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Cleaning My Musical Instruments, Trombones, Keys, and Harps 

October 19, 2022

Cleaning my musical instruments is something I’m good at. I have three trombones, a KORG keyboard, and dozens of harmonicas. All of which get surprisingly grimy in a short time. I sometimes think they’re all dust magnets.

My trombones are very different. My primary performance trombone is a brass King. I like to keep it bright and shiny for the next gig. I even keep a micro cloth in the case. My second trombone is a blue Pbone. It’s a plastic trombone. Surprisingly, it plays quite well. I’d recommend it for beginners. My third trombone is my first trombone or my oldest. It’s a 1961 Conn Marching Band trombone my parents bought new in 1961! It was my only trombone for many years, and went with me to every gig. In the early ’80s, I painted it bright red and named it Leon. Leon Redbone. I use BKF products to clean and shine all three, but I use different products.

Cleaning My Musical Instruments

The King Brass Trombone 

Here’s how I keep my King sitting shiny on its throne.

Cleaning a King Trombone or any Brass Instrument 

Here’s all you need

  • Powdered Cleanser for deep cleaning or Soft Liquid Cleanser for a quick shine
  • Soft sponge or cloth, no abrasives
  • A small container of water
  • A polishing cloth. I like my microfiber cloth

8 steps to cleaning your brass instrument 

  1. Wet the brass using a damp cloth or sponge
  2. Apply BKF Powdered Cleanser or Soft Liquid Cleanser to the sponge
  3. Apply to the brass instrument
  4. Let it sit for one minute
  5. Clean the surface using a soft sponge
  6. Rinse
  7. Use a soft dry towel to dry and polish
  8. Repeat as needed

Pro Tip: Gently use a soft-bristled toothbrush to reach hard-to-access areas.

Cleaning a Plastic Instrument

My Pbone is plastic, and so are the keys and face of my KORG M50 Music Workstation. It’s a programable keyboard synthesizer. I like BKF MORE Spray + Foam. It’s quick and easy to use and gets the job done. MORE Spray + Foam has been used by thousands of our fans on plastic pieces. However, always test the product on a small out-of-sight spot before applying it to plastic. Not all plastic is the same and may not tolerate cleaning.

  • Dampen the area to be cleaned with a wet non-abrasive sponge
  • Set the Spray + Foam to foam and coat the instrument or keys. (The foam setting clings to verticals)
  • Let it sit for one minute. Not longer
  • Clean by wiping the Foam in a circular motion with a soft sponge
  • Wipe it off using a soft, damp cloth
  • Allow it to dry, and then polish it with a microfiber cloth  

Cleaning Leon Redbone

My Conn Marching band trombone is not only more than 60 years old, but I also painted it in 1982, so the red paint is 40 years old. The bottom line is I’m very gentle with Leon. I use BKF Soft Liquid Cleanser, a soft sponge, and a microfiber cloth, and I hardly rub at all but softly wipe the surface. The Conn isn’t out much, so it doesn’t get real dirty, but it does gather dust.  

Cleaning a Harmonica 

Like I said, I have dozens of harmonicas, and although there are plastic harmonicas, silver, and steel. I play the old stand-by Horner Marine Band Blues Harmonica. Horner has manufactured this gem since 1896. It’s considered the original blues harp and has been played by outstanding blues artists for more than a century.

If you’ve ever seen a Marine Band Blues Harp, it’s silver in color. The mouthpiece and faces are bright silver (when they’re clean!). However, what you might not know is that they’re made of brass. So, I clean my harps like my brass trombone, most often with a microfiber cloth and Soft Liquid Cleanser.

Cleaning My Musical Instruments and Yours! 

Do you have musical instruments in your home? If so, let us know and if you’d like to learn more about cleaning your instrument with BKF products. Now, go practice your scales.

About the Author

Randy Clark is a speaker, coach, and author. He publishes a weekly blog at Randy Clark Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He’s a beer geek, and on weekends (after COVID-19), he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under the Radar. He’s the proud father of two educators; he has four amazing grandchildren and a wife who dedicates her time to helping others. Randy is the author of the Amazon bestseller The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management.


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