The general idea of ERGObrass supports is based on a simple fact that all brass instruments are heavy to hold. We all know that relaxation is very important in brass playing.
However, holding the instrument in playing position inevitably produces a static tension in hands, arms, shoulders, upper body and throat. Most players can play with this tension, of course - but the tension is always there disturbing the performance.
By using an ERGObrass support every brass player can stay totally relaxed while playing. And in addition to the better efficiency, it is also very comfortable!
ERGObone might seem to require a very radical change in the way a trombone is played and therefore it is especially important that you read and look at these pages with an open mind without any prejudice. After all, the needed changes are only very slight.
Leave your initial emotional reactions aside as they often prevent us from seeing things clearly when confronted with something that is very different to what we are used to. Instead, ask yourself if what we are about to show you seems sensible, logical and rational.
We firmly believe that playing the trombone with the help of the ERGObone gives a player benefits that are well worth the effort of learning a few new habits.
So, please read on to learn how it works and how you can benefit from this great invention, the ERGObone.
It really works, I endorse!" - Ben van Dijk, Rotterdam Philharmonic
Producer and distributor:
ERGObrass Ltd / Jouko Antere,
Linnunlauluntie 14 Sipoo, FINLAND
Phone +358-40-525 02 42
ERGObrass Ltd is a world-leading company to develop and produce ergonomic supports for brass instruments
ERGObone and ERGObrass are registered trademarks of ERGObrass ltd
ERGObrass Oy's other activity is in professional video production:
The trombone, for most of its 500 years, was a small and light instrument. Only in recent history has it grown step by step in to its present size and shape. Today trombone is a much more versatile instrument than its predecessor. However, as the trombone changed, it also became a heavier instrument.
Today, we also pay much more attention to how the tools and equipment we use every day affect our health. This is the science of ergonomics. The trombone, while a marvelous instrument, does pose special ergonomic challenges because of its size and weight.
The trombone is probably one of the heaviest instrument to be played without any support, being held entirely by the left hand. Saxophones, bassoons, and cellos are not held with tense hands during playing.
Nowadays even many oboists and clarinetists hold their instruments of a few hundred grams with a neck stripe rather than with tense hands. It is important to feel relaxed and comfortable when making music.
Over the years, if the trombone is held with a statically tense hand, many players suffer various consequences.
First the hand gets tired and stiff. Later one often acquires many kinds of pains in the wrist, arm, elbow, upper arm and shoulder or in the upper back and neck. This can reduce the effectiveness and enjoyment of playing the trombone. It does not have to be like this.
The ERGObone trombone support is specially designed to be a handy medium to enable the player to keep his or her hands and upper body completely relaxed by removing the need for the body to support the weight of the trombone. Instead, the ERGObone support will transmit the weight of the horn to the chair, or to the harness the player may wear.
Freeing up the upper body can also help the most important aspects of brass playing: breathing and airflow. With ERGObone, the only task remaining for the left hand is to hold the mouthpiece in the right place and angle for each situation. With the weight of the horn taken off of the body, the player’s touch and feel for playing are improved and stresses are reduced.
The ERGObone trombone support can be used while sitting or standing. A plastic fastener is attached near the centre of gravity of the trombone and it joins either in a monopod tube standing on the chair, or in a plastic counterpart hanging in a comfortable harness - similar to other wind instrument harnesses. The chair tube is designed to be used while seated, and the harness can be used in both the seated and standing positions. It is an individual matter as to which position is preferred. One can of course use both harness and chair tube and exchange from one the other easily and quickly when needed.
ERGObone is formed of four different parts: the plastic fastening joined onto the support rod, the black chair tube, plastic chest part and the harness.
A plastic fastening is fitted with one finger screw, which is joined to the support rod so that it allows the rod to turn 180 degrees up and down. The rod can turn no more then 180 degrees so it cannot reach the slide and damage it.
The power needed to lean the rod back and forward is easily adjustable with the screw that holds two plastic fastener parts together. The horn can be turned, and the ERGObone support can rotate to facilitate motion.
The support rod is approx. 300 mm long and 7 mm thick stainless steel bar. It has a small disc, which can be moved up and down along the rod and quickly locked by fastening the screw at any point on the rod. When locked at a certain point, the rod does not go any deeper in its counterpart - the chairtube or chestpart. But the trombone can still be turned in any direction round its axis. And it can be taken off and put back on the same level without opening the lock.
