Trigger Trombone

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Are you ready to advance from a straight tenor trombone to one with an F-Attachment?  Check out the Trigger Trombone Guide to learn about various options like string vs. mechanical linkage, open wrap or traditional wrap, or different kinds of valves.

Want to be the envy of the trombone section?  Our Trigger Trombone Reviews will tell you the pros and cons of some of the most popular and proven trombone brands like Bach, Conn, King, Holton, Blessing, and Yamaha. 

Why the F Trigger Attachment?

There are two advantages to using a tenor trombone with an F trigger attachment: one is musical and the other is operational:

The Musical Advantage

Straight tenor trombones are pitched in the key of B flat which gives it the chromatic range of E below the bass clef to Bb above the middle C. When you attach extra tubing, typically pitched in the key of F and accessed through a trigger operated valve, you then extend the chromatic range of the trombone down to low C, or by a perfect 5th. In other words, you have a very flexible instrument with a wide range.

The Operational Advantage

Intermediate trombonists who are advancing from a straight slide trombone to the F attachment find a trigger trombone much easier to play. You can access notes higher up on the slide that are played further down the slide on a straight trombone. For example, F which is played in the 6th position can be played in the first position with a trigger. Advanced trombonists love the quicker access to notes as they are accessible in different positions with the trigger.

History of the Trigger Trombone

Trigger trombones (those with an F attachment) are a mechanical modification of the straight slide trombone. The modern trombone evolved from a 15th

century English instrument called a sackbut which looks very similar to a straight tenor trombone.

Many historians agree that the first brass instrument with a slide was a smaller, higher pitched instrument like a trumpet and the hand slide was later applied to the sackbut which eventually evolved to the slide trombone. Traditionally, the tone produced by a trombone was accomplished strictly through adjustments in slide and embouchure. Due to simplicity of design, a typical ochestral trombone section consisited of an alto in E flat, a tenor in B flat, and a bass in F.

In 1839, a German instrument maker by the name of Christian Friedrich Sattler recognized that he could add tubing within the bell section of a Bb tenor trombone to access the range produced by an F bass trombone thus combining two intruments into one. The added tubing which could turn the Bb tenor into an F bass was actuated by a trigger operated by the thumb. Ever since, this has been the basic design of the Bflat/F trombone, also known as the F-attachment or trigger trombone.