Every trumpet player have at least one thing in common. We all have experienced the dreadful blue screen of death…Oops, that is for computer geeks using windows…sorry.
Let’s start over, we all have experienced the dreadful valve stuck in the middle of an important solo at least once…Didn’t we? It feels like “Window’s blue screen of death doesn’t it?”
No matter how expensive our instrument is, somehow there is this supernatural energy that comes into life and on purpose will make sure our valve stick in the most important moment of our life.
Well, we can’t do anything about an entity or a poltergeist manifestation from happening and distracting us, but we can limit the risks of sticky valves if we perform simple regular cleaning and maintenance check up on the valves.
Valves in trumpets and other brass instruments are precision made to ensure they move flawlessly without letting air escape through the sides of the valve casing. Great care must me taken when adjusting the valves when making an instrument, to be sure it can stand abuse (sort of) for sometime and still perform at its best.
The common player will oil the valves when it start to feel sticky or when it is stuck. After some time, the valves gets more and more sticky, then it’s time for repairs or a new trumpet.
Other more experience players, will oil before playing. Their instrument will last longer, because once or twice a year, they take the time to wash the instrument entirely. After a few years of great services , valves get slower and it’s time for a repair or a change of instrument.
But there is this other kind of player, a rare breed, that oil their valves with the best oil they can buy, before playing and after they finish playing that day, everyday. The valves never stick, as every 2-3 month they thoroughly clean the valve casing with specialized brass soap and re-oil the valves before putting them back, making sure not to turn and twist the valves inside the casing…
Oil your valves before and after playing will keep the sticky valve boogieman away.