Dudley Bright pBone mini review

A great review of our pBone mini by the fantastic Dudley Bright – Principal Trombone of the London Symphony Orchestra and Professor of Trombone at the Royal Academy of Music.

One can be genuinely excited at the prospect of an alto version of the phenomenal plastic pbone. The possibilty of getting a trombone into even smaller hands can only be a good thing for the future health of the ‘boning community. Quite apart from the modest price ticket, it’s colour and size endears it to anyone, and the sight of really small people finding early steps towards taking the place of our ‘bone idols’ makes it a ‘must have’. As with its big brother, it is not a toy but a real trombone built almost entirely of high quality durable plastic.

Pitched in Eb a fourth higher than a tenor trombone, the slide positions are much shorter and thus can be reached by the shortest arms. With its small plastic mouthpiece, beginners can produce their first notes effortlessly with a sound that is full and even: if anything the response is better than the larger pbone, particularly in the low register. The slide is light and free although not especially quiet! One suspects this is inevitable with the combination of some kind of carbon fibre employed for the outer slide and brass stockings at the end of the inner slide. Although the company points out that lubrication is not necessary, it will be found that carefully applied slide cream and water will improve not only the action but also the sound quality, particularly in the low register, due to improved air tightness.

Although the pbone mini is unlikely to be totally indestructible (I didn’t try it) it will be more durable than a metal one would be in the featherlite black bag supplied. This little marvel would seem to be very similar in bore and bell size to the tenor pbone which probably explains the warm full sound and easy note production which is likely to encourage and maintain initial enthusiasm. The more discerning player will find that the sound is fairly even across the whole register and that the basic harmonics are quite well in tune (for an alto) and for you ‘bell-ticklers’ out there – yes, 3rd position is in the right place! I would say that for an already competent tenor trombonist it would serve extremely well as an inexpensive introduction to the alto trombone, but I suspect it may sound quite dull in a section of brassbones. Replacing the plastic mouthpiece with a stock Bach 7C or Wick 9BS improves things considerably. But as a soloist, the pbone mini sounds easy, pleasant and tuneful and that’s not to be sniffed at.