Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

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Digidog
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Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by Digidog »

As I was tuning up for practising yesterday, I came to wonder about how to best fine tune a bass trombone so its tuning will be consistent through its entire use.

Are there any good ways to fully (as good as possible, since its always a compromise) tune a double valve bass trombone, so partials with valves engaged line up nicely and low register alternative valve use works without adjusting slide positions and embouchure too much.

Tuning on first position fundamentals is basic, but after that? Checking fifths or second fundamental or the third after that - in certain - or special - valve configurations?

I am not primarily a bass trombonist and have never had a bass trombone lesson in my life (which I'm about to change) but since I get more and more work on bass, I'm curious about the finer tricks on how to prepare my horn for best use.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by sirisobhakya »

I tune as follows. Not saying my tuning is the best or the most correct (it is NOT), only for example.

Tuning Bb :bassclef: :space5: in 1st position against the bumper (and use 4th position for high D)
Low F :bassclef: :space0: in 1st position against the bumper with F valve
Low D in 1st position against the bumper with both valves

This leaves the Gb valve quite flat on its own, but I rarely use it for Gb in 1st position anyway.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by blast »

Different makes of bass trombone have different tuning idiosyncrasies. Use your ears....it's the only way to play in tune on anything.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by harrisonreed »

What Chris said ⬆️

My best results as a doubler have been to tune with Bb off the bumpers, and the main tuning slide either closed or out just enough for the Ab to align with the bell. My Edwards has to have the tuning slide pulled about .25"-.5" for this.

Tune the F attachment for F on the bumpers -- so far so good and it's just like my tenor.

On the Edwards I just pull the second valve as far as it goes (which is not that far). This gives me a flat D with both valves which is not useable in first, but low C (both valves) generally aligns with low Eb (one valve). For me this puts the Db, C and B in the best place for me, and keeps the F side just like I'm used to. I know there are masters of dexterity who go nuts switching from valve to valve, but I play indie bass like it's a dependent instrument and prefer to stay on the F side as much as I can. On the Yamaha I'd just pull that second valve until the Eb and C were exactly in line.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by sirisobhakya »

blast wrote: Mon Apr 15, 2024 4:14 am Different makes of bass trombone have different tuning idiosyncrasies. Use your ears....it's the only way to play in tune on anything.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by WGWTR180 »

Chris and others have some good thoughts here. Would be good to know what instrument you have. I tune a dependent instrument differently than an independent instrument.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by tbonesullivan »

WGWTR180 wrote: Mon Apr 15, 2024 6:10 am Chris and others have some good thoughts here. Would be good to know what instrument you have. I tune a dependent instrument differently than an independent instrument.
How does your tuning of the dependent vs independent vary? I pretty much tune mine the same, so I have an in tune low F and D just off the bumpers, and the Gb valve ends up where it will.

As others have said, different horns can and will tune differently, and/or require more/less pull on the valve tuning slides. My yamaha YBL-612 RII, for me at least, is best in tune with both the F and D tuning slides pulled out very little, even though the main tuning slide is out about an inch.

I also agree that using your ears really is best. I've tried to use a tuner to really get the valves tuned, but I often end up changing things after playing some parts because they just aren't as in tune as I would like.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by heldenbone »

Ooh, I like this game; I wanna play too.

I play a Getzen 1062 and a King Duo Gravis. I asked my tech to install springs on the Getzen slide, as it is very sharp without an extended first position. My first became "very lightly touching the springs," putting the main tuning slide about 5/8" out (1-1/4G mouthpiece). F attachment pull is almost an inch, to put first pos. F in the ballpark, and D slide is pulled 1/4" to put low D close to where it should be. With the springs, I can pull in, but seldom need to, unless the current key is pushing first pos. D sharp. Similar process for the Duo Gravis (already had slide springs, as my 4B-F), except its first pos. D is normally a little high compared to the surrounding F and Bb. Oddly, I experience this sharp D on the 4B-F too.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by JohnL »

tbonesullivan wrote: Mon Apr 15, 2024 6:23 am How does your tuning of the dependent vs independent vary? I pretty much tune mine the same, so I have an in tune low F and D just off the bumpers, and the Gb valve ends up where it will.
On a dependent instrument, you really have to tune the first valve as you would on a single - so you can play F2 and C3 in first. On an indy horn, you can tune the first valve a bit low and play F2 and C3 using the second valve. Not sure if anyone does it that way other than me (I also use a flat G tuning on my second valve).
Last edited by JohnL on Tue Apr 16, 2024 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by Burgerbob »

