Caring for and maintaining your instrument may sometimes feel like a full time job but, in order to ensure your instrument enjoys a long and happy ‘life’, regular maintenance is essential. So, with this in mind, what is the best product to flush through insides of brass musical instruments?
What is the best product to flush through insides of brass musical instruments?
When caring for and maintaining your instrument, it’s important to ensure you have the right equipment; the tools and cleaning products specifically created for the varying elements that make up your beloved instrument.
These can be anything from a proportionately sized cleaning snake to a well-loved pot of slide grease, depending on the brass instrument in question.
But, one thing brass instruments of all shapes and sizes have in common is this: every so often, they’ll need a thorough flushing out.
What does flushing out your brass instrument mean?
To flush out or ‘flushing out’ your brass instrument simply means to give it a thorough clean inside; often referred to as ‘giving it a bath’ this is something that should be done about 2 - 3 times a year, alongside regular maintenance of the mouthpiece and valves.
To bathe your instrument (or ‘flush out’) you must always be careful of the kind of products you use; brass is corrosive and therefore relatively fragile.
The same level of caution should also be taken when cleaning specific parts of your instrument, too.
What not to use when cleaning your brass instrument:
- Boiling or hot water - if the water is too hot for your hands, it’s too hot for your instrument.
- Vaseline - this kind of lubricant will corrode your brass instrument and therefore cause irreversible damage.
What you should use when cleaning your brass instrument:
- Lukewarm water - if the water is too hot, it will damage your instrument.
- Mild soap or detergent - regular and semi-regular cleaning should always be mild.
- Valve oil - the valves of your instrument are incredibly important and just as delicate; to avoid sticking and jamming, regular oiling is highly recommended with specially formulated oil.
- Cleaning snake - some (but not all!) brass instruments will require a thorough clean with a snake; removing any built up dirt and debris from those hard-to-reach places in the tubing. Try a plastic-coated snake rather than a metal version as metal can damage the inside of your brass instrument.
How to bathe your brass instrument
Bathing your brass instrument is relatively simple but does require care and attention.
NB: it is recommended that you don’t bathe your instrument just before a big performance! Sometimes, brass instruments need a few weeks to readjust after a bath, and for the valves to move smoothly once again.
Take your instrument apart, removing all valves and valve springs, valve caps and felts, and remove all tuning slides.
Use a lint-less rag and remove any excess tuning slide grease.
Place valves and valve caps in lukewarm water. Be careful not to get water on your valve felts.
Carefully place your brass instrument, any tuning slides, and mouthpiece in a bathtub or container of lukewarm water; something large enough to immerse the bell, and let it soak for 30-60 minutes.
Take your instrument and valves out of the water and let everything air dry. Take a dry cloth and pat dry your instrument if needed.
Grease and oil your instrument as needed and carefully reassemble.
It’s also worth noting that it may take a few days after cleaning for the valves to feel ‘normal’ again.
In conclusion, there are lots of products available on the market to help you clean and maintain your instrument, but when it comes to finding the best product to flush through insides of brass musical instruments, probably the safest and easiest option is lukewarm water with a touch of mild soap or detergent (a hand soap or washing up liquid, for example).
Some parts of your instrument, like the mouthpiece, will need cleaning once a day or a few times a week and others once a week, but bathing your instrument (or ‘flushing’ it out) is something you should consider doing just a couple of times a year.
Regular cleaning and maintenance is the key to a healthy, well-playing, and beautiful instrument for years to come.
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