Work in progress!

This tutorial covers how to properly clean your Brass Piston Valve system instrument at home. This process should be done once a month, everyone's horn accumulate crud differently and you should be greasing your slides and oiling your valves consistently so when you want to clean as detailed here you don't run into any problems.

Many music stores offer repair and cleaning services as we do, depending on the horn and person you may need a deeper cleaning by a repair technician every 6 to 18 months. If you are experiencing sticky valves or stuck slides and this guide does not relieve those issues you may need a professional cleaning.

These instructions are meant for most modern trumpets, cornets, baritones, euphoniums, marching brass (that use pistons) and tubas.

Things you will need:

1. Soft rag or Microfiber Cloth;

2. Appropriately sized nylon snake and brush

  -Snakes come in different lengths and are instrument specific, you should have two different brushes one for the valve casing (shaped like a cylinder) and the other for the mouthpiece (shaped like a cone)

3. Bathtub or a hose hooked up to water outside (if it's not too cold) with a tray/tub to hold the instrument and pieces.

4. Tuning Slide Grease and Valve Oil.

5. A couple large towels, depending on the type of instrument maybe more.

Cleaning Steps:

1. Wipe the exterior of the instrument down with a clean soft rag, anything rough may scratch your finish.

  -As you are wiping the exterior try to notice if any braces are wiggling.

2. Remove all of the tuning slides for your instrument

   -If the slides don't move don't try to force them off because you may break or dent something that will create a more complicated or expensive repair. It would be better to leave the slide in than try to wrench it out.

  -Professional trumpets may have kicker mechanisms, you just need to examine how the mechanism is attached to the slide in order to unscrew the retaining screw attaching the arm of the mechanism to the slide.

3. Remove the pistons and the bottom caps of the valve casings. 

  -Like with the tuning slides if anything is stuck I would recommend leaving them on (if it's the bottom caps) or taking the instrument to a repair shop. If you use pliers on the caps they can slip or if positioned/pressured incorrectly dent the valve casing

4. Fill the tub with lukewarm water if in a bathtub, otherwise whatever temp your hose water is....

5. Lay out one of the towels in a dry place.

6. Submerge the body of the instrument in the water and carefully place the slides, valves, mouthpiece, and caps in the tub as well for 15 minutes. If your tub is not large enough to fit the body of the instrument use a hose to run water through the instrument using a spray nozzle on a medium setting.

  -Use the long snake on all the tuning slides and the tuning slide casing, use the cylindrical shaped brush on the valve casings, use the conical nylon brush on the mouthpiece.

7. Remove the slides, valves and caps from the water and turn the slides and valves over and over to drain the water out of them. Keep turning and flipping the instrument until no water is coming out, then place them on the towel you had laid out. Use a second towel or paper towels to wipe any grease off the tuning slides

8. Remove the instrument body from the water and turn it over repeatedly while holding over the tub until water stops draining out of the bell and valve/slide casings.  Dry off using the second towel or paper towels.

9. Once the instrument body, valves, slides, and caps are dry you can reassemble.

10. Reassemble, make sure to oil the valves and grease the tuning slides.