We get to work on customers’ instruments on a daily basis. Some instruments are in for dent work from a job mishap while others are just in for maintenance. Sometimes we get a horn taken apart only to find that it has obviously never been cleaned, or if it ever has seen care it has been a couple of years ago. Edwards are professional instruments and should be treated with more care (not less) than you would any other instrument you have owned. This will keep things from wearing prematurely due to sludge build up.
The big concern I have when I go through these trumpets/trombones is that the leadpipe is full of sludge. Now this sludge is full of bacteria and needs to be removed. Every time you inhale a small portion of your breath is coming from inside the instrument. This means that you are breathing in micro portions of the sludge that is lining your leadpipe/inside of your instrument tubes. This is not sanitary never mind the fact that you are changing the bore of the instrument and dampening the overall response time because of the organic material lining the inner tubes. You should regularly clean your instrument. Treat it like your bank account and sit down with it every month and keep things up to date. Do not let it get out of hand and so bad that when it comes to us we’re wearing latex gloves, dry heaving over the ultrasonic as these sludgy materials are coming out of your inner tubes.
We have seen the tubes of these instruments look etched from the matter we have removed. If these properties are strong enough to etch brass how good can they be for you?
Every person should have a flexible brush (snake) to clean out his or her inner tubes with. There are fancy cleaning utensils on the market now, and it really does not matter which ones you have. The important thing is to do something to keep your instrument clean on the inside. Take some warm soapy water and with the snake go through your tubes carefully. After cleaning make sure to rinse all of the soap out and inspect all tubes to make sure they are 100% clean. Air dry, and lubricate properly. Put your instrument back together and take pride in the fact that you now have a clean horn inside and out.
If you are sick I suggest cleaning your instrument almost daily to help get over the cold quicker. Remember you are blowing germs into your horn and you do not want to continue to breathe this stuff in. I clean my mouthpiece after every playing when I’m sick for these reasons as well.
PS: We’re not responsible for damage you do to your horn if you improperly try to clean your instrument. Do not use force whenever you are handling any brass instrument. If you are not comfortable doing regular maintenance than make friends with your local music stores repairman and have him/her go through your instrument monthly/quarterly.