French Horn/cleaning the horn


Thank you so much for your expert advice regarding the purchase of a horn. I've read through several of your answers, and have learned a lot.

I didn't notice any questions regarding horn care.

Could you tell me, what is the difference between ultrasonic cleaning, and chemical cleaning? One repair shop recommends chemical cleaning once a year, and another recommends ultrasonic, saying that chemical cleaning can cause future problems with the finish on the horn.

Which do you recommend, and how often? Also, I've noticed on the repair shop web sites that the prices for the same service vary, from reasonable to ridiculous! Is there a reason for that?

Hi, I'm not a great fan of either type of cleaning. The only parts of the horn that benefit from regular cleaning are the mouthpiece and mouthpipe (do it yourself with a pull-through brush), and the valves occasionally need to be taken out and cleaned to remove the build-up of verdigris. On my horn, in constant daily use, I've done this 3 times in 20 years. So not too often, and it will be needed even less often on a less-used instrument.

The main thing for the valves is regular oiling of the insides with Blue Juice, as well as bearing oil on the top and bottom bearings.

These cleaning processes are a bit smoke and mirrors as far as I'm concerned, of course repair shops have a living to make and they will recommend frequent expensive processes. It's pretty impossible to compare how your horn plays afterwards as it's been away for a week or so, and I think there's a degree of placebo effect, you know your horn has been expensively cleaned so you find it plays much better...

As far as repairers go, it's like car repair shops. You try to find one that doesn't charge the earth and doesn't recommend unnecesary work, and then you stick to it. The variation in price and attitude is enormous, as you say.


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Alan Jones


Can answer just about anything on playing the horn, repertoire, buying instruments, repairs, care and maintenance


25 years of professional playing and teaching in the UK


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