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How Do You Clean a Bugle?

Q: How do you clean a bugle that hasn’t been used for several years?
— Michael, Cold Spring Harbor, New York

A: Dunk the bugle in soapy water and lightly scrub the outside with a washcloth.

To clean hard-to-reach places inside, use a flexible cleaning brush, often called a snake brush. (The $28 Yamaha Trumpet Maintenance Kit contains a cloth and a few brushes, including a 3-foot plastic-coated snake brush.)

After you’ve scrubbed the bugle, dunk the instrument again in clean water and dry it thoroughly.

Jeff Weir, corps director of the Naval Academy Drum & Bugle Corps, recommends not scrubbing too hard, as doing so could damage the outer lacquer.

“If the instrument is so old that the finish is completely worn off, the key would be to absolutely ensure the horn is completely dry after washing it,” Weir says.

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4 Comments on How Do You Clean a Bugle?

  1. I have an old bugle that does NOT have a spit valve nor a removable slide. How do I empty out the spit?

  2. I bought a bugle at a garage sale. The slides were *almost* locked shut but I was able to pull them open without the use of tools. The slide surfaces were heavily corroeded. I used Brasso on the sliding surfaces (but not the outer surface) until they were completely clean and then used a silicone-based grease to lubricate them. A silicone-based grease will repel water and help limit corrosion.

  3. If slides or mouthpiece are stuck, go to a brass repair shop. Don’t try it yourself. You don’t want to know the number of bent lead pipes and slides I’ve seen because someone just attached lockjaws to a horn after finding it stuck and trying to avoid a repair bill.

    On reassembly slides require a heavier grease like Vaseline do they remain movable.

    If it’s really old, don’t be afraid to go to the same shop and have them degrease it or even relaquer it after its working. Unless it’s nickle plated.

  4. Scoutmaster Ed // October 28, 2019 at 9:34 pm // Reply

    You certainly asked the right expert on Bugle cleaning.I do not see the application of a “BLITZ CLOTH” or that wonderful metal polish I think Uncle Sam bought by the “Tank Car Load” BRASSO. Now how do you deal with a bugle that has been around since Chester Nimitz was a PLEBE and Lt Zimmerman was Bandmaster at “The Academy”.

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