Holiday Gifts for Musicians 2008

Mission Statement: I formally pledge to create a comprehensive list (and objective, but highly biased, personal reviews) of musical gear, method books, accessories, etc. with links to online retailers. Purpose: To share my “informed” opinion of what gear I personally like and trust, and present the reader/student with an easy and trusted online resource to find materials which may be challenging to obtain locally.

Since it’s a mere 4 days out from Christmas, I’m going to put up a quick “scatter shot” group of items that you cannot go wrong with as a gift for a musician of any age, and will follow soon with a more comprehensive list, including my thoughts/review of the particular gear.

Metronomes: Boss Dr. Beat Metronome

There is only one name in the serious metronome arena, and that’s Dr. Beat. I’m a big fan of the company (Boss/Roland) and depend on my Dr. Beat almost daily. Although do not yet own this model, from the features, product spec., and size, it truly offers you the greatest bang for your buck--plus, you can get it new currently for $31.47. Since you’d spend at least $20 for a credible basic metronome, I urge you to consider the $11 upgrade to a metronome that has a greatly enhanced feature set including tempo tapping, pitch playback, and more.

Music StandAC48S Music Stand: Manhassett

At the core of any performance, rehearsal, or practice session lies a great music stand. Just having a solid base with which to work makes me take my “session” more seriously. For me, there is none other than the Manhassett-- it’s the gold standard of stands. While many consider it a “trophy” to acquire one from an ex-school, I am glad to say that I PURCHASED my stand (at a much higher price by the way) but have an “investment” and ownership in my practice area- it is an odd thing, that once you invest in the tools of your trade, I find you not only take it more seriously, but also experience greater results from your practice. While there are many manufacturers that make fine product, for the gig or the home, I always prefer this stand.

Trombone Stand: While I could share my tale of woe, and in detail describe the slow ungraceful death arc of my treasured Bach 36 as I saw it fall, then bounce. . . . . .bounce. . . . bounce. . . . . scrape. . . . . . . (moment of silence) I will not dignify the stand maker, but I will say that there are now only 3 trombone stand brands that I will trust my babies to--

  1. K&M (formerly also branded as UMI stands).This is the gold standard, I own three, and don’t another brand of stand with the same reckless abandon. I love it. It is more expensive, but it’s extremely hardy, sturdy, and supports anything up to the most heaviest of bass trombones and contra-bass trombone. Simply said- it rocks!
  2. Hamilton: (Old Faithful)-Not quite as sturdy as UMI, but it is the workhorse stand of the industry for many years. I did use one for many years, but today, personally recommend the K&M (see #1 above) or the Hercules (see #3 below). For the extra $20-35 you can get a K&M stand--after I’ve spent on a $2000-4000 instrument, I prefer the additional safety of the K&M stand whenever possible.
  3. Hercules: DS520B Trombone Stand- It’s cheap, and cool looking!--Wherever I go, this is sure to draw a comment, either by trombonists, or others. I picked this up primarily for my 88H that has a beautiful gold wash in the bell, and I wished to keep it as intact as possible. Pros: The stand has a good base, is fairly sturdy, will allow a mute to be in the bell, or clip on microphone attached while the instrument is in the stand. When in the stand, it makes the player “feel more space” as the instrument is facing you, and tilts back toward the music. I prefer the horn to be on my right, and with this trombone stand, I really feel more comfortable in a tight pit/etc. CONS: The grip area must be adjusted to fit the horn, and occasionally slips. It can take a bit longer to take the instrument out of the stand. It will not easily fit a double trigger bass trombone-- you can make it work, but don’t plan on quick pickups or put downs.

Two amazing recordings available for digital download:

Lindberg, Christian: The Virtuoso Trombone

Christian Lindberg created the career of a “full time trombone soloist.” He’s commissioned countless works, and continues to have an amazing career as a soloist, composer, and conductor. This is a great “first recording” for any trombonist, and for any brass player.

John Allred: In The Beginning

I’ll put it simply- when I’m feeling lazy, or need inspiration to practice, I put on this album and listen to Autumn Leaves. After hearing John’s incredible lyricism, virtuosity, and brilliant improvisation, I can’t help but hit the woodshed. *Must own album*

Finally, no holiday is complete with out some maintenance items for the stocking! - Get Trombotine for the young ones (or if you have an older slide with any corrosion, dents, or fairly loose tolerances). For advanced high school student or professional, Slide-o-Mix has been the “lubricant du ‘jour” for the past decade. I used it exclusively since 1996, and it is an excellent product. I recently switched to the new Yamaha formulation, labeled “slide oil”, but it’s really a silicone & detergent compound similar to Slide-o-Mix. The Yamaha seems to last a bit longer, and have less buildup than Slide-o-Mix. Any of the three are an excellent lubricant however. I steer older students and professionals toward Slide-o-Mix or the Yamaha “slide oil” - they perform better on slides in perfect condition, but have more buildup, maintenance, and are more expensive than Trombontine.

Slide O Mix Trombone Slide Lubricant

Trombotine Slide Lubricant

Merry Christmas!