Bb in first

F in first (tune the one in the staff so they are the same)

then both valves to D above the staff

That's what I do!
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by brassmedic »

You can do it however you like. I tune it so low F is in tune in 1st. (My low F is flatter than my middle F). And I tune the Gb valve so I get low C in tune in 4th position.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by modelerdc »

brass medic wrote, " I tune it so low F is in tune in 1st. (My low F is flatter than my middle F). And I tune the Gb valve so I get low C in tune in 4th position."

This is what I do as well, it works on independents and is the best way in my opinion to tune a dependent bass.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by hyperbolica »

I tune almost exactly like @sirisobhakya. Bb out 1/2", 1st valve low F at the bumpers (only note tuned at the bumpers, so I usually tune this one first), C will be ~3/4" out. double valve Low D ~1/4" out. This puts 2nd valve Gb/Db about 2" out. The Kanstul tunes that way. My Conn 83h needs both valve slides pulled more, and the Gb isn't as far out, but it's roughly the same template. Get it adjusted so muscle memory can take over.

Yes, you have to use your ears, but most horns fall into a general pattern. When I've had horns that didn't fall into the pattern, I sold them. I had a nice Courtois small bore. Played beautifully, but I couldn't adjust to its tuning, so I set it free.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by ghmerrill »

It's pretty idiosyncratic and can depend on what pitches in what positions with/without what valves you want to "line up". If you read/work through Aharoni's book you may gain some insight -- or just become more confused and then make your own decisions based on what's best for you. But there's some insight there to be had.

I tend to look at an independent double valve bass as a collection of four physically coupled instruments -- basically a kind of ensemble with one mouthpiece. So you're always trying to tune that ensemble, but getting one or two parts of it "right" will affect the others. Live with it.

Also, look at what Doug Yeo has to say about it.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by JeffBone44 »

I've always wondered about this too. Currently I tune the F valve so that I can play F in 1st. This seems to make the C in 1st sharp, so I play that note a little bit further out, as well as the B natural. I also like having the Gb usable in first as well, so right now that's also in tune in 1st.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by ghmerrill »

That's pretty much how I tune mine -- and not worry about "alignment" of pitches so much. I've decided that for me, the best thing to do is to concede defeat in trying to view the bass trombone as a marvelously integrated instrument and just learn the habits of where the positions are on each of the four different horns. And then let ingrained habit product the pitch. That's only a couple dozen positions, right? I mean, it's not like trying to learn clarinet fingerings in three or four octaves, is it?
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by WGWTR180 »

I just don't get tuning the Bb out 1/2 inch from the bumper.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by ghmerrill »

I think that can't be right -- and I don't see @sirisobhakya saying that. ???
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by BGuttman »

Putting Bb out a bit allows you to get D above the staff (D4) better in tune since it tends to be flat.

Also, tuning F below the staff (F2) to be in tune at the bumpers means C in the staff (C3) will be out a few millimeters (about ¼ to ½ inch). Tuning the attachment to F in the staff (F3) or C in the staff (C3) means that F2 won't be in tune in 1st position.

I've found that tenor players tend to tune the attachment for C in 1st to be at the bumpers while bass players tend to tune for F to be at the bumpers.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by harrisonreed »

WGWTR180 wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 5:56 am I just don't get tuning the Bb out 1/2 inch from the bumper.
Back in the day they used to put springs in the cork barrels as a hint that that particular trombone was designed to be played that way. Those trombones will have the bell align with Ab, Bb in line with the springs, and you have lots of options in first, possibly even an in tune Ab. An added benefit is having shorter length in the tuning slide section, which improves the overall intonation of the horn like TIS lite.

