Care and Cleaning

Care and Cleaning Chapter Sample

From Chapter 12D. How to Clean the Brass Instruments:

Brass instruments should be cleaned about once every six months by following these steps:

1. Fill a bathtub with warm water. Do not use hot water because it will remove the lacquer (the clear coating which protects the shiny finish from tarnishing).

2. Dismantle the instrument by removing all valve and tuning slides, taking the trombone slide apart and dismantling piston valves (do not disassemble rotor valves).

3. Place the body of the instrument, the slides and the mouthpiece in the water. Set piston valves and springs on a towel off to the side.

4. Use gentle dish soap and a soft rag to wash the outside of the body of the instrument and the outsides of the slides.

5. Use a cleaning snake (a long, flexible brush) to clean the inside of all the tubes, including all tuning slides and the trombone slide. The most grime will have built up in the lead pipe where the mouthpiece is inserted, so be sure to brush this part out well. WARNING: Horn snakes have smaller brushes. Do not use a trombone or tuba snake on a horn or it will get stuck.

6. Use a mouthpiece brush to scrub the mouthpiece inside and out.

7. Clean the piston valves very carefully by dipping them into the water. Don’t immerse the felts into the water because they will deteriorate when wet. WARNING: Do not scrub the valves or the insides of the valve casings with a hard brush; you might scratch them and they won’t work properly. Rinse thoroughly to remove all the soap.

8. Run water through the tubing by cupping your hand around the spigot and directing the flow of water through the tubes.

9. Dry the outside of all parts with a towel and use a cleaning rod to swab the inside of the tubes. If the mouthpiece is silver plated, you can use silver polish to shine it up. Gold surfaces do not require polish. WARNING: Do not use an abrasive polish on lacquered brass, nickel or silver finishes because it will scratch them.

10. Once the instrument is clean and dry, reassemble it, taking care that all the piston valves return to their proper casings. Look for the little number stamped on the valve and find the corresponding number on the valve casing to be sure the valves are in the right place. WARNING: If the valves go in the wrong casings, the instrument will not play.

11. Grease all tuning slides and replace them. WARNING: The tuning slides must go in the right place or the instrument will not play. On the double horn, the longer slides go on the top and the shorter slides go on the bottom.

12. Mouthpieces should be cleaned about once a week in addition to the thorough cleaning described above. Encourage your students to keep a mouthpiece brush in their case so they can keep their mouthpieces clean.