Hand Position

Trombone Hand Position

Left Hand: Form a "gun" - thumb up, index straight out, others curved back. Hook thumb over bell brace, put index on mouthpiece shank, put others through the "square" formed by slide braces.

Right Hand: Form a "Spock - live long and prosper" hand - thumb out, index and middle together, ring and little together. Grasp slide brace between thumb and first two fingers, let ring and little go beneath bottom slide tube. Palm faces floor. Wrist remains straight.

Slide Positions:
first - 1/4" out from bumper
second - half way between first and third
third - just before the bell
fourth - just after the bell
fifth - half way between fourth and sixth
sixth - arm fully extended (for most people)
seventh - 1 inch  of stocking showing

To reach 7th position: Shoulder moves forward, palm faces slide tube, thumb comes off brace if necessary; as if you were reaching out a long way to shake someone's hand.

Trombone Hand Slide Lubrication

A smooth, unobstructed hand slide is the single most important contribution your instrument makes toward good intonation and successful legato technique. The best musician will not achieve these vital skills without a hand slide that works. Slide oil is useless. I recommend the following:

CLEAN SLIDE THOROUGHLY! Clean the hand slide every two or three months, at least, using lukewarm water with liquid dish detergent. Use a snake to dislodge all deposits in the slide, especially in the crook at the bottom. See Randy Kohlenberg's article below for in depth instructions on thorough cleaning. 

Daily maintenance: Use a cloth on a cleaning rod to make sure the inside of the outer slide tubes are clean and dry. Use a lint free cloth to wipe the inner slide tubes clean and dry. Do this at the beginning of each playing day and your slide will work beautifully.

Lubricate with REKA SUPER SLIDE. This can be purchased from Hickey's Music or other online retailers.


Lubricate with "Slide-O-Mix" made in Germany by Jürgen Königs. This can be purchased online or from your local music store.


1. Apply a large drop of liquid from the smaller bottle to each of the inner slide stockings. Spread the liquid by moving the outer slide up and down.

2. Apply liquid from the larger bottle to the top of the inner slide so that it trickles down about 10 cm.

3. Spray a little distilled water onto the inner slide.


Use traditional lubrication with silicon and water; Superslick cream and Formula 3 liquid made by Conn Selmer. Available from any retailer of instrument accessories. Other brands of silicon based cream include: Yamaha, Selmer/Bach, Trombontine, Holton, Roche Thomas.


1. Swab outer slide with soft cloth on cleaning rod. Wipe inner slide.

2. Apply medium amount of Superslick cream to inner slide; heaviest on stockings.

3. Put slide together as many different ways as possible and
work it many times. This is to transfer the cream to the outer slide.

4. Wipe inner slide. Apply 2 or 3 drops of Formula 3 liquid to inner slide stockings and spread evenly over the whole tube with fingers. Mist lightly with distilled water and put slide back together.

Water "ball bearings" between two thin layers of silicon now lubricate the slide. Silicon will build up in the outer slide. The slide should be cleaned professionally at least once each year to remove this.

Tips for Using Slide-O-Mix Effectively

by Randy Kohlenberg, Trombone Professor, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Slide-O-Mix is the new lubricant that can make trombone slides work their very best. Although the instructions for using the preparation that come with the bottles are clear and accurate, some additional clarification and comments about the cleaning process may help to insure successful slide preparation every time.

Cleaning the slide before adding Slide-O-Mix is the most important aspect of slide preparation. Most slides that do not work well with Slide-O-Mix still have residue even though they have been cleaned. Although my method for cleaning is somewhat different from most, the result is a perfect slide every time. Of course, the more in-line the slide is and the fewer dents there are in the slide, the better the slide will work.