Modern horns seem to be moving away from this. The Shires TIS alto, for example, send to be designed to tune the Eb flush with the bumpers, based on where the bell is at.

Sure, the advanced technique is to not think about the bell. But in my book the advanced technique is also to be able to play off the bumpers without that crutch, either.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by elmsandr »

WGWTR180 wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 5:56 am I just don't get tuning the Bb out 1/2 inch from the bumper.
I always want enough room to bring up anything in first high if needed.. and I never want to hit myself in the chops. I don’t try to line up the bell with anything like Harrison, but I prefer to make it so that my slide lock doesn’t close on any note, so at least that far.

If I put anything on the bumpers, I can’t get any notes there where I want them, for example if it is a minor third. I need at least 15 cents available to raise pitches.

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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by AtomicClock »

harrisonreed wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 7:36 am based on where the bell is at
Why would you think the bell location means anything?
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by ghmerrill »

I don't put anything "on the bumpers" (and for the various reasons given). Do people really do this (aside from those horns with the spring receivers)? And I think that Bruce's observation about "tenor" vs. "bass" players is probably accurate. I'm happy to live with my F-attachment C to be definitely off the bumpers (and similarly for the Gb/Db), and for my F to be "slightly" off the bumpers. But the "Bb out 1/2" " seems like a lot. Not sure I could do that without altering the tuning slide.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by hyperbolica »

ghmerrill wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 8:59 am I don't put anything "on the bumpers" (and for the various reasons given). Do people really do this (aside from those horns with the spring receivers)? And I think that Bruce's observation about "tenor" vs. "bass" players is probably accurate. I'm happy to live with my F-attachment C to be definitely off the bumpers (and similarly for the Gb/Db), and for my F to be "slightly" off the bumpers. But the "Bb out 1/2" " seems like a lot. Not sure I could do that without altering the tuning slide.
The flattest note I'm going to play in 1st position is low F, so that's the one I'm going to put the closest in to actually "on the bumpers". Everything else is going to be where it goes relative to that. C in the staff gets pushed out a certain amount, 0.75-1", tuning Bb is out .25-.5". Second trigger Gb is out ~2" depending on which horn I'm playing. High F is about 1.5" out.

Once you develop your system and get used to it, it's easier to nail intonation than to need to fish around for it.

I'm convinced that a lot of players practice their ears into submission, and they don't mind hearing notes out of tune. High F is a good example. A lot of people play that about an inch sharp.

I have to say that intonation isn't an absolute thing. It changes depending on who I'm playing with. Mostly, my current intonation system is built on playing with Ed, and Spencer almost works into that, but I haven't been playing with Nathan long enough to be really attuned to his intonation. Two other players are no longer in the group, and their intonation wasn't as easy to lock into as Ed's.

I have trouble playing lower trigger notes in tune. I'm always fishing for Eb, single trigger D, Db and C. Double trigger C lines up in almost 4th position, and single trigger Db is just about dead on 6th position.

For all of those people who complain about playing those boring exercises for bass bone with patterned or random trigger, double trigger and open notes, muscle memory intonation is part of the reason you do that. I never did that, as I'm mostly a self-taught, seat-of-the-pants bass player. I did spend a lot of time on a trigger tenor, though, so I'm part way there.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by WGWTR180 »

ghmerrill wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 6:39 am I think that can't be right -- and I don't see @sirisobhakya saying that. ???
What are you talking about? Is this in reference to my comment?
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by WGWTR180 »

harrisonreed wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 7:36 am
WGWTR180 wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 5:56 am I just don't get tuning the Bb out 1/2 inch from the bumper.
Back in the day they used to put springs in the cork barrels as a hint that that particular trombone was designed to be played that way. Those trombones will have the bell align with Ab, Bb in line with the springs, and you have lots of options in first, possibly even an in tune Ab. An added benefit is having shorter length in the tuning slide section, which improves the overall intonation of the horn like TIS lite.

