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Maintenance and Guides

How to care for your

French Horn

Assembly

French Horn
  1. Place the case flat on the floor, making sure the manufacturer’s logo is on top. If there is no logo, look to make sure that the latches flip up, or that the widest portion of the case is at the bottom.
  2. After opening up the case, undo any fasteners that may be securing the instrument.
  3. With your right hand, firmly pick up the instrument by the very top tubing, located between the bell flare and the leadpipe. Avoid picking the instrument up by any tuning slides.
  4. With your left hand, pick up the mouthpiece, and insert it into the receiver of the leadpipe.
  5. Again, with your left hand, firmly grasp the instrument by the “hand tubing” located by the valve levers. Your pinky should go under the hook, and your thumb should go inside the thumb ring. *On top of the thumb lever, if you have a double horn.
  6. Using the fingers on your left hand, activate all of the valves a few times to make sure everything is working properly. Lubricate as needed. *See below.
  7. With your right hand, move all of your tuning slides into their general position before tuning with the ensemble. Lubricate if necessary. *See below.
  8. Take your right hand and form a cup, similar to what you would do if you were swimming, or receiving change from a cashier.
  9. Place your cupped right hand inside of the bell, along the back-most wall.
    • When looking at the bell straight on, the back of your hand should roughly be placed at “3 o’clock.”
    • The bell throat should still be open, despite your hand being placed in the bell.
  10. Place the mouthpiece on your lips, with a placement of about 2/3rds upper lip, 1/3rd lower on the rim of the mouthpiece.
    • Leadpipe should be about a 45 degree angle.

After Use Care

  1. If time allows, let the instrument cool down for a few minutes to allow the moisture to condense.
  2. Remove moisture from the instrument by opening the water key at the bottom of the leadpipe with your right hand, and blowing fast air through the instrument.
  3. Do the same with any other water keys you may have, depending on the make and model of your instrument.
    • If your instrument does not have any water keys, move onto the next step.
  4. Remove the mouthpiece from the instrument, and put it safely on a sturdy, clean surface, or hang onto it if you’re comfortable doing so.
  5. Hold instrument in front of you, so you can assess all of the low spots of the instrument.
    • Remember, gravity will pull moisture to the lowest point of its respective tubing.
  6. Turn the instrument counterclockwise to dump the moisture accumulation out of the leadpipe like water from a pitcher.
  7. Return to the first position. Depending on the way your instrument is wrapped, you may need to turn your instrument clockwise to allow the moisture to pool into some of the tuning slides.
    • Much of this will be trial and error. If you cannot find where the moisture is sitting, you may need to turn the instrument clockwise a few complete turns to allow the moisture to fall out of the bell.
  8. Check each individual valve by compressing them, and blowing air through the instrument. Any gurgling noises will indicate that that valve needs to be emptied.
    • Compress the corresponding valve, and dump out the moisture. Keeping the valve compressed, replace the valve.
  9. Remember once more. Gravity will pull moisture to the lowest point of its respective tubing.
  10. Once the moisture is emptied from the instrument. Push all of the tuning slides all the way in.
  11. Using a clean cloth, wipe out any moisture out of the mouthpiece.
  12. Using a cleaning microfiber cloth, wipe down the entire instrument, paying special attention to spots in which you regularly hold the instrument, or where moisture may have been.
  13. Place the mouthpiece and instrument safely in its case, securing any latches or fasteners it may have.

Regular Maintenance

Carefully maintaining your instrument on a regular basis will help prolong the life of your instrument, keep service costs to a minimum, and prevent any mishaps from happening that may occur during a crucial moment of a performance. Remember to always handle your instrument with care to prevent any unnecessary wear or damage. It is important to note that the following routine is not a replacement for any services offered by a repair technician. In addition to the following, a yearly service by a technician will ensure that your instrument will be working well for many years to come.

Daily

  1. Brush your teeth prior to playing. This will help prevent the acidity in your mouth from damaging the instrument and keeping the build up of debris to a minimum.
  2. Lubricate one of the 3 bearing services in a rotation as outlined below.
  3. Remove moisture from the inside of the instrument, following the procedures outlined above.
  4. Wipe down the instrument and mouthpiece after each time you play.

