Home | Audio | DIY | Guitar | iPods | Music | Brain/Problem Solving | Links| Site Map
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Trumpet Care and Maintenance
The first thing you should know.
Don't clean your trumpet and Don't buy a cleaning kit.
The Cleaning Kit Scam
Cleaning kits are designed for one purpose, to take extra money out of your pocket at the time of any instrument purchase or rental. Selling cleaning kits is a great way for stores to make an extra $15 dollars when fooling you into buying one. Just imagine $15 added on to the thousands of instruments sold or rented each year. This is hundred thousands of dollars worth of cleaning kits sold each year in the USA alone. This is why virtually every store participates in the major cleaning-kit drive. They try to sell as many cleaning kits as possible. I once walked into a music store before the start of a school year and did not see too many instruments displayed but the whole store was stacked with cleaning kits. It was hilarious. It was a well known chain store in Charlotte, NC.
Sometimes these stores even get the music teacher or band director involved in the selling of cleaning kits. There is big profits in cleaning kits.
Cleaning kits include some useless brushes and anything else they can find to pad the package to make it look important to the inexperienced. Professional players don't use this stuff, neither should you.
Try to fight the urge and don't buy a cleaning kit. Instead of a cleaning kit what you really need is common sense.
The only thing you need is valve oil and slide grease and you can buy these separately and they are very cheap.
Although there are only a few useful things in a "cleaning kit" like valve oil and maybe slide grease, I suggest that you buy these items separately. The crazy brushes, swabs, some lubricants, disinfectants, polishing cloths etc. are either useless or plain dangerous to use on your trumpet. It encourages kids to mess around with their instruments, disassembling the instrument and putting it a bathtub when not knowing what they are doing. Be prepared for a repair bill, if they do something to damage it. So, my recommendation is don't touch your trumpet.
Don't do anything to it except two things: OIL THE VALVES and GREASE THE SLIDES
There are only 2 things you have to do to your trumpet:
1. Oil the valves
2. Grease the slides
There are only 2 things you need to buy:
1. Valve oil
2. Slide Grease
Valve oil has three purposes: it cleans, lubricates, and it fills air space.
An un-oiled piston will wear faster than a regularly oiled piston. Oil also flushes out any small debris and dirt that gets in between the valve and walls of the valve casing. A layer of oil will also fill the small gap between the valve and the casing, reducing any air leakage, making your trumpet more efficient.
OILING THE VALVES - do this about two times a week.
Hold your trumpet exactly like would would when playing it but hold it at a 45 degree angle downward. Unscrew the top cap and lift the valve only half way out of the casing. Do not remove it completely. Put about five drops of valve oil on the valve surface. Spread the oil around by rotating the valve up and down and around in the casing. Let the valve fall into the casing all the way down.
Turn the valve until you hear a click, indicating that the valve guide has fallen in the right space. This aligns the valve with all the ports. (The valve guide is a small plastic piece located under the valve spring. This valve guide must snap into a little notch inside the casing. When it does, the valve will be perfectly aligned. You will know when the valve guide is in the right place because you will feel and hear a click and the valve will not rotate any longer.
GREASING THE SLIDES - do this about once a month
Why do you have to grease the slides you ask?
If you do not lubricate the slides the mineral deposits from saliva will literally weld the tubes together and you are looking at an expensive repair and acid bath to mobilize them again. This is how you get "stuck slides". Your trumpet dries out and all that remains are the deposits. You will not be able to remove these deposits with any soap or water or any cleaning kit. It must be removed by acid at a professional repair shop. To avoid all this hassle and expense, all you have to do is grease the slides. In case you are to lazy to grease the slides and you feel that you are handy anyway will have not trouble pulling out the stuck slides with some tools form the garage, you will be in for an unpleasant surprise. You will tear your trumpet apart. There is a chance that you will rip apart all the solder joints. Yes the trumpet is held together by solder joints. If you grease your slides regularly they will never get stuck. If you are lazy or forget and your slides get stuck, take your trumpet to a trusted repair depot and the clever repair tech should be able to remove the slides without any damage. In the worse case scenario some slides get stuck so bad that the slides themselves have to be unsoldered while in the trumpet and after the curved crook of the slide has been removed the inpidual pieces of slide tubing has to be removed independently piece by piece. So, the moral of the story is DON'T FORGET TO GREASE YOUR SLIDES. How to grease your slides. Do this about once a month.