Modern horns seem to be moving away from this. The Shires TIS alto, for example, send to be designed to tune the Eb flush with the bumpers, based on where the bell is at.

Sure, the advanced technique is to not think about the bell. But in my book the advanced technique is also to be able to play off the bumpers without that crutch, either.
Yes as my large bore tenor is an Elkhart 88H I'm aware. As far as where to slide and bell align that's subjective. If trombone were that easy....
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by ghmerrill »

WGWTR180 wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 9:36 am
ghmerrill wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 6:39 am I think that can't be right -- and I don't see @sirisobhakya saying that. ???
What are you talking about? Is this in reference to my comment?
Yes, the 1/2" doesn't seem reasonable to me.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by Kbiggs »

To the OP:

In short, no. While every instrument is different, tuning the different valve crooks is a matter of compromise and preference.

For the common Bb-F-Gb-D tuning, if a bass player tunes the 1st valve to C3 :space2: = in tune (for most playing/most chords) at the same distance as their B-flat , then the F3 :space0: will likely be flat and unusable. That will also affect their D2 tuning regardless of dependent or independent set-up. If the F is already slightly flat, then the low D will likely be flat as well, so the player will need to tune their Gb (independent) or D (dependent) valve crook slightly sharp.

The bass trombonist encounters similar problems if they decide to tune the F and Gb crooks slightly differently. If their F3 is in tune, then their D-crook will need to be slightly flat to accommodate a low D in more-or-less 1st position.

It’s really a decision which note or notes you want to be more accessible. Some people, like Chris Stearn here on TC, have several different instruments that can be tuned differently. (He also plays contra, and has several instruments with all sorts of weird tuning. But what can you expect from a Scot? ;) )Some players, like Paul Pollard and Blair Bollinger, prefer a G tuning or a flat-G tuning respectively, which they use in part because they have fewer large shifts with the handslide.

My guess is that most players nowadays use a variation of Bb-F-Gb-D tuning. Mine is: Bb slightly off the bumpers (yes it can be up to 1/2”); low F in tune (slightly off the bumpers) so that C3 is out even further; Gb is about 1 1/2” to 2” off the bumpers so that I can see the end of the slide tube; and low D is about 1” out. It leaves a low D in a slightly flat 1st position, and I still have a useable F in 1st position with the F valve, as well flat 2nd with the Gb valve.

Gabe Rice had a nice write-up a while ago; I’ll see if I can find it.

If you really want to go down the rabbit-hole, look at Eliezer Aharoni’s New Method for the Modern Bass Trombone. Or you could do what the crazy Scot said: use your ears.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by harrisonreed »

AtomicClock wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 7:54 am
harrisonreed wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 7:36 am based on where the bell is at
Why would you think the bell location means anything?
Because that location gives you an idea of how the horn was designed. It's not arbitrary, and a lot of it will have to do with the sound concept the designer was going for, but the relationship of the bell, Ab, and Bb is definitely taken into account. It's not a coincidence that:

1. On an 88H, if you tune the Ab to the bell, the tuning slide will be mostly closed, the Bb will be super sharp against the bumpers, but that horn used to ship with springs. Plus you still get a 7th position.

2. On a 3B, if you tune your Ab to the bell your tuning slide will be mostly in all the way, and you will have plenty of useable room for slide vibrato in first (which, given the intended use of that trombone makes sense), and a 7th position.

3. On the more modern Shires alto which is TIS and not sensitive to how far the tuning slide is pulled, if you tune the Db to the bell, the Eb is put almost exactly up against the bumpers, reflecting the more modern American idea about tuning. And you get a 7th position.

I get that there are people who don't care about that, and get on edge about others thinking about where the bell is. But caring about having your Bb exactly at the bumpers is the same thing, except worse because you can't physically go past the bumpers to play in tune.