Weekly

  1. Lubricate all friction points such as springs, levers, keys, etc.
  2. Check all slides to make sure they move properly and lubricate as necessary.
  3. Oil all valves.
    • There are 3 bearing surfaces on a rotor valve that need to be lubricated with valve oil. A simple piston or rotor oil will work for all 3. But it is recommended that you use rotor oil for the inside of the valve, and linkage/bearing oil on the top and bottom spindles.
    • Once a week, all 3 bearing surfaces should be oiled completely, but once ever day, at least one bearing surface should be oiled in a 3 day rotation.
      • Example: Today you oil the top spindle, tomorrow you oil the inner valve, and on the 3rd day, you oil the bottom spindle. Repeat the rotation starting on the 4th day. Oiling all 3 surfaces on the 7th day.
    • Upper Spindle
      • Gently place the horn on a sturdy surface in front of you, with the valve caps facing up.
      • Remove the caps, revealing the top bearing spindle.
      • Wipe any debris that may have formed on top of the spindle.
      • Place a single drop of linkage/bearing oil on top of the spindle.
      • Press the lever several times to turn the valve, helping the oil flow down the valve.
      • Replace cap, threading it until snug.
    • Inner Valve
      • Carefully remove each tuning slide that is adjacent to a valve. Placing each slide gently in on a clean surface.
      • Firmly hold the instrument, pointing the outer slide tubes up, allowing gravity to pull oil down to the valve.
      • Carefully drop a single drop of rotor oil down the center of the outer slide tubes. Do your best not to hit the sides of the tubes.
      • Note: Needle oilers, such as Hetman Rotor work best.

      • Press the lever several times to turn the valve, helping disperse the oil around the rest of the valve.
      • Repeat for each valve.
      • Replace the slides to their respective valves.
    • Lower Spindle
      • Gently place the instrument on a sturdy surface in front of you, with the valve cap facing down, revealing the bottom spindle that is connected to either the mechanical or string linkage.
      • Locate the small groove between the bumper plate, and the stopper arm. When you press the lever, you should see the spindle turn through this small gap.
      • Place a drop of linkage/bearing oil onto the spindle.
      • Press the lever several times to turn the valve, helping the oil flow down the spindle.
      • Wipe down any excess oil before playing.

Monthly

  1. Cleaning the leadpipe
    • Remove the main tuning slide from the leadpipe, and place it gently on a clean surface.
    • Taking a cleaning snake that is made specifically for the french horn, saturate it in soapy water, and scrub vigorously back and forth inside of the leadpipe.
    • Rinse and repeat one or two more times.
    • Empty any water before replacing the tuning slide.
  2. Cleaning the individual tuning slides.
    • Remove each tuning slide, keeping them in order to make sure they get placed back into the instrument correctly.
    • Submerge them in warm, soapy water.
    • Scrub and rinse each one thoroughly, removing any tuning grease and debris that may be on or inside the slide.
    • Once finished, let them all dry before lubricating and replacing them.
  3. Note: It is not advised to clean your instrument much beyond scrubbing your leadpipe and tuning slides. Cleaning the body of the instrument without proper equipment may cause damage to the rotor valves.

  4. Lubricating the tuning slides. *Necessary only after a monthly cleaning, or as needed.
    • Make sure tuning slides are dry before applying grease.
    • Using the tip of the slide grease applicator, or your finger if the grease is in a jar, apply a small ring of grease around the edge of the very tip of the tuning slide.
    • Note: If the slide is longer than 6 inches, it may be necessary to apply another ring halfway up the slide tube.

    • Simply insert the slide back into its proper tube, and move back and forth to distribute the grease.
    • If the draw is uneven, it feels dry, you may need to apply more grease.
    • If the draw is too tight, where the slide doesn’t move very easily, try applying a small amount of valve oil to the freshly greased surface.
    • If the slide is still not moving properly, schedule an appointment with a technician to assess if any work may need to be done on the instrument.
    • Once completed, wipe off any excess grease from each slide.

