fix sticky trumpet keys

How to Fix Sticky Trumpet Valves (& Other Common Problems)

When you have a trumpet, one of the common problems you are bound to experience at one time or the other is sticky keys. The good news is that most of the common problems are easy to fix.

For a trumpet to work properly, its components much work together. However, sometimes the parts may encounter issues that can make them affect your play or even the functioning of other components.

Sticky keys is one of the common problems you may encounter with your trumpet. The moveable parts of the trumpet such as valves and slides need to be in good working order. These are the parts that are more likely to cause problems on your trumpet. The mouthpiece can be removed but it is not moveable, like other parts.

Read on for an overview of how to fix sticky keys on a trumpet as well as solve other common problems.

how to fix sticky trumpet valves

Sticky Valves

Sometimes, you trumpet valves may start being sticky. The valves are meant to move up and down smoothly to provide a good play. However, sometimes they may get stuck in certain places. For example, the valve key may get stuck midway when you press it or are just about to press it. Sticky keys make it difficult for you to play and ruin your sound.

You can fix the sticky valve issue on your trumpet by oiling the valves regularly. Use a good quality valve oil such as Blue Juice to lubricate the valves.

If you practice or play every day, you should oil the valves at least once a week. If you practice or play for long periods every day, you may have to oil the valves more regularly.

How to Oil Trumpet Valves

Oiling the trumpet valves is an easy process.

IMPORTANT: If you are a young player, seek assistance from your parent, a pro player or your instructor before starting to oil the valves. If your child is playing the trumpet, you should know how to oil the valves as well as carry out simple valve repair techniques.

Follow the steps below to oil the valves.

  1. Place the trumpet on a flat surface lying down
  2. Unscrew the first valve slide and pull it out slightly. Do not pull it out completely as it can fall down and get damaged. Moreover, when you pull out the valve completely, you could end up putting it back in the wrong way. Make sure you pull only one slide at a time to avoid mixing them up.
  3. Squeeze a few drops of oil on the shaft of the valve. Do not place the oil in the holes.
  4. Slide back the valve in carefully until you hear a clicking sound. F=’
  5. Tighten the valve cap

Below is an excellent video that shows how you should oil the trumpet.

Possible Problems that Can Happen After Oiling

After oiling the trumpet valves, the following problems may arise.

  • The valves are too sticky

The valves usually become sticky if the oil has loosened some desire in the trumpet valve case. To fix the problem, pull the valve out and wipe it thoroughly with a clean cloth. You will then have to oil the valve again before re-inserting it. You may also want to remove the bottom valve cap to clean the valve casing.

  • You cannot blow the trumpet

If you encounter this problem, chances are that you have placed the valves back in backwards. The solution to the problem is to simply pull the valve back out and ensure that the number engraving is pointing in the direction of the mouthpiece.

Missing Buttons

If you usually buy vintage trumpet models, some of the instruments you get may be missing the valve buttons. You can get new valve buttons online or at trumpet repair stores. Make sure you get the trumpet buttons replaced by a professional.

Stuffy Sound

Your trumpet may sound stuffy or airy due to a problem with the valves. To find and solve the problem, check the following:

  • Inspect the valve for any worn down or missing spacers, felts, or corks
  • Confirm that the water key is not leaking or broken. If the cork for the water key is worn down or leaking, the seal will not be secure and this can create an airy or stuffy sound. Also, check for missing or broken water key spring. Finally, ensure that the water key is not bent
  • Confirm that the valves have been returned to their correct positions. The valves can be mixed up when you are cleaning the trumpet. Check their numbers; 1, 2, and 3 to know where they should go. Valve 1 should go to the valve casing that is closest to the mouthpiece, valve 2 to the center position, and valve 3 should be closest to the bell.
  • Check that there is no air leakage dues to small holes caused by rust or broken welds.
  • Check whether there is anything stuck in the trumpet. Pull the valves and slides out and pass a cleaning snake all through the tubing. You can buy cleaning snakes specifically for trumpet use.

Air Leakage

You won’t experience any issues when your trumpet is still new. However, after you have been using it for some time, the valves may get loose. When the valves get loose, air may start leaking out between them and the casing. The air leakage will affect the instrument’s response.

Air leakage is usually as a result of wear and tear of a trumpet that is used consistently.

If a valve is extremely loose, it can bind within its casing. One of the ways of reducing air leakage is by using a heavier valve oil. However, the best option is usually to have valve work done or get the valves replaced. These tasks should be done by a professional.

Check the video below for more trumpet repair tips:


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.