Pedagogues pretending like we don't have physical or visual landmarks on the horn sounds macho, but it ain't true. A baseline built around the bell gives you visible and tangible clues about where the ensemble pitch is going, and by how much, in addition to clues from your primary asset -- your ears. By contrast, a baseline built around tuning so flat that you can't bring your Bb up with the hand slide in an already unusable first position (against the bumpers) is lacking in options and utility, and adds length to the horn in the worst spot possible. No benefits, from what I can tell, only negatives.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by WGWTR180 »

ghmerrill wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 10:02 am
WGWTR180 wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 9:36 am

What are you talking about? Is this in reference to my comment?
Yes, the 1/2" doesn't seem reasonable to me.
I didn't say that he did say that. Someone else did.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by ghmerrill »

WGWTR180 wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 10:33 am
ghmerrill wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 10:02 am

Yes, the 1/2" doesn't seem reasonable to me.
I didn't say that he did say that. Someone else did.
And I didn't say that you said that. However, my response was to your comment on the comment that said that, or so I thought. So I was agreeing with you and, in addition, saying that I didn't think the other reference (about which you had said something) was accurate. Having now said that, I don't think I can say any more without saying something that is even more confusing.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by WGWTR180 »

ghmerrill wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 10:48 am
WGWTR180 wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 10:33 am

I didn't say that he did say that. Someone else did.
And I didn't say that you said that. However, my response was to your comment on the comment that said that, or so I thought. So I was agreeing with you and, in addition, saying that I didn't think the other reference (about which you had said something) was accurate. Having now said that, I don't think I can say any more without saying something that is even more confusing.
HAHA! Well at least we're both confused!!!
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by Digidog »

Thanks for all the input, fellow Trombonians! Much appreciated!

I would want to clearly state that it goes without saying that listening is a given and included factor with my question. Not to dismiss those replies focusing on "using your ears", but I assume all you people posting here as trombone players, to all or any extent are forced to listen, because of the inherent nature of the instrument and its characteristics. So I assumed that people would see that I was asking for a discussion about tuning traits and possible handles, not to what extent someone is listening or not.
Kbiggs wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 10:03 am To the OP:

In short, no. While every instrument is different, tuning the different valve crooks is a matter of compromise and preference.

For the common Bb-F-Gb-D tuning, if a bass player tunes the 1st valve to C3 :space2: = in tune (for most playing/most chords) at the same distance as their B-flat , then the F3 :space0: will likely be flat and unusable. That will also affect their D2 tuning regardless of dependent or independent set-up. If the F is already slightly flat, then the low D will likely be flat as well, so the player will need to tune their Gb (independent) or D (dependent) valve crook slightly sharp.

The bass trombonist encounters similar problems if they decide to tune the F and Gb crooks slightly differently. If their F3 is in tune, then their D-crook will need to be slightly flat to accommodate a low D in more-or-less 1st position.

It’s really a decision which note or notes you want to be more accessible. Some people, like Chris Stearn here on TC, have several different instruments that can be tuned differently. (He also plays contra, and has several instruments with all sorts of weird tuning. But what can you expect from a Scot? ;) )Some players, like Paul Pollard and Blair Bollinger, prefer a G tuning or a flat-G tuning respectively, which they use in part because they have fewer large shifts with the handslide.

My guess is that most players nowadays use a variation of Bb-F-Gb-D tuning. Mine is: Bb slightly off the bumpers (yes it can be up to 1/2”); low F in tune (slightly off the bumpers) so that C3 is out even further; Gb is about 1 1/2” to 2” off the bumpers so that I can see the end of the slide tube; and low D is about 1” out. It leaves a low D in a slightly flat 1st position, and I still have a useable F in 1st position with the F valve, as well flat 2nd with the Gb valve.

Gabe Rice had a nice write-up a while ago; I’ll see if I can find it.

