Care and Maintenance of a Trombone - Houghton Horns

Care and Maintenance of a Trombone

Instrument maintenance is one of the most important responsibilities we have as musicians. Proper maintenance of one's instrument ensures its longevity, and makes it easier to play. In this article, we'll cover a basic cleaning and maintenance routine that you can do at home to care for your trombone. For the sake of simplicity, we won't be disassembling any valves.


Bathing your Trombone (every 1-2 months!)

1.)  Wipe and clean off everything on the trombone that may have built up from previous months of use. Use a soft cloth to clean any superficial dirt and excess oil that may reside on the slide, tuning slides, and valve section.
2.) Fill your (clean) bathtub with 3-4 inches of room temperature water, and a few drops of mild dish soap. Separate your trombone into its parts (outer slide, inner slide, tuning slides, bell, etc.) and gently place them in the tub to soak. You may need to clean only a few parts at a time.
3.) Use a cleaning snake to gently brush the inside of all of the tubing. Don't force the brush through any tight corners (though our repair shop will happily assist you in getting it unstuck!). Next, use a soft cloth to wipe down the exterior surfaces.
4.)  Rinse your trombone thoroughly and set it out on a towel to dry. Dry everything off by hand with a towel, and then use a microfiber cloth to remove any remaining pieces of string or fiber residue from the towel. 
5.) Once dry, apply JM Slide Gel #7 on both legs of your tuning slides. You will want a pencil-thin line around the entire edge of the tube. Work it in by inserting one tube and rotating it as you gently push in and pull out. Repeat this process with each slide. 


Lubricating the Handslide (weekly!)

1.) Wrap a long strip of cheesecloth to cover the length of the cleaning rod.
2.) With the cleaning rod wrapped, insert the rod into the outer slide while maintaining a grip on the cloth to prevent it from falling off. Push the rod in and out while being careful that it does not dent the end crook. This will create a clean and polished surface for a smooth slide.
3.) Once this has been done for both the inner tubes and outer tubes, apply a small amount of Yamaha slide lubricant on each inner tube. Then, insert the inner tubes into the outer tubes, and work the lubricant in.


Oiling your Valve (weekly!)

1.) Apply 3-4 drops of JM #11 into the tubing the leads directly to the inside the valve.
2.) Apply 1-2 drops of JM #13.5 under the rotor cap and on the spindle (pictured below). This same oil should also be lightly applied to any mechanical linkages.
3.) Reinsert tuning slides and operate your valve several times to spread the oil out.
By following this routine as indicated, you'll keep your trombone in excellent playing condition. This means your instrument will function optimally in practice and performance, saving you money on repairs and helping maintain its value over the long term!
If you're in need of any extra advice or technical help, you can contact our repair shop by emailing, or calling (817) 993-6400. 


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