A Clean Horn Is A Healthy Horn
by David Arata
Why should musicians have their instruments cleaned professionally?
ULTRASONIC CLEANING TECHNOLOGY and unique chemistry equal a modern environmentally safe approach that not just rinses the instruments but thoroughly removes the calcium buildup in a horn. This is truly a dream come true for the repair technicians.
More and more band directors are beginning to understand the need for annual professional band instrument cleaning. Do you use the same knife, fork and spoon day after day with out cleaning it? Consider this analogy? Not thoroughly cleaning your instrument inside and out professionally at least once a year amounts to using unwashed eating utensils over and over.
Every horn player and band director knows that the calcium / organic materials build up inside a horn. That is a nice way of saying the build up is really a composite of everything the musician has eaten over the last 24 hours or so. This is contamination to the metal and in time causes the metal to oxidize and metal failure occurs. The repair technicians call it rot? when the lead pipe of the horn rots out.
The ultrasonic cleaning process can effectively remove all the internal and external contamination more thoroughly than you do your dishes at home in the kitchen sink.
Professional musicians can surely tell when the horn does not have the desired tone. They have trained to listen for the proper tone when playing. Some say, the rich sound of the horn is lost when contamination builds up in the instrument. The smooth slide vale action is compromised in some severe cases. Both rotary and piston vales that stick can be quickly and easily cleaned effectively when a professional uses an ultrasonic cleaning system that is designed specifically for musical instrument cleaning and restoring.
A trained professional band instrument technician can utilize the unique features of an ultrasonic cleaning system to return older instruments to better than new in some case by totally cleaning the buffing rouge from the tiniest crevasses that even the original manufacturer may have missed.
The way most instruments used to be cleaned was a dip in a strong acid. This did remove the surface oxidation but it did not thoroughly clean all the buffing compounds from all the flanges and the exterior of the valve or the lapping compounds from the vale pistons.
Hal Hall from Jents House of Music, Lubbock Texas said it looked like a shark attack, there was so much red rouge in the cleaning liquid when some instruments were exposed to the ultrasonic cleaning action for the first time.
In addition to a patented ultrasonic generator the equipment includes a system that flushes the inside of the horn during the ultrasonic cleaning process.
This process has been used on many professional horns from Boston, Massachusetts to Hollywood California. Many school districts are now specifying that the band instruments be ultrasonically cleaned.