Get Your Brass Ready for Summer Vacation!

Get Your Brass Ready for Summer Vacation!

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It’s that time of year again!  No, we are not talking about getting your trumpet bikini body ready!  But it is time to discuss cleaning your brass instrument.  Don’t let it sit all summer!  Get all of that lime and scale cleaned out of your horn to keep it healthy for a lifetime!

Here are a few facts about body chemistry, its effects on brass, and chemical cleaning:

  • A player’s pH balance will determine the effects their body chemistry will have on the metal
  • Acidic saliva / perspiration will have a more profound dezincification effect and will more quickly damage plated surfaces and anything ferrous (screws, rods, steel springs, etc.).  It will also attack solder joints and is especially destructive to valves and casings.
  • Alkaline saliva / perspiration contains many chemical salts and will result in a white build up (this is lime).  It will damage lacquered finishes, form an abrasive coating on pistons, casings and rotors, as well as serve as the main catalyst for dezincification.
  • While “washing” a brass instrument regularly with mild soap and lukewarm water is always a good idea, it WILL NOT remove the damaging organics and stop the process of dezincification from inside the instrument!  Only heavy acids (hydrochloric, sulfamic, sulfuric, etc.) can accomplish this!
  • “Sanitizing” an instrument (i.e. cleaning to remove germs and bacteria) is NOT the same as chemical cleaning.  The only way to remove organics and stop dezincification is through chemical cleaning!
  • We recommend chemical cleaning once each year.  Some players with more balanced pH levels in their body chemistry can go longer (18-24 months) while others who play several hours each day or have a more extreme body chemistry will find they must have their instrument chem-cleaned every 3-6 months.
  • Chemical cleaning is about cleaning the INSIDE of the instrument – if you have an instrument that has damaged plating or missing lacquer don’t expect it to come back looking like new after a cleaning – refinishing is a different process!
  • A good test to know if you instrument needs cleaning – pull out the slide tubes and look inside them.  If you see either a white, chalky coating or a rough, green coating on the tubing – it’s definitely due.  The dezincification process has already begun!

Contact us today about getting your instrument cleaned!