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I've taken the plunge and bought my first ever 'brand new' tuba... Traded in a Rudy Meinl BBb for a new Yamaha Neo compensated BBb.
The Neo is fantastic - very, very happy with my purchase.
I'm wondering what tips people have as to care for a brand new horn. If possible I'd like to avoid pouring milk down it...I have heard different bits and pieces about oiling the valves every day for the first 6 weeks. I'm wondering what opinions people have on 'the first 100 days' of new tuba ownership.
Just a tongue in cheek reference to what has been discussed a few times here
...a (hopefully) out-dated and (probably) misguided practice of pouring milk down a tuba in an attempt to 'seal up' different bits and pieces and generally make it play better.
Don't play it - not even a little bit! You might take away the new sound you have now!
Or, just oil it regularly and try not to eat or drink before you play.
I oil my valves each time I pull the tuba out, of course I don't always not eat or drink before playing...
Generally, with a new horn, it's a good idea to wipe the valves off with a dust-free rag before oiling them. Wiping off the valves will remove the tiny bits of metal that well get worn away as your valves break in.
I agree totally with the comment to wipe off the valves each day, especially while breaking it in.
I also find it useful to put a dozen or so drops of oil down the leadpipe, insert the mouthpiece, and blow it through the horn while you wiggle the valves. This helps to flush out any gunk left over from manufacture and also helps to "smooth over" the many joints inside the horn. It sort of gets you some of the benefit of pouring milk through the horn without stinking things up!* I would suggest blowing the oil though first, then take out each valve, wipe it, oil it well, and put it back in the cylinder. Through the entire break-in period I strongly suggest only using petroleum ("regular" or "standard") valve oil. It cleans things out better.
Also do a bit of work on the tuning slides now and then. Remove them, clean them off carefully, wipe out the tube they came from if you can, lube and re-insert. In order to avoid oil/grease conflicts, use standard slide grease during break in, not synthetic..
* Some players used to suggest that you pour milk through a new horn, rinse it out lightly with clear water, then leave the residue inside to horn to give it a coating internally. This was supposed to help the horn feel more broken in. I suspect part of this was due to wider variations in assembly than good factories produce today, so the remaining milk residue tended to fill the joints in a bit to make the bore smoother. I'm planning on getting a new horn this summer, and I WON'T be pouring milk into it!
I oil my pistons every time I play. I think everyone should regardless of the age of the horn.
Also... to heck with a few drops. POUR the oil on so dirt and such will be washed off. Wiping the pistons with a lint-free cloth is a good idea.
Keep the bottom caps clear of gunk and avoid standing the horn on it's bell if you can.
I actually like to use the word "pour" myself, but it seems to strike some as too "gross" so I dialed it back a bit! But valve oil doesn't cost much, and I'm pretty generous when I dump it in.
Your comment about the bottom caps is excellent as well. Normally I recommend this for ongoing maintenance, but I suppose it is just as valid for new horns. Gunk tends to settle down there, and with many modern valve-sets the clearance between the bottom cap and the bottom of the depressed valve is quite small. If there is gunk there, it gets knocked around and ends up causing trouble with valve action.
Valve casings form a patina on them (yellow brass turning into oxidized brass). It's important to use plenty of oil to "polish" those patina surfaces *smooth*, as patina does not naturally form "smooth"...It forms "rough".
If a small amount of sticking occurs with new valve casings that are patinating (assuming they are absolutely clean and with no lime deposits...which is QUITE an assumption - based on most all tubas that come into my shop) try to avoid the temptation to have them "acid cleaned". Again, polishing the patina (with pistons and valve oil) will make it MUCH easier to deal with this tuba throughout its life.
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I pour a bunch of Marvel Mystery Oil through my instruments at least once a month, and also apply it to the valves. It has a detergent that does a nice job at getting the junk out. I will usually play the horn with the thick oil until it gets gummy. I think of it as finger exercise and it helps to deeply lubricate and clean the inner parts.
Once it's gummy, use a thinner oil and the valves will fly!
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