maintenance and lubrication of brass instruments - 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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