Care of Intrument

Taking good care of your instrument will keep it looking like new

Brass instruments will last for a lifetime if you take good care of your instrument.  The biggest risk to an instrument is when it is out of its case.  Instruments scratch and dent easily, so be sure not to allow them to bump into anything. 

If you put your trombone down, make sure it won’t fall over and always place it in a safe place where it won’t be knocked.  When rehearsing, always get your trombone out last and pack it up first before other handling other things like music, music stands or chairs.

Like you and me, trombones need a bath occasionally.  Gunk builds up on the inside.  Slides need to be cleaned regularly to keep them operating properly.  It is very frustrating to play an instrument with a slide that doesn’t move freely.

Tip:  Place a leg of your music stand facing the instrument so it won’t fall on your trombone if knocked over.


Flush out the tubing in your instrument once a month to prevent corrosion. Disassemble the instrument – remove tuning slides and valves.  Place the pieces into a lukewarm soapy bath. Don’t use detergent.  Use a snake brush under the water to clean out accumulated residue inside each pipe.

Once clean, dry each component with a clean soft cotton cloth.  Re-assemble the instrument and apply high quality;

  • valve oil to any valves or rotors on the trombone;
  • slide cream/oil to trombone slides;
  • lanolin-based slide grease to tuning slides.  Don’t use Vaseline.  Only use a small quantity of grease since excess amounts will clog up trombone slides.

Everyday use

When playing, always start with your main tuning slide out slightly, since brass instruments are tuned to be sharp with the tuning slide all the way in.  However, once finished playing, push the tuning slide all the way in to prevent the grease from drying out.

If the tuning slide or mouthpieces get stuck, seek professional help to remove them.  Twisting an instrument with force can cause extensive damage.  Instrument repairers have specialized tools to resolve these problems without doing damage to the instrument.

Wipe fingerprints and dust off the outside of an instrument with an untreated soft cloth.  Never use metal polish on a lacquered instrument.  The lacquer prevents the instrument from tarnishing. 

Acid from skin will corrode an instrument over time, so cleaning it after use will keep it pristine.

Tip:  Never bang your hand onto a mouthpiece. This is the usual way they become stuck in an instrument.

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