1. Use a plastic-covered flexible brush (snake) that has large bristles and felt ends. Fill the assembled slide with warm water and add a drop of mild dish washing detergent in each tube. Then vigorously scrub each slide with an up and down motion (keeping the slide assembled during this process). After scrubbing both inner slides, flush thoroughly with warm water. There should be no residue on the inner slide, and all detergent must be completely rinsed away. Many trombonists skip this step in slide preparation. Residue from the inner slide, however, frequently migrates between the inner and outer slides, causing sluggish response.

2. Next, disassemble the slide, and put the inner slide in a safe place. Fill the outer slide tubes completely with water. Again, add a drop of detergent in each tube. Scrub the insides of the tubes vigorously with an up and down motion. Flush the outer slide with warm water until the water is clear. Repeat this cleaning process one or more times if the slide has oils or other preparations imbedded in the brass.

3. Retrieve the inner slide and place the outer slide in a safe place. Be sure you have plenty of space to avoid damaging the slide during this step. Dampen the outer plated portion of the inner slide with water. You may wish to wipe built-up residue off the slide using a soft cloth. Place a small amount of detergent on your fingers, and carefully scrub the slide from top to bottom. If excessive pressure is used, the inner tubes could be bent since the inner slide is vulnerable when disassembled. Rinse thoroughly and repeat as many times as necessary or until the fingers squeak as they rub against the slide. Loosen hard water spots and other residue by scrubbing carefully using a plastic dish scrubber. DO NOT use steel wool or steel wool pads. Stubborn residue should be removed by a professional repair person.

4. Dry the plated surface of the inner slide and place a drop or two of the contents of the SMALL bottle of Slide-O-Mix (a clear fluid) on the stocking (the raised portion of tubing at the end of the inner slide) half way between the indentation and the end of the slide. Some people use a finger to completely coat the stocking for best results. For my own slide, I prefer to allow the drop to circle around the stocking.

5. At this point, carefully assemble the inner and outer slide sections, and begin the process of working the first of the Slide-O-Mix preparations into the slide. Finding a place where there is ample space and taking care to avoid light fixtures, ceiling fans, windows, and other objects on tables, I place the slide in a horizontal position and thoroughly work the mixture into the slide by moving the slide in and out.

6. Remove the outer slide and locate it in a safe place. Using the contents of the LARGE bottle, gently squeeze a thin line of the cloudy fluid down the slide, stopping approximately at sixth position. Assemble the inner and outer slide, and work the mixture Info the slide as described above until the slide works effortlessly. At this point, many trombonists spray water into the slide. My slide has improved so much using Slide-O-Mix that the water already on the slide is enough for my first playing. Every time the slide is used, the slide should be thoroughly misted (not too much) using water that is as pure as can be found. In many areas where the water contains minerals that may wind up on the slide, use softened or distilled water.

7. Clean the slide when it BEGINS to drag. The Slide-O-Mix instructions warn about the contamination of the slide with residue, and state, "Don't give up!" For many slides, the first preparation will last only a couple of days. At that point I recommend the repetition of the entire cleaning process. The instructions say that reapplication does not necessarily require the complete cleaning process. However, I always complete the entire cleaning process when my slide begins to drag. During periods of extensive use, I have played up to three weeks without needing to clean my slide or reapply Slide-O-Mix, and yet on other occasions, I have had to clean my slide and apply Slide-O-Mix after only three days of use. Dust and pollen particles in the air, pollution levels, temperature, amount and type of playing, and humidity are all factors that affect the smoothness of the slide movement. The most exciting aspect of using Slide-O-Mix is that as soon as the slide is cleaned and prepared, the slide works so well that I can perform a concert. Using other preparations, I always had to guess as to when the slide would work the best and then try to find the exact day to prepare my slide. Although some trombonists believe that the cream lubricants last longer, I find that Slide-O-Mix lasts longer and allows my slide to be in better condition longer than any other product. The cost is slightly higher than that of other products; however, I prepare hundreds of slides every year and my bottles last for extensive periods. Before the contents of the bottles have been used, I usually have bought several extra sets of Slide-O-Mix.