(Sorry if this is off topic. I couldn't really tell from the FAQ, and there was at least one other, unclosed repair question)

I'm borrowing a Schilke trumpet (serial 55xx) and I'm having some trouble with the valves. When I got it it hadn't been played in years. It started with the middle valve getting interrupted 3/4ths of the way back up. It would hang for a half a second, but only intermittently. Here's what I've done:

  1. I put all the valves in vinegar and then water, and replaced them. No dice.
  2. I brought it into a repair shop, where they cleaned it, said it worked. The valve still stuck.
  3. I brought it back, and they cleaned all of the valves, and lapped the problem valve.

Currently the second valve sticks far less, but the third valve started sticking in the same way. They said to wait a week, because the oils had been removed from the metal, and it would need time for them to work their way back in. It's been several days, and there has been no improvement. It works marginally better immediately after I apply valve oil, but then it gets sticky.

As a pretty inexperienced trumpet player, I'm just not sure what to do. I can't sink infinite money into someone else's trumpet; I'd buy it off of them, but I don't really want to buy a trumpet whose valves don't work right.

How common is it that a trumpets valves are irreparably sticky? I saw on the internet about the Yamalloy problem, which sounds like this problem, but that doesn't seem affect Schilkes of this serial number.

  • Your trumpet being from 1972, it's probably been knocked around over the years. If the valves or the pistons are even slightly bent, the friction would make them 'stick'.
    – Luke_0
    Mar 11, 2012 at 22:18
  • 2
    Schilke valves are typically nickel-plated, instead of the common monel. I would be suspect of your repair person's claim that the oils need to be worked back in. Schilke trumpets are professional-grade; an instrument repair shop that does most of their work with student instruments might not know quite what they should be doing.
    – NReilingh
    Mar 11, 2012 at 23:57
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    If they really cannot make them stick, look closely if you press the valves straight. Try to put your fingertips exactly at the center or the top cap and see if they still stick. If they don't then you'd have to relearn to place your fingers :)
    – Gauthier
    Mar 14, 2012 at 14:24
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    Yeah, the instrument learns the player :) It may not be only the valves, I heard that the instrument can move its vibration nodes if always played in a given way (as in, overblowing all the time for example). I have no other sources that "I heard that" on this one though.
    – Gauthier
    Mar 17, 2012 at 0:06
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    You could also try changing to another oil. It sounds stupid - I used to laugh at my friend who claimed "It's all in the oil". Then I bought an old trumpet that would not work well with the standard 'Al Cass'. After changing to 'La Tromba' the troubles went away. Apr 24, 2012 at 20:28

3 Answers 3


It's likely that the valves are worn and the lubrication you are using is too thin. Just like STP for car motors using thicker oil (like rotor oil) will help the problem. When the piston can no longer drag on the way up it will return smoothly to the proper "up" position. Do not consider this a "fix". The only lasting repair is to have the casing and pistons rebuilt - meaning the casings are hones back to 'round' and the pistons plated to the proper size to fit the newly hones casings. Then you may continue using the thinner valve oil.

  • 1
    Hah! Hah!!! The trumpet was friend's father's college trumpet, and hasn't been played much since then. It came with woodwind bore oil, and I never applied it because I didn't know if it would mess things it. I accidentally applied it a couple of weeks ago and it started working just fine! I think you're completely right!
    – canisrufus
    Apr 6, 2013 at 12:24

If the shop says the valves don't stick, you must take on board the possibility that you aren't pushing them down straight. Lift your hand so that the fingers aren't "crabbed" over the valves.


On the site the Schilke loyalist, they explan a problem that Schilkes from the 1970's have with values. I have one from the 1960's and have no problem. They supposedly solved the problem around 1982 or so. It has to do with the metal they built them with only from 1970 to about 1982 or so. Get an older or newer (after 1982) Schilke, you will likely have no problem. Forget trying to fix the 1972 model.


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