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How to Polish a Trumpet

Anatomy of a trumpet

Don't get worried if your trumpet gets a scuff or two -- here's how to take care of the problem.

Anatomy of a trumpet

Things You'll Need:

  • Soft Cloth, Like A Cloth Diaper
  • Silver Cleaning Polish (Only If Your Trumpet Is Silver-Plated)

Here's the irony behind the idea of polishing your trumpet--unless it's silver-plated, you don't need to bother!. Your trumpet is coated with clear lacquer, so unless you have a silver-plated trumpet, all you need to do is rub those fingerprints and scuffs off with a cloth diaper, or non-scratching rag. If you do polish your trumpet, you run the risk of scratching off that lacquer finish, and doing a lot more harm than good.

But what if you do have a silver trumpet? The first step is to be careful in the materials that you use. Do not use silver polish. Did you know that silver polish is a lot like sandpaper? Yes--and it's just as abrasive. Using silver polish on your silver-plated trumpet will destroy the silver plating over time. Polish residue will cake in the areas that are difficult to reach, which will make your instrument look damaged. If you get silver polish in your valve casings, you will eventually need a new trumpet. Ouch!

Instead, use a silver cleaning cloth on your silver-plated trumpet. One reliable manufacturer is Selmer. These cloths are coated with a mild agent called "rouge." This polish will make silver-plated trumpets look as good as new--until the next time you pick yours up and put fingerprints on it again. Happy polishing!


  • If you have a Getzen trumpet, never remove the plastic retainer on the third valve slide. Its job is to keep the "fast" third slide from falling out. Do not take it out.
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