We’ve all seen a professional musician playing on a beautiful instrument, one that is most likely way out of our budgets. Sometimes we start to look down on an instrument because it’s not “pretty,” and I think that’s a stigma we should break.
Your horn doesn’t have to be pretty to play well. It’s just a fact. Many of us receive our instruments as hand-me-downs, or maybe the ones we bought used have some finish imperfections and don’t look new or shiny. This is totally okay! Many professional players got famous on instruments that aren’t the best looking, and that’s because it’s about the sound of your instrument. Sure, it’s nice to have your instrument look super sparkly all the time, but not necessary.
I like to bring up the example of Louis Armstrong’s first cornet. It’s currently on display in the museum that was his home growing up, but that horn has a lot of issues, from an aesthetic and a repair standpoint.
Obviously there are certain things we must consider; if there is an aesthetic “boo-boo” that disrupts the playing ability/functioning of the instrument, it’s time to take action, but most aesthetic issues don’t affect the instrument in that way.
What I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t be discouraged if your horn doesn’t look awesome. If you enjoy playing it and it sounds good to you, that’s the baseline for what matters. If you’re concerned about the way your horn looks, bring it on in for me to take a look at! We can see if what’s going on has anything to do with structural integrity, or playability. We can discuss aesthetic-improving options. See you soon!
The trombone hand slide is a delicate part of the instrument, and its mobility is extremely important to playing the instrument. There are so many different oils and creams on the market, but how do you know which one is right for you? Let’s talk a little bit about them.
Tuning Slide Lubricant vs. Playing Slide Lubricant
Your tuning slide and playing slide (hand slide) have two different jobs. We expect the tuning slide to stay in place where we adjust it to, whereas the hand slide should move freely throughout its entirety. Some players use two different lubricants on the different slides. For an example, let’s look at two of the cream products Superslick offers. Superslick’s Tuning Slide Grease would be a good choice for the tuning slide, as it is thicker and would let the slide move, while still being able to hold its place. Superslick’s Trombone Cream would be suitable for the hand slide, allowing it to move without needing force.
Should I Use Oil or Cream? And Which One?
As with many things in the musical world, like cases, instrument materials/models, or mouthpieces, slide lubrication comes down to personal preference. I know, experimenting with lubricants can seem daunting, with there being so many, but I promise you it will be worth it. We carry 5 different options for hand slide lubrication, and there are so many more. Why do we carry those 5? Because local players and our technicians have experimented and found they like these ones, so we carry them for you to try too! It may take a bit to find what you prefer, but that’s okay. It’s one of the fun adventures you’ll get to take as a musician. In the meantime, ask your instructor, band mates, or technician what they prefer for a starting point.
Some Local Recommendations
George Wiese says…
Ponds Cold Cream. “I tried Trombotine and a Yamaha cream for a while, but it didn’t work as well as the Ponds.” George advise the cold cream and a small spray bottle with water. He says it “Works beautifully! The water spray will reanimate the cream a few times too, so you don’t have to do the whole [application] process every time.”
Jack Sullivan says…
Ponds Cold Cream or Yamaha Slide Lubricant. “I used [Ponds] for a while and found it very effective (it also feels much more natural on the fingers than oil, and smells nicer too!)…Right now I am using Yamaha’s new Trombone Slide Lubricant, which seems to be between oil and cream. It looks like snot, but it works really well. When it’s been on the slide a while it doesn’t dry out like creams do, but it provides more of a smooth sliding experience than oils.”
Nicole LaRoche says…
Hetman’s Slide Oil or Superslick TSI. “I use Hetman’s concentrate and a spray bottle of water on my main/newer horn, I like the ease of application and the way it feels, plus it helps protect my slide from red rot while it’s in there.. But, on my older horn that has intermittent some issues in the slide I use the VSI. The silicone beads up on the slide, acting sort of like a ball bearing, compensating for the imperfections in the old slide… I’m constantly changing up what I use, just to see what products are out there.”