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Studio of Andrew B. Spang
Cleaning Trombone Hand Slides
All material below is Copyright © 1991-2002 by Andrew B. Spang. It may not be reproduced for profit without the author's express written consent. All Rights Reserved.
Last updated: August 24, 2002.
Your trombone slide must operate quickly and smoothly for you to be
able to play properly. Proper maintenance and cleaning of your hand slide
is of the utmost importance. You will need to clean your slide at least
once a month depending on your eating and practicing habits. This article
will guide you through the proper cleaning procedures.
To clean your slide properly, you will need the following:
a trombone snake (slide brush)
dish soap, preferrably with lemon oil
a can of penetrating oil, such as WD-40
a rag (old t-shirts work best)
a cleaning rod
||Next cut a piece of the rag approximately 4 inches by 4 inches. The
best material we have found is cotton t-shirt material.
Note: if you cut too large a piece of fabric, it will get stuck in
the slide and tear off. Too small a piece and it won't be able to clean
properly. If you do manage to get the cloth stuck, have a professional
remove it. This can easily be done with a sheet metal screw soldered on
the end of a cleaning rod.
|Thread the cloth through the eyepiece of the cleaning rod. Pull it
about half-way through so that it makes a butterfly shape.
A cleaning rod is a fantastic investment for the serious trombone player.
Most people think that if they snake their slide once in a while that it
will remain clean. Most of the dirt we remove in the shop is with this
method, not with the snake. At under $7, the trombone slide will pay for
itself almost immediately in saved trips to your local repairman.
||Next spray the rag with the penetrating oil
(WD-40). Insert the rod into each of the outer slide sleeves and scrub
the entire length. Check the cloth after several strokes: you may have
to rearrange it so that a reasonably clean surface is contacting the slide.
A dirty slide may take 2 or 3 seperate cloths to completely clean.
Spray the rag down with WD-40. Use a fair amout: the cloth should be
moist, but not dripping.
At this point the slide should be clean! Apply your slide lubricant as desired and off you go!
If your slide still feels sticky or has a catch...
You may not have cleaned it enough. Believe it or not, repeating the above
process or using several clean piece of cloth will remove most problems.
Remeber, the space between the inner and outer slide is three one-thousandths
of an inch: even slide cream can become caked and compacted in that tight
space and cause problems.
Your slides may be misaligned. Check each inner slide tube one at a time:
put it in with the other half hanging in air and check for binding points.
If neither sticks by itself, the slide is misaligned.
Your slide may have a small ding or dent. Check each inner slide tube one
at a time: put it in with the other half hanging in air and check for binding
points. If only one has a binding point or catch, then there is probably
a dent in the outer slide tube.