Clean Your Trumpet!

A clean trumpet may be the easiest way to give yourself a performance “edge”, and it extends the life of your horn too. It’s just like changing the oil (and other fluids), rotating the tires, routine thorough inspections, and the occasional car wash for your automobile. These little maintenance tasks allow your car to run at it’s best and often saves you money in large repairs down the road. Cleaning a trumpet is quick, easy, and inexpensive. Clean your trumpet every six months for best performance and longevity. Here’s a list of what you will need:

Cleaning snake
Mouthpiece brush
Valve casing brush
Liquid dishwashing soap (Dawn, Ivory, etc.)
Valve oil
Slide grease
A couple of old towels
Old sponge, toothbrush, or washcloth (for cleaning tight spots and male slide tubes)
A large sink or bathtub

For those unsure of what to do with the above list of items, follow the simple steps below:

Fill your sink or tub with warm water (add soap while filling). Disassemble your trumpet, placing the valves off to the side. Place all parts (body, slides, top and bottom caps) in the sink to soak for 20 to 30 minutes. After soaking, run the snake (several times) through all tubes on the body and slides, taking care not to run the snake around sharp “elbows” or bends in the tubing (it will get stuck). Spend the most time on the leadpipe, tuning slide, and tubing that connects the tuning slide to the 3rd valve. Put a few drops of soap on the valve casing brush and run it through the valve casings, and do the same with the mouthpiece brush and all mouthpieces. After looking down the tubes and checking for any remaining gunk, thoroughly rinse each object and place on a towel to air dry. Clean each valve port (hole) using the same process as cleaning the casings and mouthpiece, taking care not to immerse the valve (and getting the felts wet). Make sure to use a very soft bristle brush on the valves (the casing brush is normally just fine) as the valves are delicate and any scratches or dents may affect performance. Rinse the valves and set aside to dry. After the trumpet is dry, re-assemble and oil/grease the trumpet. If you have a silver trumpet, now is the best time to polish it.

I also recommend an Ultrasonic or chemical cleaning once every 1-2 years. These must be done by a professional, but will completely clean every square inch of your trumpet, even in places unreachable by cleaning snake. Most reputable music stores and repair shops offer these services in the range of $65-100. The tech performing the cleaning will also give your instrument a thorough inspection. If you need a recommendation, contact me.

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