If you really want to go down the rabbit-hole, look at Eliezer Aharoni’s New Method for the Modern Bass Trombone. Or you could do what the crazy Scot said: use your ears.
This is very useful information and, along with some other similar discussing posts, is helpful and provoke reconsideration and testing of options and possibilities. Very helpful! Thank you Good Sir!
harrisonreed wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 10:08 am Because that location gives you an idea of how the horn was designed. It's not arbitrary, and a lot of it will have to do with the sound concept the designer was going for, but the relationship of the bell, Ab, and Bb is definitely taken into account. It's not a coincidence that:

1. On an 88H, if you tune the Ab to the bell, the tuning slide will be mostly closed, the Bb will be super sharp against the bumpers, but that horn used to ship with springs. Plus you still get a 7th position.

2. On a 3B, if you tune your Ab to the bell your tuning slide will be mostly in all the way, and you will have plenty of useable room for slide vibrato in first (which, given the intended use of that trombone makes sense), and a 7th position.

3. On the more modern Shires alto which is TIS and not sensitive to how far the tuning slide is pulled, if you tune the Db to the bell, the Eb is put almost exactly up against the bumpers, reflecting the more modern American idea about tuning. And you get a 7th position.

I get that there are people who don't care about that, and get on edge about others thinking about where the bell is. But caring about having your Bb exactly at the bumpers is the same thing, except worse because you can't physically go past the bumpers to play in tune.

Pedagogues pretending like we don't have physical or visual landmarks on the horn sounds macho, but it ain't true. A baseline built around the bell gives you visible and tangible clues about where the ensemble pitch is going, and by how much, in addition to clues from your primary asset -- your ears. By contrast, a baseline built around tuning so flat that you can't bring your Bb up with the hand slide in an already unusable first position (against the bumpers) is lacking in options and utility, and adds length to the horn in the worst spot possible. No benefits, from what I can tell, only negatives.
This I really agree on. Nicely and educationally written, too. Just listening can be very deceptive, without confirmation of references, if an ensemble or orchestra isn't very trimmed to common tonal reference points. In pop, or sometimes pit music and commercial ditto, it's not uncommon to tune down an A to 336-338Hz, sometimes lower, to facilitate many tonal and performing issues, and then I really need references besides my ears to not be tricked by old habits and preferences.

Besides that, pitch is also to some extent a matter of timbre as well, so that different timbres have to intonate differently to match the sum interference; I have noticed I intonate differently with a guitar than with a flute - and somewhat different with different flutes as well.

I have been tempted to try to tune in Bb/F/G, but I don't know if that really would facilitate anything for me and my playing circumstances; I am also quite fond of the ability to so easily slip by Gb on 1st position on my way downwards (not equally fun upwards, for some reason), and to do otherwise impossible mid-staff glissandos, using the second valve. But all this is something I'm regarding as my-work-in-progress.

I have gotten much food for thoughts from the discussion here, so once again: Thank you All!

Keep the discussion going, by all means, if there are more ideas that people pursue, in the bass trombone world of best possible compromises.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by Elow »

I tune my F valve to F and my G valve to G. I tune my open horn to a Bb, i think its simple and easy.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by ghmerrill »

Digidog wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 1:42 pm
I have been tempted to try to tune in Bb/F/G, but I don't know if that really would facilitate anything for me and my playing circumstances; ...
I got all enamored with this idea and some months ago actually made a G tuning slide for my horn and tried it out. I ended up not seeing any benefit to it (for me, at least). On the other hand, as part of that, I also switched the triggers so the thumb was G and the finger was F, and that complicated things in terms of evaluating the changeover. (I had to do that in order to avoid a lot of F/Gb valve circuit surgery that I didn't want to get into just to try out the idea -- so I could just swap tuning slides with no other mods.)

