Swabbing Brass Instruments

This simple preventative measure allows your instrument to respond, play and sound better.

In last month’s Advanced Instrument Design and Maintenance blog, I shared some tips on how to keep brass instruments clean, both inside and out. This month, I’d like to talk specifically about swabbing.

For brass instruments to perform well, it’s important to use swabs regularly. While a thorough professional cleaning should typically done once a year, the use of swabs on a frequent basis plays an important role in preventative maintenance.

The reason is simple. The mouthpiece and leadpipe/mouthpipe on brass instruments are naturally the first places where moisture and debris accumulates before moving into the rest of the instrument. Keeping those two areas clean on a consistent basis will delay the need for a thorough cleaning while deterring corrosion in the leadpipe/mouthpipe. Removing the loose collected debris also allows the instrument to respond, play and sound better.

What Is Microfiber?

An image of a Yamaha microfiber instrument swab.
The coated weight on a Yamaha swab.

The best swabs today are made of microfiber cloth. This is a synthetic material that consists of very fine thread woven into a silk-like material. The microfiber structure allows it to be more effective in trapping and retaining debris and moisture but leaves no lint in the cleaning process. Their strength and soft texture is what gives these swabs the ability to be pulled through the complex interiors of mouthpieces or leadpipes without fraying like cotton.

Yamaha microfiber brass instrument swabs use a flexible nylon cord attached to the swab on one end, with a coated weight that helps guide the cord through the interior with ease. The fact that there’s no exposed metal on these swabs also helps protect your equipment against accidental scratches. Swabs are available for both instruments and mouthpieces.

Mouthpiece Swabs

Mouthpiece swabs help to keep a brass mouthpiece throat and backbore clean and free of collected debris. Yamaha offer these in three different sizes for a variety of instruments:

Size

Instrument

Model Number

SmallHorn, cornet, trumpet and flugel

YAC MPSS

MediumTenor and bass trombone

YAC MPSM

LargeTuba

YAC MPSL

Instrument Swabs

Instrument swabs can be directed through just about any area of your instrument to clean out loose debris, including leadpipes or tuning slides. Yamaha offer swabs of various sizes, with the length of the nylon pull cord varying accordingly for each instrument:

Instrument

Model Number

TrumpetYAC BSTPHR
French HornYAC BSHR2
Trombone SlideYAC BSTB2
Baritone / EuphoniumYAC BSTBEP
TubaYAC BSBB
An image of a Yamaha trumpet swab. It is a large flat cloth with a nylon tube attached to it.
Yamaha YAC BSTPHR trumpet swab.

Eventually, any swab will accumulate enough dirt and debris and become dirty from use. Microfiber material is easily cleaned by just soaking it in water and dish soap, then rinsing it out with clean water. Once dry, the swab is ready to be used again.

A clean instrument will always respond better, making it easier to play. It will also produce a more even tone because it is able to produce sound more efficiently. So swab regularly!

Click here for more information about Yamaha brass instrument swabs.

Keep reading

Copyright © 2021 Yamaha Corporation of America and Yamaha Corporation. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility