As musicians, we often overlook the mundane task of cleaning our instruments. We convince ourselves we will clean it after the next performance or training session.
Every time you play your trumpet, your fingerprints and residue from your hands stay on your trumpet and eventually cause stains and other physical evidence of damage to your trumpet. You might think that wiping away the physical dirt is enough, but in fact, your trumpet requires a cleaning process that lasts longer than a few seconds.
If you neglect cleaning your trumpet, you run the risk of damaging your instrument. A build-up of corrosion or dirt inside your trumpet can affect its functionality and longevity. Besides just making your trumpet look good, there are other benefits to cleaning your trumpet regularly. A clean trumpet provides an easier and smoother playing experience for the musician. Here are steps on how to keep your trumpet clean on the inside and outside.
See also: Top 6 Best Student Trumpets
Before you embark on your trumpet cleaning journey, there are a few tools you will need to clean your trumpet effectively and efficiently.
The first and most obvious supply that you will need is a type of soap. You can use anything from dish soaps to liquid hand soaps. Whatever soap you choose, make sure it does not contain any form of bleach. It is also best to avoid harsh cleaning
solutions as these may cause damage to your trumpet.
A Container or Bathtub
You will need an area large enough to fit your whole trumpet. Make sure you first clean whatever you will place on your trumpet. If your bathtub is not clean, you can’t expect to have a clean trumpet.
Towels and Cloths
Make sure you have enough towels at your disposal, as you will need more than one. Have two large towels available, as well as one or two small towels to use. You will use one towel to line the base of the tub and the other to place the instrument to dry. A brass lacquer polishing cloth (or silver if you have a silver trumpet) will come in handy after drying to polish off unwanted residue and preserve its shine.
Small Cleaning Snake
A cleaning snake is also known as a pipe cleaner. Use one designed to clean trumpets as other types of snakes may cause damage to your instrument. You can easily find them in most trumpet cleaning kits as they are affordable and are a good investment.
A cone-shaped brush you will use to clean your mouthpiece. It is essential since you are constantly pressing your mouth against it. A hygienic mouthpiece will give you peace of mind.
Slide grease is what you will use to lubricate the tuning slide and second valve slide. Any brand of slide grease will do. An alternative to slide grease is petroleum jelly.
The valve oil will oil the first and third valve slides. Avoid valve oil alternatives, as they should come standard with most trumpet cleaning kits, and you will also avoid having intonation problems with your trumpet.
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Cleaning Your Trumpet
Gather your supplies and place them on a solid surface (preferably a table). Fill your container or tub with enough lukewarm water to submerge the trumpet. Place a towel inside the container and add enough dish liquid to remove the bacteria and grease
buildup inside your trumpet.
Taking The Trumpet Apart
First, you need to take note of the numbering of the parts and which way they face. It will help you when reassembling your trumpet.
As a trumpeter, you make the most contact with your mouthpiece. Imagine all the bits of food swirling inside it as you nail your solo. It is not a pleasant image. Making your mouthpiece hygiene a priority will prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. Aim
to clean your mouthpiece at least once a week.
To do this, remove your mouthpiece from the trumpet, splash it on the outside with water and use the polishing cloth to wipe off moisture, skin cells, and residue.Use the mouthpiece brush to scrub both ends of the mouthpiece. And finally, run the inside of the mouthpiece through lukewarm water, and set it aside to dry on a towel for an hour.
Begin by removing the tuning slide, along with the first, second, and third valve slides. Do not apply too much pressure when removing the slides. You will cause damage. Remove residue with a soft fabric cloth or the polishing cloth.
Next, remove the valves and valve caps. Take note of their numbering and placement for later. Beware of the felt and springs, exposure to moisture or oil will make them unusable, and you will need to change them. Place them somewhere dry and easily accessible. Soak the body of the trumpet and all its removed parts (not the valve felt and spring) into the container for no more than 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, take your cleaning snake and gently run it through the trumpet body, all the tubes, and all the slides and their attachment points. Avoid cleaning the valves and valve cylinders.
The valves and valve cylinders require delicate care, and any residue left can be taken care of with a soft cotton swab or finger and soap. Do not use rough fabrics and liquids.
Rinse the trumpet and its parts thoroughly using lukewarm water to remove all the soap from the trumpet.
After rinsing, place the instrument on a large towel to air dry for no more than 4 hours.
Assembling The Trumpet
Once the trumpet is dry, refer to your notes and begin by placing the valve springs and felt within their valves, then put the valves to the side.
Grease the slide attachment points using the slide grease, 1 or 2 drops on both sides. Repeat for all slides and insert them in their correct attachment points.Lightly oil the bottom section of the valves using the valve oil. Make sure to avoid the felt. Apply 1 to 2 drops, slide them into the correct valve cylinders and replace the valve caps.
Finish off by polishing your trumpet with the brass polishing cloth to remove leftover residue and fingerprints.
Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your Trumpet
- Don’t use hot water.
- Avoid using bleach.
- Don’t expose the valve felt and springs to moisture.
- Don’t use excessive force when removing parts.
Frequent Asked Questions
How often should you clean your trumpet?
Aim to clean your trumpet once a month and your mouthpiece once a week.
How to maintain your trumpet?
Polish your trumpet after sessions. When not in use, put it in a case to avoid collecting dust.
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