But what you really need to know is the home maintenance of the trumpet. On a yearly or 18 month schedule, an ultra-sonic cleaning is needed to get the crusty stuff out. Most shops will also do some minor dent work and even replace felts and corks. Prices for those services may vary from $80 to $120 or more. But you can do the free stuff. With $20 or less you can get the proper cleaning tools and do what we call the home cleanings. Above is a common care kit that includes all you need to keep your trumpet clean. On a weekly basis, the mouthpiece should be brushed out and cleaned with soapy water. If you find that chunks of pizza or candy is solidifying, you might need professional help.
Every couple of months, the trumpet should get a bath. BUT FIRST, take the valves out and clean the ports with either the mouthpiece brush or the flexible cleaning snake. You need NOT take the valves completely apart…You may not get them back together in the right way, because there is a right and a wrong way, that would be evident when you tried to blow through the trumpet afterwards. Soap and water does a neat job here, also. NOW put the trumpet in the tub without the valves in. Pull all four slides out. If they don’t, get professional help. The repair techs have magic that leaves no trace!. Ordinary dish soap will work great and use the cleaning snake through every possible tube you can get to. Don’t forget the bell of the horn and the knuckles between the valves casings also. Rinse well and air dry all the parts. Re-grease the slides and re-oil the valves. Pay particular attention to which valves go where. They are numbered, and most makes put the number facing the mouthpiece end of the trumpet. There are also nubs on the valve guides that fit into the slots in the valve casings. The valves should click into place. If they rotate, find the slot. When the horn is together, air should freely blow through all combinations of valve depression. If not, check valve numbers and valve guide placement again.
Why clean??? Dirty horns only get dirtier. If the cooties stay in the pipes, there is a reaction to the brass called red-rot. This is where the brass rusts or rots away from the inside-out. It first appear as speckles on the outside of the leadpipe or tuning slide. After a while the speckles turn into miniscule holes. Once that happens, the only way to really fix the problem is to replace the pipe or tuning slide altogether. Would you rather pay a littler or a lot for maintenance???
One of the pictures below represents what a pipe looks like with red-rot. Not a pretty sight. If you want your trumpet to last, take care of it! By the way, I still play my dad’s trumpet form 1948. It was kept clean, now it is an heirloom.