Instrument Maintenance



  • I was reminded yesterday afternoon of the consequences of owning more instruments than I may need. My three Bb trumpets and two Bb cornets were due for cleaning. All were disassembled, soaked in a Dawn seasoned bath, scrubbed, rinsed thoroughly, dried, re-lubed, reassembled, wiped down, and stored away, except for the one that I am currently using. During the process my Mrs. asked how I kept all of those parts straight! Several hours after I’d begun, the bathtub and sink I’d used were cleaned to the point where Mrs. was satisfied and my man-room was restored to its normal state of comfortable familiar disorder. After every one of these episodes I ask myself if I really need all of this stuff...


  • Global Moderator

    @Comeback Don't worry - three trumpets an two cornets is only the Stage 1 of N+1 Disease (N being the number of instruments you have..). When you're in my shoes, with 29 trumpets and cornets, two trombones and two euphonia, you get to realize that cleaning is thoroughly overrated...



  • @Comeback said in Instrument Maintenance:

    Several hours after I’d begun, the bathtub and sink I’d used were cleaned to the point where Mrs. was satisfied and my man-room was restored to its normal state of comfortable familiar disorder. After every one of these episodes I ask myself if I really need all of this stuff...

    @barliman2001 said in Instrument Maintenance:

    When you're in my shoes, with 29 trumpets and cornets, two trombones and two euphonia, you get to realize that cleaning is thoroughly overrated...

    I feel both your pains. I have a collection similar in size to barliman2001’s, but instead of Trombones and Euphonia, in addition to trumpets snd cornets, mine has Bass and piccolo trumpets, flugelhorns, a Corno da Caccia. The truth of the matter is that of all these instruments, I play one trumpet 98% of the time, obviating the need to clean most of the other instruments. Thus I agree with barliman2001 that cleaning is thoroughly overrated, and I agree with comeback when I ask myself, do I really need all this stuff. This comes up especially at times I need to oil the valves a grease the slides.
    By the way, I can personally attest that barliman2001 was being modest. He too has at least one flugelhorn and one piccolo trumpet in his collection.


  • Qualified Repair Techs

    Just be thankful that you can clean yourself pretty easily. Most trumpeters have been taught to disassemble and clean their instruments. Euphonium players seem not to know that the bottom valve caps are movable parts and never clean no matter how much they play. French hornists and other rotary players are incapable of disassembling their instruments and have no idea what a rotor looks like or how it actually functions. Tuba players want to clean but just don’t have the space, and tuba chem cleans are expensive enough that they go too long between cleanings unless they have the budget for it. Trombonists fall into two categories: those that clean constantly and are super picky about every detail of maintenance and repair, and the caveman who never cleans anything.
    As for my own horns, the daily players get cleaned about once a month with a soap and water bath. I have my own dip tank in my home shop, but sometimes will pop one of mine in the work Ultrasonic tank when I’m done for the day, depending on how much time/energy I have. Regular home cleaning saves you money in the end, because most shops will charge you a flat rate for a clean, and added hourly rate for any work they have to do on top of that, which includes pulling slides, removing corroded stems, etc. If it takes me 2hrs to get your horn apart, you’ll be paying me a whole lot more to clean it! The fix for this is regular maintenance, not trying to do it yourself if you don’t have the skill or training.



  • You guys have me beat. I have about 10 horns. No euphoniums. But I do have a tenor horn. I primarily play only 2 of them (listed in my signature), and occasionally play 2 or 3 others. The other horns have more of a sentimental than practical value. I'm actually thinking about thinning the heard.

    Mike



  • @flugelgirl said in Instrument Maintenance:

    French hornists and other rotary players are incapable of disassembling their instruments and have no idea what a rotor looks like or how it actually functions.

    I actually have a few rotary horns including two Bb Trumpets and a Flugelhorn that have Top Action Rotary Valves and standard rotary valves on a Corno da Caccia. Do you have any advice how to maintain and clean rotary valve instruments between professional service? Also, is there any benefit or harm in putting a piston valved Trumpet disassembled in an ultrasonic bath meant to clean fire arms?
    Thanks for considering these questions.


  • Global Moderator

    Actually, it's two flugelhorns (or, rather, one flugel and one rotary Kuhlohorn) and three piccs...

    I've recently straightened up the collection by getting rid of my last two really playable rotaries - a Hermann Ganter custom Bb (listed here: https://www.votruba-musik.at/gebrauchte-instrumente/trompeten-fluegelhoerner.php) and a Gerd Dowids four-valve Eb/D. They were being played too rarely.



  • For me, I first soak in moderate warm soapy water at 101 F. Then I will add a bit of conditioner to the water. After about a good 15 minute soak, I then drain the tub and pat EVERYTHING dry. Immediately after this I chose a 100 Proof pure grain alcohol cleansing....

