How to maintain brass instruments

Brass Instrument Maintenance

brasswind instrument maintenance

Brass instruments such as the trumpet, horn, euphonium, and tuba require specific care after practice. It’s crucial to apply oil to the keys and valves after playing to prevent them from becoming sluggish due to saliva buildup over time. Additionally, extended practice can lead to moisture accumulation on the bell section, and using polish is recommended to prevent discoloration.

  1. Trombones, unlike other instruments, are played using slides instead of keys or valves. Careful attention should be given to the slides, and daily application of slide oil is necessary to maintain smooth movement.
  2. For instruments that come with keys, like many trombones, meticulous management is essential. Trombones rely heavily on their slides, which are vital for playing. Mishandling or neglecting proper maintenance of the slides can render the instrument unplayable, necessitating careful handling. If a slide becomes bent, it’s advisable to seek repairs from a nearby instrument repair shop. Cleaning foreign substances from the slides can be done with water, followed by applying specialized slide oil.
  3. As brass instruments are made of brass, a type of iron alloy, practicing daily cleaning is crucial to prevent surface tarnishing. Particularly, areas touched by hands should be thoroughly cleaned to prevent corrosion caused by sweat.
  4. The tuning slide should be occasionally cleaned and lubricated with specialized grease to ensure smooth movement. After practice, it’s essential to remove all saliva from the instrument and store it in its case. Horns, due to their curved shape, require special attention to completely remove saliva through the bell using a suitable cloth.
  5. For pieces that have been used extensively and have undergone tarnishing, such as silver-plated parts, discoloration can occur. Applying toothpaste and gentle polishing can help restore the original color to some extent.
  6. Brass instruments have tunable valves that can be adjusted using tuning slides. Weather conditions can affect the instrument’s pitch, causing it to rise in hot weather and fall in cold weather. Adjusting the tuning slide allows for the correction of the instrument’s pitch.
  7. Unlike woodwind instruments, brass instruments are less affected by weather conditions, making brass instrument maintenance more straightforward. Regular cleaning after practice ensures effective instrument care. Brass instrument maintenance is required every time after the player  playing the instrument.

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Libretto Trumpet (Cornet) ALL-INCLUSIVE Care Kit w/Instructions: Valve Oil+Slide

Monster Trombone Care and Cleaning Kit

Libretto French Horn ALL-INCLUSIVE Cleaning & Care Kit with Instructions

Brass Instrument – Source Wikipedia

brass instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player’s lips. Brass instruments are also called labrosones or labrophones, from Latin and Greek elements meaning ‘lip’ and ‘sound’.

There are several factors involved in producing different pitches on a brass instrumentSlidesvalvescrooks (though they are rarely used today), or keys are used to change vibratory length of tubing, thus changing the available harmonic series, while the player’s embouchure, lip tension and air flow serve to select the specific harmonic produced from the available series.

The view of most scholars (see organology) is that the term “brass instrument” should be defined by the way the sound is made, as above, and not by whether the instrument is actually made of brass. Thus one finds brass instruments made of wood, like the alphorn, the cornett, the serpent and the didgeridoo, while some woodwind instruments are made of brass, like the saxophone.


Modern brass instruments generally come in one of two families:

  • Valved brass instruments use a set of valves (typically three or four but as many as seven or more in some cases) operated by the player’s fingers that introduce additional tubing, or crooks, into the instrument, changing its overall length. This family includes all of the modern brass instruments except the trombone: the trumpethorn (also called French horn), euphonium, and tuba, as well as the cornet, flugelhorntenor horn (alto horn)baritone hornsousaphone, and the mellophone. As valved instruments are predominant among the brasses today, a more thorough discussion of their workings can be found below. The valves are usually piston valves, but can be rotary valves; the latter are the norm for the horn (except in France) and are also common on the tuba.
  • Slide brass instruments use a slide to change the length of tubing. The main instruments in this category are the trombone family, though valve trombones are occasionally used, especially in jazz. The trombone family’s ancestor, the sackbut, and the folk instrument bazooka are also in the slide family.There are two other families that have, in general, become functionally obsolete for practical purposes. Instruments of both types, however, are sometimes used for period-instrument performances of Baroque or Classical pieces. In more modern compositions, they are occasionally used for their intonation or tone color.
  • Natural brass instruments only play notes in the instrument’s harmonic series. These include the bugle and older variants of the trumpet and horn. The trumpet was a natural brass instrument prior to about 1795, and the horn before about 1820. In the 18th century, makers developed interchangeable crooks of different lengths, which let players use a single instrument in more than one key. Natural instruments are still played for period performances and some ceremonial functions, and are occasionally found in more modern scores, such as those by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss.
  • Keyed or Fingered brass instruments used holes along the body of the instrument, which were covered by fingers or by finger-operated pads (keys) in a similar way to a woodwind instrument. These included the cornettserpentophicleidekeyed bugle and keyed trumpet. They are more difficult to play than valved instruments.


Brasswind Instrument Maintenance

Brass Instrument Maintenance Guide.

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