Wulf's Webden

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Spit and Brass


Compared to basses and guitars, brass instruments take a lot more routine maintenance. Most of the time, a quick wipe down the strings after playing is enough. To be honest, I rarely even do that unless it has been an unusually sweaty gig and they seem none the worse for it.

On the other hand, brass instruments like my tuba take a bit more care. As a consequence of breathing hard through it to produce the notes it builds up quite a lot of liquid, a combination of spit and condensation. The instruments even come with a spit valve. I remember the first time I attended a concert band rehearsal many years ago and how mystified I was why almost everyone else had a wet patch under or next to their chair!

Every now and then, a brass instrument will need a deep clean and that is equivalent to neck adjustments and other infrequent set-up operations on a bass. Quite frequently through I’ll need to take out the valves and removable pipes, dry them down and re-grease them. If I don’t, I start to find the instrument producing a choking sound and notes become harder to sound clearly.

It is a bit gross to think about but fortunately not too tricky and I think I’m getting into a reasonably good habit although, it must be said, out of sheer necessity.

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