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Cleaning Your Piano

Cleaning Your Horn


Cleaning a french horn regularly can determine the durability of the instrument. This article explains a cost effective method of cleaning your horn.

In general, your french horn will not just hop into the bath tub when it’s dirty. I have found that it takes a bit of coercion and some special care to clean a french horn. The tub really is a great place to clean a french horn, if you are going for the all-over, in-and-out scrub, but it is your responsibility as the owner to get the horn in and out of the bath. There are some general guidelines that I recommend you follow which I have acquired over years of bathing my horn as well as numerous other horns.

First, draw a bath just as if you were going to lavish yourself in it. Fill the tub with warm water to avoid shock when your horn initially touches its bareness to the substance. The catch here is that instead of adding a lilac-scented bath gel or quick-dissolve relaxation crystals, you add mild hand soap. I generally like to also lay a towel along the bottom of the tub in the water so that when my horn gets in it is protected from scratches against the tub’s scaly surface.

Now comes the part where your horn must brave unfamiliar waters. The key point to remember when encouraging your horn for this task is that just like us, horns don’t like to take baths with all of their clothes on. You must remove all slides and place them gently onto the towel in the bottom of the tub. Then your horn will feel light and carefree as you place it also on the towel.

Everything is soaking now and the horn has adjusted, you may even see iridescent grease swirls begin to circulate the tub. At this point, while the horn is beginning to bathe itself, you will need to clean behind its ears, scrub the back of its neck, and scour all other nooks and crannies that it may miss. What this means is that you will need a washcloth of your own with which you will massage the ends of slides where grease is stubborn. Try to also scrub in between all of the tubing on the horn where dust and grease collect over time. And for the final bathtub cleaning step it is best to use a “snake” to clean out the inside of the slides on the horn wherever possible. If you don’t know what a “snake” is, it is simply a few feet of a metal or rubber cord with pipe-cleaner type material on the ends. They can be purchased at most music stores for only a few dollars.

Once you have cleaned and rinsed your horn, you will need to dry it off so that it doesn’t catch a cold. I usually just lay another large towel on the bathroom floor and place the pieces of my horn on it after I wipe them. Horns and their parts are patient, so take your time and dry thoroughly.

And the final step in the process of cleaning your french horn is reassemblage. This step may sound easy but it involves three actions. One: you must lubricate all of the slides with a thin layer of grease. Two: oil needs to be applied to the inside of the horn as well as all bearings and levers. Three: if you choose to polish your horn, now is the time.

Once you return your horn to its natural body form, it will play more freely, look more beautiful, and it should operate at its optimum level as soon as the oil works its way in. Your horn probably only needs a bath once every few months, but just check behind its ears regularly for dirt and use what you find as your gauge.





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