Tommy Dorsey's trombone
Mark in Kansas

Beloit, KS

#1 Aug 13, 2006
This is my first visit to this forum. I would like ot know what brand and model of trombone that Tommy Dorsey played. Thank you.
art cramer

Winnipeg, Canada

#2 Aug 31, 2006
hey mark. tommy played a king 2b. he was the first leading proponent of that brand and played a king throughout most of his career.


Tucson, AZ

#3 Nov 11, 2006
To Mark and Art,
Hi Fellows.....I agree that Tom's horn was a King
2 B....could have been a Legend or Liberty and was
specially made for him by was a special
silver bell. I have a 2B myself. Tom & Jim played their 1st gig at a ball room at Flagstaff, Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe, Pa,).That was year 1919.
I played my 1st gig at the same ball room in 1947.
The lead trombone had played with Tom D. I played 2nd. I was born and went to school in Lehighton, Pa.just a few miles from Jim Thorpe. The Korean war was just brewing and so I auditioned and played in The West Point Band for 4 years and later played in bands to help put me through prof. school. I am now retired and live in Tucson, AZ. Would you believe I still have my old 2B and continue to play it (I do have other horns, but love the 2B). I recently put a pit orchestra together for a show we will do in near future. I am 78 yrs. old. Chops and teeth are still OK.
I have a great deal of respect and love for Big Bands.
Dr. Tom Zahn
Dan Reinhart

United States

#4 Nov 13, 2006
Mark in Kansas wrote:
This is my first visit to this forum. I would like ot know what brand and model of trombone that Tommy Dorsey played. Thank you.
As I've learned from different fragmentary sources, Dorsey entered into a contract with King Instrument Co. to play their trombones in about 1934 or 1935.(At least photos of the Dorsey brothers orchestra from those years show him playing what probably is an early Liberty Model. When the 2B Liberty Model came out in 1938 (I think), he supposedly play that model. At any rate, the horns he played were custom built for him. I have one of these horns so I can describe both from what I've read about the "custom Dorsey trombones" and also from mine. In general, they were highly engraved, gold-burnished versions of the 2B. Dorsey reportedly wanted his horns to weigh as little as possible, so he typically did not use a counterweight, slide lock or bell screw-lock; King usually made his horns this way, even after these features became standard on production 2Bs. In addition, from my horn, there were some other small modifications that may or may not have been typical. The area under the slide waterkey has been slightly enlarged to hold a little more water. Even the inner surface of the tuning slide is gold-burnished. The slide tubes also appear to be slightly different than the standard design; they seem to be especially light-weight. I bought my horn from the now deceased widow of John Cress who play with Dorsey from 1949 to 1953. Dorsey gave him this horn for his birthday in 1953. I've read that Nelson Riddle also was presented with one of Dorsey's King 2Bs as was Art Sayers. I don't know how many of these custom, engraved, gold-burnished horns made for Dorsey over the years, but I would imagine there were quite a few between around 1935 and 1956 when he died.
If you know of any additional information, I would appreciate it.


#5 Jul 14, 2007
Would anyone know where you can go and actually see one of Tommys horns?
Dan Reinhart

United States

#6 Dec 7, 2007
James wrote:
Would anyone know where you can go and actually see one of Tommys horns?
If you send me an email at <[email protected] > I will send you a few photos of my Dorsey 2B. It appears to be the exact horn that he is holding in one of his most famous photos (taken about 1950). Interesting to note that the bell section has a 1945 serial number and the slide's number is from 1949. I've heard that Dorsey had a few bell's, but a whole case of extra slides that he could interchange whenever he wanted. As a slide's performance deteriorated, he would just get a new one out of his stock.
Dan Reinhart
David Payne

United States

#7 Apr 15, 2008
I have a King Liberty B2 and according to the serial # it was made mid 1950s. I bought it used in 1959.
It is still top shape except 2 dents.
I played it in the high school band and later the local symphony orchestra.
Well after putting it down for over 40 years I am now playing in our church orchestra.
I now realize after all these years that the counterweight is not enought as it is bottom heavy.
I would love to get a heavier factory weight for my horn.
Where could I buy one?
Please contact me at [email protected]

Palm Desert, CA

#8 Apr 30, 2008
I've had a King 2B since 1953, and I believe it's a Liberty model. I'm thinking about having it re-plated and overhauled, since I'm going to be playing in a band out here in Palm Springs where I currently live. I am 64 years old, and played this horn all through school, the 40th Armored Division Band, and the 52nd Army Band, as well as in the Peter Meremblum Youth Orchestra, in L.
A. when I was 10-14 years of age. I worked my way up to 1st chair in the senior symphony when I reached 14 years of age, playing the works from the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra. Also performed in the Hollywood Bowl with Meredith Wilson playing lead trombone in "76 Trombones" for one performance. Does anyone know how much my trombone might be worth? Just curious, and also delighted to hear that my hero Tommy Dorsey played a version of my bone.

