How to Apply Valve Oil on a Valve Trombone

Valve trombones look similar to regular trombones, except instead of a functioning slide, the instrument has a set of valves similar to a trumpet. These three valves have the advantage of making it possible to play chromatically very quickly, but you will lose the ability to smear the pitches between two notes without the slide. This smearing technique, called glissando, can still be accomplished by wiggling the valves, but a true glissando requires the slide. Applying oil to the valves must be done to ensure the valves work smoothly and efficiently.

Step 1

Turn the first valve cap counterclockwise to loosen the trombone valve cap and release it from the valve casing. Do not pull the valve out of the valve casing at this point.

Step 2

Pull the valve out of the casing so that 2 inches of the trombone valve shows above the top of the valve casing.

Step 3

Squeeze the plastic valve oil container along the top of the silver plated valve. Coat the entire exposed portion of the trombone valve with oil.

Step 4

Drop the trombone valve back into the casing and pull up and down while holding the valve stem to disburse the oil evenly.

Step 5

Follow the same procedure for the remaining two valves on the trombone.


You do not need to remove the valve entirely from the valve casing to oil the valves. In fact, this should be avoided unless you are prepared to conduct a thorough cleaning of the valves with a valve brush, soap, and water. There are two types of valve oil, mineral, and synthetic. Synthetic valve oils tend to have a longer life and prevent gumming up the valves.


Handle the valves very carefully, avoid dropping them or hitting them against any objects. Valves are made of a thin, delicate metal and can be damaged easily. The slightest scratch on your valves can cause damage. Avoid using valve oils that have silicone and greases added to the liquid. Stick to one brand of valve oil to prevent the valves from sticking due to minor incompatibilities between brands. Be wary of cheap, synthetic oils as they can cause corrosion.


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