The history of the René Hagmann® 
trombone valve

Before becoming a professional brass and woodwind repairman, René Hagmann was trained as a toolmaker. He graduated and obtained the federal Swiss diploma before joining the music trade in 1971. Since then, with the support of professional musicians from various backgrounds, he has devoted most of his time to improve the acoustics of existing instruments. His technical knowledge, combined with his sense of circumspection and inventiveness allowed him to custom-build prototypes to materialize his designs.

In the eighties, the Thayer Axial-Flow valve appeared on the professional scene. It was advertised in related music magazines and was soon acclaimed as a genuine improvement for the trombone. This pioneer has demonstrated the lacks of the traditional rotary valve, offering a new alternative in manufacturing symphonic and bass trombones. Experimentation has however revealed some flaws in his concept: lack of response in the upper register, loss of general resistance necessary for a most favorable balance and emission, poor air-tightness, complex maintenance. The casing has been found bulky by most players and rather unaesthetic. However, Thayer has pioneered the way, showing the traditional rotary valve was obsolete. During 1991, René Hagmann has build some prototypes of his own design. His goal was to achieve what Thayer had started and to improve the flaws underlined above. His first attempts have found the immediate support of Mr. Roland Schnorhk, solo trombonist at the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and professor at the Geneva Conservatory, who has immediately decided to customise his own instrument with the newborn valve.

The new bass trombone valve and attachments was achieved thanks to the sustained collaboration of Mr Jacques Barraud, also from the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Step by step, the new valve has gathered popularity among local musicians, as quality improved. Mr Jacques Gaudet, from Antoine Courtois was the first manufacturer sign up for the use of the Free-Flow concept. We would like to thank him for his pioneering enterprising spirit. In 1997, Boosey & Hawkes has decided to supply their new line of Sovereign instrument (tenor 944 and bass 943 models) with the René Hagmann® valve. The accessory line (levers, wrap styles) has also spread in order to fulfill the growing demand from players and makers.

In 1999, the Vincent Bach Company in Elkhart (USA), often referred as the market leader in the symphonic trombone field, decided to supply Free Flow valves on their Stradivarius series. Since when the 42A tenor and the 50BA bass trombones first appear in their catalogue, they have enjoyed growing international recognition.

The first Austrian maker to successfully use our products was Martin Lechner (1996). He was soon followed by the Haagston Company, then in 2000, by the Viennese Karl Lechner workshop.

Designed in collaboration with Ben van Dijk, the famous Thein brothers from Bremen (Germany) have in 1998 introduced a bass and contrabass model sporting Free Flow valves. More recently, a high end tenor model of their production has made a breakthrough on the professional market. The Markneukirchen manufacturer Jürgen Voigt also makes a full line of both bass and tenor trombones, while many smaller German workshops improve and convert existing models using our products.

When moving into new facilities in Bradford (UK), Michael Rath has made an important move into the professional trombone business while deciding to devote his time in manufacturing only for discriminating players.  When it came to selecting an innovative high performance valve suited to his overhaul acoustic concept, Michael has sampled every model available on the market. In 1998, he naturally has decided for René Hagmann’s products that in his opinion outclassed all existing competition. He is now well respected in the high end trade and continues to exclusively supply Free Flow valves on his most original models.

And last but not least, the Swiss artisan Franz Monschau from the Haag Company in Kreuzlingen became a member of the Free Flow club in the year 2000. I addition to his tenor models, he has launched out a Cimbasso featuring five in-line valves, specially designed for this peculiar instrument used in the Italian opera repertoire (Verdi, Puccini, etc.).

The year 2000 also saw the introduction of the “Vibrabell” concept. The exclusive “floating” fastening system allows the bell to vibrate more and makes it easily interchangeable thus offering great versatility (please refer to chapter…..XXX).

The latest improvement is our “Progressive Bore Valve” (2006). It is basically a very simple idea developed by our R&D department for the bass trombone, but never yet commercialized by anyone else to our knowledge: each valve  uses three ducts, one being tapered, dedicated to the Bb section only, to match it continuously to the gooseneck own tapering.  Experimentation with leading artists and makers (Courtois, Thein) proves us to be right. This new concept enhances the characteristics of the traditional Free Flow design: ease of playing, improvement of the sound substance in both medium and lower registers, overall sonority, evenness, etc.

Our custom shop offers a variety of bores for both the tenor and bass trombone (dependent or independent), when combined with our “Vibrabell” option and  our huge selection of bells and slides from different makers, allows any player to find his own perfect match. Do not hesitate to contact us for further information at

Today, our brand new workshop is set to fulfill the most discriminating demand, since the demand is expanding everyday.