Valves, Body Chemistry or Bad Habits

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trickg, Aug 29, 2014.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I thought I'd pose a question out there regarding valves due to some observations I've had over the years.

    In short, I've never had a trumpet that has had any real valve problems, but I have known other people who seem like they are always having issues with valves on one horn or another. It could be because in most of my time as a trumpet player, I've mainly only used 3 trumpets - 4 if you include the Yamaha I got in 8th grade but only really played for 2 years. I don't know if that trumpet had the dreaded Yamalloy valve curse or not - they looked terrible, but functioned fine. In any case, otherwise I've played 2 Bach trumpets and my current Schilke over a span of about 28 years.

    I'm not really one to take my horns into the shop either. Unless I have something major happen to a horn that requires actual repair, I do basic maintenance with cleaning and that's that.

    So why is it that I don't tend to have valve issues, but other people, who usually spend a lot more time and money in a shop for maintenance, do? Is it a body chemistry thing? Is it how my valves wear due to how they are being pressed? Do people with harsher body chemistry have more issues with their valves?

    Part of what has inspired this thread is that oddly, the first valve on my Schilke has been getting just a tad draggy every now and again, which is surprising to me since I have never really had any issues before now. But I suspect that it's probably due to it being dirty - my horn is due for another cleaning, and I haven't swabbed out the casings for quite a while. I'm going to try that and see if it fixes the issue. This horn was also made in 1999 and to my knowledge, has never seen the inside of a repair shop. I bought it used in 2005 (it was in like-new condition) and I don't think it had been played much prior to my getting it. Anyway, that's 9 years on the same horn with trouble-free valves.

    I'm curious to hear what others have to say - especially the folks on the forum who do instrument repair.
    Comeback likes this.
  2. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    I think all of those things are a factor, and also blowing chunks of food into the horn.

    I don't usually have valve issues either, but if one is hanging up a little swabbing the casings and pistons with lighter fluid fixes everything.

  3. motteatoj

    motteatoj Mezzo Forte User

    Feb 23, 2013
    Tuckahoe, NY
    My perspective...the valve issues I have are on vintage horns that I buy, and are attributed to many different things.
    As soon as I think i understand everything there is about why valves have issues, something new comes along that allows me to 'learn' more.
    The last example of this is the dragging of a valve AFTER an Anderson's valve job, and it being attributed to thin walls on the bottom of the valve casing and 'over-tightening' of the bottom valve cap...who knew??
    I still have a couple unresolved valve issues on others I have bought.
    Yes, i always think it is me, until I go back to my Yamaha, which I have had since new, and have no issues with, ever.

    I think to your point, when you have a horn for years, it changes in minor, minor ways and you as a good player adapt without noticing or thinking, until something finally goes awry far enough to make a noticeable change..
    The horns I have issues with are all 80+ years old, much older than most people have a horn for an entire career.
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Lighter fluid - I wouldn't have thought of that, but it makes sense. A little naphtha does wonders on a lot of things. When I was in the Old Guard, I was one of the few buglers who polished all of my brass on my uniform, and there was a lot there - the buttons, underneath the nasty gold paint (which was stripped off) were brass, so after polishing with either Brasso or Blue Magic, they were then cleaned with lighter fluid, which served both to remove any residue left on the brass, and it also left a type of protectant on it so that it didn't tarnish.

    I'm going to try that on my valves and valve casings - I'll bet that first valve loosens up right away.
  5. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
    Some people just grab their horns too hard, and thus bend the valve casings - I've seen that multiple times. And others again (and that mainly happens to rotary trumpets) if the horn is pushed into the case too hard, or the case does not really fit very well, the horn itself migjht be slightly bent, throwing the valves out of kilter.
  6. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    Since I first learnt how to clean and oil them properly nearly fifty years ago, valves have never been a problem on any trumpet I've owned and that must be a dozen or so across a variety of (reputable!) manufacturers. Maybe also an engineers respect for precision mechanical equipment, which is maybe even more about not doing the daft stuff.

    I do however get an old-fashioned look sometimes off Mrs Seth when I take a trumpet into the shower with me.
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    So, after an adventure trying to find some Ronsonal lighter fluid (tried the grocery store, K-Mart, and then on a whim, checked the gas station, which is where I found it) I swabbed off the valves and valve casings, and did a basic cleaning of my horn, my valves once again are the stellar, slick, smooth valves that Schilkes are known for.
  8. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

    Jan 9, 2010
    East Yorkshire
    Here endeth the first lesson
  9. Dviglis

    Dviglis Mezzo Piano User

    Mar 29, 2014
    Wow, nice tip Tom, thanks for sharing! I will be sure to try it!
  10. Bauerbear

    Bauerbear Mezzo Piano User

    Jul 11, 2012
    Winter Park, FL
    I've always told people that looks can be deceiving. With my 11a, the valves look like crap; tons of wear and exposed base metal. Most people go "ewww" or "ick" when they see them. But after that I show them how all three valve slides pop loudly when I pull them. I just think it has more to do with the casing than the valve itself.

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