Substitutes for Trombone Slide Oil

Trombone slides need lubrication to perform at a high level.

Trombone slide oil, while one of the most common lubricants used on a trombone does not constitute the only type of lubricant available. There are several ways to lubricate a trombone slide. Picking the type of lubricant that works best for you requires carefully cleaning the slide and applying new lubricants to test them out in a practice session. Take your time and find what works best for your needs. Some trombonists like more friction in the slide and some like less. To achieve varying degrees of stiffness, experiment with the amount of lube used.


Before trying a new type of oil, you must remove the old cream, oil or grease from the slide. Otherwise, the combination of more than one lubricant will react and make the slide stick. To clean the trombone slide place the slide in a bathtub and rinse the slide with water by shaking it through the slide, at least, three times. Rinse off the outside of the slide and then dry the slide with a clean cloth.


The concept of using water on a slide must be addressed to prevent mistakes amongst young trombonists. Trombone players often keep a spray bottle of water with them to spray down the slide when it becomes dry. However, this does not mean that the trombonist only uses water to lubricate the slide. If you use oil on the slide, water should be avoided. However, when using a cream or a hybrid lubricant, water will help maintain the moisture and prevent the lubricant from drying out. To an extent, the lubricant comes off a little every time you use the spray bottle. Water should not be the only source of lubricant.


Creams provide an excellent alternative to oil based lubricants. To apply the cream, you simply put a small dab on your fingers and then wipe it around the bottom of the slide. Then place the slide into the casing one side at a time and turn the slide left and right while pulling up and down on the slide to evenly distribute the lubricant. Be careful to avoid putting too much on the slide, applying too much cream will reduce the motion of the slide. Three brands of cream used are Superslick, Formula Three, and Trombotine.

Dual Lubricants

There are new slide lubricants available that combine two separate lubricants. The actual ingredients used differ between brands, but these new lubricants have two bottles that must be used in conjunction with each other. To apply the lubricant, there will be a small and a larger bottle that must be used. Take the small bottle and apply it to the slide and then distribute it inside the slide casing. Once distributed, shake the larger bottle and apply three strips along the outside of the slide. Then distribute the mixture by replacing the slide casing and running the slide up and down.


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