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Tips For Safely Storing And Moving Your Brass Instruments

Saxophone In Open Case
Whether you're an experienced trombonist or one of your kids has recently started playing the trombone in the school band, the instrument is much more delicate than it looks. Although it is made of metal and is therefore less likely to shatter when your kid accidentally sits down on it than a violin would be, it's still susceptible to environmental conditions.

If you're taking it out to play every few days, you'll be able to monitor any corrosion or sticky valves, but during storage that's not the case. Preparing the instrument for storage is just as critical as the environment in which you store it. Here are some tips for a safe and problem-free storage and moving experience with trombones and other brass instruments.

Before Packing

For maximum safety, store the instrument completely disassembled so there's no chance that any joints will stick together. Joints and valves can seize up, especially if left in the same position long term. Since you'll be storing all the pieces separate from each other, you'll need to label each slide and valve to be sure there's no confusion later.

The instrument also needs to be completely clean, so after disassembling it, wash it out with body-temperature water (or slightly below), being sure to avoid both hot and cold water. Remove all the lubricants that are on the instrument and replace them with a heavy or synthetic grease that won't evaporate.

During Packing

Be sure to take out all music, notebooks, and papers from the case. Music folders may seem innocuous, but they can place pressure on the instrument that can cause problems long term.

Loose parts and mouthpieces can also damage the instrument if they're allowed to rattle around the case during transit. While packing the pieces into the case, use plenty of tissue paper (or acid-free, museum-quality paper to be extra safe) to pad the pieces so they won't bang into each other.

Once you've fit the disassembled instrument into the case, be sure to add a desiccant (such as silica gel packets) and an anti-corrosive product to help avoid rust and mold. You can also use anti-corrosive bags to store the instrument pieces.

After Packing

Once the instrument is securely fastened into its case, place the entire case into a large airtight plastic bag. This step not only helps to keep excess humidity out but also prevents bugs from infesting the instrument as well.

Any brass instrument with wool felt pads on its valves can make a great meal for carpet beetles or wool moths, especially if stored untouched in its dark case for months on end (just the type of environment those bugs love). Even if you're not too worried about the cost of buying new pads, you don't want those creepy-crawlies in your instrument or spreading to your sweaters.

Finally, if you're storing the instrument long-term, be sure to use a climate-controlled area. Don't place it in the sun, in the unheated garage, or in a cupboard situated on an outside wall. If you're using a storage unit, be sure it's a climate-controlled one. And if you're moving, put the instrument in the family car, not in the moving truck.

When you get the brass instrument out of storage, ideally it will be undamaged and have no mold or corrosion evident. However, it should still have the grease that you used when you were packing it up. You can either use a gentle degreasing agent, such as dish soap, to remove the excess grease before lubricating it as usual or simply add a very thin oil to dilute.

These tips will help you ensure a trouble-free move or storage experience for your brass instrument. For more information about storage unit availability, contact us today at Spring Hill Mini Warehouse and we'll get you set up with your very own storage unit.