Mostly I didn't like how it lost me the D combination utility. But I may play with it again some time in the future. It was a difference with obvious trade-offs. I still -- conceptually -- like the idea of the G rather than Gb approach, but not so much as a matter of practice.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by blast »

Okay.....using your ears is my 'get out of jail free' card. It's what you should do all the time...
How I tune my horn ?
First off, I know my instruments really, really, really, really well. REALLY well. So, I fine tune the basic instrument and valves to sit everything where I want it to be. I can then just do my job. I tune the main horn with the slide a little out. The F attachment to low F in valve first ,with the main handslide all the way in and the second valve to flat Eb both valves in first. Why ? To many reasons....none of general value....
Know your instrument. Use your ears.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by Finetales »

I do:
- Bb at the bumpers
- F valve to F, matching the position for open F in the staff (slightly off the bumpers)
- Gb valve all the way in

I like my Gb and D positions to be out a little. This method puts low C basically in 4th with both valves, and C in the staff at nearly 3rd with the Gb valve. But it also puts you at the mercy of how long that bass trombone's Gb loop is...I've tried some horns where it's too flat for my liking all the way in. The way I like it is basically halfway to Bollinger tuning...or maybe more than halfway? I've never actually tried a horn in that tuning.

Everyone tunes their horn differently. Just gotta experiment and find what's right for you.

Funnily enough, I know quite a few bass trombonists in the area who use G valves. Gb is by far the dominant tuning in general, but I've been to many trombone hangs/reading sessions where I was the only one with a Gb valve.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by hornbuilder »

Harrison.
I really think you're overthinking the whole bell placement idea. I have never had one single conversation with anyone in the manufacturing industry about bell position. Ever. I have certainly had "players" talk about it! But never designers/makers. I know the idea of lining the bell rim up with a particular position for a certain note is not something "I" have ever considered, either from a design or playing perspective. Having a 7th position available is dependent entirely on having sufficient telescoping slide tube length to get the pitch low enough. Bell position is irrelevant to that.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by Burgerbob »

As someone who plays a lot of trombones... I cannot refer to the bell for anything. As far as my slide is concerned, it's not there.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by AtomicClock »

I find it funny how many pros on Youtube still reach for the bell in third. Habits learned as a child are hard to break. My marching slide was so bad I needed leverage to pull it into tune!
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by tbonesullivan »

Digidog wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 1:42 pmBesides that, pitch is also to some extent a matter of timbre as well, so that different timbres have to intonate differently to match the sum interference; I have noticed I intonate differently with a guitar than with a flute - and somewhat different with different flutes as well.

I have been tempted to try to tune in Bb/F/G, but I don't know if that really would facilitate anything for me and my playing circumstances; I am also quite fond of the ability to so easily slip by Gb on 1st position on my way downwards (not equally fun upwards, for some reason), and to do otherwise impossible mid-staff glissandos, using the second valve. But all this is something I'm regarding as my-work-in-progress.

I have gotten much food for thoughts from the discussion here, so once again: Thank you All!
A trombone doesn't have any set intonation in terms of a tuning system like meantone, just, 12TET, etc. It's a giant tuning slide, so you use your ears. I also play guitar, and have seen several attempts to change the tuning system for better sonority, but it's just a stopgap measure. Just remember that if you are going to play Running with the Devil by Van Halen, to tune down the B string to a just third above the G. That's how Eddie got that sound, and then would retune for other songs.

My bass trombone journey started with a dependent horn, my Yamaha 612, and it came with both an Eb and D crook for the second valve. I tried the Eb valve for a while, which apparently is popular with some Commercial / Jazz players, but I settled on the Bb/F/D tuning, and played that for years.

Then, a few years back, I finally decided to get an independent horn, and got a kinda beat up Silver Yamaha 613H, which came with G and Gb crooks for the second valve. I tried really hard to use the G valve as much as possible, but honestly 4th position is right in the middle of the slide, and easily reachable from any other position. I also missed having that first position D, and having to go out so far for the low B natural just didn't work for me.

