How to Grease Trumpet Valves

by Emilio Alvarez
Learning to oil the valves in a trumpet is an easy process.

Learning to oil the valves in a trumpet is an easy process.

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Taking proper care of a trumpet is crucial if you want the instrument to last several years and respond well in a performance. Trumpet valves are not greased, but oiled with valve oil. Slide grease is used on some of the small slides in the trumpet, not for the valves. Oiling trumpet valves allows for a quick movement of the valve button, which is what you need for a properly maintained trumpet. Greasing the valves would result in a very slow valve button reaction, which is certainly not desired. Oiling the trumpet valves is a simple process, but is often overlooked. The valves in a trumpet, along with your embouchure, are the essential elements that control tone quality, attack and musicality. You do not need a whole cleaning kit to perform this simple task. All you need is valve oil and slide grease.

Items you will need

  • Valve oil
  • Slide grease

Oil the Valves

Step 1

Hold the trumpet with one hand (left) in your regular playing position. Make sure you have a secure grip on it before unscrewing any valves.

Step 2

Unscrew the first valve's nut (top) carefully and lift the valve about half way up. Make sure you do not remove the valve completely. You might need to hold the trumpet on a slight angle to one side so it does not fall back into place immediately.

Step 3

Grab the valve oil and put three drops of oil on the body of the valve. Return the valve to its original position carefully and rotate it slowly until you hear that it clicks in place.

Step 4

Screw the valve's nut securely. Repeat the same process for the second and third valves.

Grease and Oil Slides

Step 1

Place your trumpet on a flat area, such as a table or desk. Gently remove the second and fourth slide, also known as the tuning slide. The second slide is the one adjacent to the second valve. The tuning slide is the closest to the bell.

Step 2

Grease the slides and slide them back into place. Note: These two slides are regularly maintained in the same position and are supposed to respond slowly when moved. This is why they are greased and not oiled.

Step 3

Holding your trumpet in regular playing position, slide the first and third valves half way out.

Step 4

Put one or two drops of valve oil (not grease) on these two valves. These two valves are used often when playing since they are needed to reach a specific note. A quick response in movement is needed and this requires oil for lubrication, not grease.

Step 5

Slide the first and third slides in and out a couple of times for the oil to distribute properly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Oil your trumpet valves two times a week. This might vary depending on how much you use the instrument. You can see the valve buttons respond quicker when the valves are greased.
  • Grease the slides these once a month.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images