Trumpet Valve Oil, Slide Grease

What’s The Best Trumpet Valve Oil?

Our top pick of the Best Valve Oil: Blue Juice valve oil. It’s a full synthetic oil, no petroleum oil smell, doesn’t gum up after extended use like non-synthetics. Designed for the piston valves in our trumpets. Can also be used for your first and third slides, See below if you want something a little thicker for your slides.

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Blue Juice Valve Oil
Blue Juice Valve Oil

Our top pick of the Best Slide Grease: Hetman 10 – MIG aka Musical Instrument Grease. Use this on your main tuning slide, your 2nd valve tubing, and a little on everything you screw together such as the top and bottom valve cap.

One concern we’ve all had with MIG is the size of the bottle. It’s small, almost tiny. That said, my little jar is 4+ years old and I’ve barely made a dent in it (see below for picture). You don’t use much and this jar should last you years. And it has no smell because it’s synthetic.

Click the button to read reviews and buy Hetman 10 – Musical Instrument Grease on Amazon

Our top pick of the Best Slide Oil: Hetman Slide Oil. Use this on your first and third slides that need to move swiftly and smoothly.

Click the button to read reviews and buy Hetman Slide Oil on WoodWind BrassWind

Hetman Slide Oil
Hetman Slide Oil

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What’s the Best Trumpet Valve Oil?

Here's my personal collection of lubricants for my trumpet and flugelhorn. From left to right, Hetman's Slide oil, Hetman Piston #2, Yamaha Synthetic valve oil, Yamaha petroleum based valve oil (old), Al Cass Fast petroleum valve oil, Yamaha slide grease tube and Yamaha slide grease in stick form.
Here’s my personal collection of lubricants for my horns.

It’s just oil right? Can’t I just use any oil around the house? What’s important to know before squirting oil into my horn? Trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn valves and inside the brass metal tubes of your the valve casing. See our “Trumpet Parts” for more details. 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 relatively soft metals.  Keeping a thin layer of valve oil between them will keep them from wearing and your valves slippery smooth. When we asked each other what’s the best trumpet valve oil, we realized that there was more to lubricating our horns than first thought.

Table of Contents

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 your instrument clean first.  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 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.  All brass players know that smell of the practice room, old horn cases, ugh. Some even use mineral oils. Most trumpet 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 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 valve action 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.

Here is my personal collection of "the best" valve oil, slide oil, and slide grease that I purchased (not sponsored) and use regularly. From left to right Hetman Synthetic Piston #2, Hetman Synthetic Light Slide #4, and Hetman Synthetic MIG (Multipurpose Instrument Grease).
Here is my personal collection of “the best” valve oil, slide oil, and slide grease. Notice how small the MIG jar is, but it’ll last you years.

Petroleum vs. synthetic valve oils

Beyond the smell, what is the difference between petroleum oil and synthetic valve oil? Petroleum oils have molecules of different size. Synthetic oils have molecules of the same size. The chemistry that goes into synthetic valve oil reduces the amount of reside as the oil drys (evaporates). So it’s all about the molecules not just the smell. Okay, it’s the smell that drives us nuts. In high school we had a band director that made his own oil out of mineral spirits and added menthol to hide the awful smell. It was thick, gummed up valves, and stunk like a old engine and vicks vape o rub. Ugh. As I write this I can still smell it. Having your valves move smoothly and fast is what all trumpet players want. Using quality valve oils on your horns is a cheap way to do that. The reason is, a bottle of valve oil lasts a really long time. Like years.

Important safety tip, if you ‘ve used petroleum based oils on your horn and you want to try a synthetic valve oil, make sure to clean your valves and inside the valve cluster. This will remove the old oil and residue buildup. Then add a good amount of the new synthetic oil and enjoy.

What Is The Best Valve Oil For Trumpet ?

Our top picks are based on years of experience, talking with other trumpet 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.   

Best Trumpet Valve Oil Overall

Blue Juice Synthetic Valve Oil.  Designed for average clearance valve tightness and a great pick for most trumpets, flugelhorns, and cornets. The band went back and forth on this one. One thing we agreed on, the value here is unbeatable as is the quality. It just works and makes for quick action valves. There’s none of that petroleum oil smell from regular oils because it’s a fully synthetic oil. This is a regular valve oil and works for a broad set of horns.

