Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How to break in new trumpet or cornet valves

When you first get your new instrument, the valves can feel sluggish or a little gritty. This is normal, since the valves may not be perfectly clean or fitted to the valve casing.  You will have to take very good care of the valves during the break-in period, usually taking about 2 to 4 weeks.

The first thing to do is to remove the valve from the casing and wipe it off with a clean cloth.
You can see from this photo that there is a lot of black grime that came off the new valve. The black stuff consists of tiny particles of metal and polishing or lapping compounds used in the manufacturing process.  Of course, there will be the same black grime inside the valve casing, so wrap a clean cloth around the valve casing rod and swab out the casing. When you wrap the rod, make sure there is no exposed metal, or you could scratch the casing. Blow off any cloth fibers after wiping and swabbing the valves.

Then, use plenty of Ultra-Pure Professional Valve Oil to coat the valve and put it back into the casing.

During the break-in period, you will need to do this EVERY DAY.  You will know when the break-in period is over. The valves will feel fast and smooth, and there won’t be any more black grime coming off the metals. 

I also recommend washing a new brass instrument once a week for the first month. Use your valve casing brush and plenty of cool, soapy water to scrub out the casing.  Use a clear dishwashing liquid detergent (like Lemon Joy) and rinse it thoroughly.  I recommend using an old toothbrush with a little detergent to scrub the surface of the valve, since the toothbrush can’t scratch the metal. Run a snake through the valve slide tubes to make sure no grime is still stuck there. Rinse everything and apply fresh oil and tuning slide lube.

If you break in your valves carefully, they will be in excellent condition and will be ready for years of music making! 

If you need the special brushes used to clean a trumpet or cornet, you can find them at your local music store or at our website, here. 

Ultra-Pure Oils makes fine lubricants and accessories for musicians. Shop Ultra-Pure for trumpet valve oil, trombone slide oil or lube, tuning slide lube, slide grease, rotary valve oil, key oil, trumpet, horn, trombone, and low brass care kits, cork grease, microfiber polishing cloths and more!