Even if you take great care in handling your brass instrument, inevitably accidents will happen. At Fusion, we’ve spoken to musicians and tried to alleviate some of the hazards you might experience while gigging, and handling your instrument.
So here are some of the more common damages ...and how they can be avoided!
#1 Surface Damage
One of the most common types of damage to your brass instrument is surface damage, with bumps and scratches to the silver plating or lacquer, or the oils and moisture in your hands pitting, degrading and dulling the finish over time. To avoid this, it’s important to keep your hands washed before playing or handling, and wipe the instrument clean of fingerprints afterwards with either a silver or brass cleaning cloth.
In addition, always be aware of where the bell of your instrument is, as when you’re gigging and enthusiasm takes over it’s all too easy to clash instruments and bump into music stands and other objects, causing dents. Even when taking your instrument out of the bag or case, it’s good to be aware of where your instrument is, as metal clips, studs and even zip pulls can cause scratches.
For this reason, Fusion bags don’t use metal zips: instead, the zip pulls are rubberised and the zips of our bags are made of an easy running smooth nylon.
#2 Lack Of Maintenance Of Instrument
A badly maintained tuning slide may get stuck, and using brute force to try and pull it out can cause damage, even pulling the slide out of shape, so be sure to keep your tuner slides lubricated and the instrument cleaned regularly to save a trip to your local music shop or instrument repairer.
#3 Lack Of Protection (accidents happen)
Even the most careful musician, while travelling or on stage, could drop or damage their brass instrument. If it’s not in a suitable gig bag or case, then when it’s knocked over or dropped you won’t have the right protection - so always choose a bag that is substantial enough to protect the whole of your instrument.
In particular with a trombone, the slide is the most important part- if bent or twisted, the trombone will become sluggish and difficult to run or play.
So to prevent this, here at Fusion we use a rigid honeycomb board to protect the slide.
#4 Lack Of Secure Storage
In or out of the bag, be very careful to make sure that the instrument is secure enough in place not to be dropped or knocked over, which might crush or bend the bell and body, damaging valves, the bell and pipework. We recommend that you carry and use an instrument stand wherever possible and make sure the space around it is clear, to prevent your instrument being bumped or knocked off chairs and other objects.
If the instrument is dropped, this could cause your mouthpiece to become wedged, which could corkscrew the lead pipe if you forcibly try to pull it out, so again leave this to a local music shop or instrument repairer with a mouthpiece extractor.
So, always check to make sure that the instrument is securely placed, with nothing that might lead to it getting knocked over or crushed. With Fusion Bags, the instrument is protected with 30mm high density foam padding; a crush and impact-resistant EVA moulded base, and a rigid honeycomb slide pouch to keep the slide stored extra-safe.
#5 Spacial Awareness
When it’s outside the bag, transporting the instrument from the dressing room to the stage, there’s always a chance of bumps/dents from door frames and other hazards, so we’ve developed the padded instrument sleeve to protect the instrument when it’s outside, with a grab handle for use while carrying or storing your instrument.
Always Carry Your Mutes and Accessories Outside The Main Instrument Bag
Finally, always carry your mutes and belongings separately to the body of the main brass instrument.
No matter how safe it might seem, with your brass instrument, mutes, books and accessories in the same compartment, there’s always the risk of objects clashing against each other in the bag, and straining the valves, water keys and pipework of the instrument.
That’s why you should always keep mutes and other objects stored separately to your main instrument, and why Fusion bags feature convenient spacious outer pockets (including a pocket for mouthpieces) along with our Fuse-On bags that allow you to carry mutes, music, your stand and accessories away from the main instrument, without fear of damage.
We hope you’ve found this article on common ways to damage your brass instrument informative and some things to keep in mind to avoid them.
Have you had accidents or damages to your instrument? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Have a look at our gig bags and cases for brass instruments, so you can avoid some of the damages listed in this article.