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Your new S.E. Shires trumpet

S.E. Shires trumpet valves and slides are manufactured with the tightest fit in the industry to provide superlative response, sound, and playing characteristics. Each instrument is cleaned and inspected thoroughly before leaving the shop to ensure that all moving parts fit well and move smoothly. Even so, trace amounts of buffing compound and other fine particles from manufacturing can be left behind in the pores of metal tubing and especially in joints. Therefore, it is essential for best results that your new trumpet be cleaned and lubricated much more frequently than normal for the first several weeks of playing to prevent this particulate matter from working its way into the valves and slides, damaging their action and seal. For the first few weeks, carefully cleaning your instrument weekly, following the advice below, is highly recommended. During the break-in period, wiping down the pistons with a lint-free cloth (lubricating them before reinsertion) several times per week will allow you to enjoy the fastest, smoothest valve action possible for the life of your instrument.

Oiling the Valves

For best results, oil your trumpet valves before playing, every day that you play. S.E. Shires recommends synthetic lubricants for their superior lubrication, durability, and cleaning properties. Because of the tight fit of the pistons, light oils such as Hetman light piston (#1), Monster faster valve oil, or Ultra-pure ultra-light valve oil are recommended.

Since part of the reason for oiling the valves is to keep the pistons clean, always oil the pistons from the top (after unscrewing the valve caps and pulling them up). Squirting valve oil in through the lower valve caps can push detritus back up onto the pistons and is counterproductive.

Lubricating the Slides

Keeping valve slides and tuning slides well lubricated may be the biggest maintenance shortcoming of most trumpet players. A well-made slide may continue to move even with next to no lubrication on it. But slides should be lubricated well before they reach that point! Keeping your slides lubricated (reapplying weekly, supposing that you play every day) will prevent wear and dramatically extend the playing life of your instrument. It maintains the tight seal essential to maintaining the easy response and feel characteristic of your S.E. Shires trumpet. Also, the layer of lubricant between slide inner and outer tubes helps them to couple, acoustically, providing optimal resonance.

Because of the tight fit of the slides, light slide oils such as Hetman light slide oil (#4), Monster slide oil, or Ultra-pure light tuning slide lube are recommended for the first- and third-valve slides. A slightly heavier lubricant should be used for the main tuning slide and second valve slide, such as Hetman slide-gel (#7), Monster slide grease, or Ultra-pure regular tuning slide lube.

Cleaning the Trumpet

After a month or so of break in (see above under Your new S.E. Shires trumpet), with daily playing you should give your trumpet a bath about once a month. This can be done in a bath tub, large sink, or wash basin. Professional ultrasonic cleaning in water with mild detergent also works fine for unlacquered instruments or those with plated finishes—never clean an instrument with lacquered finish ultrasonically! Professional chemical cleaning (usually performed in an ultrasonic cleaning machine) is also fine for unlacquered or plated instruments if performed by a qualified technician. That said, the chemicals used in that process vary greatly from shop to shop, and not all technicians are careful to neutralize/rinse the chemicals from the instrument afterward, which can cause mineral deposits to develop on the inside of the tubing, at joints and ends in particular.

Some notes about bathing your trumpet:
  • Always use lint-free cloth for drying and polishing, and to set the parts out before and after cleaning. High quality paper towels can also be used, but many paper towels have a tendency to leave behind fibers that can mar or damages the surfaces of the instrument. To avoid scratching the instrument's finish on your wash basin, place a lint-free towel on the bottom (in the water) before putting your instrument/parts in it.
  • Use dishwashing liquid in warm water. Avoid using hot water, especially for lacquered instruments.
  • Soak the instrument and parts for several minutes before cleaning to loosen the detritus.
  • Use appropriate brushes and cleaning equipment: mouthpiece brush, flexible snake, and valve casing brush or rod with muslin or cheesecloth.
  • Take care not to damage the insides of crooks, valve casings, pistons, etc, with the ends of brushes or cleaning rods.
  • Rinse all parts thoroughly with lukewarm water after cleaning.
  • Carefully lubricate the pistons and slides before reinserting them onto the cleaned instrument.

Cleaning and Polishing the Outside

The durability of the finish will be enhanced if you develop the habit of wiping down the contact points of the instrument with a soft cloth whenever you put the instrument in the case. This habit is particularly important for players whose body chemistry corrodes and tarnishes finishes quickly—such players should use a spray of denatured (rubbing) alcohol or window cleaner to wipe down contact points frequently.

If the instrument is silver plated, a polish such as 3M Tarni-Shield is recommended. Non-abrasive silver polishing cloths can also be used to wipe down and polish the instrument.
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