How To Clean A Trombone Mouthpiece

how to clean a trombone mouthpiece
Written by Corey Morgan

If you’re a trombone player, you know how important it is to keep your mouthpiece clean. Not only does it help your instrument sound its best, but it also prevents the build-up of bacteria that can lead to illness. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to clean your trombone mouthpiece so that it stays in top condition.

Playing a brass instrument entails making a loud, proud sound at each concert. It also entails a great deal of routine maintenance on all aspects of the instrument, especially the ever-frustrating mouthpiece.

With a little silver polish and soap, you may clean the mouthpiece and remove any tarnish. Just make sure not to bend the fragile metal.

Let’s take a look at some of the most often asked questions about trombone mouthpiece care.

To properly your trombone mouthpiece clean, you’ll need the following items:

  • A brush for the mouthpiece. Designed to reach into the nooks and crannies of your mouthpiece, this brush has bristles that wrap around a coil of wire in the center.
  • A spray bottle.
  • Soap and water. Dish soap of any kind will do.
  • Spray sanitizer Sterisol is widely recommended by musicians.
  • Clean cloths. It doesn’t matter if you use microfiber or 100% cotton.
  • Keep in mind that too-hot or too-cold water can cause the metal to distort. You’ll also want to avoid scratching by using a soft brush and cloths.

Musical ecstasy can only be achieved if your brass instrument is clean and in operating order, and this is the first step to achieving that goal. Cleaning a brass mouthpiece is easy if you follow the instructions in this article.

How to Clean Trombone Mouthpiece

Brass instrument mouthpieces can be cleaned to near-new condition by following these five simple steps:

  1. Soak Your Mouthpiece
  2. Using a Brush, Gently Scrub the Mouthpiece
  3. Rinse and dry
  4. Polish Your Mouthpiece
  5. Repeat the rinsing and dry off mouthpiece again

You’ll notice that during the cleaning process, we mention about brushing your mouthpiece. Before we get into the specifics of how to clean a brass mouthpiece, let’s take a look at some daily habits you can develop to maintain it looking its best: Use a spray bottle of water to sanitize your mouthpiece between uses, then brush away the residue with a toothbrush.

Step 1: Soak Your Mouthpiece

Fill a glass halfway with warm water, then add a drop of dish soap to the mixture. Brass instrument mouthpieces can be damaged if they are exposed to water that is too hot.

Soak your mouthpiece in the soapy water for around 20 minutes to remove any residue. If your mouthpiece is very dirty, let it soak in water for a few hours or even overnight.

Step 2: Use a Brush to Gently Scrub the Mouthpiece

Brush your mouthpiece gently but completely from both ends to eliminate all buildup. If you like, you can also add a small amount of dish soap to the brush.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

Rinse your mouthpiece well with warm water. Remember to keep the water at a safe temperature. Then, use a rag to dry it and let it air dry for a few seconds.

Step 4: Polish Your Mouthpiece

Cleaning a brass mouthpiece doesn’t necessitate this step, but it doesn’t harm either. Using a silver polishing cloth, clean your mouthpiece if it’s tarnished or dirty.

Step 5: Rinse and dry the mouthpiece one more time.

There you go! You can extend the life of your brass mouthpiece if you follow these guidelines on how to clean it properly!

How Often Should You Clean Your Trombone Mouthpiece?

Every time you play, it’s ideal to give your mouthpiece a quick cleaning. If you don’t clean your mouthpiece before putting it back in the case, bacteria can form and make it dangerous to use. When it comes to cleaning, there’s no excuse not to do it.

Follow these three steps after playing:

  1. Clean your mouthpiece with a spray bottle of water to get rid of any fast residue.
  2. Use your mouthpiece brush to remove any bigger buildup from the piece.
  3. Finally, use a fresh cloth or rag to wipe it dry (an old clean t-shirt will work perfectly fine).

What is the best method to Remove Tarnish from a Mouthpiece?

Silver or nickel-plated trombone mouthpieces are the most common. Sadly, this leaves them susceptible to tarnish. Tarnish is a thin layer of dark oxidation on a metal’s surface. It does assist to protect the metal beneath it, but it may be quite unappealing. Tarnish removal is a matter of personal preference.

If you do decide to remove tarnish, the good news is that it’s a rather straightforward procedure. After sanitizing your mouthpiece, use a silver polishing cloth to give it a last polish. You can also use a clean microfiber cloth and a dab of silver polish liquid.

