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How to Clean Your Trumpet

Updated on May 6, 2013
A beautiful and clean trumpet
A beautiful and clean trumpet | Source

Cleaning Supplies Needed

  • Towels
  • Trumpet Snake
  • Valve Brush
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Mouthpiece Brush
  • Valve oil
  • Slide Grease

Why Should you Clean Your Trumpet?

Cleaning and maintaining your trumpet is an essential part of being a trumpet playing musician. This instrument can build up some nasty stuff if it isn't cleaned on a semi-regular basis. Just think about the things that can travel through your trumpet as you are playing. As you blow air through, you are also sending a little bit of whatever is in your mouth through your trumpet. This includes saliva, food particles, germs, etc. On top of the sanitary issues, a trumpet does not sound as it is supposed to when it has not been cleaned. You may be trying to hit a G Sharp and instead get a G Flat. The dirtier it is, the less on key your notes could be.

Step 1 - Prepare the Tub

Fill a wide bucket of your bathtub with warm water. Make sure it is warm enough to be able to kill the germs but to so hot that it strips your trumpet. Put on of your towels on the bottom of the tub of bucket so that when you put your trumpet into the tub, it will not get scratched of dented.

Step 2 - Disassemble Your Trumpet

Take your trumpet completely apart.

  • Take the mouthpiece off
  • Unscrew all three valves and pull out
  • Take slides off
  • Remove felt pieces from the drainage ports of the slides and the button pieces of the valves. Put the to the side so they do not get wet.

Step 3 - Soak in Warm Water

Place the main body of the trumpet, the mouthpiece, slides and valves in the tub on top of the towel. Let it soak for about 30-45 minutes.

Step 4 - Snake Your Trumpet

Leave your trumpet in the water while you complete this step. It will help you to be able to scrub the inside of your trumpet and the pieces.

Take your trumpet snake and insert one end into the area where your mouthpiece would be. Push through until it comes out the other end. Do this with each and every opening on the body of the trumpet. Complete the same process with each of the slides.

Step 5 - Dry Your Trumpet

Take your trumpet, and all of the pieces, out of the water and dry them off with your dry towel. Do this gently so you do not scratch the surface at all. Make sure you get as much of the water off as possible. Left over water can cause the metal to erode.

Step 6 - Valves

Use your valve brush and insert into the valve openings. This is where your valves are located when your trumpet is fully put together. As you insert the brush, use a rotating motion to scrub away an grit or grim left on the inside.

Use your valve oil to place a few drops on each of the valves before inserting and screwing them back into place. Remember to put the felt pieces back onto the valves. The purpose of the oil is so that the valves can move freely up and down when you change notes.

Slide Grease

Superslick Slide Grease
Superslick Slide Grease

This is the solid tub form of slide grease.

 
Selmer Tuning Slide and Cork Grease
Selmer Tuning Slide and Cork Grease

This is the drops form of slide grease.

 

Step 7 - Slides

Use slide grease to grease the parts of the slide that will be inserted into the main body of the trumpet. This grease will sometimes come in the form of drops or a tub of solid grease. If you have the tub, use a clean, dry cloth to dip into the tub and apply to the slides. Make sure you use enough so that the slide will easily insert into the main trumpet body but not so much that it is dripping with excess. If you push the slide in completely and excess grease oozes out, simply wipe it off with a clean cloth. Don't forget to replace the felt pieces on the slide drainage piece.

Step 8 - Mouthpiece

Use your mouthpiece brush to scrub the inside of your mouthpiece. Run warm water through the mouthpiece to get rid of any leftover, loose pieces of dirt of grime.

Step 9 - Polish Your Trumpet

Polishing your trumpet isn't necessary for function of cleanliness. It simply makes the trumpet look nicer and removes any fingerprints on the shiny brass. If you decide you want to so this, you only need a cleaning cloth. Stand your trumpet up by the bell some you wont have to touch the parts you are polishing. Make sure you hold onto the mouthpiece area while you polish so you don't knock your trumpet over and cause dents. Rub the entire trumpet down with the cloth and you are done.

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