Brief history of the Trombone

The name trombone is of Italian origin "tromba" and simply means “Large Trumpet”. The trombone is probably the least changed of all the brass instruments with modern versions bearing a resemblance to their historical counterpart. The trombone dates back to around the 15 century. During early music periods it was referred to in English as the sackbut. The origins of this name are vague but are thought to come from the French sacqueboute, meaning “to pull and to push”.

Waterloo Sackbuts 

A set of three German trombones, dating to 1814 are on display and are known as the "Waterloo Sackbuts. They are of particular interest to makers as they have not been finely finished and the marks of manufacture can be plainly seen. 

Tenor Trombone

Included on display is an ornately decorated tenor trombone from the second half of the 19th century. Its maker, Joseph Higham of Manchester, made many instruments for military bands.

Valve Trombones

Other trombones include a selection of valve trombones, which were popular during the 19th century. One of their main uses was for mounted musicians in cavalry bands. Valve trombones were designed in a variety of forms, each addressing issues of comfort, relative playability when sitting on a horse or other ergonomic matters. However, modern mounted bands have mostly reverted to using a slide trombone. 


The Bate Collection has a comprehensive collection of trombones dating from the early 19th century which includes the "Waterloo Sackbuts".