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Home : Care & Maintenance

Care & Maintenance

Brass Instrument Maintenance

Your instrument is an expensive item with many delicate mechanical features. A small amount of time and care will keep your instrument in good working order, maintain its appearance (and value), reduce servicing costs and prolong your playing enjoyment. Brass instruments have a considerable advantage over woodwind instruments in that they can largely be maintained by the player. If they are kept clean and properly lubricated they will present very few problems.

Brass Instrument Cleaning Procedure

Flush the instrument out about once a month with a mild solution of soapy luke warm water. Do not use hot water as this may affect the lacquer. Rinse through with cold water and dry thoroughly.

  • Use a flexible cleaning brush to thoroughly clean out the slides and tubing.
  • Use the brush carefully and replace it regularly to avoid the possibility of it breaking whilst inside the instrument.
  • The valve casings should be carefully cleaned using a valve casing brush (NOT a standard flexible brush) and dried. The pistons should be carefully removed in sequence and dried. Use a lint free cloth for this purpose. It is critical that no moisture remains in the valve casing or on the pistons or related components.
  • Grease the slides and use a minimum amount of oil on the pistons.

General Hints For Brass instruments

  • It is worth spending a little extra on oils and lubricants to ensure that the quality is good. Poor quality materials can affect the performance of your instrument and result in you needing to clean your instrument more frequently!
  • After playing your instrument remember to loosen the valve caps by half a turn to avoid the possibility of trapped moisture causing corrosion in the screw threads.
  • Always clean the mouthpiece thoroughly with warm water and a mouthpiece brush. An accumulation of deposits in either mouthpiece or mouthpipe can have a very adverse effect on the performance of the instrument.
  • Do not use harsh or abrasive cleaning materials on silver plated instruments. Use only recommended cloths.
  • Try to avoid dramatic changes of temperature and humidity and never leave it in direct sunlight or near a radiator even inside the case.
    Woodwind Instrument Maintenance
  • Your instrument is an expensive item with many delicate mechanical features. A small amount of time and care will keep your instrument in good working order, maintain its appearance (and value), reduce servicing costs and prolong your playing enjoyment.

Metal Instruments

Flutes and saxophones obviously do not need the same playing-in treatment as wooden instruments or the use of oils in the bore. In almost all other respects they require the same care and attention:

  • Be careful when assembling and disassembling them
  • Avoid pressure on the keywork; put the different sections together carefully to avoid distorting the joints
  • Swab out thoroughly after use (every time)
  • Use a lacquer cloth or silver polishing cloth (as appropriate) regularly.
  • Never use liquid or wadding polishes on plating as they will damage plating, pads and mechanism.
  • Do not lubricate metal to metal joints. If they become stiff, clean them thoroughly with a cloth.

Wooden Instruments

With any new wooden instrument, a playing-in period is important. The wood is not used to being subjected to warm moist air. Wood expands primarily as a result of an increase in temperature and/or because of water absorption. Fast expansion may cause cracking if it occurs too quickly. You may play the instrument as often as you wish, but only for short periods. A guide would be for only 20 minutes at a time for the first week, 30 minutes at a time for the second week and then gradually increase the time from there. These periods may be repeated a number of times each day. Use a pull through to dry the bore each time you play to remove excess moisture.

Once a month put two or three drops of bore oil on your pull through.This will result in a small amount of oil being absorbed by the instrument to replace the natural oils that are lost through evaporation and during the cleaning process. These oils help to stabilise the wood and therefore help to prevent cracking. Always keep pull-throughs separate from the instrument otherwise the moisture that you have removed from the instrument will still be able to affect it.

  • The keywork should be carefully cleaned with an impregnated polishing cloth (never use liquid polish) this will help to protect from tarnishing and pitting due to perspiration acids.
  • Always ensure that your instrument is not subjected to sudden changes in temperature.
  • Always avoid undue pressure on the mechanism particularly when assembling or disassembling the instrument.

Instrument Servicing

Your instrument should be professionally serviced at least every 18 months or so (depending on usage). This will keep it in top playing order and help to prevent small problems from becoming large (expensive) ones. Don't forget - don't wait until something goes wrong.

Contact us today to book your instrument service