Palm Desert, CA

#9 Jun 1, 2008
Correct. A King 2B, Liberty, with a silver bell, specially hand-made by King. I also have a King 2B Liberty model, which was bought for me in 1955 in NYC, and am still playing it today. It is a wonderful, versatile instrument, as I have played classical, as well as big band with this horn. I also have a very old Getzen valve trombone, circa 1908, and it also is a good horn, albeit, not in the league of a King. I have looked into buying a Bach Strad, but since playing my King again, have cancelled that notion.
Kaven Johnson

Duncan, OK

#10 Aug 12, 2009
Just purchased my first 2B King Liberty model trombone. I am overly joyed due to the fact that I have wanted this horn for years. It is a 1946 model with original matching number slide. Bell section is Brass plated Hand burnished "Artist Special" and the slide is crystal silver, silver plated with gold slide bow. Case is the vintage tweed and leather trim carry all in perfect condition. Original mouthpiece and cleaning rod included. Sorry for the ramble but I am EXCITED!

[email protected]
Dan Reinhart

Hollywood, FL

#11 Dec 30, 2009
One additional piece of info. TD reportedly did not play a sterling bell horn. I was told by a trombonist who played in his band in 1947 (Sam Levine) that King tried to induce TD to use the silver bell, but he declined. Of course, he may have had a silvertone in his collection.
I have also read that near the end of his career, TD would sometimes play a 3B which also seems most plausible since trombone design was evolving at this time.
Tommy Hale

Erie, PA

#12 Oct 18, 2011
I played a 2B model Tommy Dorsey model for 12 years. 1942 til 1954. I got married and sold my trombone for $25.00 Worst mistake I ever made, not my marriage. I would love to have it back. I now play an old Conn. Not much good, but I still keep my lip in shape. Everyone said I had the best tone in the business
Dan Reinhart

Bethesda, MD

#13 Oct 29, 2011
I still own and regularly play my TD 2B King trombone, although I typically use a slide from another horn since the original Dorsey slide does not have a slide lock. When I first acquired this trombone, I would rarely take it out on gigs or too rehearsals, but now I take it everywhere. It is fun to show it off to others.
Norwegian TD


#14 Oct 29, 2011
Tommy Dorsey's mouthpiece.
I own several King Liberty 2B from 1939-46, both yellow brass and sterling silver bell. They are all dual bore. I have a drawer full of mouthpieces, always chasing the best to play on. I prefer King M11 mouthpiece on my silver tone for studio and church playing. The sound is very warm. For big band lead I prefer Giardinelly 4M. It cuts through trumpet section when needed. Nice if you play hard core jazz. I think Tommy D. played on an Almont mouthpiece in his career. Schilke has a copy of it, but I find it too small. TD was a trumpet player also, like Si Zentner and I think a little trumpet playing is good for high register playing on trombone.
John Romanowski

Atlanta, GA

#15 Oct 31, 2011
Tom wrote:
To Mark and Art,
Hi Fellows.....I agree that Tom's horn was a King
2 B....could have been a Legend or Liberty and was
specially made for him by was a special
silver bell. I have a 2B myself. Tom & Jim played their 1st gig at a ball room at Flagstaff, Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe, Pa,).That was year 1919.
I played my 1st gig at the same ball room in 1947.
Dr. Tom Zahn
What Ballroom in Flagstaff did you play???
Ray Jacobs

Palm Desert, CA

#16 Feb 1, 2012
I play a King 2B, Liberty, H.L. White horn bought for me in 1953. Playing in the Coachella Valley Symphony, in the Palm Springs, Ca area. I played in the Meremblum Jr. and Sr. symphonies beginning at 12 years old, and played until I was 17, eventually becoming !st chair of the bone section. Roger Bobo was on tuba, with the Malby brothers playing french horn, and my brother Rob playing 2nd clarinet. My mother cooked hamburgers with some of the other mothers when we rehearsed on Saturdays. We performed on Omnibus, Wide Wide World, at the Shrine Auditorium, etc. I also played in the Hollywood Bowl for one performance of "76 Trombones",(leading the first three notes being conducted by Meredith Wilson) when I was 14 years old. Gave up music to purse advertising design at Art Center College of Design in L.A. Just recently went back to playing 2nd chair in the orchestra, as well as designing and implementing the symphony's new image. . Still love my '53 King, all original, except my Bach 11C mouthpiece.

Acme, PA

#17 May 14, 2012
My mother played trombone during the Tommy Dorsey and Glen Millers period. She was in an all girl band during the late 30's and early 40's. Her band sometimes played before the feature group and jammed later with these guys. She still has her Dorsey model King trombone that she got in the thirties at Volkweins in Pittsburgh. It is silver plated with gold on the inside of the bell and a gold plated inscription on the outside of the bell. I played the horn myself in high school. She is still living and 94 years old this December.

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