French Horn/sticking valves


I have a double French Horn and the values (keys) are stuck, like frozen.  How, and with what, should I lubricate them? I have been using trumpet valve oil and am not sure where to apply it.

OK, first question is, how stuck? If you can free them by twisting the arm attached to the spindle that comes out of the bottom of the valve, then you will be ok after some oil. It's better to try to turn them this way than just pressing the levers, you'll just bend or break something in the lever mechanism that way. If they're really stuck it's safe to use some sort of tool to twist them as long as you're careful.

Assuming you can turn them, you need to oil the top bearings (under the valve caps) and the bottom bearings (put a drop of oil carefully into the crack between the moving bit and the non-moving bit on the underneath. Ideally the oil for these would be a bit thicker than trumpet oil, but that will do...

Then take out all the slides, hold the horn with the open tubes vertically and drop a few drops into each valve via the slide tubes. Trumpet oil is exactly what you need for this job. Once that's all done, keep moving the valves until they rotate more freely.

If they can't be shifted, you (or someone else who knows what to do) have to take the valves out. I can give you instructions but it's not for the faint-hearted or the clumsy...

Hope this helps


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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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