Yearly

Once a year, your instrument should be serviced by a qualified technician. Despite any precautions you may have made throughout the year following your maintenance routine schedule, your instrument will still need a cleaning to remove any scale buildup that may be forming. Following these steps will help keep your instrument working properly for many years to come!

Trombone

Assembly

Trombone
  1. Place the case flat on the floor, making sure the manufacturer’s logo is on top. If there is no logo, look to make sure that the latches flip up, or that the widest portion of the case is at the bottom.
  2. After opening up the case, undo any fasteners that may be securing the instrument.
  3. Remove the slide from the case, grasping both bars of the outer and inner slide to insure that you will not drop either part.
  4. Once the slide is secure, disengage the slide lock.
  5. Without dropping either part, carefully grasp the bar of the inner slide tube with your left hand and the bar of the outer slide tube with your right hand. Move the slide back and forth and assess its function. Lubricate as needed. *See below.
  6. Once finished, re-engage the slidelock.
  7. While holding the slide firmly in your right hand, use your left hand to retrieve the bell by picking it up from the case by the bell stem.
  8. Connect the bell to the slide and tighten the threads 90% of the way, leaving enough room for adjustments.
  9. Place the mouthpiece in the leadpipe.
  10. Hold on the instrument securely in your right hand, and adjust the angle between the bell and the slide. The rim of the bell should be about two fingers away from the top tube of the slide.
  11. Tighten the threads connecting the bell to the slide until the threads are snug.

After Use Care

  1. If time allows, let the instrument cool down for a few minutes to allow the moisture to condense.
  2. Remove moisture from the instrument by opening the water key at the bottom of the handslide with your right hand, and blowing fast air through the instrument.
  3. Push the tuning slide(s) back in all the way.
  4. Note: This helps prevent the tuning slides from getting stuck.

  5. Undo the threads and remove the bell, placing it securely in the case.
  6. One last time, remove any additional moisture from the handslide through the water key.
  7. Remove the mouthpiece from the handslide, and wipe out any moisture with a clean rag before placing it in the case.
  8. Place the handslide in the case.
  9. Before securing the fasteners around the instrument, use a microfiber cloth to quickly wipe down any fingerprints or grease that may be present on the instrument, paying special attention to any parts you hold onto.
  10. Secure the fasteners, close the case, and secure the latches.

Regular Maintenance

Carefully maintaining your instrument on a regular basis will help prolong the life of your instrument, keep service costs to a minimum, and prevent any mishaps from happening that may occur during a crucial moment of a performance. Remember to always handle your instrument with care to prevent any unnecessary wear or damage. It is important to note that the following routine is not a replacement for any services offered by a repair technician. In addition to the following, a yearly service by a technician will ensure that your instrument will be working well for many years to come.

Daily

  1. Brush your teeth prior to playing. This will help prevent the acidity in your mouth from damaging the instrument and keeping the build up of debris to a minimum.
  2. Spray the tubes of the inner hand slides with a mist of water before playing, and as needed while in use. This interacts with the hand slide lubricant, keeping it slick and hydrated. Distilled water is preferred, but clean tap water will do.
  3. Remove moisture from the inside of the instrument, following the procedures outlined above.
  4. Wipe down the instrument and mouthpiece after each time you play.

Weekly

  1. Clean mouthpiece.
    • Using a mouthpiece brush designed specifically for instrument, apply a mild dish soap to the bristles, similar to how you would to a toothbrush when brushing your teeth.
    • Under warm, running water, scrub vigorously the inside and outside of the mouthpiece
    • Occasionally inspect the mouthpiece to make sure all debris has been removed.
    • Take note of any crimps or dents of the mouthpiece that may need to be repaired.
    • In the event that you find any damage done to your mouthpiece, or there is some debris that you are unable to remove, schedule an appointment with a technician at your earliest convenience.
  2. Applying hand slide lubricant.
    • Using a soft rag, remove the old slide cream from the inner hand slide tubes by wrapping it around one of the tubes, and firmly sliding the rag from the handle to the end. Do this to both tubes until both services are clean and dry.
    • Apply a light, even layer of hand slide cream to the “collars” or raised portion of the inner hand slide tubes, located at the very bottom.
    • Lightly mist up and down both tubes with a spray of water.
    • Hanging onto the recently lubricated inner tubes with your left hand, take the outer hand slide in your right hand and put them together.
    • Slide the tubes back and forth and assess its speed.
    • Apply either slightly more lubricant or water to the slide until desired speed is met.
    • Note: If the slide does not seem to be moving properly, wipe off all of the slide grease again, and clean the outer slide tubes as detailed below. Relubricate and try again. If that does not alleviate the issue, schedule an appointment with a repair technician as soon as possible.

