Emergency Quick Fixes - Brass

Almost every band director has had the problem: just before a major concert or performance one of the players reports that his instrument is damaged. Here are a few tips on how to keep them playing before taking the instrument to a technician for repair.

Loose Brace
This is a serious matter because as soon as one brace is no longer attached, other braces will come under stress. Eventually, they will also come loose and the repair bill will be higher. Use a “clip tie” – the sort you can buy in most electronic shops to group electrical wires – to hold the brace to the pipe. They are made of plastic and will not damage the instrument.

Broken water key spring
Don’t use a rubber band! Or, if you absolutely must use one, remove it immediately after the performance and wash the area with water. If you do not, the saliva will react with the rubber to form a type of acid that will attack the silver plating. Then, when the rubber band is removed, you will see a black line on the pipe that cannot be removed.

Instead, use a hair band (rubber band covered with cloth) – the type some women use to tie up their hair (see the illustration above).

Stuck Mouthpiece
Do not use a spanner! This is almost guaranteed to do serious damage. Also, don’t ask anyone with strong muscles to take it out either. Such a person could easily twist the whole shank or force the braces to come loose. The result will be a large repair bill.

Instead, try to loosen the mouthpiece by tapping lightly around the receiver with a small piece of wooden dowel. This may shake it loose. Alternatively, pour hot water (not boiling!) over the shank to expand the metal and thus loosen the mouthpiece.

If this fails, take the instrument to Legato International. We will remove the mouthpiece for free!

Stuck valve
Don’t put a screwdriver or drumstick into the bottom of the casing and attempt to force the valve out using a hammer! Valves are hollow, and any such attempt risks serious damage. Instead, apply a liberal amount of valve oil and wait for an hour or so for the oil to seep into the casing. If this does not work, take it to a technician.

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