Chemical cleaning

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by SteveRicks, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Was in a large music shop Friday having a few dinks removed from my Bach Strad 72*. Talked with an individual (will keep his name confidential) that, though elderly, is a master repairman, has designed several trumpets including one of the most popular student horns, and holds several degrees in engineering. He has also worked for Olds, Bach, and others years ago. And he played with the big bands. That information provided to substantiate this comment was not from a Middle School student but someone with a great deal of experience with trumpets - especially instrument repair.

    I asked about having my horn chemically cleaned. He responded that you don't want to do that. Said to just use a snake or such and give it a good cleaning. He then said that there was another shop nearby that pushed regular chemical cleaning and he gets business from many of their customers complaining of valve problems. (I know the tech at the other shop and asked what they used - he said something or another Green for the soak.)

    So, does anyone think chemical cleaning could be harmful? Personally, I have never had a horn chem cleaned, but do my own cleaning with a snake. Have used one horn from the 60s and still no problems.
    patkins likes this.
  2. patkins

    patkins Forte User

    Nov 22, 2010
    Tuscaloosa, AL.
    I don't chem clean. I am like you just a snake. I'll give it soaks with dawn and water then rinse it out thoroughly. I'm not sure what kind of chemicals that are used but metal can react to certain chemicals. If I knew specific chemicals used I could do a little research. I'm sure his claims could be substantiated with more info. Thanks for posting vg his is an interesting and important issue.
  3. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    A horn that is clean to start with is easy to keep clean, a regular flush with warm (not hot) water with a little mild dish detergent and a snake is all that is required.

    The problems occur when a horn is neglected and not cleaned, a build up of corrosion and other detrius sometimes can be very hard to remove unless resorted to chemicals or ultrasonics.

    My repairer uses a bath consisting of a mixture of Citric and Phosphoric acids, I have not had any problems with horns that he has done, he spends a lot of time rinsing well after the acid bath.

    For my beater horns I use a 5% CLR bath (1 part CLR to 20 parts water) this is not an agressive treatment by any means, sometimes may need several goes for a badly corroded part.

    The worst horn I have seen was an Olds Ambassador that I bought cheaply for parts, it was complete and not in bad condition but it played about as well as a wollen sock. The leadpipe was almost closed off with an extremely hard deposit, I had to resort to Emery cloth to grind it out, the chemicals would not look at it.

    The moral, keep your horns clean, it requires little effort and your horns will thank you.

    Regards, Stuart.
  4. smokin valves

    smokin valves Pianissimo User

    Sep 11, 2011
    I think the chem clean process must damage the horn in some way. I have heard of valve problems after chem cleaning too. on youtube is a video from monette about trumpet maintenance, and i'm inclined to believe them as i'm pretty sure they know what they're doing. they basically say keep your valve casings clean with washing up liquid and brushing to avoid paying for ultrasonic cleaning. i also like to wash through the tubes of my horns with warm water with washing up liquid in then rinse thoroughly.
  5. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    You really should go easier on yourself and our friend Steve!
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    I put a similar question to my German brother-in-law, searching for something that wouldn't degrease the horn or produce verdigris. I secured my trumpet vertically, then poured lukewarm water into the trumpet with valves depressed and receiver plugged, and when full, I added ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) (about .3 ml or 1/16th of a teaspoon) and let it soak overnight. The next morning, after rinsing the horn I used baking soda to kill the acid, (again filling the horn with water) and rinsed afterwards. A cheap, safe chemical clean, and none of my instruments have caught cold.
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    And I bet you'll clean it again... Some people will do anything to get the Double Hi-C
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    I had 2 of my 6 horns chem cleaned once each. They play no different then the ones I didn't have chem cleaned. Oh sure, they grew two bells and glow in the dark when I play them at night, but other than that, you really cannot tell the difference.
  9. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Veery, as far as snakes go, he is a pretty nice snake. never seen him to bite. :D
  10. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    If you horn is clean in the first palce, and well maintained, chemical cleaning isn't neccassary.


    I am a repair tech and 75% of the horns that come across my bench with valve troubles are cured of their valve issues AFTER a proper chemical cleaning and rinsing.
    I have noticed sometimes that on 'well used' horns, once I clean them, there may be new valve issues because the crud built up inside the slides and casing fills the gaps between poor tolerance valves. This isn't a problem with the chemicals. It is a problem with the valves.
    If people maintained their horns as they should, chem cleaning wouldn't be needed, but since probably 90% of people don't do regular cleanings, chemicals are neccessary.
    If I remember, I will take before & after pictures of why horns need chemical cleaning, and why Simple Green, or other soaps can't dissolve the calcification that a professional grade chemical can.

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