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Pet peeve: poor instrument hygiene


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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bane of our lives is the bread and butter of instrument techs the world over.

Reminds me a brass band I played in for one of those dreaded competitions.

'Wash you instruments so they are clean and look good!' thundered the band's president... who played second baritone. 'Clean them on the inside so they work!' countered the conservatory trained conductor...

Post performance one of the second cornet players was inconsolable... almost in tears. This 40+ guy couldn't get his sovereign cornet to play (Not that these lead weights ever play well) and he was stumped.

'I cleaned it, I CLEEEEANED it!' he lamented.

Pity about the Dennis Wick mouthpiece. (which is to say, situation normal) It was almost totally occluded by grunge. A quick clean and he was drowning out the whole band!

Mr Darwin almost had his way on that fateful day! (maybe he did...?)

cheers

Andy
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cbtj51
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like many of the other posters, I would give my horns a thorough monthly or so cleaning with little enthusiasm. Bathing the parts in the Tub, snaking, polishing, greasing and oiling took a lot of time, even when I had only a few horns in regular use. Definitely not my favourite pastime! I bought a new trumpet back in November and learned about the BlowDry Brass Maintenance System, http://blowdrybrass.com/ at about the same time from TH. A new horn was the perfect platform to put this product to the test. It was very easy to get into the routine of spending a couple of minutes (literally!!!) at the end of every day doing the simple process to dry out the horn(s) that I played for the day. 9 months in and my new trumpet still looks like it did on day 1 on the inside. Several months ago, I invested 2 days in cleaning all of my other horns to pristine internal condition (as close I can get, verified by bore snake inspection). A clean platform is the starting point for this product to work as it is not a cleaning but a maintenance product that does the magic by eliminating the petri dish environment that allows gunk development in the first place. It is relatively inexpensive and so easy to use that I can't imagine going back to the old routine of hours of detail cleaning. Education, especially early on with students, complete with Teacher demonstration could be the key to saving hours of work and eventual loss of valuable instruments from lack thereof. It really is that easy, a literal couple of minutes at the end of the day is extremely easy to do!!! Of course, oiling, greasing and polishing are still necessary, but that is the easy part as far as I concerned.
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yourbrass
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regular cleaning of the instrument should take no more than 15 - 30 minutes. If you pull the tuning slide and snake out the leadpipe and crook weekly, (maybe 5 minutes if you dawdle) every couple of months is adequate to do the rest of the horn. Snake, mpce. brush, oil and grease - really simple and cheap stuff.
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JoseLindE4
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll be the contrarian. These are my experiences as a resident trumpet Pigpen.

I've made my living with my horn for many years now. I clean out the mouthpiece occasionally - only when the buzz feels or sounds funky and I see something in there. I can't remember the last time I snaked anything out and REALLY can't remember the last time I gave any of my horns a bath (but I can point to the dents from it). I haven't had a horn professionally cleaned for decades.

I usually brush my teeth or at least drink some water before I play, but eating is pretty important, so I'll eat and then play if need be. I oil the valves when they feel slow. Sometimes that means weeks between oilings.

I've been doing it this way for years with older and newer horns - playing many hours per day. They all appear to be in good shape and play just fine. They don't smell like anything but oil, all the parts move properly, there are no holes forming, I don't get sick unusually often, and the sound in my head tends to come out of the bell.

Life's stressful enough for me to worry about the innards of my horns. For me at least, the biggest variable in my playing is between my ears. Now if there was a way to clean that out...
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lexluther
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jose, thanks for pointing out the dark side I guess. I agree completely, as a student I practice hours per day. I also work, live, and do many other things. I am not OCD about cleaning the instrument. Honestly, I do probably the bare minimum. Daily wipedown, oil, spitball, once a year sonic, and thats it. The horns are fine, and if their not, I'll buy a new one. I would rather spend my time playing the instrument than obsessing about how clean it is. To each his own I guess!
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yourbrass
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You guys are the repairman's friends. You won't know what hit you.
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blbaumgarn
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:48 pm    Post subject: horn hygiene Reply with quote

I just picked up the trumpet a couple weeks ago after 17 years. At 67 it is a little late but I wanted to add something to this topic that I have experienced with a majority of horn players I have met attending concerts and talking with trumpet players after a concert. Lots don't do regular maintenance on their horn. I bought a '73 Benge LA new and sold it after divorce in 1998. I played it alot, not everyday but community band, church, regular practices and It was in as new condition when I sold it. It was also clean inside out. I had two band directors in elementary and h.s. that were both trumpet men so you kept your horn clean. It is so worth while and doesn't take much time. The silver finish on the Benge was as new because it was wiped clean after every time I played. I don't think I am more anal retentive than anyone else. It was just something we were encouraged to do from 5th grade on and it is a great habit to get into, just like practice. It all has a purpose.
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Irving
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some people don't need to worry about the inside of their horn because their saliva doesn't react with the metal. Others do since their saliva tends to eat away through the lead pipe, tuning crook, and eventually the tubing further down. If you don't want to clean your horn, at least be aware which type you are. You'll still need to clean it to get the sludge out of the horn, even if you don't need to worry about rotting out the tubing.

