Several questions about music and trumpet itself

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Vstern, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. Vstern

    Vstern New Friend

    Jul 25, 2010
    1. I've heard that you can clean a trumpet mouthpiece through boiling it. What about the valve end caps? There are little green dots of what may be algae or something in two caps, and a film in another.

    2. My 2nd slide is stuck, and has been for years. My third slide was also stuck, but somehow, I got it out without damage. Now I reguarly grease all slides that I can move. It's not exactly my fault. An instance in marching band proved this when a director was tuning the winds. She was tuning the trumpets down the line, telling us to adjust our main slide as needed. When it came down to one of the freshman, he had trouble moving his slides. One of the seniors (I'm a junior) said that the middle school director never tunes. He said an attempt at tuning would go like this at the middle school:

    Director: "Let's tune."

    Students: "Tune? What?"

    I took it to Sam Ash and they couldn't do anything. There is a woodwind and brass specialist there, but apparently he couldn't do anything.

    3. How can I improve intonation? For the trumpets, a part in our music is so out of tune that the director told us to take it down an octave.

    I have a lacquered brass trumpet, and I don't know if there is lacquer on the caps and whatnot.
  2. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    Don't boil your mouthpiece. Boiling can ruin the plating. Hot water, mild soap and a mouthpiece brush are what you need to clean it.
  3. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    You might want to take it to your local brass guy for a cleaning and tune-up. Unless you're just really broke, it's money well spent.
  4. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    Boiling your mouthpiece is OK. I put mouthpieces through an Autoclav, which is even higher temperature.

    Green buildup is probably calcium/lime scale which is removed by chemical and/or Ultrasonic cleaning.

    Any of us repairmen are able to free your stuck slide and attend to the problem which caused it to stick in the first place (99% of the time it is lack of lubrication).
  5. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Hi, Vstern - It's great that you are taking an interest in the care of your trumpet. In addition to greasing the slides, an important thing is to clean the insides of the trumpet periodically. Once every 2 or 3 months is plenty unless you play a lot after drinking coke or eating greasy foods which may be blown into the trumpet. Cleaning it will require a couple of pieces of equipment so go back to Sam Ash and buy a cleaning snake brush, a mouthpiece brush, and a valve casing brush if you don't already. Also a product called "Spitballs" is a good idea - these are small foam pellets soaked in a cleaning solution which you can blow through the trumpet between cleanings (these are a lot of fun but don't blow them at the girls - that can create some real grief if they don't have sense of humor).

    When you have the brushes, the way to do clean it (including the mouthpiece) is:
    a) Fill a container with warm - not hot - water with some mile dish soap added (the container should preferably be a plastic (to avoid scratching the finish) laundry tub or storage box big enough to immerse the trumpet in the water.

    b) Remove the valves to protect the felts from becoming saturated and set them aside. Also, remove the bottom valve caps and the slides (if the second slide is stuck, leave it for now).

    c) Put the trumpet, slides, caps, and mouthpiece in the soapy water for a couple of minutes. While those are soaking, take the valve pistons one at a time and dip them into the water but only up to the top of the piston - don't get the felts wet. Then using the piston brush (the largest one), scrub out the port holes in each piston. Then use a soft cloth and scrub the plated surface of the pistons to remove any oil and other buildup. Dry the pistons and set them aside again.

    d) Use one of the brushes and/or a rag to clean the insides of the bottom valve caps to remove the oil, mold, mildew, food particles and other deposits in them. Rinse and dry them and set them aside.

    e) Use the small brush to clean the bore of the mouthpiece (look through it to ensure the inside is very clean) and also scrub the rim and cup of the mouthpiece - rinse and dry it and set it aside.

    f) Use the snake brush to clean the insides of all of the slides. Some snake brushes are flexible enough to go around the inside of the crook and others are too stiff but at least clean the insides of both pipes as far as you can. Rinse the slides and blow through them to remove any water and dry them.

    g) Use the snake brush to clean the inside of all of the small pipes and even the inside of the bell all the way around to the third valve. Scrub vigorously for several minutes - there is a LOT of gunk in there. Pay particular attention to the leadpipe. Scrub it many times and keep looking through it (hold the trumpet so the bell reflects a light up though the leadpipe and you can see the inside surface). Don't stop brushing and flushing it until it is shiny inside. Then use the valve brush to scrub the insides of the valve casings. Hold them up to the light to see that the insides are shiny. Rinse the trumpet thoroughly - be careful not to bang in on the sink as you are doing it.

    h) Use a long spoon handle or something to push a dry cloth through the valve casings and pull it back and forth to clean and dry the insides of the casings (be very careful doing this).

    i) Oil the pistons and reinsert them (ensure proper alignment), grease and replace the slides, and replace the bottom caps (put a small amount of grease on the threads to keep them from corroding).

    If you have some lacquer cleaner, you can use it to help protect the finish of the trumpet. By the way, unless the trumpet has been modified, the valve caps should have lacquer on the outsides of the caps - not the insides, though.

    P.S. When you go to Sam Ash, ask them why they could not remove the 2nd slide. That is a trivial thing for an experienced repair guy. If they can't do it, take your business to some other store. That means they don't care about customer service.

    Good luck having the cleanest - and most in-tune - trumpet in school. (teach your bandmates how to do this, too).
  6. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    I had a teacher that advocated boiling mouthpieces. I boiled my a few times and the plating was ruined. There is no reason to boil your mouthpiece. Do you boil silverware or dishes?

    Come-Back Kid has given you good advice. I personally never give my horns a bath, but it won't hurt. For me, a shower is good enough.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    you have several good questions. I have never "boiled" a mouthpiece but have poured very hot water over one without damage. Plating is an electrochemical process that, if the mouthpiece was clean before plating, should withstand MUCH more than boiling water. In the mean time, dishwasher liquid technology has gotten MUCH better and hot tap water and that stuff is enough to make your mouthpiece as clean as the tablewear. Make sure that you have a mouthpiece brush to scrub the inside a bit.

    I am surprised that the tech at Sam Ash couldn't do anything. That does not sound normal. Removing slides is the techs daily bread and I have never seen the impossible here although some students stretch the envelope.

    A toothbrush and some vinegar will get the green out.

    Improving intonation involves reducing the amount of factors causing it. Frequent tuning in ensemble, lots of duets and my personal favorite is to use a keyboard or computer to generate a steady tone in the bass clef, then we play long tones or very slow scales on top of that. This way, proper intonation becomes a no brainer. More info about that if you do a search on the term DRONES here

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