Trumpet Vs Trombone – What Is the Difference Between Them?

People sometimes mistake the trombone for the trumpet and vice versa. They do look the same, and both belong to the brass family. But, how are they different?

Here’s a table for a quick look to compare the two instruments:

TrumpetTrombone
SizeAround 7 feet longAround 9 feet long
Main pieceValvesSlides
PitchHighLow
UsageOrchestrasClassical Music
MaintenanceWipe down then apply oil after use.Wipe down then apply oil after use. Very delicate when dented or bent.
EmbouchureSmaller mouthpieceBigger mouthpiece

Read on to learn more about the trumpet and trombone, how they differ, how you should play them, and much more.

How Are the Trumpet and Trombone Different?

trumpet vs trombone
Trumpet

While you can find trombone and trumpet playing together in bands, it’s easy to make the mistake of calling one for the other. To help you differentiate them, let’s list the characteristics that make them different:

1. Size

This is probably the easiest difference to spot between the trumpet and the trombone. The trumpet is smaller than the trombone. Trumpets are commonly approximately 7 feet long, while the trombone is around 9 feet long.

The trumpet is one of the smallest instruments in the brass classification. Because of the size difference, many younger beginner players pick the trumpet over the trombone for the simple reason that a smaller instrument is easier to play.

2. Valves and Slides

Simply put, a trumpet has valves, and a trombone has slides. The valves in a trumpet are responsible for increasing or lowering the pitch. The slides in a trombone are responsible for the pitch in two pipes. This makes it easy to spot a trombone when in a band because of the sliding action done by the player.

Trumpet valves are controlled using the first three fingers of a player’s right hand. The left hand is used to hold the instrument firm. On a trombone, the right hand is used to control the slide. The left-hand holds the trombone firmly.

3. Pitch

The trombone is considered a low brass instrument. It has a pitch that is much lower than that of the trumpet. The trumpet is the highest pitch-sounding instrument in the brass classification.

4. Usage

Both the trumpet and the trombone are used in orchestras, marching bands, and jazz bands. For classical music, however, trumpets are more often used.

5. Maintenance

Proper maintenance is always important to keep any instrument running smoothly. To keep the trumpet in tip-top condition, you need to wipe down the instrument after using it. It will also require regular oiling so that it is kept well-lubricated.

Maintaining the trombone is a little bit more delicate. It will also require regular oiling for the slide, but you need to be extra careful when you do so. When you dent or bend the slide or tuning slide, you can completely damage the instrument even ever so slightly.

To prevent this from happening, some trombonists have professionals take care of oiling their trombone.

6. Embouchure

Embouchure refers to how a musician applies their mouth to the mouthpiece of a brass or wind instrument. The trumpet needs an embouchure that is more concentrated to have more control as compared to the trombone.

They say that facial features contribute to the ease and comfort of playing the trumpet and the trombone. Some musicians find it easier to play the trumpet with their facial features, and some find it easier to play the trombone.

7. Demand

There are more trumpet players than trombone players, so it follows that there is a demand and need for more trombonists. If you’re choosing between learning to play the trumpet or trombone and you want to play professionally, consider that a trombonist will have more opportunities because of the demand.

More on the Trumpet

The trumpet is a brass instrument musicians often use in classical music and jazz ensemble. In the brass family, the trumpet is the highest-sounding:

Brief History of the Trumpet

The trumpet dates back to at least 1500 BC when they signal battles or hunting. In the late 14th century or maybe the early 15th century, musicians created music using a trumpet.

Experts found two trumpets in King Tutankhamen’s grave – one silver and one bronze dated back to 1500 BC. These trumpets are proof of their use during this period. They also found trumpets in Scandinavia and China that go back to that period.

In the Bible, the trumpets Shofar and the Hatzotzeroth were played in Solomon’s Temple over 3,000 years ago. These were the trumpets responsible for blowing down the walls of Jericho.

As time went by, musicians improved and redesigned the trumpet. During the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, metal-making strengthened the trumpet and turned it into a musical instrument. Today, creating music with trumpets is a thriving art all over the world.

Types of Trumpets

The smallest trumpets are called piccolos. The most commonly used trumpet is the B♭ trumpet. There are, however, different types of trumpets like:

  1. A
  2. C
  3. D
  4. E
  5. F
  6. G
  7. E♭

In American orchestras, the C trumpet is played with the B♭ trumpet.

How to Play a Trumpet

To play the trumpet, you need proper lip technique:

  • Press your lips together making sure that the corners of your mouth are tight;
  • Blow air with a buzzing sound through your lips while you clench your lips;
  • Blow into the mouthpiece while you press it gently to your lips; and
  • To adjust the pitch, you’ll need to adjust the opening of your mouth. With patience and practice you’ll get use to this step.

