A trumpet

As a long time band director I have seen many strange things happen to instruments owned by my students. Despite repeated instruction on how to care for and maintain the instrument it seems that at least weekly someone would come to me with a trumpet that had a problem. This article lists the most common problems that beginning trumpet players will face and how to solve them.

As a long time band director I have seen many strange things happen to instruments owned by my students. Despite repeated instruction on how to care for and maintain the instrument it seems that at least weekly someone would come to me with a trumpet that had a problem. This article lists the most common problems that beginning trumpet players will face and how to solve them.

Something is clogging up my trumpet!

Most of the time this problem is really a result of not having the valves seated correctly in the casings. If a student removes all of the valves to clean or lubricate them he or she will often put them back in incorrectly. If you cannot get any air through the horn at all then it is a good bet that at least the first valve is seated wrong. Unscrew the top cap, pull the valve out, and make sure that the number 1 is stamped on the valve. If it says 2 or 3 then the valve is in the wrong casing. If you have the correct valves in the correct casings then check to make sure that the valve guide is locking into the slot inside the casing. If the valve is locked into the slot correctly then the valve will not be able to spin. Try spinning the valve around inside the casing until you feel it lock into place.

My valve is stuck!

Most stuck valves are caused by one of four issues. First, the valve may simply be dry and need a new application of a good quality oil.  Not all valve oils are created the same by the way.  My personal favorites are brands like Blue Juice and Al Cass.  The second possibility for a sticky valve is that it is dirty and the built up gunk may be slowing the valve's action or stopping it completely. Second, one or more of the valve slides attached to the stuck valve may be bent in slightly causing the valve to bind up when it gets down to that part of the valve casing. Lastly, any dent in the outer valve casing will make the valve get stuck. Even the slightest dent (such as one caused by hitting a music stand) can make the valve stop working.

One other thing that can cause stuck valves is if the button's stem is bent to one side. As the button is pressed a bent stem will rub against the side of the hole it is traveling through. There should always be the same space around the valve stem no matter how low the button is pressed. In most cases gentle pressure can bend a bent valve stem back into place.

My spit valve is leaking!

This is an easy repair, but most people do not have the proper size cork or adhesive to fix it at home. For best results take the trumpet in to the repair shop and ask them to replace the spit valve cork. This is usually a very cheap and quick repair.  In a pinch you can tear off a piece of tissue paper and place it between the cork and the hole, just make sure you seal it off somehow as even a small leak can make the instrument difficult to play.

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  • Guest - carson

    What should I do if my valve won't even go down? I've tried to pull it out but it is completely stuck. Lubricating it did not work as well. :-<

  • If it won't even go down take off the bottom cap and spray some wd-40 inside then place the trumpet upside down so the oil will penetrate down the length of the valve. Wait an hour then try to move it again. If this doesn't work then check the outside of the valve for dents. Even the smallest dent can totally destroy a valve's action.

    If it is the middle valve that is stuck then also look at the second valve tube that sticks out from the side. If this tube has been hit or bent it can also bend the valve casing. Sadly, if this is the case the only real way to fix it is to take it to a repair shop.

  • Guest - Diego

    I was trying to play my trumpet but the air would barely go through. My valves were all correctly placed and locked so I tried taking my 3 valve out and it worked same with my 2 valve but as soon as I put my 3 valve back into place the air stops moving. I tried cleaning the valves and the casings but it just won't work. What should I do?

  • If it is blowing fine until you put in the third valve then it is almost certainly that you are putting it in incorrectly. You say that you have it locked into place but make sure you have it facing the right direction in the casing. If you took it all apart to clean it there is also the possibility that you might have taken off the top of the valve and removed the spring and valve guide inside it. If you put that part back together incorrectly then the valve will not line up correctly even if you put it in and it locks into place.

    Try blowing through the trumpet as you slowly rotate the third valve inside it's casing. Don't push it down, just turn it. When the air starts going through then the valve is in the correct place. Check it and see if the valve guide looks like it is in the correct spot. My bet is that the guide is backward.

    Also, double check and make sure valve one is in tube one, valve two in tube two, etc.

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