#49 Two Minute Trumpet Trick- How the Get Super-Fast Valves
Branson last edited by
Bermuda last edited by
Looks like your trumpet could use an ultrasonic cleaning, too.
I for one like the raw brass look on your instrument Bruce, and your trumpet tricks series is a great source of information for us, thanks for offering your experience and discoveries.
I totally agree with you deep cleaning valves transforms them, I have been arguing this for years and seemingly nobody has believed me on this.
Former unreliable slow and painful valves that hang up frequently are transformed simply by cleaning them to slick and buttery smooth devices that operate faultlessly exactly as you describe.
This has worked without exception on valves in many different designs and in all materials from brass to monel to nickel to stainless steel and of all ages up to 100 years old and every single valve I have ever maintained and that came to me with hesitant slow sticky and unreliable valves operated perfectly and faultlessly after a deep clean.
Your experience here is fully supported by my experience of over a dozen instruments from 1924 onwards.
Of course I cannot speak for every single valve ever made but I will say this, whenever I hand any of my instruments to brass players for them to try they are genuinely astounded by the valves.
This is my real life experience all valves I have ever used are all exceptional.
I did not mean to hijack your thread Bruce but I wanted to confirm that in my experience you are 100% correct, properly and fully cleaning valves completely transforms an instrument.
I will be adding an ultrasonic cleaner to my christmas list.
Thank you sir.
I have often said that valve problems are due to either Dirt, Damage, or Distortion. Your cleaning certainly resolves one of these possibilities. However I would hesitate to encourage or even strongly discourage people from willy nilly cleaning their valves in an ultrasonic bath. Those ultrasonic waves can also pierce thin or compromised metal, and sometimes the thinnest gauge brass on a trumpet is the ports in the valve.
ultrasonic cleaning uses cavitation to loosen dirt, cavitation swiftly erodes solid materials and eats away screw propellers in a marine environment.
cavitation treatments should only be used for minutes and not hours, but they are safe when used for minutes.
effective cleaning must happen and chemical cleaning can also dissolve solid materials. Acids or severe solvents can erode the materials they are cleaning, in particular brasses can be dissolved chemically. This is what causes dezincification of brass, or red rot.
In my somewhat limited experience brass instruments are typically full of crud built up over a period of many years or decades of ineffective cleaning. I have never found one single instrument that was not crud bound.
All crud bound instruments are rendered unuseable because of it, I would ask what is to be done with an unuseable crud bound instrument.
The three choices appear to boil down to these three,
1 allow it to remain unuseable,
2 make it unuseable through damaging it by over cleaning,
3 use careful cleaning,
4 give it to a tech to properly care for it.
3 if you are up to the job yourself or 4 if you are not.
Bruce is up to the job, I believe I am up to the job, the rest is up to the individual, like car maintenance.
I think ultrasonic cleaning is a useful tool, to say avoid it is the same as saying avoid car maintenance at home.
I am suspicious, because this cleaning only covers half of the valve “system”. The casings need at least an equal amount of TLC. The Dirt/Damage/Distortion that Ivan mentions applies to the whole instrument. Without a deep clean on the valve casings (and the rest of the horn), we have NOT improved the overall situation. Yes, the valves themselves are cleaner with ultrasound.
These small, cheap ultrasound devices are safe for metals - even for extended periods. I have had issues with plastics and eyeglasses.
There is also a necessity to make sure that the valve and casing are bone dry before oiling after cleaning. Oil floats on water and this prevents a proper bond between oil and the metal surfaces
a very sensible and correct comment, the valve assembly is indeed only half the valve system, the valve casing also can collect debris and accreted foreign matter. I used to think the same way as you.
I have however extensive experience gained now in several years of chemically deep cleaning the valve body alone, and have never noticed any problem with the casing needing anything beyond simple brush cleaning or swabbing.
Cleaning the valve alone is enough, however illogical that appears to be.
