Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Brass Ensemble Instrument Care and Repair

Roy Bilham director of Thames Fanfare Brass and British State Trumpeters has been a professional brass musician for over 50 years playing in Brass Bands, Orchestras, Wind Bands, Brass Quintets and Brass Ensembles. He has also been a  teacher of brass for over 40 years.

Regular maintenance on your instrument is very important, a little time and effort will certainly pay off and should avoid problems which could lead to a very costly repair bill. However be aware of attempting to repair your instrument yourself however small.  If you have any doubts consult a qualified instrument technician for advice.


These cleaning principles can cover Fanfare Trumpets – All Trumpets/Cornets – Tenor Horns/Flugels – Baritones/Euphonium/Tubas.

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

1.      Flush out your instrument at least every 4-6 weeks with mild soapy water. For example a trumpet would only need a few drops of fairy liquid down the bell followed by a sauce pan of warm water poured down the bell after. This works well and you get a continuous flow through the cornet/trumpet. Then rinse with cold water and dry thoroughly. Do not use hot water as this could be dangerous to you and the lacquer on your instrument.
2.      A flexible cleaning brush should be used to clean out slides and tubing, but make sure this is renewed once a year to avoid breakage inside the instrument.
3.      Use a valve case cleaning brush to clean out the valve casings.
4.      Use a lint free cloth such as cheese cloth as a swab. This may also be used to wipe the pistons which should be carefully removed and special care taken to replace them in the right order (clean one valve replace and so on).
5.      Use only a quality tuning slide grease when lubricating the slides and a minimum amount of valve oil on the pistons. The use of inferior lubricants can affect the performance of your instrument.
6.      Make sure that the mouthpieces are cleaned thoroughly with warm water a dirty mouthpiece or mouth pipe can be detrimental in the response of your instrument.
7.      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 should be used.
8.      Try to keep your instrument in an atmosphere of even temperature and humidity. Do not leave it in direct sunlight or near a radiator even when it is in its case.
9.      For trombones fill the complete slide with soapy warm water and activate the slide up and down several times. Remove the water and rinse through with clean clear water as necessary.
10.  The inner and outer slides should be disassembled and cleaned using a cleaning brush in conjunction with any good slide cleaning kit to make sure that the cleaning reaches the bottom bow of the outer slide.
11.  A small amount of good quality slide cream should be applied to the inner slide stocking and sprayed with clear water.
12.  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.


Al Cass fast valve slide and key oil.
Superslick care kit for trumpet/cornet.

Yamaha trombone maintenance cleaning kit cork grease and brush.
Herco slide grease.


Phil Parker – Dawkes Music

So the bottom line ladies and gentlemen boys and girls – as teachers we don’t want to see sausage, egg, bacon and chips lining your mouthpieces.

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