First you must first know that there are two types of slides on your trumpet. I call them "slow slides" and "fast slides". Slow slides are designed to move slowly and placed in one position like your main tuning slide. Fast slides are designed as fine tuning slides and are designed to move fast to fine tune your trumpet while playing. You activate them with your finger so they must be free to move easily and quickly while you play sweet music. Therefore you grease anything that is meant to move slowly and oil anything that is meant to move fast. If you grease anything that is meant to move fast, you will slow it down. Grease is thick like molasses and slows everything down. Valve oil is very thin and has the consistency of water, therefore it makes everything move fast.
Greasing "slow slides"
Remember these are “slow slides“, so you must grease them, not oil them. Take the slides out every month and put a thin coat of grease on the tubes and slide them back in place. You can buy tuning slide grease at most music stores for just a few dollars. You can even use Vaseline. The best stuff to use is called Selmer Tuning Slide and Cork Grease. This is what it looks like.
Here is how you grease your slides
Remember you do this to all the slides with the exception (on some trumpets) of maybe the 1st and 3rd valve slides, which are designed to be fast moving, so you put oil on them. Remember?
Remove the slide. Put a layer of messy and sticky slide grease on the slide.
Spread it around with your fingers. Yes your fingers will get all greasy.
Replace the slide tube.
With your fingers wipe off any excess grease that squeezes out after you insert the slide. Use this excess to put on the next slide.
Do the same thing with the next slide.
Oiling "fast slides"
These are usually the 1st and/or 3rd valve slides. On many trumpets the 1st and 3rd valve slides are designed to be a fast moving, fine tuning slide. This is why you have a finger ring on it, so that you can move it while playing with your finger. On better quality trumpets these slide are made to move freely and if you want to retain this function then you do not put grease on it, since grease will sow it down. Instead you put oil on it. Remember anything you want to move fast on a trumpet you put oil on it, anything you want to move slow or leave in a certain position, you put grease on it. So if you want to retain the quick movement of the 1st and 3rd slides then put a drop of oil on each slide tube of the 1st and 3rd slides every time you oil the valves. Always press down on the corresponding valve to move the slide and when spreading the oil around since there is vacuum inside the trumpet.
If you are a beginner or have only played for a few years, chances are you will not be using your 1st and 3rd fast moving, fine-tuning slides. Therefore, its a good idea if you grease them and just make them into slow slides, since you are not using their fast slide capabilities anyway. The choice is yours what you want to do. Sometimes its just easier to grease every slide the same way.
As long as you oil and grease it regularly, you will not need to do anything else and your trumpet will be happy.
Amado Waterkey Maintenance
These days many trumpets have Amado warterkeys instead of the traditional "spitvalves" (I always thought that was a crude name). Amado waterkeys are actually small valves that open and close if pressed on. The tolerances are quite tight inside these gismos and there is a tiny spring inside of them. So, needless to say, don't take them apart because you will never find the small parts and even if you do, you will never be able to put them all back. Mineral deposits from saliva, just like on any other internal part of your trumpet will jam or freeze the Amado waterkeys. This is why Amado waterkeys should never be allowed to dry out. They should always be oiled.
Just put a drop of oil in the actual waterkey hole and around the small waterkey button. Put another drop on the other side of the Amado waterkey as well. A total of 3 drops of oil once a month will do the trick and you will never curse Mr. Amado for his invention. After oiling each Amado waterkey in these three places, work in the oil by pressing the button a number of times.
You are probably wondering what type of oil to use. NOT VALVE OIL. It must by thicker oil. Motor oil is perfect. You can also use woodwind key oil.
Cleaning Your Trumpet
You do not have to clean your trumpet.
Shocking isn't it?
Everyone and their uncle Bob will probably tell you that you should clean your trumpet regularly. This is nonsense. Many people spend more time cleaning their trumpets than they do playing them. I guess cleaning is easier than playing.
I suggest that you do not clean your trumpet, its not necessary.
You cannot effectively clean your trumpet anyway. A cleaning kit will not work since most of the deposits are mineral deposits and are permanently fused to the inside walls of the tubing or valves. Unless these deposits effect the mechanical functioning of your instrument you do not need to worry about cleaning. To truly and effectively clean your trumpet you must have it acid cleaned by a professional. The deposits inside your trumpet are like the mineral deposits on your bathroom walls, water alone will not remove mineral deposits, only acid will.