I originally assumed that not deep cleaning the casing as well would eventually cause issues. Those issues have simply never materialised.
I would say that it is very rare that deep cleaning to the valves is needed if you already use a good effective maintenance regime.
I would suggest the following as a guide -
simple instrument cleaning - daily,
valve swabbing - monthly,
valve deep clean - every 5 years (only when really needed),
hand to a tech for chem clean - every 10 years.
I never have any valve problems and I can pick up any of my instruments and the valves are always perfect and work immediately without any oiling.
I should add that one of my instruments is a yamaha YCR2330 mkII in perfect condition and all of my instruments have valves that perform exactly like the yamaha valves no matter what the age of the instrument.
If valves behave as yamaha valves do there isnt much of a problem with them.
Your experience may be different but I do around 30 to 50 hours playing per week on three instruments so I should be seeing a lot of valve problems if my cleaning was not effective and I see no problems at all.
I experience sweet fast buttery valves no hangs no slowdowns no clicks no jams on all valves up to 100 years old.
I will add that it takes me around a month of work to properly clean and prepare valves fixing all the problems after first receiving an instrument during which time it is constant pain and misery.
After that I never see a problem.
I recommend a professional cleaning every 1-3 yrs, more often if you don’t clean regularly, but you can get away with less if you do. I give my own daily players a yearly chem or ultrasonic cleaning (depending on age). It’s definitely important that casings are cleaned as well as pistons, especially when using synthetic oils. I have flushed out many a horn with dried up rocks of synthetic oils clinging to the inside of the casings! A good tech is properly trained on the chemicals and equipment they use, and can use them safely. If you have a good tech in your area, trust them to do the job. I say this not to make money for myself or other techs, but because I’ve worked on so many home “fixes” gone wrong. You save money by not creating more work, and get a better-playing horn as well.
An interesting post.
First of all I respect the heck out of Flugelgirl Trumpetplus ROWUK and the other exceptional techs teachers and players
What I have found over the years is that other players grossly under lubricate, grossly under maintain, and grossly under clean, their instruments.
Keep the instrument squeeky clean, lubricate liberally and set up the instrument properly.
This takes almost no effort to do.
It seems that 99.99 % of players simply play their instrument chuck a bit of oil in now and again when the vales are dry and call that good maintenance.
Maybe I am in a strange place but every player I have spoken with here has declared that they are having huge issues with their valves. That should not be.
I see a major issue here and I approve of your highlighting the lack of care that you have to deal with on a daily basis Flugelgirl.
I am not trying to say I am great here, but there must be a reason that every single instrument I have ever owned and played and we are talking dozens of all ages, came to me in an unuseable state and now have perfect valves that never bind or hang.
Yes players who cannot look after their valves will have massive trouble with their valves, red rot, and a host of other issues, but the answer surely is not to tell them to simply hand the instrument to a tech, the answer surely is to educate them.
I want to say I support my techs and use them often, but its like a car, if you cannot keep the oil topped up the brake fluid levels maintained and the ashtrays clean some driver education is called for.
Louis Armstrong bunged his instrument under the tap after every playing day and thats what I do, and it gets rid of 99% of the crud in the instrument.
Then swabbing the valves and reoiling them gets rid of 99% of the remainder of the crud.
That takes a total of 5 minutes to do.
Oiling the valves every hour or so during playing keeps them running freely and sweet.
Job done. Easy.
I certainly have no interest in beating this issue up, but those in denial about valve casings are missing the point. When we send a trumpet in for a valve job, what is done? The casing is honed to make each one round again THEN the valve is plated oversized and lapped in. This means that the significant wear was on the casing - not the valve.
For those of us fortunate to play a lot for many years, we realise that even with proper care, valves (even stainless steel)were not necessarily built “for a lifetime of use”. Even although we have no mechanical trouble, the playing qualities deteriorate as the valves become more “leaky”.
