How to Free a Stuck Tuba Mouthpiece

A stuck tuba mouthpiece can be distressful, especially when it occurs before or after a performance. Finding ways to quickly remove the tuba mouthpiece is essential if you need to get the instrument in the case quickly and travel to a performance destination. Using ordinary household objects, you can remove a tuba mouthpiece, but be wary of doing anything that would damage the mouthpiece or the horn. There are special tools which you can purchase for extremely stubborn mouthpieces. However, in most cases, you can remove a mouthpiece without resorting to professional tools.

Dish Liquid 

Step 1 Hold the tuba upright as if you were going to play. Tilt it forward slightly. 

Step 2 Pour one-quarter cup of dishwashing liquid into the mouthpiece. Pull the tuba back to an upright position once the liquid has entered the tubing.

Step 3 Place a cloth on the end of the mouthpiece and turn the tuba in a circular motion with the mouthpiece pointing towards the floor at about a 45-degree angle. This will evenly distribute the liquid inside the lead pipe and around the mouthpiece. Since a mouthpiece curves inwards, the soap will seep between the mouthpiece and the lead pipe creating lubrication necessary to remove the mouthpiece.

Step 4 Twist the mouthpiece to the right or left and simultaneously pull the mouthpiece out of the tuba. It should come loose at this point. Rinse the lead pipe using your regular cleaning routine.

Mouthpiece Puller 

Step 1 Lay the tuba down on its front. Be careful to avoid damaging any of the valves.

Step 2 Set the mouthpiece puller on top of the lip of the lead pipe with the other end attached to the rim of the tuba mouthpiece. The tuba mouthpiece will pop out from the pressure of the tool.

Purchase a soft tuba case, so if you have to leave for a performance, you can still protect the tuba even if the mouthpiece hasn't been removed. Then, you can remove the mouthpiece later, at your leisure. You can clean a tuba in the bathtub using one-half cup of dishwashing detergent. The slides may be cleaned with a tuba snake and the valves brushed with a valve brush. Rinse and dry the tuba thoroughly and then oil and grease the slides.

To avoid rust, remove the valves and slides before attempting to clean your tuba. If you feel uncomfortable applying these methods, or if the mouthpiece remains stuck after repeated efforts, take the tuba to a professional repair shop. Most shops only charge a few dollars to remove a mouthpiece and will know how to repair your instrument safely.


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