, so it was easy for me to make the switch.
However, because I did have some experience with wind instruments, I opted for a thicker bell diameter because I was an intermediate musician. Suppose you are an intermediate or advanced musician simply switching from one wind instrument to the piccolo trombone. In that case, you can get a thicker diameter and enjoy a bolder sound with better projection.
Material for the Best Piccolo Trombone
Brass has traditionally been used to form the body of a trombone, comprised of a copper and zinc alloy that is resistant to corrosion, at least in comparison to iron and provides a reflective and bright surface. The ratio of copper to zinc used to create the tubing will determine the timbre of the best bass trombone.
You can choose between yellow brass and gold brass for a bass trombone:
|Type of Material||Composition||Quality of Tone|
|Yellow brass||30% zinc + 70% copper||Bright and forceful timbre|
|Gold brass||15% zinc + 85% copper||Wide and full timbre|
You also have to decide on the type of finish you want for the outer surface. The type of finish you choose for the outer surface will help protect the metal material, especially against corrosion and rust. You can always tell when the kind of finish you have on your best Piccolo trombone is starting to wear out because your instrument will begin to rust.
Thankfully, if this does happen, there are quick and easy fixes. You don’t have to throw out your instrument and start afresh. Sometimes the damage is so bad that you have to need a professional to re-lacquer it, but that’s a small price to pay for keeping the instrument with which you are familiar.
The surface finish is either clear or gold lacquer. I recommend the clear lacquer if you like the brass composition’s natural color. The clear lacquer allows you to see the natural color in your gold brass or yellow brass. If you want a much brighter, shinier, and metallic exterior, the gold coating is better for you because it gives you the protective lacquer coating with bright gold paint.
|Type of Finish||What it Looks Like||Quality of Tone|
|Gold lacquer||Gold colored paint in a lacquer coating||Sharp, powerful sound|
|Clear lacquer||Transparent lacquer coating||Solid sound with more precise definitions for louder volumes|
How to Care for the Best Piccolo Trombone
Before you play the best piccolo trombone, you need to clean any dirt off the slide and apply some slide cream to the stockings or the bigger, thicker sections of your slide. You might also choose to use rotor oil to your rotary valves and wipe down the exterior so that there is no dirt or debris.
I wash my hands before I play my trombone every time. This helps to alleviate how much cleaning and polishing I have to do to the outside because I don’t transfer any oils or debris unnecessarily. This is not a requirement, but I would recommend you do so. I recommend you wash your hands before you practice any instrument because it will help extend the lifespan of the parts you touch most often.
You want to clean the slide daily or at least after you practice or play your trombone. To do this, start by opening your water key to remove any moisture inside the slide section. You can clean it with gauze inside the outer slide and inner slide.
Every week you should clean the tuning slide. Using polishing gauze, wrap it around your cleaning rod so that none of the metal is exposed and then insert it into the rod so you can get any dirt out.
You only want to apply a small amount of slide grease on the tuning slides. this video shows you how to do that:
It would help if you also cleaned the rotary valve each week. Apply rotor oil to the valve by way of the slide receiver. You want to make sure that you distribute the oil evenly by closing the valve cap after applying the oil and moving the lever a few times.
Don’t forget about your mouthpiece. I probably clean my mouthpiece more than I need to because I am a little OCD. Using a brass soap solution with 1 part brass soap to 10 parts warm water, I soak my mouthpiece brush in that solution and then clean the throat of the mouthpiece and rinse it with clean water. You can get away with doing this once every week; I tend to do it after every long performance or rehearsal, so about once every five hours of practice or play.
With a trombone, you have to make sure you regularly take care of your instrument, including cleaning for the small parts. To clean out the smaller sections of your trombone, you will need a brass soap.
I buy a run-of-the-mill brass soap online and then mix one part of the soap mix with ten parts of warm water. The type of brass soap you use might have different ratios, so follow those.
You will need a flexible cleaner brush that fits inside your instrument. I apply the cleaning solution to my brush; in the same way, I put soap on a washcloth and then use the brush to gently clean the inside of my instrument. Once I have finished cleaning all the interiors, I rinse it with warm water and pat it dry.
You can choose to pat it dry with gauze and then use slide grease or slide oil.
The Best Piccolo Trombones
Finding the best piccolo trombones can be difficult seeing as they are the smallest and not among the most popular. It is next to impossible to find the best Piccolo trombones on generic websites like Amazon so you have to order them directly from specialty trombone and Brass manufacturers. Thankfully, there are 2 main manufacturers:
Thein makes a popular piccolo (and piccolino) trombone. Personally, I like the models from Thein even if there isn’t a lot of leeway where the finish is concerned because I have never been let down by German engineering, and Thein instruments are made in Germany. I love the reliability of the tone and quality in this instrument.
- It uses a cornet shank mouthpiece
- It has the same pitch as a piccolo trumpet so trumpet players will feel very comfortable.
- It is made with yellow brass
- It only comes with a lacquered finish
- The bore is 11mm and the bell is 100 mm without any other options
Wessex has a stunning piccolo trombone which is a more affordable option, at around $350 plus free shipping. The company is based out of the UK but they make good quality brass with options to customize the accessories. Plus, you get a case and display stand with your order which is great.
- Same high Bb pitch as a piccolo trumpet
- 11.7 mm bore and 100mm bell
- Gold brass bell
- Wooden case to go with it
- Display stand for your instrument
- You can’t customize the mouthpiece material anymore so you only get silver
Answer: The piccolo trombone uses the treble clef for all sheet music.
Answer: There are plenty of people who should consider playing the piccolo trombone. Beginners who are smaller family members and unable to support the weight of a larger trombone start with the smaller Piccolo trombone.
Professionals who already play a tenor trombone can easily apply their skills to the higher pitches and notes achieved with a piccolo trombone, adding diversification to their musical portfolio and making themselves more competitive when it comes to coveted Orchestra or Ensemble positions.
Intermediate players who have a few years of experience with a tenor trombone or bass trombone but really like those higher notes in the soprano range should also consider playing the piccolo trombone because it allows applying the same set of skills while still achieving a higher range of notes.
Answer: There are plenty of situations where you might play a piccolo trombone. For example, you can play it on your own as a soloist. You can also play it in ensembles like brass groups, big bands, or orchestras.
Answer: If you have a trombone and the paint or finish is peeling, you might see small areas of copper rust on the metal surfaces. This copper rust is green-colored rust. You can either remove it or have the trombone repaired, depending on the location.
You can polish your instrument using metal polish, eliminating the rust build-up. If you notice rust on the part of your trombone that you touch every time you play, then you have to take it to a music shop so that it can be replated.
The bottom line is that knowing how to find the best Piccolo trombone comes down to picking an appropriate size with equally convenient features. If you are a beginner or have a child in your family who is just learning to play the trombone, the smaller size of a piccolo trombone and the brighter register might make it easy for them to develop and refine their breathing technique as they play.
Suppose you are an experienced musician who has already played the trumpet or experience different trombones. In that case, larger sizes for things like the bore and the bell shape will make it easy for you to find the best Piccolo trombone and start playing.
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