Case for the Yearly Brass Tune Up

When new musicians pick up an instrument many of them do not realize they need to be serviced yearly. They think that if there is no issue they can continue playing. What they don’t realize is that little problems turn into big issues quickly. In a series of blogs, we are going to lay out a few reasons why with the help of our Repair Manager, Jared LaMendola.

red rot on brass

An example of red rot on a brass instrument.

Brass instruments constantly have saliva running through them. Even if you clean your brass instrument regularly and it still builds up. This can cause red rot. Red rot happens when saliva eats the brass from the bore of the instrument out. It first starts in the lead pipe of the brass instrument and moves on to the tuning slide. It shows up on the instrument as a type of red that resembles rust.


Jared says, “This is a problem because the parts of the brass instrument develop pinholes and become so brittle that they break. When that happens, the repair becomes costlier because you may have to replace an entire part.”

Red Rot Pin Hole

When you bring it in for an annual tune-up this can be prevented. The repair tech will give it an ultrasonic cleaning. The ultrasonic cleaning starts with a large tub of water that you put the instrument in. It sends ultrasonic sound waves through the water and shakes the loose particles out of the instrument. Most jewelry stores use the same technology to clean your jewelry. We have a tub big enough for a large tuba.

Some players need to get their brass instrument serviced more than once a year. The amount that they play may cause more of a buildup that needs attention more often. The way the repair tech can tell is by pulling out the main tuning slide of the trumpet. Look down the main bore side of the instrument. If you see a lot of buildup from saliva and it isn’t smooth then you need more than an annual cleaning.

Just remember that you have a financial investment in that instrument. By bringing your brass instrument in for yearly cleaning you can make sure you will get many years out of it. A clean instrument is a happy instrument!