Here’s a quick post that I am sure is common sense to some of you but will hopefully save the rest of you some money. I had a friend ask me the other day where I take my horns to get cleaned. (The deep chemical flush cleaning.) I used to get my horns dipped at the local music repair shop but now I do it myself. You can do this in your bath tub but it is far better to use a wash basin or turkey roasting pan. You want a pan or sink that your trumpet can lay down flat in and deep enough that the bell can be completely submerged. (roughly 1’x2’x6”) I use my basement utility sink. If your sink is ceramic, porcelain or a stone-like material, you may want to lay a towel on the bottom first.
Go to your grocery store and buy a gallon jug of white vinegar for about $2. The ratio is approximately 1gal vinegar: 1gal hot water. I take ALL the slides out and set them in the bottom of my sink along with the bell portion of my horn and mouthpieces. Everything goes in the sink EXCEPT the valves. These I clean separately. The key is letting the horn soak in this warm water/vinegar solution for a few hours. After soaking 3-4 hours I run my snakes through all the slides and tubing while holding them under water. I then use my mouthpiece brush to clean the ports in my valves holding the bottom (silver) portion of the valve in the vinegar solution. Be very careful NOT to get the felts on the top part of your valves wet. This will compress them and change your valve alignment. Then I drain the sink and run the tap rinsing all the parts in the running water. (Otherwise your horn will smell a little like a salad, which I guess isn’t the worst thing…) At this point it is best to let all the parts air dry. This helps the oils and grease adhere much better. Lube everything up, put it back together and Viola! You have just saved yourself $50 and did a very thorough yet gentle-on-your-finish, cleaning. One last little tip: I put a touch of slide grease on the tops and bottom threads of the valve casing. We tighten and un-tighten those threads so often it’s wise to take care of them. I know it’s a bit neurotic but that’s the way I roll.
I would be curious to hear your comments and tips for horn care that I may have missed.