You should not wash the inside of your trumpet. This is what many students are told to do but it is not needed. Disassembling the instrument can also cause damage if not handled properly. Your trumpet does not belong in the bathtub. Its not like brushing your teeth twice a day. If you are not sharing your trumpet with other students then there is no sanitary reason for clean your trumpet or your mouthpiece. Unless there are major deposits in your valve casings and slide tubes effecting the mechanics of the valves and slides, there is no reason to clean your trumpet. Most of the time if your valves and slides don't function its not due to lack of cleaning but due to mechanical problems such as worn valves, dented slides, dented or twisted valve casings etc. If you have trouble with your valves and slides its not due to a lack of cleaning or even the lack of lubrication. These mechanical problems are usually due to dents or the bending or twisting of the trumpet. Remember your trumpet is made of metal but its soft brass, which bends and dents very easily. There is very close tolerance between the valves and the valve casing which the valves are inserted into and move inside of. If you get just the slightest dent in the casing your valves will not be able to move inside. If your valve casing twists even microscopically and the casings go out of round, your valves will jam.
So you still want to clean your trumpet, even though I said you don't have to? Here is how you do it properly. This is the best way to clean valves. Just please don't take a bath with your trumpet even if your music teacher tells you to do so. Use a rubber ducky instead in the bathtub, that's what they are for.
Go to a Chinese restaurant and steal a chopstick. Preferably a wooden one. These are absolutely perfect for the job since they have a rectangular surface on one end where you wrap a piece of cloth on it. Wrap the cloth around the thicker square end of the chopstick and then fold the cloth over the top,
Insert it into the valve casing. See how well it does the job. No silly brush that comes in a "cleaning kit" can ever do this. Remember cleaning kits are a rip off invented by music store owners.
Do the same thing from the top. Insert the cloth form the top of the valve casing. After this your valve casing will be unbelievably clean. You can also take a cloth and clean the surface of you valves as well. You can even clean in the valve ports in the valve itself, that's optional.
Please Note: Chopsticks and regular cloths are not found in any cleaning kit that you buy from a music store.
DO you feel that your trumpet is still dirty?
After several years mineral deposits may have collected on the internals of your trumpet. This is the same stuff that collects on your bathroom walls and you can not remove it with just water or a cloth. You must have the instrument acid cleaned. Take it over to your favorite band instrument repair shop and have the nice man give it an acid wash. Make sure he does not over charge you for this job. More than $25 is a rip. Now your trumpet will be as clean as new. If he did a good job, all the insides of the tubes will be clean without any deposits.
Do you really need to have your trumpet perfectly clean? NO. A trumpet that has a layer of deposits will have better tone and will intonate (play in tune) better. Don't ask me why, that's the way it is. Just imagine if someone gave your insides a perfect acid cleaning. You would be squeaky clean but you would not be very happy and you would never sing in tune again.
Last but not least: VERY IMPORTANT: this is just all common sense, not rocket science
Be sure to always put your mouthpiece in its proper spot in the case and never in with your trumpet. It will smash up your instrument if it bounces around in the case.
Never try to remove your mouthpiece if it gets stuck. Take it to a repair shop that has a special tool for this purpose. They should do this for you free of charge.
Repairs – Never let anyone repair your trumpet who is not a professional wind instrument repair technician, including yourself, your music teacher, your Dad, Uncle Fred, or the very helpful neighbor down the street (who can repair anything).
Never stand your trumpet up on its bell. It will fall over and get damaged. When you are not playing the trumpet, put it in the case.
Polishing your trumpet - don't do it, but if you really want to then read below
Do not shine the outside of the trumpet using any polish. Did you know that there is a clear coat of lacquer on your instrument? You will only scratch off this lacquer and destroy the appearance of the instrument. With the lacquer scratched off, the instrument will tarnish like crazy and it will look awful.
Silver Plated Instruments
Do not use any silver polish on silver plated instruments either. Silver polish is an abrasive which is somewhat like sandpaper. You will wear through the silver plating. You will also get some polish residue left behind in hard to reach areas and your instruments will look bad. You may also get this polish into your valve casings and then you will be in trouble.
If you really must shine up your silver trumpet, the best thing to do is buy a silver cleaning cloth (Selmer makes a good one). These silver cloths are inpregnanted with some mild polish called "rouge". These cloths do work but the problem is that as soon as you put your paws on the instrument it will have fingerprints on it again. So why bother, is what I say. The more you use your silver trumpet the less it will tarnish.
VERY IMPORTANT:Do not remove the plastic retainer on the 3rd valve slide of Getzen trumpets. It is designed to stay on the trumpet at all time to prevent the "fast" 3rd slide from falling out.
Good luck and remember to practice every day and respect your instrument.
Home | Audio | DIY | Guitar | iPods | Music | Links | Brain and Problem Solving | Site Map | Contact