As far as not oiling the valves go, I don't think anybody can get away with that. The valves will wear out faster without oil. If they work fine without oil they might already be loose.
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cbtj51
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lexluther wrote:
...The horns are fine, and if their not, I'll buy a new one. I would rather spend my time playing the instrument than obsessing about how clean it is. To each his own I guess!


My playing styles and opportunities have changed drastically over the more than 50 years that I have enjoyed playing Trumpet, hence the real need for new horns. However, I still own and regularly play most of the horns that I have ever owned, mostly BECAUSE my playing opportunities have become so broad over the years. Not only do I play all of them but I still enjoy playing all of them regularly!!! One of my favourite things, however, is that my Grandson, now a Junior in High School is an enthusiastic Trumpet player who can hardly wait for Paw Paw to start passing these horns on to him for many, many more years of use and enjoyment!!! Keeping these horns in pristine playing condition adds the aspect of sharing that thrill with other enthusiasts for many decades to come. Eldon Benge, Zig Kanstul and many other true Craftsmen are gone now but their vision and artistry can and does LIVE on in Classic horns of years long gone and many of Classics horns yet to come. That makes that little few extra minutes of effort each day PRICELESS to me and hopefully many others after my playing days are history. The Music doesn't have to stop playing!!!
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'71 LA Benge 5X Bb Trumpet
'76 & '98 Getzen 895S Flugelhorns
'76 Bach Strad CL 229/25A C Trumpet
'84 Yamaha 6335S Bb Trumpet
2016 Bach Strad New York 7 Bb Trumpet
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Alisa
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Got my own steps to clean my trumpet.
Here is how:
First of all, I will remove the valves, slides mouthpiece and set them aside. Soak the slides and the main body into the bathtub or a large basin with warm water and soap. Then, I would clean the slides and the body of the trumpet with a soft dishcloth or dish scrubber. After that, rinse all the part of trumpet with warm water and dry with a washcloth. Alos, the cleaned parts should be air dried after rinsing.
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khedger
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

when I was in school one of the other schools in my county had an awesome music program. Great marching band, concert band and an exceptional jazz band that played a lot of Don Ellis charts (with electronics, etc.) and played them quite well.
The band director was the first call trumpet player in the area. He played with the local symphony, was the first call for all of the local shows, big bands, jazz gigs. Everything. He was notorious for NEVER cleaning his horns. EVER! I remember he had a Benge horn that was almost solid black from tarnish and it was rumored that the tuning slide could no longer be moved.
He played like a mofo!
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cbtj51
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

khedger wrote:
...He was notorious for NEVER cleaning his horns. EVER! I remember he had a Benge horn that was almost solid black from tarnish and it was rumored that the tuning slide could no longer be moved.
He played like a mofo!


I too know a great Trumpet Player who played a fantastic '67 Burbank Benge everyday until about 2 years ago. Like the quoted example, he wasted no time cleaning that or any of his horns, inside or out. He began having valve issues about 2 years before he put it away for good after a tech diagnosis of extreme red rot throughout, especially lead pipe, tuning slide and 3rd valve. He has yet to find another horn that compliments his playing like that Benge. From time to time he plays my '71 Benge in rehearsals and laments the loss of his. From 1967 to 2016 that horn had a long, productive life. A little extra care may have given that horn an even longer life, maybe.

As noted previously, I hope to pass my horns on to my Grandson for many more years of productive, enjoyable use. I'll continue to take the extra few minutes everyday to make that outcome possible. As an additional benefit, my horns offer a consistent playing platform every day!
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No reserve, No retreat, No regret. W W Borden

'71 LA Benge 5X Bb Trumpet
'76 & '98 Getzen 895S Flugelhorns
'76 Bach Strad CL 229/25A C Trumpet
'84 Yamaha 6335S Bb Trumpet
2016 Bach Strad New York 7 Bb Trumpet
Reeves 41 Rimmed Mouthpieces
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

khedger wrote:
when I was in school one of the other schools in my county had an awesome music program. Great marching band, concert band and an exceptional jazz band that played a lot of Don Ellis charts (with electronics, etc.) and played them quite well.
The band director was the first call trumpet player in the area. He played with the local symphony, was the first call for all of the local shows, big bands, jazz gigs. Everything. He was notorious for NEVER cleaning his horns. EVER! I remember he had a Benge horn that was almost solid black from tarnish and it was rumored that the tuning slide could no longer be moved.
He played like a mofo!


