How to Remove Red Rot From a French Horn

French horns are susceptible to red rot due to their metal alloys.

French horns consist of several alloys, usually a mixture of copper and zinc. Copper is a stronger alloy and resists red rot, but zinc is susceptible to breakdown from acidic elements. This is one reason it is crucial to avoid eating before playing your instrument. Anything you eat can increase the acidity of your breath and create corrosion on your horn. Removing red rot is impossible if it is true red rot from inside the horn. If you are dealing with red rot that occurs only on the surface, it is possible to remove most of it.

Step 1

Assess whether the red rot is on the inside of the French horn tubing. If it is, you will need to take your instrument in to a local repair shop to have it professionally removed.

Step 2

Purchase a brass polish and attempt to polish the spot that appears to be red rot. If it is not true red rot, you will be able to polish the instrument and remove the corrosion.

Step 3

Locate a local music store to speak with a technician about possible methods to remove the red rot, if you were not able to remove it on your own. They will use an acidic-based cleaner to remove the red rot if possible and minimize the progression of the red rot.


If you think you have red rot, understand that this is a progressive issue and may result in holes eventually appearing in your instrument. The best thing to do is try and replace the part that is affected.


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