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Slow Valves?

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A complaint that crops up now and then is "my valves are too slow!" If you are playing a brand new horn, that's not unusual. It takes a while for the valves to get broken in fully. You may also try different oils to find a brand/weight that works better. In my experience, the synthetic oils feel smoother as you play, but they are a little slower during fast passages. Petroleum-based oils (traditional valve oils) are often faster but they don't last as long between applications as the new synthetics. See this post for two well-recommended oils, Blue Juice and Space Filler.



A few players have had their valves customized to make them quicker. They had the bottom "overhang" cut down so the valve's external wall only extended enough to secure the spring. I believe the technician would check the minimum distance between ports and make sure there was at least that much left over at the bottom so you didn't lose sealing. Then they would also open the top and bottom vents (or add new ones) to allow the air to flow more easily as the valves move up and down. The idea is to reduce mass, friction, and air resistance. (Newer horns may already have some of these improvements from the factory.)



But sometimes you have one or more valves that are just too tight, even after the horn is broken in. An old technique is using Lava soap on the valves for a while until they loosen up. That's a little drastic, but it works for some valves that are just too tight. The procedure is to lather up the soap and spread it on the valve. Then insert the valve into the horn and play. If it is too sticky, just add some valve oil. At some point you would want to rinse the horn out well. Lava is mildly abrasive, and it helped on my Sovereign to take care of a tight valve. I've also heard that some toothpastes work for this, but I haven't tried that (toothpaste can be mildly abrasive).

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