A Swing Spring gives you a nice and smooth feel for your playing. It allows you to lift and lower your instrument vertically with a minimum effort as there is a spring between the lock and the monopod or chest part. This allows you to do all needed microadjustments in you embouchure when playing. The trombone floats on the top of this spring and now the feel of handling the instrument is even more natural and light.
When using the harness, the spring also absorbs the slight movement of your chest when you breath in and when you walk...
The chair support
The chair tube is formed of the attaching clamp and an aluminium tube. The length of the support can be adjusted by one screw, quite similar to a normal metallic music stand. There is a rubber plug in the bottom so that it does not slide on the floor. When not playing, you can place your horn on a standard trombone stand, and lift it back to the playing position in just seconds. You also can hold the horn on your left knee without removing it from the chest part or chair tube.
The harness set up
The harness is very simple. You just put it on like a vest. It is very much similar to all the other blow instrument harnesses but specially designed for ERGObone. It stays open from the front until the plastic chestpart with two little couplers hanging on the harness is fastened. The chestpart contains two different parts; one clear plate which lowers the pressure towards your chest and the real counterpart for the support rod. It has a hole at a 15 degree angle to the chest. This is needed for the rod to stay in a vertical upright position. And again, you adjust the playing position and height by locking the rod at the desired point. The harness itself is adjustable.
ERGObone on special instruments: The Holton SuperBone
With the ERGObone the heavy SuperBone is easy, light and comfortable to handle. Both hands are free from any tension as the whole weight is transmitted to the shoulders, or to the chair, if you are playing sitting down and use the normal ERGObone chair support tube.
When using the ERGObone on a SuperBone you need to attach the clamp in the upper brace instead of the normal place in a trombone. To keep the horn in a good angle it is needed to add also a plastic part on the third valve cylinder. The clamp is resting to the plastic piece and the horn is in good position for playing.
Now you can play as long as you like without getting tired. Also left hand fingers are relaxed on valve triggers.
From the following link you can watch the ERGObone on a SuperBone video in YouTube:
If you wish to order an ERGObone set for a SuperBone, please email us and we´ll make a special SuperBone set with the extra plastic piece for you!
The bass trumpet ERGObrass
Sometimes the trombonist has an obligation to play also the bass trumpet in orchestras. It is a very heavy instrument and it's balance is very much in front side and therefore it is very awkward to hold. With an ERGObrass support it is easy and relaxed to play. We do not have the bass trumpet model always in stock, please email us if you are interested and we´ll arrange one for you!
The ERGObrass with a contra bass trombone
Craig Parmerlee, Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis USA, playing his Alexander F contrabass trombone with the ERGObone
Ben van Dijk, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Rotterdam Conservatory, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester UK
A natural reaction under the weight - a curved back. How can you develop a good breathing in this kind of posture?
With the ERGObone it is easy to sit right and breathe efficiently-
The problem for children - as every teacher knows - is the slow collapse of the upper body under the stress of trombone weight.
At the end, the left knee arrives as an ultimate rescue. It rises over the right knee and the bell descends down towards the left knee. At the same time the backbone, the lungs and the whole upper body have flopped down. How could anybody develop a proper technique and efficent breathing and blowing in this kind of a position?
In fact all these reactions are very natural. The body tries to find a position where it can tolerate physical stress. But of course at the same time, the physical precondition of being able to play efficently diminishes radically.
It is certain that one of the most difficult tasks for a young player is to keep a good bearing with the instrument - also when the teacher is not around! Although it is most important to be able to really learn to play.
The ERGObone will fix this problem.
First the hand gets tired and stiff. Later one often acquires acquires many kinds of pains in the wrist, arm, elbow, upper arm and shoulder or in the upper back and neck. This can reduce the effectiveness and enjoyment of playing the trombone. It does not have to be like this. If a young trombonist do not get tired, he or she will practise a lot longer every day...
The ERGObone makes it virtually impossible to play in a wrong posture!
- When the ErgoBrass supports were first introduced they looked rather awkward to me, and I wondered why anyone would want to use such devices. However, after having used the
euphonium support for nearly two years and the trombone support for about a year, I am now very much a “fan.”
