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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Red Rot in the General forums; The great cancer of trumpets is red rot. Yet, do we understand why it occurs? Think I have heard it ...
  1. #1
    Fortissimo User SteveRicks's Avatar
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    Aug 2009

    Red Rot

    The great cancer of trumpets is red rot. Yet, do we understand why it occurs? Think I have heard it said it is dezincifaction of brass. But what really causes it? I have only had one horn that has it, and it came to me that way. My son has used it for two years regularly- marching horn getting several hours use each day- but it has not gotten any worse. So why the severe attach with the previous owner, but no more with me. Is saliva that different person to person?

    Lead pipes are usually most prone to red rot. However, one would think that if saliva were the culprit it would be most prominent near the water valve, or on the third "dump" slide of horns that don't have a 3rd valve key. Many kids never remember to empty them so horns often get put up "wet.". Or maybe whatever reaction occurs immediately upon entering the pipe and becomes unreactive.

    Are some horns more prone to it?

    Thoughts or insights?
    Phil986 likes this.
    Olds Supers, LA (1953), Ful. (1962)
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  2. #2
    Fortissimo User Brekelefuw's Avatar
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    Mar 2006

    Re: Red Rot

    Everybody's body chemistry is a bit different. Some people eat through things faster than others.
    Red Rot typically occurs from the leadpipe to the main tuning slide. This is because MOST of the water is concentrated in these areas.
    Horns with rose or red brass tubing are immune to red rot, the same goes with sterling and nickel silver tubing. Yellow brass is not immune, but can be prevented by running some valve oil through the leadpipe to coat the inside with oil.
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  3. #3
    Fortissimo User trumpetsplus's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    South Salem, NY

    Re: Red Rot

    Quote Originally Posted by Brekelefuw View Post
    Everybody's body chemistry is a bit different. Some people eat through things faster than others.
    And people eat different foods.
    Zeus likes this.
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  4. #4
    Fortissimo User Buck with a Bach's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
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    Re: Red Rot

    Jalapenos are out?
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  5. #5
    Utimate User Dale Proctor's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    Heart of Dixie

    Re: Red Rot

    I'm thinking the reason rot is found mainly in the leadpipe, not in other parts of the horn, is that red rot is caused by an accumulation of food/drink particles that retain moisture. Most of it hangs up in the leadpipe and doesn't make it farther through the horn. The sugars and whatever else there is in the gunk starts the corrosion.

    I have exactly one horn with red rot, and it was already evident when I bought it (8 or 9 years ago). No holes yet, but it's spreading no matter how much I clean it or dump valve oil down it. I suppose once the reaction begins, there's no stopping it.
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  6. #6
    Forte User
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    Nov 2005

    Re: Red Rot

    I have bought many horns over the years [always looking for that magic one] and most have been used. Many came with some red rot mainly in the lead pipe and it never got any worse for time I owned the horn. I clean my lead pipe out [swab] at least 2-3 times a week and most times after I play I put a couple of drops of valve oil down the lead pipe. I also put my horn on a stand as soon as I get home from a job or reh. so that the moisture does not lay in the lead pipe.I also snake out my lead pipe and tuning slide under running water once a week. I have friends that won't leave their horns out so I recommend that they store their horn in the case on end with the bell facing down. This may not amount to anything but it can't hurt.
    Last edited by Dave Mickley; 02-22-2012 at 08:36 AM.
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  7. #7
    Pianissimo User dsr0057's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    Denton, TX

    Re: Red Rot

    In response to Dale, you can't stop the process but getting the horn cleaning with chemicals can reset the process so that it is closer to when it started.

    "Always strive to be what you can be, don't settle to be what you are." - Dr. Bowman

  8. #8
    Forte User
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    Re: Red Rot

    A while back, I traded for an Olds Recording trumpet that turned out to have red rot - in the third and tuning slides. I'm sure the fact that the inside of the horn was pretty well caked with a lot of blackish crud from lack of cleaning had a lot to do with it, but the the way it was stored was the main culprit. It was in one of those deluxe Olds cases with a handle on top and on the receiver end, and obviously it had been put up wet, standing on end with the bell down. At least the leadpipe was good, despite all the crud, and the crooks were still available so they could be replaced long before the red rot could present any more than a cosmetic problem.
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  9. #9
    New Friend jacko's Avatar
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    Feb 2012

    Re: Red Rot

    Sorry to be evasive, but the lifetime of brass will depend on a lot of factors, not least of which is what type of brass you use. Furthermore, there will be a major dependence on the chemistry of the water. Brass can undergo "dezincification", when the zinc dissolves out of the brass to leave behind spongy copper. This not only changes its appearance, but also significantly weakens it. The rate at which the zinc is removed will depend on factors such as oxygen content, pH, chloride levels, temperature etc. In an extreme circumstance, attack on the brass could be evident in a matter a few days.

  10. #10
    Forte User
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    Nov 2009
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    Re: Red Rot

    From what little metallurgy I know, there is no reason for zinc to spontaneously leave the brass alloy. According to what I read, de-zincification happens because of certain few bacteria species that use the zinc for their own metabolic processes, thereby defying the normal bacteriostatic properties of both metals. These bacteria (I'm not sure if the species have been identified) are suspected to be a part of some people's oral flora but not others. That would be why some horns quickly show red rot, whereas others of same manufacture have no sign of it after decades. I'm not sure exactly why some alloys are immune, although in the case of nickel-silver the lack of zinc seems to be the obvious solution. Rose brass may have too low a zinc content to allow for bacteria growth. I had an Ambassador affected at the lead pipe and on the bell and I was struck by how protuberant the growth can be inside of the tube. Bacteria are interesting critters for sure...

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