How to Hold a Trumpet

  • To hold the trumpet, use your left hand to wrap it around the body of your trumpet;
  • Have your thumb go around the loop connected to the trumpet valve that’s nearest the mouthpiece;
  • Have your right hand go over the trumpet valves with the three middle fingers controlling and pressing the valves; and
  • Relax your shoulders, blow into the trumpet and enjoy the music you create:

How to Change the Trumpet’s Pitch

Changing the pitch while you’re playing the trumpet will take a lot of practice and diligence. You have to buzz your lips faster or slower to raise or lower the pitch. The resulting pitch will depend on the volume of vibrating air in the tube.

The length of the tube also plays a role. A longer tube will give a lower pitch because there is more volume of air. The player will need to either press the valves or elongate the tube to play all chromatic scale notes.

Again, trumpet vs trombone-What are the differences between the two? The most apparent difference between trumpet and trombone is their pitch-changing mechanism and size. Compared to a trombone, a trumpet is smaller, with valves you can use to change pitch. Meanwhile, a trombone is bigger with slides that you can push or pull to change pitch.

More on the Trombone

trumpet vs trombone sound
Trombone

The trombone belongs to the brass family. It comes from the word Tromba, which, in Italian, means “large trumpet.” It is used in marching bands, orchestras, military bands, and many more:

Brief History of the Trombone

During the Renaissance period, the trombone was famous as The “Sackbut,” a term that came to be used in court during the time of King Henry.

In the mid-17th century, the sackbut was already being used widely all over Europe. It was played in concerts, liturgical and outdoor activities. Trombonists worked with trumpetists in city towers and would call out the arrival of people of importance. These trombonists were different, however, from those trombonists who played for music.

When the trombone started being used in England for music in the 17th century, Italian music was beginning to flourish, and so it was called trombone, which means “little trumpet.”

During the Romantic period, the trombone was often used in concerts, orchestras, and other events. And soon, trombone education became popular, and wind bands were formed.

Today, musicians still use the trombone in jazz bands, orchestras, and many other musical groups and events.

How To Play the Trombone

To play the trombone, form your lips into an “O” shape:

  • Bring the mouthpiece of the trombone to your lips, inhale and then blow through the mouthpiece;
  • The corners of your mouth must be closed, and only the “O” shape must remain open;
  • To control or change the pitch, tighten your lips for higher pitches; and
  • Blow faster air also for high pitches. For lower pitch, you’ll need to loosen your lips. Make sure that your jaw is naturally tilted.

How to Hold a Trombone

To hold the trombone, use your left hand to grasp onto the screw joint:

  • Your index finger should touch the mouthpiece, and your thumb should be around the bar that’s nearest to the mouthpiece;
  • There’s a vertical bar that should be below your index finger;
  • Grip this vertical bar with your remaining two fingers;
  • Your right hand should grip the part of the slide that moves;
  • Your right hand will control the movement of the slide; and
  • Then, relax your shoulders and blow into the mouthpiece:

How to Change the Trombone’s Pitch

The pitch of the trombone is changed with the trombonist’s mouth. Remember, there are no finger holes on a trombone, so the pitch is changed with the player’s mouth. A tighter lip structure on the mouthpiece gives a higher pitch, and a looser one gives a lower pitch. Notes on a trombone are played via a mix of slide movement and how you blow.

Types of Trombones

There are three types of trombones, namely:

  1. B♭ Tenor Trombone
  2. Bass Trombone
  3. Alto Trombone

The B♭ Tenor Trombone is the most basic type of trombone. These are the ones that are most often used in orchestras and bands. The other types of trombones are Bass Trombone and Alto Trombone.

Which Is Easier to Play? Trumpet or Trombone?

trumpet vs trombone difficulty

Some musicians say that brass instruments are sometimes more challenging to play as compared to strings or percussions. But, learning any instrument will require dedication, persistence, tenacity, and resilience. With that comes significant benefits, and it’s always worth it.

The trombone is a heavier and bigger instrument, but it’s easier to create sound because it has a bigger mouthpiece.

The trumpet is smaller, and so for that simple reason, it’s easier to handle while playing, and it has valves that can be easier to press than the slides of a trombone.

Conclusion: Trumpet Vs. Trombone

The trumpet and trombone are both members of the brass family. They are both instruments that a musician plays by blowing through a mouthpiece. If you’re looking at comparing them to see which one best suits you for playing or want to know how they’re different, here’s a recap:

  1. A trombone and trumpet differ in size. A trumpet is smaller so you can handle them more easily.
  2. A trumpet has valves, a trombone has slides.
  3. Trumpet can produce a high pitch sound, while a trombone has low pitch.
  4. A trumpet is basically easy to clean and maintain. A trombone is much more delicate as any damage to the slides will make it unplayable.
  5. There are more trumpetists than trombonists so the demand for trombonists are greater.