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JZ Music Bb/F/Gb/D Bass Trombone Outfit with Case

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This listing is for a JZ Music Bb/F/Gb/D Bass Trombone Outfit with Hardshell Case

What is the difference between a Bass and Tenor Trombone?

Sizing Up

When you look at both the bass and tenor, it is almost as if you’re seeing two of the same thing. But that’s understandable as they have hardly any physical differences at all.

In general, basses have a bigger bell, a more sizable bore size, and a larger mouthpiece. These modifications allow the instrument a darker, richer sound when playing the low notes while sounding hazy and duller as the notes get higher.

But good bass players like the ones can often play notes at incredible ranges. Something that is only possible after years of practice and dedication.

In contrast, the smaller stature of the tenor allows it to sound sharper and livelier while hitting the high notes while sounding less powerful in the lower register.


Length of Tubing

Starting from the length of the tubing, both the bass and the tenor come in at 9 feet in their entirety or 2.7 meters when fully outstretched.

Aside from its length and general design, this is the only figure where the two instruments are exactly similar. From here on, everything is pretty much different from each other.

Bore Size

Expressed in thousands of an inch, the bore refers to the inner diameter of the inner slide. This measurement remains fairly consistent through the instrument’s tubing save for the bell flare, where the tubing gets wider, and the mouthpiece where the tubing assumes a tapered shape.

Trombone SlidesSmaller bore horns produce a brighter and sharper sound whereas larger bore horns make a warmer, bigger sound.

Bore size also affects the playing characteristic of the instrument. Small-bore horns require less air to play whereas larger bore horns need more breath to produce sound.

The typical bore sizes vary from jazz models at 0.450”, to 0.500” for student models, 0.547” for orchestral models, and all the way to 0.562″ for bass trombones.

Bell Size

Thanks to its distinctive shape, even those who are not acquainted with the instrument can easily identify the bell.

The air that the player blows from his mouth travels throughout the instrument and emerges out of the bell as the distinct, metallic sound.

Valves and Triggers

One of the main differences between the two is the presence of different valves and triggers on the two types of trombones.

The Tenor is pretty much straightforward and does not include any tubing within the main section. This configuration earned them the nickname “Straight Tenor.”

On the other hand, the bass is a little bit more complex than the former. Brasses have a variety of configurations that affect the range of keys that the instrument can be played in.

Mainly, these are the single rotor configuration and double rotor configuration. Other times, they can also be referred to as the independent and dependent configurations, respectively.

Types of Tenor and Bass Trombones

Single Rotors are equipped with an “F rotor” pretty much like the Bb/F tenor. However, it comes with a larger bore, more gradual bell taper, and bigger bell diameter.

Meanwhile, basses equipped with double rotor systems have two sets of rotors. But to engage the second, both the valves should be engaged at the same time.

Thus the key variations are Bb (open valves), F (first valve engaged), and Eb (both valves engaged).

There is also another type called a double in-line independent rotor system available to the brasses. These types of the instrument allow both rotors to be engaged separately from each other.

The result is an addition of an extra key variation that the instrument can play in. These are the Bb (open), F (first valve engaged), Eb (both valves engaged), and G (second valve engaged).

To allow for greater flexibility and key permutations, most independent system instruments have an additional slide for the second rotor section. Read this article, to give you a better insight on what bass trombones to choose.

Pitch and Range

Contrary to common knowledge, the bass and tenors are both pitched at B♭. This makes the bass and tenor essentially the same.

The only difference is that the bass comes with two extra rotary valves. These valves allow the instruments to play lower notes.

The first valve transposes the instrument to an F while the second valve transposes the instrument to either G♭ or G. If a player engages both valves at the same time, it will transpose the key to either a D♭ or D depending on the instrument’s configuration.

Tenor and Bass Trombones Ranges

When it comes to range, several factors affect the effective range of both instruments. Without any fixtures, the bass can play from B♭1 to B♭4 while the tenor can play from E2 to F5.

But you know what, a fixture can allow the tenor to hit lower notes and lower the fundamental note from B♭1 to F1?

Can’t believe it? We’ll have more of that later.

What the Seasoned Players Say

While the two instrument’s ranges overlap upon each other, most trombonists are very particular when it comes to playing certain notes?

Low Register

What Trombonists SayTrue to their nomenclature, the bass trombone is easier to play at the lower register. Skilled players can easily play the low notes down into the pedal range.

The larger capacity of the bass also allows quick translation between notes below the staff while the tenor’s response is sluggish and not as crisp as the former.

When it comes to playing low notes, another instrument, the tuba comes to mind. Read about how the two are different here.

Middle Register

The middle register seems like a sweet spot to both instruments as both can easily produce a full and enriched sound.

High Register

As expected, the tenor has the advantage when the notes get higher and higher on the staff. Tenors can easily attain and sustain notes in the high register whereas it is more taxing to the basses.


The timbre or the characteristics of a trombone’s sound varies from register to register. In general, trombones can be used to play light or delicate music or heavy and menacing.

In the video below you can listen to the instruments in the differe

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