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MENC: The National Association for Music Education

Preseason Maintenance for Brass Instruments

Author(s): John A. Hales
Source: Music Educators Journal, Vol. 66, No. 1 (Sep., 1979), pp. 54-55
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of MENC: The National Association for
Music Education
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Accessed: 05-11-2018 07:02 UTC

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John A. Hales Leaving all valves in the casing, work, do not force the slide further,
next remove all slides, starting with but send the instrument to a repair
As marching season begins, thepre-
tuning slide. Never use the old shop. Remember, most baritones,
ventive maintenance requires belteach
trick on the tuning slide, be- sousaphones, and tubas have mov-
band director's immediate attention. cause the braces may loosen. able slides on the top of the valves,
Instruments used outdoors are sub- Rather, brace one hand against the which can be distinguished by the
ject to excessive abuse in handling, valve casing and the other against ferrule (see Figure 1). Horn slides
extreme temperatures, excessive the body of the instrument and pull only should be pulled by hand
moisture, and dirt. These promote the slides out with your fingers. since a rope or handkerchief will
rapid deterioration of instruments The valve slides are usually quite pull unevenly on the slide, causing
through dents, wearing of mechani- safe to remove. Place a length of damage to the instrument. Trom-
cal parts, and destruction of pads. cloth clothesline or a handkerchief bone tuning slides also should
Biannual instrument inspection will through the crook. Depress the cor- be removed by hand, using the
lead to early detection of problems responding valve while bracing onethumbs to push the tuning slide
that otherwise would result in cost- hand against the valve casing. Gent- brace (see Figure 2).
ly and inconvenient repairs. ly tug in the normal direction you Inspect the inside of each slide
Brass instruments are easily in- would move the slide. Most valve for dirt or corrosion. Any sign of
spected. First, check the instrument slides do not receive large amountsaccumulation means the instrument
case for poor handles, broken latch- of saliva and therefore are usually should be cleaned carefully using
es and hinges, and interior and ex- easy to remove. If the slides do notlukewarm soapy water and a flex-
terior damage that may cause prob- pull, apply a good penetrating oil ible brush. Do not use hot water,
lems when the instrument is and leave it on the slide overnight. which will remove lacquer from the
transported. Do not overlook the If the penetrating oil does not instrument.

protection afforded a mouthpiece,

especially in trombone cases, which
are notorious for loose mouth-
pieces that can dent the slide and
Next, check each valve to be sure .- ferrule
it moves freely. If valves are slug-
gish, dirt is probably the problem.
When a valve does not function - - slide-inside

properly after cleaning, send the in- I

strument to a repair shop. This is
especially necessary with stuck
valves, which are hollow and can-
not be driven out with drumsticks. slide tube

The author is program coordinatorfor the

musical instrument technology curriculum
at State University of New York in Morrisville.
This article is the first in a series on in-
strument repair and maintenance to be pub-
lished on a periodic basis. Illustration by
Steve Pederson Figure 1. Non-ferrule (left) and ferrule (right) slide design

54 mej/september '79

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key corks. A deep impression in the

cork is a telltale sign of problems.
The pressure of the spring will con-
tinually wear a cork until the side
splits or a defect in the cork leaks
air. The water key cork can be de-
ceptive in that air leaks do not af-
fect all notes, but rather only cer-
tain notes in the overtone series.
General appearance is the best
guide for replacement.
Next, look for dents, especially
on mouthpipes and taper end of
mouthpieces. These should be re-
moved. Most body dents are not se-
rious to the performance, providing
they are not larger than one quarter
of the tube diameter. This is only a I
general rule, since certain locations \i
Figure 2. Removing a trombone
may greatly affect some notes of the
tuning slide overtone series. The impact when a
dent is made may break solder
joints; therefore, carefully check
each solder joint near a dent.
After all instruments are cleaned,
The trombone slide should be lubricate the slides. The standby
checked for ease of movement. vaseline and lanolins are probably
Check the inside slide on the the least acceptable slide lubricants
mouthpiece side for dirt by holding due to the large amounts of water
it up to the light. Many students for- that they contain. I have found the
get to clean the inner slide, which best lubricant to be Army surplus
continually deposits dirt between rifle grease, which is a non-
inner and outer slides and may corrosive, long-lasting, odorless,
create a drag on the slide. Never low-cost grease. Regular rifle grease
grasp a trombone slide at any loca- sold in sporting goods stores has a
tion other than at the hand brace. strong odor caused by additives.
Incorrect grip may cause even a For brass instruments used in a
clean slide to drag. If a clean slide marching band, a weekly flushing
drags, send it to a repair shop to with water and a thorough biweekly
remove the dents or adjust the cleaning with a brush is a good
alignment. Never work on your precaution. The band instrument's
own slide; inexperience may ruin exposure to moisture, dirt, and
an otherwise good slide. food particles creates greater risks
A general brass inspection should than do other instrumental per-
include an examination of the water formance situations. I

1"' .


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