Tag Archives: spit valves

Are Spit Valves Necessary?

I was thinking about spit valves Thursday night, and the general surprise and slightly amused displeasure of our church choir members at the sight of brass players emptying their instruments.  After playing a choir/brass/organ rehearsal a couple days ago, I noticed the usual puddles of water by the brass players’ chairs.  It got me thinking about why trumpets simply have spit valves and other brass instruments need to remove slides more frequently and empty their instruments that way.  Is there a benefit to either method, and could a trumpet be cleaned/emptied the same way as say, a French horn? Or is there even another way to clean the instrument?

I came across this blog, The Trumpet Gearhead which gives answers to frequently asked questions about trumpets and trumpet playing.  Here is the blog author, Jim Donaldson’s answer on emptying the trumpet without using the spit valves:


Q: How do I empty all the water from my trumpet without using the spit valves?


1. Hold trumpet as normal;

2. Tilt 90 degrees to the left (i.e., counter clockwise) so that the valves are horizontal, with the valve buttons pointing to your left;

3. Angle the bell up a few degrees;

4. Press down 3rd valve and blow (some folks find it best to remove the mouthpiece before blowing);

5. Press down 2nd valve and blow;

6. Press down 1st valve and blow;

7. Rotate 90 degrees counter clockwise so that valve buttons are pointing straight down;

8. Tilt bell downwards and lots of water runs out clearing all parts of the instrument!

This employs the the same technique used by french horn players. It really does work and can be far faster than removing slides or even operating 2 water keys.