Assistant Professor of Low Brass, University of Louisiana at Monroe
Principal Trombone, Monroe Symphony Orchestra
Assistant Editor (Audio/Video Reviews), ITA Journal
ERGObone has changed my approach to the trombone.I feel relaxed and in control of the instrument, with improved sound, projection and phrasing. ERGObone prevents tension from limiting your musical ability and I recommend it to all trombonists.
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
- I consider the double valve as the worst ergonomic-designed instrument. Having to carry an enormous weight with the left hand, and simultaneously activate both triggers is a recepy to develop pains in one's shoulder, neck, arm and palm. The ergobone is an excellent solution - by almost eliminating the weight factor by shifting it to the stick - it allows long hours of playing with no abusive effort For the player's hand. I wholeheartedly recommend it, for all trombones and the Euphonium
Former bass trombonist, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Israel
Author of: New Method for the Moderm Bass Trombone (1975)
The Non-Classic Bass Trombone (2008)
- I find this a great tool for better playing. With the monopode this is just like taking a violin cello and just playing. Especially in long recording sessions also the bell stays easily in the right position towaards the microphone automatically. It keeps me also in a better posture and reduce the pressure towards my chops. And of course it saves a lot of strength. I love it!
Tromobonist, bass trombonist
- I was doing some 3-8 hour days and let me tell you. I was still fresh, and the other guys in the quintet were hurting. I am so used to the ERGObone now that I never play without it. My body has never felt so relaxed while playing. I can be in better control of everything.
- Although I am still in a testing period with the ERGObone I definitely see the benefit of the system. It takes away every tension in your left shoulder, arm and hand and this makes you breathe more freely and has good influence on the embouchure setting, something you start to realize when you take away the system and play without it. I am not sure I will use the system all the time, but I am sure I will use it when I make long hours of study, specially on my contrabass trombone.
Ben van Dijk
Royal Northern College
of Music, Manchester
- ERGObone has provided me with the solution to a major problem- how to hold the contrabass trombone for long periods of time, without stress and tension. Indeed, so impressive is the device, that I find myself using it on any trombone, when extended periods of playing are required, and as an aid to relaxed playing of the instrument. As with all the best ideas, it is simple, but highly effective.
Bass/ Contrabass trombonist, The Orchestra of Scottish Opera.
Professor, The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
- If you have problems supporting a big horn, don't fight with the instrument. There are good ergonomic solutions available now, and the ERGObone is certainly right up there at the top of the list.
Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis USA
- For serious professional and semiprofessional trombonists, and especially bass trombonists the ERGObone is a most welcome development. Finally, here is a device that is easy to use, fits most instruments, and solves the awkward problem of holding and playing the trombone for long periods of time. Success on wind instruments depends on being able to breathe FREELY as you play. The ERGObone allows you to do just that and put less effort into holding the instrument. For those of you with sore backs and shoulders from playing a lot of trombone
this is the solution to your problem. I wholeheartedly endorse this product.
Seattle Symphony Orchestra
- I think the ERGObone is a great idea! It allows me to play with less tension in my shoulder and hand. I have only been using it a short while now, but it seems to free up respiration as well.
Pacific Symphony Orchestra and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra USA
Professor of trombone, California State Unversity
- Freeing up the arms from the weight of the instrument has allowed upper body isometric tension to be minimal, with the result that breathing is enhanced. The mobility of the body is likewise enhanced.
Surprisingly, the act of playing seems to me more natural with the ERGObone rather than the old way! Because of the benefits of ERGObone, it has proven to be the only way to go. I will never again play
without it! I recommend it to all performers and teachers of trombone, including beginners in school programs, college students, and adult professionals.
Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra,
Teacher at the University of Wisconsin Superior USA
- The ERGObone trombone support device is very handy when playing is especially strenuous, lots of continuous playing without any possibility to rest. Although I am able to play without any support, I like to use it whenever it is necessary.
UMO Jazz Orchestra Helsinki
Professor of trombone Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory
- I never had any real problems, pain or anything in my hands. But the idea about this support device seemed very interesting and I wanted to try it. In the beginning it felt a little strange but very soon I found a new and better position. During the few weeks of experimenting I gradually
increased the use of the ERGObone. In fact only now I realise how tensed my body used to be during playing. I did not know that! But perhaps the best thing is that now I feel I am able to use more air than before. Also, when I need to practise more than usual I dont get tired as easily as before. That is quite an advantage as well.