After polishing your mouthpiece, be sure to completely rinse and dry it. You don’t want to put silver polish near your mouth.

How Do You Remove a Stuck Trombone Mouthpiece?

Trombone mouthpieces getting caught in the instrument is a typical occurrence for musicians. It’s a small, funnel-shaped piece meant to fit snugly — one bump and it’s officially stuck. Before it becomes a major issue, there are a handful of ways to get it unstuck:

  • Pulling on a trapped mouthpiece will occasionally dislodge it. Pull the component in a straight line while twisting it in the other direction.
  • Dishwashing Liquid (DL). Dish soap can be used to lubricate the piece and make it easier to remove it from the appliance. Pour a small amount into the mouthpiece, coat the joint between the mouthpiece and the pipe, then gently twist from the joint. Make sure to rinse the instrument afterward.
  • A Mouthpiece Puller. If you play frequently, this gadget is well worth the money. Using light pressure, you can remove the mouthpiece. However, if the mouthpiece is firmly stuck into the instrument, it’s usually not a good idea to try to remove it on your own. In the event that none of the above ways worked, and you resort to using pliers or vice grips to push the piece, you may end up ruining your instrument’s sound and deforming the brass.

Investing in an adjustable mouthpiece puller tool is definitely the best option because it will allow you to remove your mouthpiece without damaging it. A decent puller may be had for under $20.

If your mouthpiece becomes fully immobilized, the other option is to seek expert assistance. Professionals have access to a more comprehensive set of tools for dealing with the more common problem of a stuck mouthpiece. They also have a lot of trombone care knowledge, so they’re less likely to damage it in their workshops than you are if you try to fix it at home. The expense of the repair is well worth it.

Other Trombone Maintenance Tips

Moisture is the number one enemy of the trombone, as it is for all brass instruments. A dirty trombone might pose a serious health risk if it isn’t cleaned on a regular basis. Every time you play, use swabs and cleaning devices to remove moisture from the inside of your instrument.

The exterior of your trombone is cleaned in the same manner that the mouthpiece is polished. The shiny surface can be maintained by wiping it down with a cleaning cloth every day (or every time you play). Since the trombone will never be placed in your mouth, there is no need to thoroughly clean it after each use.

Make sure your trombone is stored in a sturdy case and that you are careful when moving it in and out of the case, as well. Dents can have a significant impact on the instrument’s sound and should be removed by a professional (don’t worry, most dents can be corrected so that your instrument sounds good). Dent removal should never be attempted on your own!

In addition, you may need a trombone mouthpiece pouch to protect your instrument.

Your mouthpiece is essential

You should always keep in mind that the tone and safety of your instrument are directly related to the quality of the mouthpiece. It doesn’t matter how small it is; it’s still significant! The sound of your instrument can be completely altered by deformation, accumulation, and general use and abuse. Additionally, it can serve as an incubator for bacteria and other nasties that can cause significant illness.

This is why trombone mouthpieces need to be cleaned regularly. A solid foundation is being laid for your music. If you follow a few basic practices, your trombone mouthpiece will continue to perform as it was designed to for years to come.

  • Damage to a mouthpiece is irreparable and cannot be repaired.

Dropping mouthpieces often results in dented parts. Vibration from your lips will not be correctly conveyed if the mouthpiece has a rounded tip. As a result, players are less effective, and the pitch suffers as well. If a mouthpiece is bent or broken by being dropped, it can’t be fixed.

The metal in the dented area becomes somewhat enlarged, a problem that cannot be fixed with current technology. This does not indicate that the mouthpiece’s function can be restored even if it can be corrected. We recommend purchasing a replacement mouthpiece in these circumstances. Make sure you don’t drop your mouthpiece before you get started with mouthpiece maintenance.

  • Using a wipe remove excess moisture from the surface.

We recommend that you use a special swab to remove moisture from the mouthpiece after playing your tromone because it can easily accumulate there. Aim to do this at the conclusion of each and every session. The procedure is simple and only requires starting at one end and running the swab through the mouthpiece’s interior. You won’t have a problem with dirt in the mouthpiece if you do it often.

Final thoughts on how to clean a trombone mouthpiece

It’s very usual for brass instruments to have problems with their mouthpieces. As you approach the point where you blow in air, the chance of brass instrument damage increases. Trombone players often overlook the significance of mouthpieces since they can be easily replaced and are inexpensive in comparison to the rest of the instrument. Your performance will suffer greatly if your mouthpiece is damaged, so be sure to pay extra attention to this.