Brass (Trumpet, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba)

Basic Instrument Care--Brass
(Trumpet, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba)

  • Be sure to grease ALL of your tuning slides at least once a week (even the ones you “never” use).  It usually costs $15-20 to have a repair shop unstuck your slides.
  • For trombones, be sure to oil the slide (or use the spray bottle with your slide cream) at least daily before playing.  This will help your slide work its best.
    • As trombonists advance, they will find that slide cream and a spray bottle is a better choice than slide oil.  See Mr. Norris if you think you're ready to take this step. 
  • For all piston-valved instruments (trumpet, euphonium, tuba, valve trombone), oil the valves at least every few days.  A dry valve will corrode and eventually freeze up.  The best way is by removing the top valve cap (not the button on top), pulling the valve out, and then replacing it exactly as you took it out.  Only take out one valve at a time so you don’t mix them up.  As you put the valve back in, while pressing lightly on the top button, turn the valve clockwise until you feel a click.  Then continue pressing lightly on the top button while you replace the top valve cap.  
  • For rotary-valved instruments (trombone with F-attachment, French Horn), put a drop of oil on the back spindle as well as under the front cap.  
  • Give your brass instrument a bath in lukewarm water (not hot—the lacquer will come off) monthly:
    • Take out any piston valves and set them aside, making sure you know where to put each valve back. 
    • Run a snake through all the tubing, then rinse the instrument out. 
    • Thoroughly rinse the valve piston in the water as well and brush out the openings (keep the felts at the top dry)
    • Thoroughly dry all parts, and then re-oil and re-grease the instrument.  (Brass care information continued on the next page).  
  • Wipe fingerprints and hand oils from your instrument daily or weekly (with a soft cloth or a polishing cloth) to retain its original finish.
  • Check your water keys occasionally to make sure the screw is not coming out.  If it is, ask Mr. Norris to adjust it.