Instrument Repair Services
Care of your Brass Instrument
Your brass instrument is a precision made item of engineering. If you look after it carefully it will give you many years of trouble-free enjoyment (and avoid you having to seek my services!!) if you follow these simple guidelines.
Always, Always, Always keep the instrument in its case when it is not being played. Most accidents occur when an instrument is left on a chair, under it or propped up behind a door.
Regularly clean your mouthpiece with water and a mouthpiece brush as dirt and food tend to collect there. Eating and drinking (especially sweets and sugary drinks - kids favourites) should be avoided immediately before playing as particles will be blown into the instrument and will make it smell after a while. Certain foodstuffs will also cause corrosion inside the instrument - have you seen what coke does to a penny?
Never force the mouthpiece into the instrument - just a gentle twist is all that is required. We all know what a nice sound it makes if you tap the palm of your hand on the mouthpiece - that sound could cost £50 or so in damage. If it does become jammed, don't try and remove it yourself. I have a specialized tool that will remove it without any damage.
Tuning slides need to be kept clean and lubricated. If they become difficult to move, remove them, clean with a soft cloth and then apply new tuning slide grease sparingly. If they are stuck solid, to avoid excessive expense, take the instrument to a repairer.
Piston valves are precision machined to very close tolerances. Any dirt or foreign body that finds its way between the valve and valve casing has the potential to stop the valve functioning and possibly to cause damage. While they are working, occasional lubrication with valve oil is all that is required. If they start to stick or become sluggish, clean them, one at a time, with a clean dry cloth. Remove the bottom cap and then pass the cloth through the casing to remove any excess oil that may have built up at the extremities of the valve scope. If there are hard deposits inside the casing a valve casing brush can be used to remove them. Don't use anything sharp in the casing as even a slight scratch will inhibit the valve action. Apply a couple of drops of oil to the valve, insert into the casing, and gently turn clockwise (looking down) until the valve guide drops into place. Gently tighten top and bottom cap, taking care not to cross-thread them, then move the valve up and down a few time to distribute the oil.
Rotary valves, found on french horns and some trombones, also require lubrication, the difference being that these valves cannot be dismantled and reassembled without special tools. Unscrew the top domed cap and apply a couple of drops of rotary key oil to the spindle. Operate the valve a few times and check that the oil is distributed around the spindle. Check that the mark on the spindle lines up with the marks on the valve. If they don't the valves will require realigning by a repairer. Replace the cap. The pivot screw on the valve lever can also be lubricated with rotary key oil
The slide of a trombone again must be scrupulously clean for a smooth action. To do this, remove the outer slide and wipe the inner slides with a non-fluffy, clean cloth. Then fill the outer slide with warm water and, using a flexible cleaning brush, give both tubes a good clean. Rinse with clean water. Apply slide cream sparingly to the ends (stocking) of the inner slides. Replace the outer onto the inner ensuring that they are the correct way round (by checking that the slide lock works). Move the slide in and out to distribute the cream. Apply one drop of silicone to each stocking. More working of slide. Spray the inner slides with water from a spray bottle and work in. Always keep the slide locked when the instrument is not being played. (If you use a different lubrication system follow the instructions for that product).
Two or three times a year the whole instrument should be immersed in a warm bath. Don't use washing up liquid as this can damage the lacquer but instead use a mild disinfectant such as Milton Fluid. Remove all of the slides and valves (not rotary) before immersing. Put the slides in. The valves will need to have the felts removed before immersing. If that seems a bit daunting then just dip the valves into the water and swirl without getting the felts wet. After leaving all the parts to soak use a valve brush and a flexible cleaning brush to clean awkward curves and long tubing. Remove and flush all the parts with clean water and dry with a soft cloth. Lubricate all slides and valves as described above and refit to the instrument.
Any small dents in the instrument will not adversely affect the sound but larger dents may affect the tuning of the instrument. I can advise you on this. For lacquered instruments use a soft cloth to wipe away fingerprints and dirt from the body of the instrument. For silver plated ones a silver cloth can be used. Do not use Brasso/Silvo - these are abrasive.
In conclusion, cleanliness is the key to keeping your instrument in good playing order. If you do have problems please don't hesitate to call and I will advise you with the best course of action.All the items marked above in this colour are available from me - see Accessories page