Care Advice: Trumpets and Valved Instruments


The valves of your trumpet or valve instrument will need regular lubrication. This is done by unscrewing the valve cap and extending the valve to half way, applying a dot of valve oil to the valve’s widest part, and pushing the valve back into place taking care to ensure that it is correctly aligned. Checking the alignment is very simple – try gently turning the valve. If it won’t turn, the valve is lined up correctly. If does turn, keep turning it until you hear a click and the valve won’t turn anymore.

It is very important that once you have finished playing for the day, all moisture is removed from the inside of the horn. To do this, open the water keys and blow through the instrument. Wipe the exterior to remove any oils from your fingers, and put the instrument back in its case. Not only does this protect your instrument from damage, but it also helps to keep it clean. Never place items in the case with your instrument which are not meant to be there. When the lid is closed, they may press against your instrument and cause damage to delicate slides and valves.

If the mouthpiece becomes stuck, don’t panic, and never, ever, try to force it off. This could cause significant damage. Your local music store should be able to remove it quite easily for you, and probably will not make a charge. They often use a special instrument called a mouthpiece puller. The easiest way to avoid mouthpiece problems is to ensure they are inserted properly into the receiver in the first place. Incorrect insertion is the most common cause of stuck mouthpieces. The correct method of inserting a mouthpiece is to lie the mouthpiece in the receiver and apply a tiny amount of pressure to help it stay in place. You may give a slight twist, with the emphasis is very much on slight. Excessive twisting will almost certainly result in the mouthpiece getting stuck.

You will need to check that all slides are moving freely and lubricate them with slide grease as necessary.

The inside of your valve instrument will need regular cleaning – we recommend at least every three months. Please scroll down the page to see our General Guide to Cleaning Brass Instruments. You may wish to consider having your instrument chemically cleaned from time to time. The results are very impressive and far exceed what can be achieved manually at home. Speak to your local music shop for further details and prices.