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Brass Player of the Year 2000 in Finland
- Well, every brass player knows that the static tension is a big problem for a player. The more relaxed you are able to stay the more efficently you are able to use your body for playing. Many times I’ve been wondering that there should be some relief to the tension but until this device there hasn’t been anything. I feel this is very good. I’ve had serious neuralgia in my left hand so I surely want to learn to use the ERGObone playing support. And if I can get used to it at this age, students will learn it in no time. I really recommend every trombonist to experiment and get acquainted with the ERGObone.
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Professor of trombone, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki
See what's in the package, how to put it together and how to use the support. 6 min.
Vesa Lehtinen from Lahti Symphony has been using the ERGObone already many years.
ERGObone trombone support used in a bass trombone on a big band gig. Easy,
flexible smooth and relaxed to play a floating weightless instrument! 2 min.
ERGObrass brass supports in a research project in Cardiff Wales UK where the ERGObone
and all other different ERGObrass supports are in test. 7 min.
In this old video from 2010 Antti Rissanen demonstrates how to play the SuperBone
with the ERGObone support. A lot easier!
Is it akward?
It is quite natural that a player who has been playing for years will go through an experiment and adjustment period when first using the ERGObone support. Most players have developed some tiny little movements during playing. The player does not need them anywhere, in fact he or she does not even know about most of them. But it is only a matter of some days or weeks, and a player will get used to ERGObone and find a new way to make his or her typical movements, only now ERGObone will be supporting the weight of the trombone. Now you can discover new and healthier ways of playing. You’ll find out very soon that you can turn and lean your horn with minimal effort. In fact the only real difference is that you feel more relaxed and playing is lighter and more comfortable.
Does it fit any trombone?
Practically, yes. The only requirement is that the point of fitting the fastening on your slide is straight for at least 25 mm, see the picture below. Most trombones are like this and they have a tube diameter at that point between 17.5 and 21.5 mm. Wrap the rubber gasket (provided in the installation kit) on first and only after that install ERGObone clamp on your instrument. The diameter should be around 22 mm when you attach the clamp.
Many tenor trombones (especially if they don't have an F-attachment) have their center of gravity in front of the fastening point, and thus the bell tends to lower. In this case the horn might need some balancing. Add some weight at the back of the horn so that you get it in balance. When the trombone moves smoothly and stays in any position it is ready for relaxed playing.
Will it fit in the trombone case?
There are surely hundreds of different trombone cases. The trombone slide can be put away in many cases without taking ERGObone off. Some cases may need some slight modification to hold the slide with the ERGObone attached. ERGObone is designed so that the support rod turns only about 180 degrees, so it does not reach the slide and cannot damage it. But do remember to point the locking screw away from the slide - or take it off during transportation. If you cannot fit your slide tube with ERGObone in your trombone case, just loosen one screw and take it off. It is easier to pack than a music stand. The rest of the parts (floor tube, chest part and harness) need very little space.
How is the height adjusted?
It is most important that the trombone is at the right height - where you find it comfortable - when you play. There are two basic ways to adjust the height. You either lift or descend the chest part itself from the harness strap locks, or adjust how deep the support rod extends into its counterpart. These two ways give a little different feeling with stability and you should try different combinations when you get accustomed to ERGObone. It is up to you whether you prefer to keep the chest part low and use longer support rod or the other way around.
When you use the floor tube it does not matter how you adjust the height, the final height is the only important thing.
The support rod should always be close to vertical upright position when playing. If it is not, it might feel a little unstable and pinching. So in the beginning do pay attention to keeping the rod as carefully upright as you can. Soon it stays there automatically.
What does it look like?
ERGObone is designed to be as invisible as possible. The black harness and clear / black chest part go with most costumes - in both rehearsals and concert. The ERGObone is simple and non-obtrusive. You can, of course, keep the harness under your coat.
Is it suitable for ladies, too?
ERGObone is perfectly suitable for lady trombonists! It is easy to adjust the harness straps with an extra coupler (provided in the kit) so that the straps are formfitting on the front side. Most lady players keep the chestpart lower and in proportion the support rod longer to get a comfortable feel with the ERGObone. If a lady trombonist needs to wear a dress, it might be best if she uses the chairtube rather than the harness.
Why are there two different support devices?
There are different types of players, different stages of skills, different situations and we try to meet as many personal needs as possible. ERGObone offers good and relaxed playing feeling in any playing situation. Every trombonist can adjust ERGObone to give a maximum comfort to his or her personal needs.