Don't Clean Your Trumpet?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by erd402, May 6, 2009.

  1. erd402

    erd402 Pianissimo User

    Mar 21, 2009
    West Virginia
    I read (I forget where) some article about taking care of your trumpet. Basically, it said not to take clean your trumpet, ever, in anyway, at all, and did I mention ever? It said you should do three things with your trumpet:
    1) Play it
    2) Oil the valves (He says pull them out half way when oiling them, and thats as far as you should ever have them out of their casing, period.)
    3) Grease the slides
    It said that anything you do to clean will do nothing but harm it and waste your time. Plus he mentioned the only way to do any good for it is an ultra-sonic or chemical cleaning, and nothing besides the 3 things listed should be done by anyone other than your local instrument shop. I can see telling 5th graders who are starting out to not try to start taking their horn apart and stuff since they will have a much higher chance of breaking it, but he was getting in detail with professional trumpets, and quite frankly I don't know many 5th graders with pro trumpets so he must be implying everyone. To me this sounds ridiculous, but is there any truth in any of this?
  2. RHSbigbluemarchingband

    RHSbigbluemarchingband Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 17, 2009
    I read this article aswell, i personally think its a load of bs. I clean my aristocrat every two weeks during marching season, if anything it does it more good then harm. I actually have a thread somewhere on here about the benefits that came along after first hearing it play. I personally believe go ahead and clean the trumpet, unless the manufacter says not too. The results for me were faster valves, smoother moving slides, and to tell the truth the horn opens up very nicely. To sum it up i think there is no truth, but obviously not to tell a fifth grader to wash a horn on there own considering what can happen to it.
  3. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    That's stupid. A horn should be cleaned. It's not that hard. If a kid is too young to do it him/herself, the parents should help.
  4. aerotim13

    aerotim13 New Friend

    Apr 24, 2009
    Rolla, Missouri
    yeah, i have also read that article, and i can't believe a word of it. Your leadpipe especially fills with so much crap that there is no way it's going to retain the shape and size it was designed and built with. I have a schilke and when I haven't cleaned it in a while I think the valve tolerances are so close that any bit of gunk messes it up; I have to load it full of oil two or three times while I play just to keep them from sticking. There is no way that is right, I think.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Why comment nobrainers?

    I read a story about Mao Tse Tung never brushing his teeth. His logic was that a tiger never brushes theirs and doesn't have any problems!

    Aerosols and food particles blown into the horn can cause mechanical damage (valve wear) as well as the acidity of our saliva drawing the zinc out of the brass, causing red rot. Rotting food particles have an interesting bacteria count.

    That would even be a great project for a high school biology class - wipe a swab in the tuning slide of a poorly maintained trumpet and put it in an agar solution. Wait a couple of days to see what grows. Do the same for a "clean" trumpet. Then publish the results here.
  6. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    I have previously posted the true story of sitting beside a sheila who interrupted her playing to poke food out of her mouthpiece with a knitting needle - I have also seen a clarinet mouthpiece disassembled to expose a spider alive and well under the reed.
    (I can tell you that we even wash B747 aircraft once a week).
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Hi erd,
    Mendez said "Cleanliness is next to godliness. For the trumpet, cleanliness is next to purity of tone".
  8. Cleveland600 1974

    Cleveland600 1974 New Friend

    Apr 27, 2009
    Houston TX
    Whoever wrote that story should be reported to TPS (Trumpet Protective Services) and have all his horns removed from his care--or should I say LACK of CARE!

  9. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    If anybody is interested, I would be glad to send them a paper I wrote on trumpet maintanence. Just e mail me.
  10. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    In my humble estimation, even a 12-year old can learn how to disassemble and reassemble a trumpet. In our threads here we tend to make the process sound much more complex than it really is.

    Horns in use by youngsters generally have loose tolerances and are not readiliy subject to damage by most kinds of careless handling. The intact instrument is the thing most at risk from dropping or impact with another object.

    Taking apart and putting together a trumpet can facilitate the understanding of how the instrument works, not a bad thing to know. Slides can only fit in one place (usually). Valves can be carelessly interchanged or inserted incorrectly, the result being that playing is difficult or impossible. Matching up numbers on pistons with those on cylinders is not rocket science. Learning how the valve guides fit and how easy it can be to get them wrong will help prevent playing mysteries. It is not necessary to learn how to disassemble the valve piston assemblies - they can be left alone.

    The first time of disassembly and cleaning may be intimidating, but the tenth time is a piece of cake. Mechanical apptitude and cognitive development accompany this learning.

    Two good ways to reduce the need for complete disassembly: Use a leadpipe swab everytime when finished playing (and/or spitballs), Always, always brush teeth before playing. Keep a spare toothbrush/toothpaste in the trumpet case. Your trumpet (and your dentist) will be happy about this.


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