An Easy, Convenient and Practical WayYour Brass Instruments Clean 

An Easy, Convenient and Practical WayYour Brass Instruments Clean 


  brass instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player’s lips. Brass instruments can also be called labrosones, which literally means lip-vibrated instruments.

Therefore, there are several factors involved in producing different pitches on a brass instrument which include; slides, valves, crooks or keys are used to change vibratory length of tubing, thus changing the available harmonic series, while the player’s lip tension and air flow can serve to select the specific harmonic produced from the available series.

The view of most scholars is that the term brass instrument which should be defined by the way the sound is made and not by whether the instrument is actually made of brass. Thus one finds brass instruments made of wood, like the alphorn, the Cornett while some woodwind instruments are made of brass, like the saxophone.

Modern brass instruments come in one of two families:

  1. Valve brass instruments, which use a set of valves operated by the player’s fingers that introduce additional tubing, or crooks, into the instrument, changing its overall length. This family includes all of the modern brass instruments except the trumpet, horn, euphonium, and tuba, the cornet, flugelhorn, baritone horn, sousaphone and the mellophone..
  2. Slide brass instruments, which use a slide to change the length of tubing. The main instruments in this category are the trombone family, though valve trombones are sometimes used, especially in jazz. The trombone family’s ancestor, the sackbut, and the folk instrument bazooka are also included in the slide family.

Therefore, there are easy and convenient ways to keep brass instruments clean as follows, 

    1.  Take instrument apart

Always depress valves when removing slides from instrument to avoid air pressure build up, which can fatigue metal.  Carefully remove all slides, clamps and valves. Handle with care, where one dent can result in costly repairs. If a slide or cap is frozen in place, do not force, take to a qualified repair shop for removal.

    1. Wash instrument/pieces

Submerse the instrument in warm soapy water. While under water, instrument may be cleaned out with a long flexible cleaning brush. Be sure to rinse well before reassembling.

Individually clean each slide, cap and valve in warm soapy water.  If taken apart, give careful attention to position of felts/corks.

    1. Dry instruments and parts

Use care to dry each part individually using lint free towel or cloth. Valves in particular must be cleaned with lint free materials and checked for lint or dust before placing back into instrument, see more.

    1. Lubricate and reassemble

Put slide grease or Vaseline on tuning slides. Then, completely coat the part that is inserted.

Failure to use grease will result in frozen/stuck slides. Slide grease can also be used on the screw on caps which helps to keep them from getting stuck. Put valve oil on valves before placing in horn.

Valve oil prevents corrosion of the inside of your instrument. Be sure to keep valves oiled regularly.

  1. Wash Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece should be washed more often than the instrument. Mouthpiece brushes are available but not necessary if mouthpiece is cleaned regularly. The mouthpiece is the only part of the instrument that can boiled and also should be boiled. Boil for a few minutes at least twice a year to keep sterile and germ free. Also boil mouthpiece after a cold/flu. Check this :


Author: Youth Orchestra

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