Doctor Euph (Roger Behrend)
Dear Dr. Euph,
Several years ago I purchased a new euphonium and have been very happy owning my own instrument. Lately, however, my hom seems to be playing with a very stuffy and non-centered sound. 1 have cleaned the hom, assuming that there was something obstructing the airflow, but the euphonium is clean and clear. Do you have any suggestions that might help?
My first suggestion is always to take your instrument apart and clean it. That means remove all the slides, valves, and valve caps, top and bottom. Flush the hom out and use some type of snake to clean all the tubing. Take special care to clean the lead pipe thoroughly. This is where most of your lunches can be found. That grey yummy stuff. Also, make sure you take the time to get all the fourth-valve slides. These are tough and you may need to guide the snake to get all the tubing. You have indicated cleaning has not helped, so let’s look at the corks, guides, felts, and springs. These four areas represent some of the most neglected areas of brsiss instrument maintenance. Start with the water key (spit) valve corks/bumpers. Make sure they seal the slide and fit well. You can test them by removing the slide, stopping up one end, and blowing into the other. If your ears pop or backup, the key is holding and seated correctly. Move on!
Valve alignment is the next place to check. First check your valve felts under the finger cap and valve cap. If wom or compressed, replace them. Wom felts or pads allow the valve ports to set out of vertical alignment. Next, check the valve guides. Wom valve guides can effect vertical and horizontal valve alignment. Additionally, they can accelerate wear on felts and pads. If wom, you may have to contact a repairman to replace them.
Hopefully these steps will help open your instrument’s sound. Routine maintenance is always your first line of defense.
If you have a question relative to playing or teaching the euphonium, the history of the euphonium, or any other topics relative to the euphonium, please contact the good Doctor through his assistant, Roger Behrend at the address you’ll find on page 2 of this issue of the Journal.
Dr, Euph’s Recommendations For Further Reference
Beckwith, Gene and John Huth. “Cleaning Piston Valve Instruments.” The Instrumentalist 42 (July 1988): 26-30.
Elgas, David H. “Are all Valve Oils the Same.” Brass Bulletin 90 (1995): 36-43.
Holloway, David. “Piston Instrument Care.” Brass Bulletin 92 (1995): 44-8.