Guide: How to clean your instrument

Hi everyone, after my last post about the cleanliness of brass players instruments, I promised you a guide on how to properly clean your instrument to avoid getting ill from the micro organisms/bacteria that can grow inside. The inside of your instrument is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and thrive, so follow the steps below to avoid feeling ill after playing.


To start, I will be cleaning a Besson sovereign tenor horn and by using step by step photos, I will demonstrate how to clean your instrument at home. The cleaning solution used in this guide is from the B# Cleaning Kit which can be purchased here


The first step we will take is removing all the slides and valves from the instrument, also removing the bottom caps of the valves and set them down on a soft surface so that they don't get damaged.


The next step then is to disassemble the valves. So remove the finger button, then carefully pull out the top felt for each valve. After that, remove the top cap and the lower valve felt and set them aside if you plan on re-using them, or if you have new felts you can throw them away.


Now you can fill a sink or bath with warm water and the directed amount of B# cleaning solution, the solution should be warm but not too hot that you can't place your hand in. It is at this point I should mention that using washing up liquid to wash your instrument is not advised as they can contain salts which will damage the finish of the instrument, which can lead to the instrument needing to be re-lacquered/plated. Anyway, once there is sufficient water in your bath/sink to fully submerge your instrument in, carefully place your instrument and all valves and slides into the water. DO NOT DROP THEM IN!!! As it could damage the instrument and/or parts.


Once all the parts are submerged, you can now go and make yourself a drink. Leave the instrument in the water for 1-2 hours. After the time has passed, run a bore brush through each of the slide receivers.


After that, grab your valve casing brush and brush through each valve casing, making sure the brush goes all the way through the casing. Next grab your snake brush and work it through the rest of tubing which hasn't already been cleaned.


The next step then is to clean the piston valves. You will need your bore brush again for this, brush through every port on each piston multiple times to ensure the ports are clean.


Next, run the bore brush through all of the slides, also run the snake brush through the larger slides to ensure the slides are clean.


An optional step at this stage is to grab an old toothbrush and scrub the insides of the finger buttons and valve top and bottom caps.


Once all the above steps have been completed, rinse the instrument out with clean cold water and allow to air dry. Then we start the reassembly process, firstly putting a small amount of slide grease on all the valve casing threads, and putting the bottom caps on.


Next, grease the slides (as shown below) and work each leg of the slide into its receiver. Repeat this process for each slide, wiping off any excess grease.



The next thing for us to do is to reassemble the valves. When reassembling the valves, don't forget to replace the top and bottom valve felts (either with new or the ones you took off)


Now that all the valves are ready, start putting them back in the correct casings. When replacing the valves in the casings after washing they may require more valve oil. Therefore, apply valve oil generously and work the oil in by initially twisting the valve, ensuring the whole valve casing surface is covered. Pushing the valve up and down will also confirm smooth and quick action.


Your instrument is now hygienically clean inside, but may not look it's best on the outside. The final stage of cleaning is to polish the finish of your instrument. It is important that you use the correct polish for the finish of your instrument!! In this instance, the Besson Horn is silver plated therefore I will be using Goddard's silver polish. However, if your instrument is lacquered, you will need a suitable instrument lacquer polish. You can also clean your instrument using a lacquer or silver polishing cloth, which can be purchased in the store here 


Congratulations, your instrument is now cleaned inside and out.