Marshall McGurk logo. Tel; 01900 813200

Elm House Farm, Crosby, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6SH
Tel: 01900 813200
Mob: 07718 394355
Email Steve
Email Ally

Back To Home Page
Musical Instrument Repairs
Instruments For Sale
Guide For Those Contemplating Buying An Instrument
How To Maintain And Look After Your Instrument
SitUpon Seats Home Page For Cane And Rush Seating
Website Design
Email Steve
Email Ally

Click here to download this page in printer-friendly format. You'll need Acrobat Reader to open it.

How To Care For Your Brass Instrument
How to look after your brass instrument
in association with N.A.M.I.R


Your instrument is a precisely made piece of engineering. If carefully looked after it will give years of trouble free playing. Follow these simple guidelines for looking after your instrument.


When not in use, keep the instrument in its case, as that is the safest place for it. Most accidents happen when the instrument is left unattended out of its case.


The mouthpiece should not be pushed into the instrument with any force; a gentle twist is all it needs to stay in place. If it does become jammed in the instrument take it to your repairer who will have a special tool for removing the mouthpiece without damaging it. Do not try to remove it yourself; expensive repairs can be caused this way.


Your mouthpiece should be cleaned often, with a mouthpiece brush under running water,as it tends to collect dirt, which can then be blown down into the instrument eventually interfering with the valves or slides. Never eat just before playing. Food will be blown into your instrument and will begin to smell after a while. It is not only unhygienic but can corrode the inside of your instrument if left unattended.

Diagram Showing How To Clean Your Mouthpiece


On instruments with PISTON valves (all instruments except the slide trombone and the French horn) the valves require regular lubrication with valve oil. One at a time remove the valves by unscrewing the cap at the top of the valve chamber. Clean the valve with a clean, non-fluffy cloth to remove the old oil. Check inside the valve casing. If it looks dirty remove the cap at the bottom of the valve and pass a cloth through. Take care not to scratch the inside of the valve casing, and then put the bottom cap back on. Apply several drops of oil onto the valve and insert into its casing. Turn gently until the valve guide clicks into place. Do the top valve cap back up and work the valve up and down a few times to distribute the oil evenly.

Digaram Showing Oiling Rotary Valve


On instruments with ROTARY valves (French horn and some trombones) the valves require regular lubrication with rotary valve oil. Screw The domed valve cap and apply a few drops to the central spindle. Replace the valve cap and work the valve to distribute the oil. When in use, if the marks on the valve do not align with the mark on the casing then take the instrument to your repairer for adjustment. A little oil may be applied to the joints of the lever. Do not attempt to dismantle a rotary valve, they are troublesome to replace without the correct knowledge and tools.

Diagram Showing The Use Of A Flexible Brush To Clean Trombone Slide


The action of a SLIDE TROMBONE requires regular lubrication to ensure a smooth action. To clean, remove the outer slide and wipe the inner slides with a clean non-fluffy cloth. Fill the slide with warm soapy water and work up and down a few times. A flexible cleaning brush will help get any grime out of the bow section. Rinse with clean water. If you use slide cream apply a little slide cream to the tops of the stockings of the inner slide (the slightly larger section at the end of the inner slide).

Replace the outer slide (check the slide lock is the correct way round). Work the slide up and down to distribute the cream evenly. If you use different slide lubrication follow the instructions that come with it. For final lubrication, pull out the inner slide and spray liberally with water, Apply more water whenever necessary. When not being played always lock the slide to prevent accidents.


All brass instruments have tuning slides, which also need lubricating. If any of them are difficult to move, remove them, wipe them clean and apply tuning slide grease. Work in and out to distribute and remove any excess. If they are really stuck you may damage the tubing trying to remove it, take it to your repairer who will have the correct tools to do this.


About twice a year the entire instrument should be given a bath. Washing up liquid can damage the lacquer; instead use a capful of a mild disinfectant such as Milton fluid (NOT toilet bleach!). Long and flexible brushes can be obtained from your music shop to clean the longer or more awkward tubes. Dry the instrument with kitchen roll or non-fluffy cloth and reassemble, lubricating all valves and slides as indicted above. Do not try to remove rotary valves.


Fingerprints may be removed from the instrument with a clean soft cloth. If desired lacquered instruments may be brought to a shine using silicon based furniture polish, but great care must be taken not to get any polish on the moving parts. Silver-plated instruments and keys can be polished with a silver cloth, which can be bought in most supermarkets. Do not use liquid silver/brass cleaner (such as Brasso) as this is abrasive and may damage valves and slides.


Small dents in the instrument will not affect it, but larger dents will alter the instruments' tuning. Your repairer can advise on this.


If you have any problems with your instrument, do contact a qualified repairer and they will be happy to advise and assist you. All instruments go wrong once in a while but looked after carefully you can make visits to your repairer less frequent.

MARSHALL McGURK, Elm House Farm, Crosby, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6SH - Phone: 01900 813200