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Brass Instrument Care & Maintenance

Taking good care of your instrument is essential to keep it in optimum playing condition.  It will repay your efforts by helping maintain the resale value of the instrument, and by keeping repair costs to a minimum.

Do be wary of attempting any repair, however small, yourself.  It may well prove cheaper in the long run to bring it to us, or another competent workshop.  We see many instruments in our workshops that have been further damaged by well meaning “help” from parents and friends.

Below are some general guidelines for instrument care.

Brass Instruments

The two most important factors to remember in caring for your brass instrument are cleanliness and regular lubrication. 

Flush out the instrument once a month with a mild soapy solution using warm but not hot water, as it may damage the lacquer.  Then rinse with cold water and dry thoroughly.  Pay particular attention to the leadpipe, as it can significantly affect the sound of the instrument when “furred up”.

Remove and clean tuning slides regularly to stop them from seizing up.  A flexible cleaning brush should be used to clean out slides and tubing, but make sure this is renewed at least twice a year, as they do break and can cause damge when removed.  Apply a small amount of good quality slide grease before reassembly.

Use a valve case cleaning brush to clean out the valve casings.  Do not use a standard flexible brush, as they can damage the bore.

Valve pistons are extremely delicate and should be handled with great care.  Wash them in a mild soapy solution, rinse with clean water, and dry using a lint free cloth.  Apply a small amount of good quality valve oil, and take care to replace them in the correct sequence. 

When you have finished playing, loosen the valve caps slightly.  This avoids trapped moisture causing corrosion in the screw threads.

Make sure that mouthpieces are cleaned thoroughly with warm water and a mouthpiece brush.  As with the leadpipe, a dirty mouthpiece adversely affects tone quality.

Care should be taken when polishing lacquered and silver plated instruments.  Harsh abrasives must be avoided at all times and only the correct cleaning cloths are recommended.

Don't store the instrument in extreme temperatures, such as near a radiator or in a cold cloakroom.  Don’t leave them in the boot of a car.  As a general guide, instruments will be comfortable where you are!

Trombones

Fill the complete slide with warm soapy water and operate the slide repeatedly.  Remove the water and rinse through with clear, cold water.  Repeat as necessary.

The inner and outer slides should be disassembled and cleaned using a flexible cleaning brush, in conjunction with any good slide cleaning kit, to make sure that the cleaner reaches the bottom bow of the outer slide.  If the bottom bow is not cleaned, sound quality is affected, and the bow may eventually rot through from the inside.

A small amount of good quality slide cream should be applied to the inner slide stocking and sprayed with clear water.

Ensure that the bell and tuning slide are kept clean by running them through with lukewarm water and a tuning slide swab.  After drying with a lint free cloth, apply tuning slide grease before reassembling.

 
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