So, I decided then to go with the "standard" tuning, and haven't looked back. I sold the YBL-613H, picked up a YBL-830, and have been very happy with the choice.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by ghmerrill »

tbonesullivan wrote: Wed Apr 17, 2024 7:52 am I tried really hard to use the G valve as much as possible, but honestly 4th position is right in the middle of the slide, and easily reachable from any other position. I also missed having that first position D, and having to go out so far for the low B natural just didn't work for me.
I think that's a good summary of some of the major issues with a G valve -- independent of some compensating advantages it may offer.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by Digidog »

blast wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 3:36 pm
First off, I know my instruments really, really, really, really well. REALLY well.
Do you mean somewhere around 200 kiloKnowledge/second or, like, 50 Obediance/cm2?
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by ghmerrill »

Digidog wrote: Wed Apr 17, 2024 8:20 am Do you mean somewhere around 200 kiloKnowledge/second or, like, 50 Obediance/cm2?
No, that would be some kind of knowledge rate. I think we're talking magnitude of knowledge here. In that case "really, really, really, really well" might be on the order of magnitude of 10**10**10**10 know-ons, where a know-on is the basic unit of knowledge. It's a lot.
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by Digidog »

ghmerrill wrote: Wed Apr 17, 2024 9:16 am No, that would be some kind of knowledge rate. I think we're talking magnitude of knowledge here. In that case "really, really, really, really well" might be on the order of magnitude of 10**10**10**10 know-ons, where a know-on is the basic unit of knowledge. It's a lot.
That is a tremendous amount of knowledge :amazed:

Enough to rock even my tectonic ignorance! :eek:
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by imsevimse »

1. Tune Bb off the bumper.
2. Tune first valve middle F pos V1 on the bumper and match that with the straight horn same middle F. Of course that straight horn F needs to be played lower than the Bb since it is sharp compared to the Bb which is already off the bumper. I also check the F on 6:th position on the straight horn against the trigger F on V1.
3. I tune the second valve on pos VV3 to be on same pos as G on straight horn 4:th pos. I just listen and tune that 5:th to be at the same spot. Then I usually check the d on VV1 on the system if it matches the same d on the straight horn slightly flat 4:th pos. I don't care if they do not match I just need to know since this is how I tune all my dependant double valves and they can be a bit different. I usually do not use the double trigger for D on VV1 if not an exception.

/Tom
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by blast »

Digidog wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 3:24 am
ghmerrill wrote: Wed Apr 17, 2024 9:16 am No, that would be some kind of knowledge rate. I think we're talking magnitude of knowledge here. In that case "really, really, really, really well" might be on the order of magnitude of 10**10**10**10 know-ons, where a know-on is the basic unit of knowledge. It's a lot.
That is a tremendous amount of knowledge :amazed:

Enough to rock even my tectonic ignorance! :eek:
If I just say really well, the statement is largely dismissed. The emphasis has got you guys talking if nothing else. You need to know your instrument inside out...debate that if you want......
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by ghmerrill »

blast wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 7:51 am
If I just say really well, the statement is largely dismissed.
Never! :shock:
blast wrote: You need to know your instrument inside out...debate that if you want......
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Re: Tuning a bass trombone (trombones with valves)?

Post by Kbiggs »

One perspective on tuning: Tune the valves however you want. Then listen.

It’s tempting to think, “I tuned my instrument. Therefore, I am playing in tune. It must be so.” Not so. Tuning and intonation are related, but they’re not the same.

Major and minor chords are tuned differently, even though both contain a P5, M3, and m3. A minor 7th chord is tuned differently depending on whether it’s part of a major chord, a minor chord, a diminished chord, or some other chord structure.

When you start talking about the German, Neopolitan, and French 6th chords, intonation tend to be slight different again because tuning doesn’t simply exist in vertical alignment. Just like phrasing, intonation must be considered in context. If the leading tone of a dominant V7 chord is out of tune (played sharp like a lot of people say it “should” be played), the chord will not sound right, and the resolution, alternate resolution, or key change will sound off.

And then there’s jazz, and borrowed chords, and quartal/quintal harmony, and quarter tones, and microtones, and…

Yes, we need to know our instruments inside out. (And I know I need to do MUCH better at this.) Tuning the valves is just the beginning. Tune your valves consistently—that’s your baseline. Then use your ears, and be willing to change what you think you hear.

***
Having said that, part of my practice today will be playing with drones. I’ve been teaching a lot of beginning trumpet students lately and it’s starting to show… :( :roll:
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