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Trumpet Maintenance

Keeping your Bach Stradivarius Trumpet in excellent operating condition will help you perform at the very top of your skills through every note and every piece. Why not give yourself the gift of sounding your musical best 100% of the time through a superbly maintained horn?

 Through proper maintenance, your Bach Stradivarius will retain its beauty for years to come, offer you a lifetime of wonderful service, and not suffer needless and premature wear and tear due to neglect. The Bach Stradivarius trumpets purchased by the Chicago Symphony in 1957 have been in continual use pleasing millions of listeners with glorious sounds and are still being played today. 

As many professionals have discovered, a top condition Bach Stradivarius Trumpet that has been properly maintained over the years not only retains its value but can actually increase in worth from its original purchase price protecting the owner's original investment if it is sold. Maintaining your Bach Stradivarius is a small price to pay for a lifetime of great music making.

Scroll down for some maintenance tips to keep your Strad in excellent condition.

Excellent Bach Stradivarius Bb/A Piccolo in Stunning Silver Plate.

1: "Every Day Before You Play, Oil Those Valves Away!" Apply a few drops of high quality valve oil each day to the top of the pistons (gravity feed) to fully coat both the piston and cylinder walls. Even if your valves seem to be working fine without oil, remember dry valves cause micro metal abrasion and reduce compression. Oil serves primarily as a lubricant, but also flushes and washes out small metal and organic particles blown into the horn that can cause corrosion, stickiness, and slowly impair valve speed and responsiveness. Regular oiling also prevents air leakage along the cylinder walls improving tonal efficiency, and provides an electrically insulating barrier between the monel pistons and the brass cylinder walls. Since valve replating can cost $350+ and take your trumpet out of service for weeks, its best to just keep your valves well lubricated so they stay free, clean and responsive.

2:"Regular use of a mouthpiece brush reduces the junk, and gunk and mush". A dirty mouthpiece adversely affects intonation, blowing freedom, and slowly ruins a mouthpiece through corrosion. Use a stiff nylon mouthpiece brush 2-3 times a week and vigorously clean your mouthpiece under warm running water. This procedure takes only 10-15 seconds but keeps your mouthpiece clean and free from debris as well as arresting the migration of gunk into your trumpet. Rolling the brush on a soap bar before brushing helps remove more stubborn gunk and stains. After cleaning, hold your mouthpiece up to the light and inspect thoroughly to insure that the backbore gleams because it is smooth and clean. 

3: Slides should move freely and smoothly to be useful. They must not be frozen, sticky or rough. Regular use of slide grease or wax will keep your slides performing well without leaks or wear. Players who find valve oil too thin for slides, and slide grease too thick can create a medium-mix solution. Use an old empty bottle of valve oil, pry off the top and fill it half way up with a mixture of valve oil and slide grease. Shake vigorously to achieve a uniform mix and test it on your slides. If the solution is still too thick simply add more valve oil to thin it down. Similarly, if the mix is too thin, add more slide grease to achieve the desired viscosity. Once you create the right custom mixture, you'll get a perfect feel for your slides and can use them freely to improve intonation.  

4: Leadpipe and tuning slide care. Keeping your mouthpiece clean will always save you time and effort in cleaning the rest of your horn. Regular mouthpiece cleanings along with weekly swabbings of the leadpipe and tuning slide will take care of about 90% of the accumulation of debris in your horn. I recommend using  either a flexible metal snake, or better still is an expandable brush kit from Brass Savers. Using warm water and several passes through your leadpipe and tuning slide will help sweep away most of the debris and accumulation that would otherwise cause internal corrosion to develop over time. In between cleanings dispense a few drops of valve oil in the trumpet leadpipe to coat the inner walls with a protective coating of oil that repels water. Every 1-2 years get a chemical and/or ultrasonic cleaning ("buzz baths") done to your horn to remove stubborn dirt and corrosion.

5: Use Tape patches to protect high wear areas from frictional abrasion. Use a soft cloth to wipe down your trumpet and reduce chemical wear from sweat. You can save wear and tear on your trumpet by using gloss tape or transparent packing tape to make nearly invisible patches to protect your trumpet's finish. I use these tape patches under the bell  near the top of the third valve and several on the valve cluster itself. When the tape gets worn, just peel it off, clean off any stickiness  with valve oil and a tissue, and apply a new tape patch. The silver plated finish applied by Anderson plating for Bach trumpets is only 4/10,000's of an inch thick. Gold plating is only 2/10,000's of an inch so caring for the finish will keep your trumpet looking new longer. I also recommend regular use of a jewelers polishing cloth to keep the silver/gold plating looking crisp and bright. For lacquer finishes, a soft cloth is fine. Always make sure your trumpet surface is free from any grit or debris before polishing to prevent accidentally grinding scratches into the finish. 

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Copyright 2008-14 by Mark Bacon. All rights reserved.

Mark@BachStrads.com   978-365-6337  10AM-10PM EST.

BachStrads.com is not related to or affiliated with the Conn-Selmer company.