    ...Then I will wash my horns!



  • @tmd said in Instrument Maintenance:

    ...I have about 10 horns... I'm actually thinking about thinning the heard.

    Mike

    As long as one of them is NOT that Getzen Eterna Flugelhorn. It is a beauty and plays just the same. I know. I've played it!



  • @Dr-GO said in Instrument Maintenance:

    @tmd said in Instrument Maintenance:

    ...I have about 10 horns... I'm actually thinking about thinning the heard.

    Mike

    As long as one of them is NOT that Getzen Eterna Flugelhorn. It is a beauty and plays just the same. I know. I've played it!

    I've had my Getzen 896 Eterna Flugelhorn since the last 1970s. It's a great horn. I'd never sell it.

    Mike


  • Qualified Repair Techs

    @SSmith1226 I would never recommend that someone who is not trained to ultrasonically clean an instrument to do so at home, especially in a cleaner set up for other purposes. I would also never clean something like a gun in my setup just because the approach and chemicals used may be drastically different, and I have no training for guns.
    As far as rotary maintenance goes, oil rotor spindle and bearing before playing, and play regularly as the condensation from your breath is part of what keeps rotors moving. You can pull and clean slides once in a while, but get your regular pro clean if you’re not familiar with disassembling and reassembling rotors and strings. They are a bit more complicated than pistons and require the right skill and tools.



  • @flugelgirl said in Instrument Maintenance:

    @SSmith1226 I would never recommend that someone who is not trained to ultrasonically clean an instrument to do so at home, especially in a cleaner set up for other purposes. I would also never clean something like a gun in my setup just because the approach and chemicals used may be drastically different, and I have no training for guns.
    As far as rotary maintenance goes, oil rotor spindle and bearing before playing, and play regularly as the condensation from your breath is part of what keeps rotors moving. You can pull and clean slides once in a while, but get your regular pro clean if you’re not familiar with disassembling and reassembling rotors and strings. They are a bit more complicated than pistons and require the right skill and tools.

    Thanks for the advice. Would you ever run water trough the rotary instrument as part of regular cleaning in between professional cleanings?



  • @Dr-GO said in Instrument Maintenance:

    For me, I first soak in moderate warm soapy water at 101 F. Then I will add a bit of conditioner to the water. After about a good 15 minute soak, I then drain the tub and pat EVERYTHING dry. Immediately after this I chose a 100 Proof pure grain alcohol cleansing....

    ...Then I will wash my horns!

    It sounds like you washed your horn. Perhaps you might clean your trumpet next.



  • @barliman2001 that's an enviable collection for any serious player. which is your favourite?



  • My present daily player is a 180S37 Strad acquired used several weeks ago. Just as a prior 180S37 did, it meets all my present needs and expectations. My strategy today, in order to reduce maintenance needs going forward, is to commit to playing the Strad with a Curry 3C. exclusively. I have tried such a thing in the past unsuccessfully, so this commitment may or may not last. If successful, I may sell off a few horns in a couple months.

    Jim


  • Global Moderator

    @grune said in Instrument Maintenance:

    @barliman2001 that's an enviable collection for any serious player. which is your favourite?

    Every single one, depending on the purpose. I've got a wonderful 1950s Courtois Balanced for jazz and big band work, a #7 Benge for anything chamber music/brass quintet, a really nice Buescher Aristocrat for larger orchestral stuff... even runs down to a Conn International that's perfect for carnival/mardi gras work because some previous owner had it lacquered blue and enamelled with a drunken vulture... the one very special favourite amongst trumpets would be a Selmer high-G picc that I inherited from Maurice André.


  • Qualified Repair Techs

    @SSmith1226 I wouldn’t as I haven’t tried it, and it may freeze things up a bit more since you would be rinsing out all the oil.



  • @flugelgirl said in Instrument Maintenance:

    @SSmith1226 I wouldn’t as I haven’t tried it, and it may freeze things up a bit more since you would be rinsing out all the oil.

    Thanks.


  • Qualified Repair Techs Credentialed Professional

    @flugelgirl said in Instrument Maintenance:

    French hornists and other rotary players are incapable of disassembling their instruments and have no idea what a rotor looks like or how it actually functions. .

    I have rotary valves in stock (for my quarter tone and ascending valve instruments) and I show my rotary valve customers what these valves look like in order to explain how to lubricate them. I also explain why to use different oils for different parts (the faster the surface speed the thinner the oil). I dissuade owners from disassembly mainly due to the care required to seat the back bearing.


  • Qualified Repair Techs

    @Trumpetsplus great idea. If we have a player buy a rotary instrument in house I show them care in person, but since we are an online business we have few customer visits by appointment only. We’re working on a care sheet to send with purchases - lucky the woodwind tech has a degree in graphic design, so we should be able to set up some nice instructions.


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