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Thread: Beginner Question - Should I get my horn washed at a shop?

  1. #1

    Beginner Question - Should I get my horn washed at a shop?

    I bought a used horn just before Labor Day, from a very reputable dealer, and Iíve practiced an hour every day since Iíve had it.
    Iím especially pleased with the fact that until about a week ago, I was able to produce a pretty solid tone for a beginner of about 8 months. Around a week ago, my tone started to get slightly thinner, insecure, and unstable. I had worked as usual on my lesson material, and wasnít able to come anywhere near my own expectations at my lesson.
    My teacher thought it was just an off day for me and was unconcerned but I canít help thinking thereís something wrong beyond that, so I took the valves apart and found quite a bit of stuff, some black and some otherwise in them. I also shook the horn upside down, which I do once in a while to clear water, and it sounded more like it had previously then reverted to the most recent problem.
    The horn looks as though it was VERY lightly used before I bought it, maybe a demo?, and I know nothing about itís prior owner.
    Iím considering having it washed at a local shop. Good idea? I just canít accept the idea that Iíd made totally steady progress and then began to mess up as badly as I am now.
    Thank you for any thoughts!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    West Palm Beach, FL
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    3,258
    Ann, it’s a good idea to have your horn professionally cleaned every so often. I take my horn to the shop every other year to have it ultrasonically cleaned and valve alignment checked. The felts, corks, rubber spacers on valves can get worn after some time and throw off valve alignment some. Also, he changes corks on the water keys if needed. I clean my horn other times using the QHR (quick horn rinse & suddser).
    Last edited by RickF; 12-31-2019 at 09:11 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
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Cumbanchero (Rafael HernŠndez) cell phone video

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    What Rick says is absolutely correct. Given that you don't have any experience with maintenance and repair at this point, taking it to someone to check it out is a good idea. However, if your teacher is a euphonium player, then he/she should be able to tell pretty quickly if it's leaking or the valves seem to be misaligned. Here are a couple of other thoughts ...

    Very often, the source of a leak on a brass instrument is in the water valve (or in one or more of them if there is more than one). Try just applying some pressure to your water valve by squeezing it closed as you blow problematic notes and see if that affects the problem. Try this on each water valve. The little corks on these need to be replaced periodically since they wear and start to leak air. When that happens, your tone will get "breathy" or "buzzy".

    You don't say what the brand of the instrument is. If it's one of the Chinese clones (such as the Mack Brass euph or Wessex tuba that I have), I have to say that I haven't encountered one of those yet where the valve corks/felts weren't absolutely crappy and needed virtually immediate replacement (along with ensuring that the valves were correctly aligned as part of the replacement).

    There are some other possibilities, but you should just get someone experienced to look at it since you don't (yet) know what to look for.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  4. #4
    Here's a shot in the dark. Are you missing any accessory items from your case? I once had a bottle of valve oil find its way down the bell and partway around the first curve. The horn played, but it was stuffy and it of time. Unfortunately, this happened on the day I played at the state solo contest my junior year!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
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  5. 8 months is definitely enough time for crud to build up inside of a horn, particularly in the lead pipe. Are you diligent about brushing your teeth at some point between eating and practicing? Food particles are the bane of instrument cleanliness. They get in there and contribute to the growth of "crud". I'm mostly a trombone player, and "crud" can build up in less than a month.

    I would recommend looking into one of the "low brass care" kits, which usually comes with a valve casing brush, rubberized snake, and other things for cleaning. Also the Brass Saver all plastic snake brushes are very nice as well. As they are all plastic there is no way they can scratch the inside of the horn.

    I would say have your teacher give you some pointers on scrubbing out the inside of the horn. It's really something that is good to learn how to do yourself, IMHO. Just remember that the harshest thing you should use chemical wise is dish detergent. Might be a good idea to do it in a bath tub as well.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS Euphonium, Yamaha YBB-631S BBb Tuba, and a bunch of trombones.

  6. #6
    I use Herco Spitballs once a week and it really helps keep the airways clean.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    4

    Donut

    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    Here's a shot in the dark. Are you missing any accessory items from your case? I once had a bottle of valve oil find its way down the bell and partway around the first curve. The horn played, but it was stuffy and it of time. Unfortunately, this happened on the day I played at the state solo contest my junior year!
    Many years ago, I had a stuffy sound and my band director could not figure out what was wrong. We finally found a donut in the horn.

  8. Quote Originally Posted by tbonesullivan View Post
    8 months is definitely enough time for crud to build up inside of a horn, particularly in the lead pipe. Are you diligent about brushing your teeth at some point between eating and practicing? Food particles are the bane of instrument cleanliness. They get in there and contribute to the growth of "crud". I'm mostly a trombone player, and "crud" can build up in less than a month.

    I would recommend looking into one of the "low brass care" kits, which usually comes with a valve casing brush, rubberized snake, and other things for cleaning. Also the Brass Saver all plastic snake brushes are very nice as well. As they are all plastic there is no way they can scratch the inside of the horn.

    I would say have your teacher give you some pointers on scrubbing out the inside of the horn. It's really something that is good to learn how to do yourself, IMHO. Just remember that the harshest thing you should use chemical wise is dish detergent. Might be a good idea to do it in a bath tub as well.
    Not sure if this si right place to ask, but what size spit balls do you use for your Euphonium? I would like to give some a try! Thanks!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,258
    Herco Spitballs for large bore instruments. See this post by Doug for more info with link:

    http://www.dwerden.com/forum/showthr...481#post123481
    ...

    Note: When using Herco Spitballs, firstly remove your MTS (main tuning slide), insert a spitball into your lead-pipe then push it down with a pencil a few inches. Then insert your mouthpiece, put one hand with a rag or paper towel under your MTS tubing to catch the ball, hold down all 4 valves then BLOW thru your mpc as hard as you can.
    Last edited by RickF; 01-01-2020 at 10:15 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
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Cumbanchero (Rafael HernŠndez) cell phone video

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    382
    I agree above with the above. However you can always clean it yourself:
    See below:
    https://youtu.be/a2Ki5dZ6oPw
    Miraphone 5050 Ambassador
    Mp: Wick SM4 Ultra X
    The San Diego Concert Band
    Big Brass Quartet- tuba ensemble (EETT)

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