Dr. Deb Scott

Return to Tips for Trombone

Trombone Tuning

by Dr. Deb Scott
Assistant Professor of Music
SFA School of Music


Tuning the Main Tuning Slide

  • Tune the main tuning slide on all trombones to top of the staff Bb.  The trombone is pitched in concert pitch (Bb=Bb), however it is called trombone in Bb.

  • F-attachments should be tuned to fourth line F, thus allowing the bottom of the staff F (an octave lower) to be in tune in first position.

  • Bass trombonists should tune their main tuning slide and their F attachments as above.  The D or Eb attachment should be tuned to the middle of the staff D or Eb in first position respectively.

Slide Positions

  • The trombone can play perfectly in tune or atrociously out of tune depending on the knowledge and attention given to slide positions.

  • First position -- Slide fully in, lightly touching the corks or springs.

  • Second position -- About an inch and a half of the inner slide showing.

  • Third position -- Brace even with or slightly above the end of the bell.

  • Fourth position -- Top of outer slide even with or slightly below the end of the bell.

  • Fifth position -- (no man's land) about half-way between fifth and sixth positions.

  • Sixth position -- About an inch above the stockings (the line at the end of the outer slide) or a comfortable arm's length.

  • Seventh position -- About an inch and a half past the stockings.  his is as far as most people can reach.

  • For short arms: Use tips of two fingers releasing thumb from brace to reach seventh.  Move right shoulder in.  Extremely short arms may need to tie a string from finger to brace and "throw" the slide.

  • All positions should be checked with a tuner frequently, especially f# in 5th, low c in 6th, and low b in 7th.  Remember that young students will be growing (and so will their arms.) 

  • There is no substitute for a good ear. Hearing intonation problems can be taught. It is important to remind students to listen to what they are playing.


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