besson sovereign baritone horn - BrassWindFix

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Verdigris build up – brass instruments

Never a brass banddull day at BrassWindFix as yesterday Justin was working on a Besson Sovereign Baritone Horn.

This instrument had a few valve issues which entailed the valves being completely removed and then expertly refitted.

As any brass player will know that valves are used to change the length of the tubing of a brass instrument, allowing the player to reach the desired notes.  Each valve pressed diverts the air stream through the additional tubing.  This lengthens the vibrating air colum in turn lowering the tone produced by the instrument.  As such, valves require regular maintenance and lubrication to ensure a fast and reliable movement.

On this particular instrument there was a small verdigris  build up  inside the valves.  Every brass instrument needs to be wiped off regularly but, even the most lovingly cared for instrument will show signs of this greenish/white verdigris build up.  Sadly, once it builds up it can be a little like cement in consistency and therefore difficult to remove.

The client on collecting the instrument asked: “Is it ok to clean the instrument occasionally with home kitchen products? Would this help with reducing the verdigris building up?”

This is difficult to comment on but BrassWindFix would not recommend the use of kitchen products in this way.  Purely because the product has not been specifically designed for use in this way for brass instrument cleaning.

BrassWindFix Advice

Some instrument valves are made of stainless steel, others of monel (a mix of nickle, copper, iron and other trace elements).  The stainless steel may well withstand the kitchen cleaning product but the monel definitely would not.  In addition, any cleaning products designed for use on stainless steel may escape and go onto the brass of the instrument and this could cause damage to the brass on the instrument.

BrassWindFix Tip

To be sure that you don’t damage your instrument, and to help keep verdigris at bay/building up quickly, the best way to clean your valves would be to wipe them off regularly with a kitchen towel or a cloth made from lint free material ie cotton.

Best to leave the heavy duty cleaning and removal of this substance to a trained professional when you have your brass instrument serviced.

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Today’s Brass Instrument

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In the hottest summer since 2006 Justin Pavey from BrassWindFix is working today in the coolness of the workshop.  A cool workshop in this heat we hear you cry? How so?  Well…it’s cooler because the door is wide open and a gentle breeze from the industrial aeroplane sized electric fan is blowing around the room! No natural breeze today but let’s not complain – this heatwave may not be around long!

Today Justin is giving a full service to today’s brass instrument – an Alexander French Horn – lucky french horn!  In addition there is a little bit of soldering work needing to be done but this instrument will be in optimum playing condition once it leaves the workshop.

Interesting Fact Alert:

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Alexander – or “Alex” – horns are a popular choice with professional players. Probably the best-known Alex horn is that played by Dennis Brain in his near-legendary recordings of the Mozart horn concertos with the Philharmonia Orchestra. His instrument was badly damaged in a crash which killed Brain, but the instrument was restored and is now on display in the Royal Academy of Music museum.

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Alternatively email... repairs@brasswindfix.co.uk

COVID-19: Following the latest Government announcement the BrassWindFix workshop will re-open as planned on Monday 12th April. If you would like to make a booking please use our contact page to send us a message, or call the workshop on 01934 861226 from Monday onwards.

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