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 our 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.
Our top pick of the Best Slide Grease: Hetman 10 – 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 caps.
Our top pick of the Best Slide Oil: Hetman 4 Slide Oil. Use this on your first and third slides that need to move swiftly and smoothly.
Trumpet Valve Oil
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 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 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.
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 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 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.
Petroleum vs. synthetic valve oils
Beyond the smell, what is the difference between petroleum oil and synthetic valve oil? Petroleum oils are 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 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.
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.
Best Valve Oil For New Trumpets
Hetman 1 – 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.
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.
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.
Can you use valve oil on trumpet slides?
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 trumpet players grew up using it, but 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 features) 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. 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.
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.
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.
Thanks for playing along !