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Keeping in Tune: Ultrasonic Cleaners Maintain Brass Instruments

One of the major challenges that both amateur and professional musicians encounter is maintaining their instruments. Musical instruments can be both delicate and expensive, so regular maintenance and cleaning chores can become arduous but necessary tasks. With brass instruments, such as trumpets, trombones, and tubas, the intricate moving parts can pose a severe challenge for musicians attempting to keep them clear of dirt, dust and other contaminants.

Special Cleaning Needs of Brass Instruments

brass instruments

Brass instruments can vary widely in their technical complexity, from the simplicity of a bugle to the intricate, winding tubes of a French horn. The valves, keys and stoppers all form a sophisticated system intended to bring out clear and harmonious notes. When one of these components becomes clogged with dirt or oil, the instrument loses its ability to sound out notes or to make them as loud and on-key as intended.

Brass Instrument Cleaning Methods

In years past, the effective cleaning of a brass instrument was a difficult task. Some musicians used wire brushes and harsh chemicals to remove lime scale and other deposits that would form around the valves and keys. Others would take their instruments to shops that would immerse them into acid baths. Both of these methods would inevitably remove thin layers of metal from the instrument surface, along with the dirt and other particles, which could cause long-term damage and weaken the instrument's capabilities.

How an Ultrasonic Cleaner Works

An ultrasonic cleaner generates high-frequency sound waves via transducers. A transducer is a component that converts electrical energy into sound waves. When the tank of the ultrasonic cleaner is filled with a detergent solution, these sound waves create millions of tiny bubbles. These bubbles can work their way into the narrow chambers and crevices within the instrument. The bubbles impact with the metal surfaces and implode, releasing enough energy to blast the contaminating particles off the instrument.

Ultrasonic Cleaners Protect Instruments

The ultrasonic cleaner removes particles from the hard-to-reach components of a brass instrument without the need for harsh chemical treatments or abrasive wire brushes. The implosion of the microscopic bubbles (a process known as “cavitation”) strikes the dirt and other particles without harming the delicate surfaces of the instrument. The cavitation action gives the mechanisms a thorough cleaning while reducing any potential damage, prolonging the life of the instrument.

Other Benefits of Ultrasonic Cleaners

Aside from the benefits to the instrument itself, the ultrasonic cleaner has other advantages over traditional cleaning methods. The detergent solutions recommended for use in such cleaners as this industrial ultrasonic cleaner are non-toxic and biodegradable. The ultrasonic cleaning process is also much shorter and less labor-intensive than methods involving hand tools. The process is much safer for workers than the acid-bath method.

Elma Ultrasonic bath X-tra Basic 2500

Features of Ultrasonic Cleaners

Modern ultrasonic cleaners from iultrasonic have multiple features that increase the effectiveness of the cleaning bath. Many units have a Sweep mode which continuously varies the ultrasonic frequency slightly in order to ensure a thorough yet gentle cleaning. Some also have “pulse mode” capabilities that can help remove stubborn stains. The parts baskets designed for these units prevent the instruments from touching the vibrating surfaces within the tank.

For more information on finding an ultrasonic cleaner that meets your needs, contact the experts at iultrasonic at 973-821-3406.


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