As a long time trumpet player I have searched the internet thousands of times in search of trumpet cleaning tips. Every musician or instructor will have there own opinions and ideas regarding how one should go about such a task. However, most will agree that cleaning your trumpet is one of the most important things you should do to give it a long and productive life of creating music. Over the years I have used this research to come up with my own method of cleaning my instrument. Cleaning your trumpet will not only prolong its life but also keep it looking shinny and smelling pretty.
The next time you get your hands on a trumpet I challenge you to smell the inside. Stick your nose right up that bell and take a sniff! What do you smell? Chances are if you quickly pull away with a funny face you have discovered that it I can get pretty disgusting in there. Especially if the trumpet has not been maintained properly. It is possible that you may be smelling the players numerous meals and snacks that they had prior to picking up the instrument. Some musician even eat or chew gum while playing their instrument. Now combine that smell with the natural smell of the metal and you have a pretty disgusting combination.
In todays post I will provide a few tips to help you maintain and keep your trumpet as clean as possible. This doesn’t require hours of work but it does require giving your trumpet a little tender loving care. At the end of the post there will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have or to even add to the discussion, as many trumpet players develop their own cleaning techniques.
Trumpet Cleaning Tips!
Maintaining the outside or surface of your trumpet
It is no secret that most instrumentalists want there instruments to sparkle whenever they play it. I absolutely love seeing my instrument glitter under the bright stage lights when I am performing. It is, however, the nature of metal to sparkle under bright lights no matter how shinny or dull it is. Most of us want our instruments to sparkle all the time and it is super easy to achieve this.
Many people fall into the trap of using polishing chemicals to clean their instrument and I myself use to shine my trumpet with a silver polish each and every time I cleaned it. That was until I attended a maintenance workshop where I was informed that these polishers were very harmful to the finish on my instrument. Oh boy did I feel stupid but so very glad I had not done any damage. Now your probably wondering how you can keep it shinny if your not suppose use any sort of polish or chemicals. Here is how I keep my trumpet sparkling.
- The very first thing I do is completely dismantle my trumpet. I remove all slides and valves. I fill a bathtub with lukewarm water and put all the parts into the bathtub.
- Using a non-abrasive cloth I gently clean all of the parts. Sometimes it is beneficial to let is soak for awhile. This will help with my next 2 tips regarding the slides and valves.
- I then use anther non-abrasive cloth and completely dry my trumpet. At this point you may notice that there are still lots of smears but thats ok. Your final step will help combat those smears in between cleanings.
- Finally I always have a polishing cloth made specifically for the finish on my trumpet. If you have a lacquered instrument (gold finish) you need to purchase a polishing cloth for lacquered instruments. If you have a silver plated instrument (like I do) then you need to purchase a polishing cloth for silver plated instruments. These polishing clothes will last you quite a while. I was surprised to see how much they actually remove. Many musicians polish their on a regular basis. You do not need to bathe it every time you polish it.
Follow the links below to purchase a polishing cloth for your instrument.
Maintaining the slides of your trumpet
Although it is great to have a nice shinny instrument it is also extremely important to have all the parts functioning properly. These parts include all of the slides. Every single slide should move freely and easily for proper tuning and maintenance.
If you have already soaked your trumpet in the bathtub as mentioned above then you are well on your way to having functioning slides. When you clean the instrument make sure to remove all of the old slide grease. Old slide grease can make the slides stick overtime especially if you continue to add new grease on top of the old stuff. Even if you do not have time to bathe the instrument, be sure to wipe the old grease off before adding new.
When you are convinced that the old slide grease is gone apply new slide grease to every slide and gently return them into their place and move them in an out a few times to make sure the grease has covered the entire slide. Wipe away any excess grease that may have made its way onto the outer finish.
There many different kinds of slide grease. Quite often if you purchase a trumpet cleaning kit like the one mentioned below it will include slide grease, but you can also purchase it separate at a very low price. Click here to purchase slide grease.
**If you have an instrument that has slides that will not move you may want to take it to the repair shop to have them removed. Do not try to do this on your own as you may cause even more damage.**
Maintaining the inside of your trumpet
The inside of the trumpet is also very important. It should never have any type of obstructions. Keeping the inside of your trumpet clean will make it easier for you to blow air throw your instrument.
The best time to clean the inside of your trumpet is when you are giving it a bath. Be sure to run lots of through it and also use the brushes from a trumpet cleaning kit to give all the tubes a good cleaning. Click here to purchase a trumpet cleaning kit.
Maintaining the valves of your trumpet
The valves on your trumpet are extremely delicate. They are perhaps the most delicate and most important part of the instrument. It is great to have moving slides and a shinny finish but if your valves are sluggish or stuck then the instrument isn’t much more then a pretty decoration (A fancy bugle). It is imperative that you take great care of your valves at all times.
When handling the valves you must remember that just one little scratch can affect their overall performance. Almost all trumpet players will tell you that it is crucial to have superb valve action, especially for fast moving sequences.
If you have bathed your instrument then you simply need to use a soft non-abrasive cloth to dry them and then add new valve oil before placing them back into their casings. I would caution you to make sure the cloth you use does not leave behind any lint. This too can cause the valves to be slow. The casing is quite snug and does not allow for any foreign matter. I have discovered that facecloths for babies can be very useful for cleaning and drying the valves.
If you have not bathed you trumpet but want to freshen up the valves then you can rinse them under water and wipe away any excess valve oil before adding fresh oil. Too much valve oil or old valve oil can also cause the valves to have a slower reaction time. Replace the valves and try out some fast passages to see how fast they move. There is nothing better then freshly greased valves.
Many trumpet cleaning kits, like the one in the link provided above, come with valve oil and slide grease but over time all trumpet players will come to prefer a specific brand. Below are my favourite brands of valve oil.
Just by following these trumpet cleaning tips you will be well on your way to keeping your trumpet in tip top shape. You will enjoy a sparkling finish, clear flow of air, moving slides and fast moving valves. What more could a person ask for?
As mentioned above I invite you to please leave a comment below if you have any questions, tips to add, or even if you found this information to be useful in any way.
Good Luck with cleaning that trumpet!