Blue Juice Valve Oil
Blue Juice Valve Oil

Click the button for more information and best price on Amazon for Blue Juice Synthetic 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 Blue Juice Valve Oil 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 after a couple of months, even after cleaning several times. This oil did the trick.

Yamaha Regular Synthetic Valve Oil, 60ml
Yamaha Regular Synthetic Valve Oil, 60ml

Click the button for more information and best price on Amazon for Yamaha Synthetic Regular Valve Oil.

Best Valve Oil For New Trumpets

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

Hetman 1 - Light Piston Lubricant
Hetman 1 – Light Piston Lubricant

Click the button for more information and best price on Amazon for Hetman Synthetic – 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.   

Click the button for more information and best price on Amazon for 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 fast and ones that well, don’t.   The first and third valve slide (if your horn has these features) are ones that you want to move smoothly and easily where your main tuning slide on your trumpet should stay where you put it.  But, it needs to be adjustable.

Slide grease is used where you want things to move, but not quickly. The main tuning slide is the perfect example. You want to be able to move it to tune your horn, but don’t want it moving around on you while playing. Another place is the valve caps. You want to be able to remove them during cleaning so a little on the threads goes a long way. On the other hand, your first and third slides need to move quickly and smoothly when you move those triggers. That’s where slide oil comes into play. They need to move quickly, but not as quickly as your valves.

Can you use valve oil on trumpet slides?

You can. That said, many of us as kids used a little petroleum jelly mixed with valve oil on our third valve slides. It worked, but wasn’t the best solution. And it was messy and smelly. Grease is best for the main tuning slide so you can move it for tuning and cleaning.  Sure, you’ve probably heard that petroleum jelly would work. And many of us trumpet players grew up using it, but there are greases that are way better now. Best of all, synthetic slide grease doesn’t have that petroleum jelly smell. Your second valve tubing needs to be lubricated so you can remove it for cleaning so it’s the one slide that I grease. Your first and third tuning slides (your horn might not have a first valve slide trigger or thumb saddle features) will need something a little thicker than valve oil, but not as thick as grease.    That’s the big difference. You could use valve oil but a slide oil is purpose built for the task. I personally love synthetics. These greases and oils are important to keep your trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn protected from corrosion and play it’s best. This is definitely something to use after you clean your cornet, trumpet, or flugelhorn. Check out our article on “How to clean a trumpet“.

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. It is waterproof and prevents wear and corrosion. Also use it on everything where metal to metal contract exists. Especially use some on the top valve caps (where the valve stem goes through). The reason is you need to move the top valve caps so you can add a few drops of oil regularly to your valves. Don’t forget the bottom valve caps so you can remove them when you clean your horn.

My personal jar of MIG (Musical Instrument Grease) lubricant that I purchased. Opened with a USA quarter next to it to show the size of the jar and how little I've used in 4 years (jar is almost full)
Here’s my personal jar of MIG with a quarter shown for scale. It’s small, but if you look inside, after 4+ years, I’ve barely used much. I also grease my main tuning slide every 2-3 weeks because I swab it after playing which removes the MIG.

Yes the jar is small, but I’ve found that a little goes a very long way. My little jar will probably last 7-10 years. Not months, years. It’s almost tacky which makes it a great grease since it stays where you put it. Best of all, no smell at all. For reference, see the picture above with my personal collection of Hetman Synthetic valve oil #1, Hetman Synthetic slide oil #4, and Hetman Synthetic MIG.

Click the button for more information and best price on Amazon for Hetman 10 – Musical Instrument Grease. Far better than Vaseline as it lasts longer and doesn’t have that funky smell.

Best Trumpet Slide Oil

Hetman Synthetic – 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.

Hetman Slide Oil
Hetman Slide Oil

Click the button for more information and best price on WWBW for Hetman Synthetic – Slide Oil.

So the answer to the question ”What’s the best trumpet valve oil?” is “it depends”. It depends on where on your horn you are putting it, does it need to move quickly, and your particular horn. Whether it’s a trumpet, cornet, or flugelhorn you now know the best type of oil (and grease) to use on your horn. For me, I love Hetman Synthetic valve oil, slide oil, and MIG. These 3 work great for my old Vincent Bach 180 and my newer (still 30+ years old) Yamaha 631G Flugelhorn.

Thanks for playing along !

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