What Does the F Trigger on a Trombone Do?
The f trigger on a trombone is a key feature of many modern instruments, and it has a number of benefits. First, it can lower the pitch of a tenor trombone by a perfect fourth (F4), making it possible to access extended ranges. Second, it provides new slide positions such as middle C in 1st position rather than 4th, and third, it opens up the possibilities for trills.
The trigger attachment on a trombone can be activated through mechanical linkage or a string mechanism. The former uses a ball and socket joint with a metallic arm to open the valve, while the latter uses a string wrapped around the valve parts to make an audible click when depressed.
When a player’s hands are positioned correctly, the trigger can be activated easily and rapidly. This means that a trigger-equipped instrument is often preferred over an instrument without one.
Most trigger trombones are made from brass, though a variety of plastic models have appeared in recent years as alternatives for players who may be budget-conscious or don’t want to invest in brass right away. They can be found in a variety of colors, but the sound produced by a plastic instrument is often different than that of a brass model.
A trigger trombone has extra tubing that is attached to the bell section and engaged by a valve operated by a left-hand lever or trigger. This allows the player to play notes in the low range of a trombone that would not be possible on an instrument without it, and also allows for alternate slide positions when playing difficult music passages.
This tubing can be arranged in a closed wrap or an open wrap. Closed wrap tubing is usually kept confined within the bell section of the trombone to prevent damage to the instrument. On the other hand, open wrap tubing protrudes outside the bell section, which can be dangerous if a band or marching unit is playing behind a line of traffic or another obstruction.
In addition to allowing the player to play lower notes, the F trigger also provides more options for slide positions on a tenor trombone. B natural was previously played only on a bass trombone, but today it can be played in 2nd position (F5) and the F trigger can drop the pitch by a perfect fourth (F4), giving the player more options for this note in many situations.
The F trigger is especially important to students aspiring to participate in honor bands and other performance situations that require the use of extended ranges. The ability to reach lower pitches will help them stand out from their peers and demonstrate their musical versatility.
Getting started with a trigger-equipped instrument can be challenging, but it is a worthwhile investment for any student in the brass family. Once you’ve learned how to hold the horn and use the trigger, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the feature, and it can give you an edge when competing for solos in your school’s band or in honor bands.