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What Is Tuning Slide Grease for a Trumpet?

Fragment trumpet closeup to show what is tuning slide grease for a trumpet

On a trumpet, there are valve slides that can be used to help control pitch. For these to work smoothly you will need to apply slide grease. Otherwise, the slide can get stuck and it may be difficult to get the right amount of control you are looking for. So, what is tuning slide grease for trumpet players? 

Tuning Slide Grease vs Valve Oil

Most trumpet players know that they need valve oil to keep their valves working properly. Slide grease is different and is specifically intended for the slides. Valve oil is thinner and is designed to help with the quick movements of the valves. Slide grease is thicker, which helps the slides move easier, but not too quickly, so you have better control. 

Can I Use Valve Oil Instead Of Slide Grease?

Slide grease and valve oil have different thicknesses and are made of different ingredients. Valve oil is not a suitable replacement for slide grease. Since valve oil has a thinner consistency, it could create too little resistance. Slide grease doesn’t lubricate the slides too much, which could cause them to slide on their own while you are playing. You also should avoid using slide grease in place of valve oil. The valves of a trumpet need to move up and down quickly, and slide grease may cause them to stick. 

Is Vaseline A Good Slide Grease?

Some trumpet players who are wondering, “what is tuning slide grease for a trumpet” might also be wondering, “can’t I just use Vaseline”? There are some mixed reviews on using Vaseline in place of slide grease. While some say it can be used in a pinch, Vaseline should be avoided because it can be corrosive to brass. Vaseline is a petroleum-based lubricant, and depending on what brand or type you purchase, it may also contain fragrance or other ingredients that are not trumpet-friendly. 

What Is The Best Tuning Slide Grease For A Trumpet?

There are plenty of slide grease options available that are perfectly safe for your trumpet. Check with your local instrument repair shop to see what they have in stock, or try some of these commonly-used brands:

  • CIOMIT Ultra Smooth Tuning Slide Grease: It is lanolin with no additives and can be used for any brass tuning slide and guards against corrosion and wear. 
  • Schilke Tuning Slide Grease: This product is made with lanolin, a popular ingredient for slide grease. They claim their product is easy to use for slides because it doesn’t break down once you warm your horn up, so slides don’t shift when you’re playing. 
  • Bach Tuning Slide Grease: This slide grease can be used for trumpets or trombones as well as cork. It is non-greasy and can be applied easily. 

How Often Should I Use Slide Grease?

Greasing the slides of your trumpet should be done about once a month. If you notice your slides are sticking sooner, you can go ahead and add more. When you’re ready to grease the slides, remove the slide and wipe off all of the old grease with a clean, lint-free cloth. Then apply a small amount of fresh slide grease to one of the slide tubes and re-insert it. Move the slide in and out to make sure you’ve used enough. If the motion doesn’t feel smooth, apply a little more. If this still doesn’t help, you may need to take your trumpet to an instrument repair shop.f

Read More from CIOMIT Music Repair Experts:
Common Trumpet Repair Issues to Know About

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If your trumpet needs some TLC, CIOMIT can help. Our staff is full of journeymen or master craftsmen who can service your trumpet, saxophone, violin, guitar, and more. Our services range from simple cleanings to full instrument restorations and everything in between. Contact us today to inquire about an instrument repair