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  • Trombone Care and Cleaning
  • Mary Brainerd
Trombone Care and Cleaning

Care and Maintenance of a Trombone
What do I need to do daily?

Preparing the slide

  1. 1. First, clean any dirt from inside the slide, then apply a bit of slide cream (or slide oil) on the slightly thicker end sections of the slide (the stockings). Do not use slide grease.

    Top: Trombone slide oil Bottom: Slide cream

    Top: Trombone slide oil Bottom: Slide cream

    Cleaning the dirt from the inner slides

    Cleaning the dirt from the inner slides

  2. 2. After applying slide cream, use a water spray bottle to moisten the slide sufficiently. If you used slide oil, just blow on it. You can use regular tap water in the water spray bottle, but it's better to use water without any chlorine in it, such as mineral water.

    After applying slide cream, use a water spray bottle to moisten the slide sufficiently.
    Water spray bottles (Top: Small; Bottom: Large)

    Water spray bottles (Top: Small; Bottom: Large)

  3. 3. Insert the inner slide into the outer slide, then slide the two sections back and forth several times to spread the cream evenly.
    If the slide becomes sluggish while playing, moisten the slide with the water spray bottle. A small water spray bottle in your pocket could come in very handy when performing!

    Insert the inner slide into the outer slide, then slide the two sections back and forth several times to spread the cream evenly.

Oiling the rotary valve (tenorbass trombones and bass trombones)

On tenorbass trombones and bass trombones, apply rotor oil to the rotary valve through the slide receiver.

When to use slide cream and when to use slide oil

Slide cream and slide oil both allow the slide to move more smoothly. Which to use is up to personal preference. The condition of your instrument and the amount of cream or oil applied to it can also change how it feels to play, so it behooves you to discover what amount you feel most comfortable with. Incidentally, Yamaha slide oil contains an anti-rust agent to prevent the inside of the slide from rusting.

How much slide cream to apply

As a rule of thumb, you should apply only enough cream that the slide is still visible beneath it.

Advice

If the slide becomes sluggish 10 to 15 minutes after you start playing, you should have the slide checked at the shop.
If the slide is dirty the slide oil won't be able to lubricate it well. Prior to applying slide oil, be sure to thoroughly clean any dirt or moisture from the outside of the inner slide and the inside of the outer slide. Be careful however not to apply any unreasonable force on the slides when doing so.

Cleaning the slide

  1. 1. Open the water key to remove moisture from inside the slide section.

    Open the water key to remove moisture from inside the slide section.
  2. 2. Wrap a polishing gauze around the cleaning rod so that the metal is not exposed, then clean inside the inner slide and outer slide. When you remove the cleaning rod, make sure there is no gauze left in the tube. Grip both the cleaning rod and gauze when pulling it out from the instrument. Always hold the slide brace when doing this.

    Wrap a polishing gauze around the cleaning rod so that the metal is not exposed, then clean inside the inner slide and outer slide.
    Wrap the cleaning rod with gauze, and rotate it slowly as you insert it into the outer slide to clean it.

    Wrap the cleaning rod with gauze, and rotate it slowly as you insert it into the outer slide to clean it.

Maintaining the exterior

The silver parts on a trombone's main slide and F attachment are surface-treated (finished) with the same lacquer as the other parts. The colors are different because the materials are different. The surface finish is the same for all surfaces. To maintain the exterior of the instrument, either wipe it gently with a polishing cloth, or polish it with a lacquer polish.
To clean dirt from a nickel-plated instrument (of if the lacquer is peeling and the surface is starting to rust), use a metal polish which includes a polishing agent. This will restore the luster of the metal.

What to do if the plating is peeling

If the paint (or plating) is peeling, you may notice copper rust (green-colored rust) on the bare metal surfaces of the instrument. Although you can remove it by polishing the instrument with a metal polish, if the rust forms on a part of the instrument that is often touched when playing it, you should have the instrument repainted (or re-plated) at the shop.

Care and Maintenance of a Trombone
Weekly care and maintenance

  1. 1. Wrap a polishing gauze around the cleaning rod so that the metal is not exposed, and insert it to remove dirt from the interior of the inner and outer tuning slide. When you remove the cleaning rod, make sure there is no gauze left in the tube.

    Wrap a polishing gauze around the cleaning rod so that the metal is not exposed, and insert it to remove dirt from the interior of the inner and outer tuning slide.
  2. 2. Use some gauze to clean dirt from the surface of the inner tuning slide, then apply a small amount of slide grease. This grease is for use on tuning slides only. Never use it on the slide. Slide the tuning slides back and forth several times to distribute the grease evenly.
    If you used a hard stick type of grease there will little stretching, and the film may not be even. In this case it could dry out easily. If this worries you, try spreading soft type slide grease (soft) with your finger over the entire surface.

    Use some gauze to clean dirt from the surface of the inner tuning slide, then apply a small amount of slide grease.
  3. 3. If the movement of the tuning slide is sluggish, there may be dirt, rust, or scratches on the surface of the inner tuning slide and outer tuning slide, or the tuning slide itself could be twisted (not parallel).
    If you thoroughly clean the tuning surfaces with polishing gauze and apply slide grease and the movement is still sluggish, have the instrument inspected and repaired at a shop.

Advice

Valve oil is for pistons. Do not use it on the tuning slide.

 

Cleaning the mouthpiece

Prepare a brass soap water solution. Mix 1 part brass soap with between 10 and 15 parts warm water (30°C to 40°C).
Soak the mouthpiece brush in the solution, then use the brush to clean the mouthpiece's throat. Finally, rinse the mouthpiece thoroughly with clean water.

Cleaning small parts

Don't forget to clean the small parts of your instrument. Use a piece of gauze twisted into a string to do so.

Cleaning the water key hole

If the water key hole is dirty, use some tone hole cleaner to clean it.

 

Care and Maintenance of a Trombone
Cleaning small parts

  1. Prepare a brass soap water solution. Mix 1 part brass soap with between 10 and 15 parts warm water (30°C to 40°C).
  2. Apply the solution to a flexible cleaner brush and use it to clean the inside of the instrument.
  3. After cleaning the instrument, rinse out the brass soap with water. Use some gauze to completely dry the instrument, then apply some slide grease (or slide oil) to the slide, and apply some slide grease to the tuning slide.
  • Mary Brainerd

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