Summertime brass maintenance

For many of us, summer offers some rest and relaxation.  If you’re like me, your playing time also takes a bit of a rest.  This is a perfect time to bring in your instrument to the local instrument repair shop for some yearly maintenance.

First, if you’re not very good at cleaning your brass instrument during the year, you may want to consider taking it in to be cleaned.  Back in the old days of chemical cleanings, you could never be quite sure how your instrument’s finish could be affected by the cleaning products.

Today’s latest and greatest method of professional cleaning is Ultrasonic cleaning.  It’s far safer than the chemical baths of yore, and it does a fantastic job.  This isn’t something that you’d need to do every year–every few years would suffice.

Next, make sure you get your valves/rotors/slide looked at to make sure all is well.  Valves are pretty straightforward and usually are OK if you don’t abuse or neglect your instrument.  There are usually some felt, rubber, and/or cork pads that can be replaced, but apart from that, it’s pretty easy.

Rotors are a bit more complex:  they are a bit more finicky and have more moving parts.  Definitely have them looked at to make sure they’re not a ticking time bomb waiting to happen.

I’d suggest restringing your horn every year.  If your horn uses linkage action, then make sure they’re properly lubricated and in working condition.  Restringing doesn’t take long, costs a few bucks, and gives you peace of mind.

Trombone slides are simpler, but they may need some work done, as well.  It’s well worth the money!

Speaking of slides, make sure all your tuning slides are easy to move.  Ask your repair shop which kind of slide grease they’d recommend for your type of tuning slide:  they come in different thicknesses for particular types of instruments/slides/etc., so you’ll want to be sure to get the right one.

Be sure to replace your waterkey rubber pads or corks if they’re leaky.  I prefer the synthetic kind over cork, but whatever you choose, make sure you replace them once they no longer create a seal.

Dent removal is nice to do for cosmetic reasons, and sometimes quite necessary if the dent is in a place on the instrument where there are moving parts.

Maintenance is an important part of protecting your investment, so make sure you use this time during the summer to take care of this essential task!