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Can Brass Instruments Get Wet? (Explained For Beginners)

Buying a brass instrument is a significant investment, so you might be worried when it gets wet.

If you are in marching band, you’ll know that rain is inevitable. When playing outside, you need to know how to properly take care of your instrument.

You don’t need to be concerned about rain damage for brass instruments, but it’s essential to know how to avoid moisture buildup.

Let’s discuss whether brass instruments can get wet and what you can do to avoid expensive fixes:

Here’s Whether Brass Instruments Can Get Wet:

Although brass instruments can get wet, it’s essential to dry the instrument after this happens fully. Brass instruments are resistant to water, but moisture buildup can cause serious issues. Brass players should regularly clean both the inside and outside of their instruments a few times a year.

Can Brass Instruments Be Played in the Rain?

Fortunately, brass instruments aren’t as affected by rain as woodwind instruments.

Brass instruments like a trumpet do not have felt pads, and therefore won’t be as damaged by rain.

Woodwind players have to be careful about avoiding the rain. Any moisture could cause the felt pads and corks to expand, leading to improper seals and might be a costly fix.

For brass instruments, they don’t receive as much water damage. It’s possible to play trumpet in the rain, but it’s better to avoid it.

Marching bands will take cover from the rain because of its effect on woodwind instruments. For drum corps, which only have brass instruments, they regularly perform even if it’s raining. This is because brass instruments aren’t as affected by rain.

The one important thing to remember is to dry off your instrument after exposure to rain. Even though brass instruments can play in the rain, moisture can lead to damage.

After playing in the rain, allow your trumpet to air dry or get rid of moisture with a towel. If you put your brass instrument in your case without drying it, it could grow mold, rust, or other damage.

Can You shower Your Brass Instrument?

It’s best to bathe your brass instrument about two to three times a year.

Even if you are regularly cleaning your trumpet, moisture could still build up inside. Giving your instrument a deep cleaning is essential preventative care.

Baths are much more effective than showers. It’s easier to clean a brass instrument using a bath because you don’t have constantly moving water.

Here are the steps to follow when bathing your horn:

Step One:

Line a large bathtub with old towels or sheets.

Laying your instrument on the bathtub without a layer of protection may damage your horn.

Step Two:

Fill the bathtub using lukewarm water.

Add some dish soap.

Step Three:

Disassemble all parts of the horn, including slides, the mouthpiece, and other moving pieces.

Remove the springs and felt pads inside the valves, and make sure to not put these in the water.

These are the only pieces that could be harmed in this process.

Step Four:

If you haven’t done a bath in a long time, leave your instrument in the bath for about 1 to 3 hours.

You should also do this if your valves are stuck down.

Otherwise, leave it for 20 minutes.

Step Five:

Thread a cleaning snake through all of your slides and leadpipe.

Please don’t force it through, as it may get stuck.

Clean your mouthpiece using a mouthpiece brush.

Step Six:

Rinse all the pieces and set them on a towel.

Step Seven:

Now, move the instrument around to get rid of all the water inside.

If you still hear water moving inside, try rotating it 360 degrees.

Any extra water should exit through the bell.

Step Eight:

Allow your horn to dry thoroughly. You can remove the surface moisture with a clean cloth.

Lay your horn down on some towels and let it air dry for a few hours.

Step Nine:

Rotate your horn to get rid of any settled water.

Step Ten:

Put your instrument back together. Make sure to use valve oil down into the valves.

Use grease on all of the slides before placing them back on the horn.

To watch this complete process, check out this great video from Making Music Magazine!

Is It Important to Dry the Instrument Immediately?

It’s essential to dry your brass instrument after exposure to water.

Although it isn’t as easily damaged as woodwind instruments, brass horns could develop damage because of moisture buildup.

Putting a brass instrument back in the case without drying it could create big problems. When you do this, it creates a wet environment that is perfect for growing mold and mildew.

To keep both you and your instrument healthy, always let it dry before placing it back in the case.

Can Brass Instruments Corrode or Rust From Exposure to Water?

Because brass instruments are made from brass, they can corrode or rust if not properly cleaned and dried.

Brass quickly corrodes over time due to exposure to oxygen and moisture. Generally, this is a natural process, but prolonged exposure to water could speed up the process.

If you clean your instrument regularly, you can avoid these issues.

After playing in the rain or bathing your instrument, always allow it to dry thoroughly.

What is the Best Way to Clean a Horn on the Inside?

If you play a brass instrument, it’s essential to keep it clean.

Being a musician is a busy lifestyle, but you won’t want to skip exterior or interior maintenance.

It’s easier to notice when the exterior needs to be cleaned. Fingerprints, dust, and smudges need to be removed with a soft cloth.

By doing this daily, you can protect the finish. Without regular cleaning, fingerprints can start to erode the lacquer.

Yamaha recommends using a small amount of furniture polish for lacquered finishes. For a plated finish, you can use a glass cleaner. This will prevent any future damage to your instrument.

The interior of a brass instrument can be harder to clean. There is a natural buildup of moisture and debris in each instrument, which needs to be removed.

Here are some tips from Yamaha on how to keep the inside of your brass instrument clean:

Use Valve Oil

Regularly oiling your valves can successfully keep them clean and functioning well.

You should apply about five drops of valve oil down the leadpipe to keep any debris from sticking to the inside.

Swab the Leadpipe

It would be best if you regularly swabbed the leadpipe and other areas of your instrument.

This will absorb any moisture buildup that occurs from playing.

Most musicians will be tempted to just empty the water key, but this will only remove about 50% of moisture.

 Give your Instrument a Bath

Giving your horn a bath a couple of times every year can effectively keep the inside clean.

For small instruments, make sure to rinse the leadpipe and tuning slides.

You should use dish soap, water, and a cleaning snake for this. For larger brass instruments, you can use swabs instead.

Final Thoughts

Generally, brass instruments can get wet.

The important thing to remember is to properly dry your instrument when this happens. If you put a wet instrument back in its case, it could cause severe damage, including mold or rust.

All brass players should know how to bathe their horns. By doing this, you can clean your instrument deeply, avoiding any buildup of moisture or other debris.

This will keep your horn functioning well for many years to come.


It’s Raining – Care For Your Instrument

How to Clean Your Brass Instrument – Give It a Bath

How to Keep Brass Instruments Clean – Inside and Out