Trombone Innovation: Carbon Fiber
In the last post, we looked at a brand-new piano incorporating a carbon fiber soundboard. We explored the idea that material science will offer radical and high-quality improvements to basic acoustic instruments made of wood. In this post, we’ll explore how this same technology will be able to advance wind instrument manufacture as well.
Carbon fiber slides for trombones have been available for several years from a few manufacturers.
Several benefits come from using carbon fiber. First, the slides can be half the weight, allowing them to be moved and stopped faster than traditional metal slides. Second, the tolerances can be extremely fine, allowing for only fine layer of lubrication between inner and outer slides, making the whole mechanism more stable, secure and responsive. Also, because carbon fiber is so strong, the tubes will not dent with casual handling and knocks the way that thin-wall brass tubes do. The costs are high at the moment due to limited manufacture, but this is definitely a welcome development.
In late 2014, videos and pictures have started to emerge of new carbon fiber trombones where most of the instrument is constructed from carbon fiber. Here is a prototype made by trombonist David Butler:
The sound is certainly quite credible:
The Swiss company daCarbo has been manufacturing trumpets with carbon fiber bells for some time, and appear to be adding a carbon fiber trombone to the range shortly. Their website indicates that they are taking pre-orders. Their horn is interesting in that it incorporates a traditional F-trigger system made of brass – using carbon for the bell and outer slide.
If the blues are more your thing, here’s Trombone Shorty on a daCapo:
I know that I would welcome an instrument that weighs half of my Edwards and that was more responsive in every dimension! I know that I’ll be watching the developments in this space carefully. These initial instruments will be refined, improved, and perfected as time passes and create wonderful options for brass players. Unlike the cheap plastic trombones that can be had for just over $100, the instruments in this post are professional grade instruments – and are priced accordingly.
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