  3. Applying valve oil to the thumb valve (F attachment and bass trombones only).
    • There are 3 bearing surfaces on a rotor valve that need to be lubricated with valve oil. A simple piston or rotor oil will work for all 3. But it is recommended that you use rotor oil for the inside of the valve, and linkage/bearing oil on the top and bottom spindles.
      • Upper Spindle
        • Gently place the bell on a sturdy surface in front of you, with the valve cap facing up.
        • Remove the cap, revealing the top bearing spindle.
        • Wipe any debris that may have formed on top of the spindle.
        • Place a single drop of linkage/bearing oil on top of the spindle.
        • Press the lever several times to turn the valve, helping the oil flow down the valve.
        • Replace cap, threading it until snug.
      • Inner Valve
        • Firmly hold the bell, pointing it up.
        • Carefully drop a single drop of rotor oil down the “gooseneck,” or pipe that connects the bell to the hand slide. Try not to hit the sides.
        • Press the lever several times to turn the valve, helping disperse the oil around the rest of the valve.
      • Lower Spindle
        • Gently place the bell on a sturdy surface in front of you, with the valve cap facing down, revealing the bottom spindle that is connected to either the mechanical or string linkage.
        • Locate the small groove between the bumper plate, and the stopper arm. When you press the lever, you should see the spindle turn through this small gap.
        • Place a drop of linkage/bearing oil onto the spindle.
        • Press the lever several times to turn the valve, helping the oil flow down the spindle.
      • Wipe down any excess oil before playing.

Monthly

  1. Cleaning the hand slide.
    • Remove the inner handslide from the outer handslide, and carefully submerge them both in a tube of warm, soapy water. Use a grease dissolving dish soap such as Dawn or Ajax.
    • Using a cleaning snake made specifically for trombone, carefully but vigorously scrub both inner and outer tubes.
    • Rinse thoroughly.
    • Dry the outer surface of both tubes with a microfiber cloth.
    • Carefully set both tubes out to allow the insides to dry.
    • Once dry, lubricate and assemble as normal.
  2. Cleaning the bell.
    • A straight tenor trombone bell can be cleaned in the same manner as the handslide.
    • Note: It is not recommended to clean the bell section of an F attachment trombone or bass trombone yourself, due to the sensitivity of the rotor valves. However, cleaning the tuning slides with the landslides and in the same manner will help keep things clean.

  3. Lubricating the tuning slides. *Necessary only after a monthly cleaning, or as needed.
    • Make sure tuning slides are dry before applying grease.
    • Using the tip of the slide grease applicator, or your finger if the grease is in a jar, apply a small ring of grease around the edge of the very tip of the tuning slide.
      • If the slide is longer than 6 inches, it may be necessary to apply another ring halfway up the slide tube.
    • Simply insert the slide back into its proper tube, and move back and forth to distribute the grease.
    • If the draw is uneven, it feels dry, you may need to apply more grease.
    • If the draw is too tight, where the slide doesn’t move very easily, try applying a small amount of valve oil to the freshly greased surface.
    • If the slide is still not moving properly, schedule an appointment with a technician to assess if any work may need to be done on the instrument.
    • Once completed, wipe off any excess grease.

Yearly

Once a year, your instrument should be serviced by a qualified technician. Despite any precautions you may have made throughout the year following your maintenance routine schedule, your instrument will still need a cleaning to remove any scale buildup that may be forming. Following these steps will help keep your instrument working properly for many years to come!

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