Taking proper care of your instrument is very important in order to keep it in good working condition and ensure it lasts a very long time. Please follow the instructions below for basic cleaning of your instrument and oiling of your valves/slides.


General Tips

  • Always oil your valves before important performance events, such as concerts, rehearsals and lessons. Even if they’re working fine now, they could start sticking at the worst possible moment.
  • If one of your valves is sticking, OIL ALL THREE! If you oil only the valve that’s sticking, you can almost guarantee that another one will soon stick.
  • Keep your valves (and your entire instrument) clean! You can oil your valves all day long, but if there’s a cat hair in there, they’ll keep sticking anyway!

Trumpets, Baritones, & Tubas

  • Unscrew the valve caps on all three valves at the same time, then pull each valve PARTWAY out - do not complete remove them yet (you don't want to get them mixed up!)
    • Be careful not to rotate the valves as you pull them. You don’t want to accidentally put them in backwards when you finish!
  • Working on one valve at a time, put a few drops on the smooth exposed area of each valve. Three to four drops per valve should be plenty.
    • You don’t need to oil the spring, or the part of the valve that holds the spring. The only area that needs oil is the part that comes in contact with the valve casing
  • Carefully slide the valves back into their original positions, taking care not to spin them as you do so. On most valves, there is a number on the spring area that tells you whether this is valve 1, 2 or 3. This number usually faces the mouthpiece.
    • DO NOT FORCE THE VALVES BACK IN – If you have any trouble getting the valves back into position, gently, slowly, and carefully wiggle them back and forth and up and down. This usually will do the trick.
  • Once the valves are in position, carefully screw the valve caps back on. They should be only “finger-tight”. You want to be able to unscrew them easily next time you oil them!
  • Final Testing After everything is back in place, it’s always a good idea to blow some air through the horn and make sure everything is working. If you can, play a note or two to make sure they come out. If you’ve accidentally put a valve or two in backwards, you’ll discover it now instead of during your performance!

French Horns

French horns are the only brass instruments today that still commonly use the rotary valve system. The valve is operated with a key attached to a string that rotates the valve in its casing to manipulate the air flow through it. Rotary valves need consistent maintenance and can cause lasting problems if neglected. If a valve becomes sticky, it is probably already too late. Oil your valves frequently to avoid issues with them sticking. There are 2 methods for getting oil to your valves:

Method 1:

  • Locate the bottle of Rotary Valve Oil that came with your care kit (don't try to use your trumpet, trombone, tuba friend's valve oil)
  • Remove the first valve cap (turn counter-clockwise).
  • Fill the small reservoir with oil.
  • Replace the cap counter-clockwise while the cap is upside down, paying close attention not to spill the reservoir. Turn the horn so that the valve cap faces up and work the oil into the valve by moving the key.

Method #2 This method will cause you greater problems if it is done improperly. Use caution in order that the oil does not slide down the inside of the tuning slides and drag dirt and grease with it into the valve.

  • Remove the slide(s) attached to the valve paying attention to press down the key and/or thumb key that it is attached to.
  • Hold the instrument so that the open slide section's tubes face up, and drop oil down the slide directly onto the valve. Do not allow oil to drip down the sides of the slide. This is where the oil will drag dirt with it into the valve creating further difficulties.
  • Replace the slide(s), pressing down the key(s) attached to it. If you do not press down the key(s) you will create pressure in the valve casing that may lock the valve up completely.


  • Place the end of your outer slide on the ground and extend your slide out to around 5th or 6th position.
  • Apply a small amount of Slide-O-Mix Rapid Comfort to the inner slide in a way that it trickles approximately 10 to 20 cm from the top of the inner slide towards the bottom.
  • Spread the liquid by moving the outer slide back and forth several times.
  • Apply a little water (with a spray bottle preferably) and repeat moving the slide back and forth

**Important: Slide-O-Mix should be applied a maximum of once every week or two. Over-lubrication of your slide can cause it to become slow and "gummy" feeling. If you are in between slide lubricating and your slide becomes slow or difficult to move, try applying a small amount of water.