Picture yourself at a marching band practice or at an outdoor community band concert, it’s a beautiful day that quickly turns bad as a storm rolls in and starts pouring rain. You know that rain/water is bad for your instrument….so what do you do now?
Get them out of the rain. Seems simple enough. Smaller instruments can be tucked under a shirt/jacket for protection until you can get out of the rain. Large instruments, get them put away in your case as quickly as possible. Put your instrument in the case and close it so it doesn’t get wet any further.
When you get home IMMEDIATELY open the case and take out the instrument to dry. We want to get the instrument and case dry as fast as possible. Forgetting about your instrument in the case will build mold in the instrument and case…not good.
Brass instruments can’t get hurt by the rain as much as woodwind instruments. After you get home and take your instrument out of the case to dry, why not take the opportunity to give it a proper bath!
If you need instructions on how to give your brass instrument a bath, please checkout our website for downloadable instructions or visit us at the repair shop and we would be happy to teach you! https://www.rockymountainmusicrepair.com/instrument-care
After the instrument and case have thoroughly dried, grease all slides, oil valves and reassemble instrument.
That’s it, compared to woodwind instruments you have it easy!
Woodwind instruments are HIGHLY affected by rain and moisture. Pads are made of felt and bladders and if they get wet, will expand and bloat causing the pad to not seal properly.
After you get home, take your instrument out of the case and let the case thoroughly dry.
Swab out the inside of your instrument with a drop swab. We recommend the silk drop swabs because they are great at soaking up spit and are less likely to get stuck in an instrument.
Use a towel or old t-shirt to wipe up any visible water spots
Use key oil to lubricate the hinge joints on your instrument. Remember the elementary school science project of mixing water and oil together and watching them separate since they don’t like each other? Same concept here, you want to use key oil on the hinge joints so that it repels the water away. This will help prevent rust on your hinge rods. (Video of oiling keys below)
Take the opportunity to give your mouthpiece a good scrubbing with luke-warm water, Dawn dish soap and a mouthpiece brush.
Once the case is dry, pack up your instrument and bring it to a repair shop right away. Inform them that the instrument got wet in the rain. They will disassemble the horn and dry all the hinge rods and screws, lubricate all moving parts, change any pads that need to be changed after they became puffy from the water, and reassemble and adjust all the keys. This is commonly called a COA (Clean, oil & adjust).
Failure to have it professionally serviced after getting wet can result if rust on your instrument that will seize up your keys so they start sticking or not move at all. The pads will also get puffy and not seal, so you will not be able to play all the notes or they will sound weak.