I maintain (and do not need 1000 words to defend my stance): the casing, leadpipe and tubes need as much attention as the valve - every clean. The inside of a trumpet is a living organism, regardless if we brush our teeth regularly or not. The aerosols in our breath collect and wander down the instrument. This is what turns the valve oil into sludge that collects eventually on the valve and casing surface. That compromised lubrication allows metal to metal contact (wear) at the high spots and gunk at the low spots. We DO need a professional service at regular intervals IF we are truly interested in the long term playability of our instrument.
The idea of a low power personal ultrasonic device to clean the valves is good and certainly more thorough than just “wiping the valves down”. That does not remove the need for getting the rest of the problem solved however. Not “noticing” something - even over years is not evidence that a strategy is good. It is more a sign of “tolerance” of ever worsening “tolerances”.
Great post, I agree as far as you go but my caveat to it is the aerosols and sludge you speak of take time to harden and set onto the surfaces inside the instrument. If you disturb them before they have set solid they are gone.
This is the secret to a clean instrument free of accretions They are flushed away with daily cleaning before they become a problem.
The gunk only sets into concrete and techs need to shift them if they are allowed time to harden.
As they say a rolling stone gathers no moss.
@trumpetb sounds like wishful thinking to me - and every tech that I know. Even with advanced maintenance, the tech ALWAYS finds more.
For many, good enough is good enough. For many, well they post more than they practice. Keep on flushing!
I dont think it is wishful thinking.
I cannot recall the last time I had any valve issues certainly not any time during the last 12 months.
In my experience all valves are equally excellent.
As for posting more than practicing, in my case I practice around 5 hours a day 7 days a week, I used to practice more than this. That adds up to 35 hours of practice each week.
I post maybe on average 5 minutes a week, that I believe is posting less than I practice.
I dont think that experiencing zero valve issues over 1,800 hours of playing and practicing can be called wishful thinking.
I am sure I would have noticed if my valves became slow or hung up or stuck partially down.
Does any player experience any valve slowdowns or hangs at all in 1,800 hours of playing. I dont believe they should expect any valve issues.
My present daily player is a conn built in 1965 the valves are perfect and never give any trouble at all. I am not wishing that were true I am stating that is true.
So yes I will continue to flush as it works, it is not possible to experience less than zero valve issues. I attribute this to keeping the valves clean and well lubricated.
I have experienced occasional valve issues once every 3 years or so due to spring or guide issues. Easily fixed but that is all.
Or I could just be lucky of course.
Kehaulani 0 last edited by
Don'cha just love the Internet?
Hi Kehaulani by way of explanation I stated my opinion and that was disputed, I stated what I have found over many years to work and solve a major valve issue, I was then accused of wishful thinking, which is a nice way of saying I was making it all up.
I felt I had no choice but to support my position with some stats and facts.
This seems reasonable to me, not supporting my statements with facts when called to do so would be a mistake.
I stated reality and it appears that some people in here think that reality was instead a fiction.
I am giving you truth supported by facts which is reality.
That seems reasonable behaviour to me.
Hi all. What I am about to post is in no way to labour the point and I am not trying to prove anyone wrong, but it simply is a statement that establishes that flushing every day is not an odd, weird, or maverick activity.
It is a traditional method of cleaning an instrument that was favoured by some of the best players of the instrument.
This is a quote from the internet about Louis Armstrong and his approach to trumpet care
Armstrong said once he went through trumpets fairly regularly. “I give my horns about five years. Of course I look after them, run hot water through the instrument every night so you know it's going to percolate.” “It will last forever if you keep it cleaned out, like your stomach,”
Of course Louis may have been very over cautious and wrong about this, his belief is simply similar to mine.
I am simply saying that anyone who chooses to "run hot water through the instrument every night" is in good company and it does appear to work,
It is an option that members might wish to try.
Dr GO last edited by
My valves are working just fine: at 2:40