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Trombone Maintenance

Tips for Every Day

1. Be careful! Trombones are large instruments, but they can also be easily damaged. The smallest dent on the slide can cause serious problems and be expensive to fix. The best maintenance is preventative – be careful with your slide!
2. The slide needs to be lubricated so it can move freely. Apply a small amount of slide cream (like Trombontine) on the bottom of the inside slide. It will be distributed up the side as you raise the outer slide. Make sure the outer side doesn’t slip off while you are putting on the slide cream.
3. All of your tuning slides should move freely. If it is needed, lubricate them with a small amount of slide grease.
4. Mouthpieces can occasionally get stuck in the horn. This is cased by tapping the mouthpiece to put in on the instrument (sometimes younger students do it because it makes an interesting noise). Always twist the mouthpiece gently in and out of the instrument. If the mouthpiece gets stuck, don’t try to force it out – this can cause damage to the instrument. Repair shops have special tools to remove the mouthpiece. This is a free service in most shops.
5. When you are finished playing, be sure to remove water from the inside of the horn by opening the water keys and blowing gently through the instrument. Also be sure to wipe off the outside of the horn to get oils from your hands off. The acids in your saliva and hands can damage the brass. It is important to keep the inside and outside clean.
6. Keep your instrument in a case when you are not playing. This helps prevent dents and other damage. Never store books or music laying on the instrument in the case. This can bend the slide!

Tips for Monthly and Yearly Maintenance

1. You should clean your instrument around every three months. Using an instrument snake, you can run a little water through tuning slides and through the outer slide to get out any residue from slide cream and saliva. Be careful with the slide!
2. Once a year you should have your instrument chemically cleaned. A repair shop will clean, oil, and adjust your instrument to keep the slide and tuning slides running smoothly. Spring is the best time to have your instrument serviced because repair shops are not overloaded.