The Proper Way to Oil Your Valves

Click on the above title to be taught by a member of the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT)

Save Yourself A Repair Bill

Student: My second valve is stuck.
Repair Technician: I see you keep your books in your case on top of the horn.
The case is formed to the horn so it’s held tightly in the case. No extra room there! Your books can’t take on that same shape of the horn when you close the lid. So when you close the lid, your books are forced down on top of the 2nd slide that is sticking up. The slide is bent down and makes your valve casing out of round and causes your valve to get stuck. (in simple terms it’s like trying to put a round object into a square hole). Be sure not to lay music books directly on top of the horn.

Student: My slides won’t come out.
Repair Technician: “Oops, you forgot to keep your slides greased. That will be $$ please to remove your stuck slides.”

Tip: Check the movement of your slides often and if they’re hard to move then put some slide grease on them. You can wipe off the excess old grease with some alcohol or, warm water and Dawn dish soap to start fresh. Another bill saver!

Keep Your Brass Instrument Playing in Top Condition
(Avoiding Stuck Slides and Valves)

Stuck Valve – if you are at the point where a valve or slide is stuck, take it to a repair tech that can fix the problem. In the end it will save you money! Believe me, I’ve seen the attempts to remove a valve by trying to push it through with a screw driver (or anything else) – the valve is ruined and it will cost yourself an extra $100 in repairs. Save money – bring it to a tech and then create a cleaning maintenance schedule of your own. See below!

Here are some tips to avoid unnecessary repair bills. Simple weekly and monthly maintenance will keep the horn playing with ease and have a clear tone. Cleaning eliminates the continuous build-up of bacteria and particles that could contribute to the possibility of colds and other sickness. After seeing the “gunk” that comes from the horn the first time you clean it, you will be convinced that this is a good habit to continue.

Weekly Maintenance:

  1. To avoid frozen slides, use tuning slide grease weekly. Depress valves when removing slides. NOTE: If you can’t remove a slide have a repair technician remove it for you to avoid further damage.
  2. Oil valves when they begin to stick, and a minimum of once a week.
  3. Use your mouthpiece cleaning brush to clean the mouthpiece. Use mild liquid soap and warm water.

Once a month:

Flush out the entire instrument. Use a utility sink, plastic tub or bathtub. Place a rubber mat or something soft underneath to avoid scratching the horn.

Supplies needed:
· Brass cleaning kit includes: mouthpiece cleaning brush, snake, and cleaning       rod.
· Tuning slide grease
· Valve oil
· Lint free cloth (micro fiber cloths are great)
· Paper towels
· Cotton swabs
· Dishwashing soap (grease cutting; Dawn works well)

Cleaning Procedure:
· Remove mouthpiece and tuning slides (always depress valves before removing slides)
· Unscrew valve caps and remove valves from casings. (Important: keep valves in order to properly place them in the corresponding casing when finished).
· Submerge the instrument and tuning slides in lukewarm water (never hot) with mild dish-washing soap. Let sit for a few minutes to loosen the crud on the inside.
· To clean the tubing and tuning slides, use the trumpet snake and use the valve brush to clean the valve casings.  Rinse with warm water and drain thoroughly. (Care should be taken in the use of soap – never use detergents – especially on lacquer finishes.)
· Dry off the outside with a soft cloth (micro-fiber works great!) Use the cleaning rod with the cloth covering the tip to dry the inside of the valve casings. You may also let the horn air dry if you don’t have a cleaning rod.

Keeping them in order, rinse the bottom of the valves, in warm water. Use a Q-tip or the mouthpiece brush to clean the portholes. Dry valve casings with a micro-fiber cloth. Use your mouthpiece cleaning brush weekly, to clean the mouthpiece. Use mild soap and warm water.
When reassembling the trumpet, grease the slides and oil the valves.

If you have any questions, or would like to purchase a care kit, email, call (216) 228-4885 or stop by the store.