Some guys play “like a mofo” regardless of their equipment, but, and no disrespect intended here, so what? Does that mean maintaining your equipment is irrelevant or unnecessary? And maybe the guy you reference would have played even better with a reasonably maintained horn.

For those of us not blessed with lots of natural talent, I think we need all the help we can get, and that includes keeping a horn reasonably clean and in good mechanical condition.

Brad
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khedger
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was just an observation guys. A little peek at the non-conformist side of the coin. That's all.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

khedger wrote:
It was just an observation guys. A little peek at the non-conformist side of the coin. That's all.


Ok, understood. I’m not sure whether someone who never bothers to clean their equipment is a “non conformist”, or is just careless or lazy, but whatever. Some guys baby their horns, some toss them in the case from three feet away and never clean them, but I think if you want your horn to PLAY well and not develop red rot, lose the lacquer or plating, etc., reasonable care is the way to go.

Brad
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underdog
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 6:39 am    Post subject: makes me laugh Reply with quote

Just stumbled across this thread and it made me laugh.. I have about 7 horns that I play fairly often and 5 of them get played almost everyday (for a living). I'm pretty particular about my horns and my cars too. That said, with three kids, 4 cars, a wife and a house plus trying to make a living playing trumpet. I have absolutely no time to be cleaning them. So, any of you obsessive cleaners live close enough to me that you want to start cleaning my horns regularly? It's not that I don't want them clean, it's that I have no time!! When I look inside and it grosses me out, I go to the bathroom of the hall or studio that I'm in and try to get it usable again! Surprisingly, (and fortunately) I don't have pitting in any of my horns.
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trpthrld
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Players often forget (or have never realized) that once you give your horn a thorough cleaning that the easiest and simplest thing to do to keep it clean is basic dental hygiene.

Never play after eating without brushing your teeth. This also includes drinking beverages that contain sugar (Pepsi, coffee, tea, alcohol, etc.).

I have carried a travel toothbrush and toothpaste with me for as long as I can remember, and I never play without brushing. I've also given dozen of travel toothbrush kits as gifts to students.

And if for some reason I cannot brush my teeth before playing, I'll do my best to at least rinse my mouth with plain water.

So basic dental hygiene PLUS (I know y'all were waiting for this) regular swabbings with a Best Damn Trumpet Lead Pipe Swab Period! will help keep your horn in consistent playing condition and ready to do everything you need it to do.
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lipshurt
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lots of players would be better off with a smaller leadpipe venturi. That is why they avoid cleaning thier horns. Every time they do, it plays worse. If every time they cleaned it, it played BETTER, i guarantee they would be cleaning it regularly. It is way better to not get hooked on that small venturi, and if somebody is not cleaning thier pipe out, i guarantee they are gradually getting used to a smaller venturi gradually over time, and somewhere in that continuum there is a best size for them. Impossible to control it though by simply doing nothing.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trpthrld wrote:
Players often forget (or have never realized) that once you give your horn a thorough cleaning that the easiest and simplest thing to do to keep it clean is basic dental hygiene.

Never play after eating without brushing your teeth. This also includes drinking beverages that contain sugar (Pepsi, coffee, tea, alcohol, etc.).

I have carried a travel toothbrush and toothpaste with me for as long as I can remember, and I never play without brushing. I've also given dozen of travel toothbrush kits as gifts to students.

And if for some reason I cannot brush my teeth before playing, I'll do my best to at least rinse my mouth with plain water.

So basic dental hygiene PLUS (I know y'all were waiting for this) regular swabbings with a Best Damn Trumpet Lead Pipe Swab Period! will help keep your horn in consistent playing condition and ready to do everything you need it to do.


Yep, this.
Because I’m OCD, I do clean my horns frequently, but I almost never see anything left in the soapy water (and I realize that the dish soap/proper brushes cleaning is not an ultrasonic cleaning). Brush my teeth, drink nothing other than water while playing (including bar gigs!) and BDTLPSP after every playing, keeps the horns pretty darn clean.

Brad
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blbaumgarn
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 1:43 am    Post subject: poor instrument hygeine Reply with quote

OK, so I just happened upon something related to horn hygeine will looking up comments on a Getzen horn I am interested in. Here's what I found. The horn I am interested is the Getzen Proteus, which is supposedly a good all arounder. I have been out of school a long while so I couldn't remember what that word meant in latin. Here are the dictionary definitions: Proteus: a bacterium found in the intestines and in the soil. (yuck) 2. n. A minor sea god who had the power of prophecy but could change shapes to avoid answering questons. 3. A satellite of Neptune first discovered by Voyager 2 in 1989. Tell your students to clean the horn and look deeper. I was amazed at the difference between the definition of the noun and proper noun for the word Proteus. It also got the people at Getzen off a huge hook I constructed in my mind. The bottom line is bacterium literally grow there (in your horn) if you don't take care of the darned thing.
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