Instrument CareWith proper care you can have many years of trouble free enjoyment from your instrument. You should perform maintenance on your instrument on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis. Some maintenance can be done by you and some left only to trained professionals.
FLUTESFlutes require little maintenance other than wiping out the excess moisture with a cloth on the cleaning rod, and wiping the body of the flute with a soft, lint free cloth to remove fingerprints. Silver flutes may be polished with a jeweler's polishing cloth that is meant for use on silver.
Do not use liquid or paste type polish. Do not use water on any part of the flute except the head joint (mouthpiece section), and do not use any type of oil or grease. Do not attempt to adjust any of the adjustment screws. If the flute will not go together easily, try cleaning the head and foot joints where they go into the body with a piece of clean, white paper (note book or typing paper) If this does not help, the joint is probably bent and should be repaired by a qualified repairman. Do not put anything in the case that will press against the flute when the case is closed! Many flutes are damaged when students put a folded polishing cloth over the flute before closing the case. Always leave the flute in the case, with the latches secured, when the flute is to be left unattended. Music stands are not for holding flutes!
CLARINETS AND SAXOPHONESWater is the enemy of woodwind instruments. Use the swab to remove moisture from the bore after playing. Keep the mouthpiece clean by using mild soap, warm (not hot) water, and a proper mouthpiece brush, at least once a week. Always remove the reed from the mouthpiece when you are finished playing, and keep the reed in a proper reed keeper. All corks should be greased with cork grease when they are new. You may need to grease them several times when they are new. Never use key oil! If your keys stick, take the instrument to the repair shop. Wooden clarinets should have the bore (inside) of the instrument oiled occasionally with a few drops of bore oil on a cloth swab. Do not put books or heavy cloths in the case that will put pressure on the keys when the case is closed. Do not leave wooden clarinets where they will suffer extremes of temperature. Extreme heat or cold can cause the wood to crack.
BRASS INSTRUMENTSBrass instruments should be kept clean by flushing them with mild liquid detergent and water at least once.a month. After flushing, all slides should be pulled and greased with 30W motor oil or tuning slide grease. The valves on trumpets, baritones, and tubas should be removed, wiped with a paper towel, oiled with valve oil ( I use kerosene lamp oil, the kind sold for small kerosene lamps), and replaced. F-Horns have rotary valves which should never be removed except by a repairman. Valve oil can be used by pulling a valve slide and putting a few drops of oil down the valve slides. The bearings of F-Horn valves should be oiled with a light oil, such as 3 in 1. To do this, you must unscrew the valve caps and place a drop of oil on each of the bearings. On the side of the valves with the strings, you will need to use a screwdriver to remove the screw in the center of the valve, place a drop of oil in the hole where the screw goes, and replace the screw. Keeping the valve bearings of a French Horn oiled will prevent broken valve strings, a common repair problem. Move all tuning slides and valve caps often, and clean and grease them if they start to get tough to move. Stuck slides on school instruments is the most common repair problem! Trombones slides should be wiped with a soft, lint free cloth or paper towel, and re-oiled. If slide cream is used, apply a very thin coat, spray the slide with water, and work the slide several times. Cleaning snakes are available for the different instruments. They should be used to clean out all of the slides while you are flushing the instrument. Please be careful when handling brass instruments. Brass is a soft metal which dents easily. Dents are very expensive to remove! If your mouthpiece gets stuck, do not attempt to remove it yourself. Bring the instrument to the band director or repair shop to have it removed.