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Brass Instruments

Brass Instrument Care and Maintenance

By August 21, 2023No Comments

Looking After Your Brass Instrument

Brass instruments are a family of musical instruments that produce sound through the vibration of the player’s lips against a cup-shaped mouthpiece. The vibrations create sound waves that travel through the instrument. These instruments are typically made of brass or other metal alloys. The player changes the pitch by altering the tension of their lips and by pressing valves or moving slides to change the length of the tubing.

Brass instrument care and maintenance is essential to maintain the playability, appearance, and longevity of your trumpet, horn, trombone, or euphonium (to name a few!)

Brass instruments have specific maintenance guidelines associated with the valves, the mouthpiece, the tubing, and the brass casing. Read on to find out more!

General Maintenance Tips

Storage: Store your instrument in its case when not in use to protect it from dust, moisture, and potential damage. Most dings and dents sustained by a brass instrument occur when it is outside of its case. Keeping it protected with a hard case will minimize these incidents. Be sure not to put any loose items in the case with the instrument. Instead, use the compartments provided or carry them separately (this includes music books).

Climate Control: Avoid exposing the instrument to extreme temperature changes. This includes leaving an instrument in a car or near a window or heater. Keep your brass instrument in a controlled environment to prevent damage.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaning agents that could damage the instrument’s finish or components. Household cleaning products will damage the instrument; only use specialty brass instrument products for cleaning.

Mouthpiece Care: Mouthpieces should be placed gently onto a brass instrument and never forced on or ‘twisted’ in place. If your mouthpiece does become stuck, do not attempt to remove it yourself as you risk damaging the mouthpiece and the instrument. Consult your local brass professional or teacher for the correct way to remove a stuck mouthpiece.


Wipe Down: After each playing session, wipe the instrument with a clean, soft cloth to remove moisture and fingerprints. This prevents tarnishing and keeps the instrument looking clean.

Empty Spit Valves: If your instrument has spit valves (water keys), make sure to empty them regularly to prevent moisture buildup.

Valve and Slide Movement: Gently move the valves (for valve instruments) and slides (for trombone) to keep them lubricated and free of debris.

Mouthpiece: Clean the mouthpiece after each use. Use warm water and a mild detergent or mouthpiece cleaning solution. Use a mouthpiece brush to clean the inside, and then rinse thoroughly.

Instrument Care

Polishing: Periodically, use a brass instrument polishing cloth or a specialized brass polish to remove tarnish and restore shine to the instrument’s surface. Be sure that lacquer instruments are polished with lacquer finish polish cloths only, and that silver instruments are polished with specific silver cleaning cloths. Avoid abrasive materials that could scratch the finish.

Valve Maintenance: Apply valve oil to the valves according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Wipe off excess oil before reassembling the instrument. If unsure, check with a teacher or professional for the proper method for valve removal and oiling.

Slide Grease: Apply slide grease to slides to ensure smooth movement. Avoid using excessive grease, as it can attract dirt.

Any Questions?

Proper care and maintenance of your brass instrument are ongoing processes. If you’re unsure about specific cleaning methods or products, consult your instrumental teacher or our in-house brass technician for guidance. Taking care of your brass instrument will help ensure that it remains in good condition and produces beautiful music for years to come.

You can contact us at (08) 9244 9559 or with any queries you may have.

WA Music Co
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