Tuning slides are an essential component of the trombone that affects both the sound, intonation, slotting and articulation of your instrument. It is also an easy part experiment with because it is easily exchanged without major surgery or extensive modification. The big question is, what will a new tuning slide do for your instrument. That is a difficult question to answer, but here are some tips to help guide you, should you be curious to try out a new tuning slide on your instrument.
It is often thought that a combination of metals is a good thing on the trombone. For example, if you have a yellow brass bell, a gold or red brass tuning slide usually works very well to soften the aggressive nature of articulations on a yellow bell and give you a balanced sound. Likewise, a yellow tuning slide on a red brass bell can give clarity to a sometimes covered sound, bring you focus and again a balanced sound. What about when you mix the same color material? Well, that can work too and I find it gives an even more pronounced character to the instrument... red brass bells sound even warmer with a gold or red crook, while yellow bells sound even more powerful and pointed.
We offer a variety of crooks from a few makers for your instruments. Most of the time, these tuning slides will fit without any modification and plug right into your instrument... however, the handmade nature of brass instruments will often account for some variation from trombone to trombone and it may require a quick trip to your local repairman to properly fit a tuning slide. We've had success with this trick to remove stress if a slide is fitting on the tight side: With the new tuning slide pushed all the way in, heat the center brace just to the point where the solder can melt and firm up. This usually fixes any tightness in the slide. This can usually be done without burning lacquer. On rare occassions, it may require a brace to be removed and resoldered to correct alignment. The best case scenario is to send your bell section in and we can fit it for you here at our shop, or even custom fabricate a tuning slide for you.
Brass Ark crooks are currently available as RAW BENDS only in seamed yellow, gold or red brass. $275 for the bend
These German made tuning slides are quickly becoming all the rage as players discover their unique tonal qualities and improvements over stock Bach 36/42/50 tuning slides. Matthias makes these parts from sheet material and rolls and brazes them together to make the taper of the tube. He then forms it and assembles it. Unique to this tuning slide, ferrules are on the outside of the tube, rather than a gap between tuning slide and leg. Available in copper or nickel silver, lacquered, with our without a cross brace.
Well, how do they play. I own one of the copper tuning slides for my personal Bach 42 and I can report that the response was more even and free blowing, especially in the upper register. It yields a warmer more colorful sound that removes some of the "unrefined" edginess a Bach can sometimes have in the louder dynamics. I also found that it helped to blend the sound in the section. I try to keep a few of these tuning slides in stock for immediate shipment. Otherwise, please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.