Trumpet Valve Oil, Slide Grease

Trumpet Valve Oil

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Trumpet Valve Oil

Trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn valves and inside the brass metal tubes of your the valve casing. Valve oil makes the playability of your horn better and is there to protect the valves and valve casing from wear.   The piston valves and valve casings are made of pretty soft metals.  Keeping a thin layer of valve oil between them will keep them from wearing and your valves slippery smooth.

Soon after you get a new trumpet, you’ll notice that your valves won’t move as smoothly as before and may even start to stick.   This is because a small amount of metal is wearing off the surfaces of the valve and valve cluster and gumming things up.  After a short break-in period of a few weeks, you will want to clean your horn.  See our step by step guide.  This will remove the debris from the valves and the valve cluster.    Keeping your valves oiled regularly is the cheapest insurance and best way to protect your trumpet.

Slippery GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Slippery is good right?

What Is Trumpet Valve Oil Made Of?

Trumpet valve oils are all some formula of petroleum (like mineral spirits) or some blend of synthetic oils that the manufactures keep secret (like the formula for Coke).   Old school valve oils had a distinctive smell and you knew it was made of, well, oil.  Most players use synthetics for that very reason.  The thing that will make the biggest difference is it’s viscosity.  Vis-what? Think about how water flows out of a faucet. Now think about how maple syrup flows out of the bottle onto your waffles. Water is thin and has a low viscosity. Maple syrup is thick and has a higher viscosity.    Each type of oil and grease (which I’ll get to in a moment) have a place on your trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn. The thinnest valve oils have a viscosity like water. Other valve oils are slightly thicker or more viscous. Sorry, none are as thick and no way taste as good as maple syrup.   The viscosity affects the feel of the valves and how smoothly they move.  So always get the thinnest valve oil right?  Not so fast.  The other thing that matters is how much room there is in between the valves and the casing.  This space is less than the thickness of one of the hairs on your head. The reason for this tight tolerance is to keep your air flowing through your horn and not into this space. The thickness of this space will depend somewhat on how your horn was made and how much your horn has been played.   For example, a slightly thicker oil may be needed for an older trumpet which will help keep the air flowing through the horn instead of between the valves and valve cluster.  It will also provide the cushion and protection the valves need.

What Is The Best Trumpet Valve Oil?

Our top picks are based on years of experience, talking with other players, and the age of our trumpets, flugelhorns, and cornets.  The “tightness” of your valves is something to think about as you pick what would work best for your horn.   Also, your trumpet may be newer than your flugelhorn so you may need a different oil for each horn.   

Hetman, Inc. makes a line of synthetic valve oils for different instruments.  Joseph Hetman created a company called Muslwerks in 1988 and started making valve oils for different symphony orchestras like New York, San Francisco, and the Seattle Symphony. 

Best Trumpet Valve Oil Overall

Hetman 2 – Piston.  Designed for “average” valve tightness and a good pick for most horns. There isn’t the petroleum smell from regular oils because it’s synthetic.

Current price for Hetman 2 – Piston valve oil.

Hetman 2 Synthetic Piston valve oil.
Hetman 2 Synthetic Piston valve oil.

Best Trumpet Valve Oil For Yamaha Trumpets

Many Yamaha trumpet (trompeta Yamaha) and flugelhorn players have found the Yamaha Synthetic Regular works great on their horns so this is one to try if Hetman’s doesn’t work perfectly for you.  I tried to use the same oil on my newer Yamaha 631GS Flugelhorn as my 70’s Bach Strad trumpet. I found that my flugelhorn valves kept gumming up, even after cleaning several times. This oil did the trick.

Current price for Yamaha Synthetic Regular Valve Oil.

Yamaha Synthetic Valve Oil, Regular
Yamaha Synthetic Valve Oil, Regular

Best Valve Oil For New Trumpets

Hetman 1 – Light Piston.  The “thinnest” of their line and is best for horns with “tighter” valves. This works great for new trumpets and most professional trumpets with hand-lapped valves.  This also worked great on my Yamaha 631GS Flugelhorn.

Current price for Hetman 1 – Light Piston Valve Oil.

Hetman 1 - Light Piston Valve Oil.
Hetman 1 – Light Piston Valve Oil.

Best Valve Oil For Older Trumpets

Hetman 3 – Classic Piston.  The “thickest” of their piston valve oils.  It will both protect your horn while helping to keep a good seal between the valves and valve cluster.   

Current price for Hetman 3 – Classic Piston Valve Oil.

Hetman 3 - Classic Piston Valve Oil.
Hetman 3 – Classic Piston Valve Oil.

Trumpet Slide Grease & Slide Oil

What Is Slide Grease Verses Slide Oil?

Your trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn have two types of tuning slides.  Ones that need to move and ones that well, don’t.   The first and third valve slide are ones that you want to move smoothly and easily where your main tuning slide on your trumpet should stay where you put it. 

A grease is best for the main tuning slide so you can move it for tuning and cleaning.  Sure, you’ve probably heard that Vasoline would work. And many of us grew up using it, but there there are greases that are way better now. Your second valve tubing needs to be lubricated so you can remove it for cleaning.  Your first and third tuning slides (your horn might not have a first valve slide trigger or thumb saddle) will need something a little thicker than valve oil, but not as thick as grease.    These greases and oils are important to keep your trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn protected from corrosion and play it’s best.

Best Trumpet Slide Grease

Hetman 10 – Synthetic Musical Instrument Grease.  “MIG” for short. Use this on your main tuning slide, 2nd valve tubing, 1st and third removable valve tubing, lever spit valves, screws, etc. Its waterproof and prevents wear and corrosion.

Current price for Hetman 10 – Musical Instrument Grease. Far better than Vasoline as it lasts longer and doesn’t have that funky smell.

Hetman 10 - Synthetic Musical Instrument Grease.
Hetman 10 – Synthetic Musical Instrument Grease.

Best Trumpet Slide Oil

Hetman 4 – Light Slide Oil. This oil is specifically designed for tight fitting slides like your first and third slides. This will keep those moving as you need them.

Current price for Hetman 4 – Light Slide Oil.

Hetman 4 - Light Slide Oil
Hetman 4 – Light Slide Oil

Best Slide Oil For Yamaha Trumpets

Yamaha Synthetic Tuning Slide Oil.  For you if you like to keep things “all in the family” and treat your Yamaha trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn with Yamaha products. This isn’t as critical as the valve oil for Yamaha trumpets as the brass tubing in their slides is the same as other horns.

Current price for Yamaha Synthetic Tuning Slide Oil.

Yamaha Synthetic Tuning Slide Oil.
Yamaha Synthetic Tuning Slide Oil.

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