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Thread: Buying Used - Concerned about valves?

  1. #1

    Buying Used - Concerned about valves?

    Looking at horns on ebay and such. Even seen several linked to here....

    Should I be concerned about the valves?

    I feel like the general condition of the horn, scratches and dings can be understood through photos pretty well, but I'm concerned about spending a bunch to get sticky valves.

    I pulled my old trumpet out of the closet for my son's 4th grade band start-up this year. After many years of neglect, the valves are just sticky. Some of the plating is worn off the pistons, but I had hoped that they would work themselves in through use. No luck. So I took it to the local instrument repair shop and had it ultrasonically cleaned. Still no luck. Tried a couple types of oil too...

    So now I'm shy about buying used instruments.... should I be?

  2. #2
    Like used cars, there are risks. But you look at the seller's reputation (which I usually report when I list an eBay item) and the photos. If there is a question you ask the seller. I haven't heard many reports of valve trouble after someone bought a new horn from listings here, but I'm somewhat selective about what I list. Many of the sellers show photos of the valves. If the plating looks worn through, or if they look disgraceful in general, you'd want to be wary.

    Brass on brass is not a good thing, so if your trumpet has plating worn completely through in places, that could cause trouble.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Anderson, Indiana
    Posts
    216
    I have purchased 3 instruments from Ebay sellers and have had very good luck. Always check the seller's rating. The only glitch that I have had was with a mouthpiece that didn't match the posted description. (I suspect that the seller copied and pasted from a previous listing and failed to do a needed edit.) When I contacted him, he had me return it and gave me a prompt and full refund.

  4. #4
    My general rule is that if I am looking at any instrument more than about 25 years old to purchase without playing first, I will assume it needs a valve plating job. This will run around $300 for a trumpet up to around $1500 for a 4-valve euphonium or tuba. If the instrument looks like it is in perfect shape and was only lightly used, I might stretch that to 40 years or so. Consider the value of something accordingly. If I get it and it somehow miraculously does not need a valve job, then it's a pleasant surprise, but always assume the worst unless you know otherwise. While photos of the pistons themselves will sometimes reveal big issues like pitting, plating that's flaking off, or plating that's worn through to a brass piston, they are not always made of brass and you can't always tell just by looking at it.

  5. #5
    wow, I haven't really thought about it that way.... my old trumpet is something on the order of 35 to 37 years old!!!!

    Thanks for making me feel old!

    But the sad thing is it was really only used maybe 5 years or so before I quit band & stored it.
    Unfortunately, I remember one of those rare times when I pulled it out of the closet and dusted it off to play a scale or two, that the valves were stuck.... dry as a bone.... and I probably did damage to it at that point.

    Anyway, in the case of my old trumpet, your rule of thumb would have served you well!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,138
    I read that the best way to store a horn to keep valves from sticking, is to clean it out thoroughly, let it dry completely and assemble the valves WITHOUT any oil applied. Then leave the top and bottom caps loose. I did this with my YEP-641 and after a year of storage the valves were fine.

    EDIT to add: All slides should be clean and completely dry too - no grease.
    Last edited by RickF; 05-16-2015 at 11:14 AM.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    When the Saints Go Marching In (arr. Mashima) at ACB Conference Ft. Lauderdale
    Cell phone video of : El Cumbanchero:

  7. #7
    what's the reason for no grease?
    I can understand the no-oil since this stuff seems to be a bit volatile
    but I would think some kind of grease would be good to keep things from oxidizing....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,138
    As the oil (or grease) dry out over time, it becomes like glue keeping the valves (or slides) from moving. I didn't really believe this when I first read about storing a horn dry, but decided to try it.

    Years ago I had to quit playing for three months due to illness. I just put the horn in the closet. When I got it out three months later, the valves were really stuck and wouldn't move without tapping on them with a rubber mallet. The slides weren't stuck, but were really stiff. They did move with some effort.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    When the Saints Go Marching In (arr. Mashima) at ACB Conference Ft. Lauderdale
    Cell phone video of : El Cumbanchero:

  9. #9
    Was that 3 months dry or with grease and oil?

    I would think the ultimate for storage would be a thick coat inside and out of a grease... like storing a firearm or machinery in cosmoline... not dry...(???)

    my trumpet was stored for years and years.
    I would pull it out maybe once every few years.... maybe when I moved and came across it... or just an a whim.
    It would have been stored dirty (I was a dumb kid)
    and stored with oil and grease as last played

    No doubt that some of the times I pulled it out I would have re-oiled.... but sometimes not. I would have played a tune or two... then put it back away for another few years.
    Like I mentioned, I remember once pounding lightly on the valves a bit to get them to move. I feel like that's when the damage would have been done... well except for any oxidation which is a time thing....

    Now this year, pulling it out for regular use again by my son, it was still working.... but a couple of the valves are a bit sticky. OK for 4th grade band..... but not good either....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,138
    Was that 3 months dry or with grease and oil?
    That was 3 months with oil and grease.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    When the Saints Go Marching In (arr. Mashima) at ACB Conference Ft. Lauderdale
    Cell phone video of : El Cumbanchero:

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