WELCOME BACK TO THE BAND SEASON! With the summer winding down, the time is rapidly approaching the to get the instruments out and start another school year of amazing opportunities and experiences! Whether it’s your first year in a band program, or you’re a veteran player and performer, having the proper materials to ensure both you and your instrument’s success is imperative. As a brass player playing in multiple ensembles, both inside (chamber ensembles) and outside (marching bands), using the proper type of oils and grease is imperative for the survival of my instrument and maintaining its playability.
Valve oils can be classified into two simple categories: Natural or Synthetic-based. There is no “best choice” when choosing between the two, but there are definitely guidelines you should follow as a brass player when choosing which one you should use, especially if you’re in store renting or purchasing a new instrument. When picking what type you’re going to use for the upcoming band season, make sure to factor in what kind of ensembles you’re going to be playing in.
Hitting the football fields for marching band? You’ll definitely want to think about using synthetic oils, such as “Fast”, because the chemical composition of the oil prevents it from drying out as fast, helping the oil last through long outdoor rehearsals and parades. It does have the issue of leaving slight residues on the valves over extended periods (i.e. weeks or months), but it is a relatively preventable problem as long as proper care techniques are used. My personal preference for trumpet is the Al Cass “Fast” oil, a fantastic synthetic oil. It keeps the valves in pristine condition and has never let me down. As a marching band brass instructor as well, I typically recommend the same for those students
More of a jazz or symphonic band player, preparing and performing almost exclusively indoors? Natural is probably your best option, because it provides a cleaner solution that won’t react with your slide oils in any way, ensuring your horn is always in top notch shape for your performances. Blue Juice, a natural oil, is my favorite of the natural oil brands.
Any french horn or trombonists with rotary valves out there? I’d recommend the Hetman series of rotary oils, something we can always order for you with free shipping into the store.
On the subject of making a selection, many of you might be asking, “What if I’d like to switch?” Well, there are a few precautions to take, as mixing oils can have a few detrimental effects on the horn. Most commonly, mixing multiple oils causes a thick residue to form on the valves, which can cause the valves to cement if left untouched for too long, an expensive repair that any brass player would want to avoid. My personal suggestion would be a full clean of the instrument, which not only prepares the instrument for a new set of oils but also ensures the instrument is completely ready for a new year of playing. Our repair shop does a fantastic job with cleanings and general renovation of instruments, so just give us a call or stop in if you’re looking into it, and we’ll always have someone here who can help you out!
As always, keep having fun making music!