I’ve noticed that students often don’t know the best way to oil their valves, so here are step-by-step instructions on the method I use.
- Allways 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. You know what they say about “An ounce of prevention…”.
- 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!
- If your teacher tells you a different way to oil your valves, try their way and my way, and do whatever works best for you! There is more than one way to get the job done!!
Preparing your oil
Sounds silly, but you don’t want to get your valves halfway taken apart before you have your oil ready to go. Take a moment before you start to get out your valve oil, and open the bottle.
If you’re running low on oil, I recommend Hetman No. 2:
Holding your instrument
Before dissassembling the valves, make sure you are holding the trumpet in your left hand, with the valves tilted up at about a 45 degree angle (see photo)
Pulling out the Valves
Unscrew the valve caps on all three valves at the same time, then pull
each valve PARTWAY out, as in the photo.
Be careful not to rotate the valves as you pull them. You don’t want to accidentally put them in backwards when you finish!
Applying the Oil
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 (see photo).
Reassembling the Valves
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!
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!