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Brass Wind Instrument Care Tips
By Alex Beamer
10/25/2017 2:54:00 PM

Brass Wind Instrument Care Tips

brass care tipsProper maintenance is essential to keeping your brass wind instrument in top condition. While different instruments have their own parts and design, their care is very much the same. All brass instruments require cleaning and careful handling. Here's some tips from our experts to make sure that your instrument stays in the best playing condition possible!


Keeping It Clean

Avoid UFO’s

Never eat or drink anything while playing except for water. Doing so will lead to scary UFO’s (Unidentified Food Objects) invading your instrument. In fact, some players brush their teeth or rinse their mouths immediately before playing as an additional preventative measure.

Special Instructions for French Horns

Of course, with the French horn you will not want to remove their rotary valves. Instead, wipe all the slides clean with a rag and reapply a small amount of slide grease. This should be all that’s needed to keep the slides working smoothly between shop visits.  

Pro Tip: Bottles with 
needle applicators really help to get the oil right where you want it.

Avoid Frozen Slides and Valves with a Monthly Flush

To avoid frozen slides and valves, it’s recommended that a soapy water bathtub flush be done once per month. The procedure is easy: Fill your bathtub with warm—not hot—water and a little dish soap. Completely disassemble the instrument, removing all slides, valves, caps, finger buttons, etc., and allow all the parts to soak for a half hour. Drain the soapy water and use a cleaning “snake” to brush the inside of all the tubes.

cleaning snake

Next, scrub the valves. If the valves are still dirty or sticky, soak them in vinegar for an hour. Finally, thoroughly rinse out all parts with warm water and place on a towel to dry. Before re-assembly, all slides should be greased and oiled with the proper oils and lubricants.

Special Instructions for French Horns

Most French horns use something called rotary valves. Unlike standard piston-type valves, the French horn’s rotary valves require special tools and training to be removed and reinstalled correctly. DO NOT attempt to remove them yourself.

You can, however, wash out the mouth pipe portion of your French horn by using a snake and a little warm soapy water. If this first section of tube is brushed out often, then you can generally avoid the difficult task having to snake out the entire horn.


Keep Your Instrument Safe!

DO NOT store anything other than the mouthpiece and instrument inside the case. Items such as books, music, mutes, music stands, and metronomes belong in a separate bag.

Related Articles

If you should notice a problem with your instrument, bring it in as soon as possible to be serviced. Repairs to band instruments can take just a few minutes, several hours or sometimes several weeks, so don’t wait until it is too late! Contact your local West Music store to schedule a repair or complete our online Instrument Repair Form.


Tags: brass, trumpet, trombone, French horn, beginner, maintenance
Categories: Band & Orchestra
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