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A Guide to Better Brass Instrument Care
by  Sam Qamand Jack M Mack

The Maintenance of Brass instruments is quite different from Strings and Woodwind. Outlined below are 3 primary things involved with their care.

Washing - It is advisable to clean your instrument internally on a fairly regular basis. Run a warm bath with a little washing-up liquid to soak the instrument in (this excludes any rotor instruments such as French Horn, Rotor Tubas and Rotor Trombones, as the internal mechanisms require special attention that should be dealt with via a qualified instrument repairer). Leave for approximately 10 minutes in the water having removed any valves before immersing the main body. Then run the instrument over with warm water to rinse off any remaining soap.

Cleaning - Brush out all tubes with a "snake" (long wired cleaning brush). There is also a brush used for the valves and a brush for the mouthpieces (these should all be available from a music shop). NB. If you have given the instrument a bath prior to cleaning valves and tubes, make sure that the instrument has completely dried out before re-assembling.

Lubrication - Trumpets: Unscrew the valve cap and either completely remove ( if bathing first)or lift halfway. Apply valve oil to wide part of valve and push valve back into position. All valves have a guide to hold them properly in place. If you are unsure as to whether the valve is correctly in place, gently turn the valve. A soft click will be heard once in place and the valve will no longer want to move. Placing fingers on the top of each valve cap, push up and down till the action is smooth. A drop of valve oil is also need for the valve bottom caps before replacing them. N.B All valves are numbered so that they are fitted into the correct location without mistakes!

Trombones: Apply a small amount of Slide grease to the slides and re-assemble. For the main Slide use either Slide Cream of oil.

Common Accidents - Be careful not over force when inserting the mouthpiece. It can easily get stuck, though most music establishments have the appropriate apparatus to remove them and will not charge for the service. Do not lean on the bell of the instrument when applying the mouthpiece or just resting from playing. It is an expensive mistake and though it can be repaired, it is best avoided!

When cleaning, take care when removing any slides, valves and valve bottom caps. Any dents made in the bell of the instrument are much easier to restore than if the slides themselves get dented. If in doubt or if the slides and valves do not move with gentle pressure, bring it in to a qualified instrument repairer rather than risk further damaging the instrument.

One other topic to consider is instrument repairs, evaluate who you would trust with your Yamaha clarinet. It is always best to choose a reputable company.

The safest place for an instrument that is not being played is in its case.

Instruments with water keys need to have them opened and blown into, either when play has finished or during prolonged playing time. This removes the excess moisture from inside the instrument. Use a cloth to then wipe away any oils or perspiration from the hands.

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