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The Brass Ark/Sawday Refit Tenor Trombone

Price: currently discontinued

I’m thrilled to introduce a new project developed at Brass Ark for trombonists seeking a vintage instrument with the modern advancements of the latest valve designs, wraps, and leadpipes. It’s widely acknowledged that the Bach 42s and Conn 88Hs have been the gold standard for large bore orchestral trombones since they became the accepted “tools of the trade” in the 1950s. These designs are nearly revered by now and have been replicated by numerous other makers time and again. However, there’s always an intangible quality missing in a replica, no matter how well-made it is—it never quite captures the essence of the original.

Trombonists invest in Bachs and Conns because of their exceptional parts and designs. Yet, despite their excellence, many of my clients at The Brass Ark are constantly seeking ways to enhance their beloved classic trombones—whether that’s through acquiring the latest custom trombone or exploring modifications to maximize its potential.

During a conversation with my esteemed colleague, Don Sawday, we conceived the idea of collaborating on a project to modernize vintage trombones and elevate their performance. Don, a phenomenal brass technician with experience working alongside legends like Larry Minick and Bob Malone, brought invaluable expertise to the table. After numerous prototypes and valve experiments, we believe we’ve achieved something remarkable.

Our process begins with a well-playing original Bach 42, which we completely disassemble. We then reconstruct the slide with new outer tubes, craft a custom threaded receiver, and integrate one of Brass Ark’s seamed dual-radius bass slide crooks. The bell section features an open port oversized rotary valve, paired with an open wrap. We apply some proprietary techniques to the bell flare (a trade secret!) and reassemble the trombone stress-free. A bespoke trigger lever is fashioned, along with a brass thumb paddle that offers a satisfying weight. The lever’s throw is designed to be neither too short nor too long, providing maximum control over valve actuation.

Given that these instruments start with vintage pieces, the finish isn’t always flawless. Nonetheless, we’re immensely pleased with their playability and hope they provide trombonists with another distinctive option when seeking the sound that brings them joy.

As played by Tim Higgins of the San Francisco Symphony

*currently discontinued*

  • Oversized, ported, rotary valve with special Sawday/Ark open wrap
  • Brassark seamed construction slide crook
  • New outer slide tubes and special ferrules throughout
  • Threaded leadpipe receiver with “shires” threads
  • Brassark Leadpipe
  • Relacquered finish (raw on request)
  • Original Bach 42 bell and tuning slide (the vintage varies from instrument to instrument)