Removing a Stuck Mouthpiece From a Tuba (or Other Brass Instrument)





Introduction: Removing a Stuck Mouthpiece From a Tuba (or Other Brass Instrument)

It happens to all brass players eventually, a stuck mouthpiece. No matter how hard you seem pull it stays lodged firmly in your instrument. The hardest part is getting it out WITHOUT damaging the rest of your instrument because tubas, trombones, trumpets, and whatever else you may play cost a lot of money and are quite delicate. IF YOU THINK YOU WILL ACCIDENTALLY DAMAGE YOUR INSTRUMENT, TAKE IT TO A REPAIR SHOP, and let someone who knows what their doing take care of it. Apparently there is an actual tool for pulling mouthpieces, but my band director didn't have one the right size for a tuba mouthpiece.

The scientific theory behind this strategy is simple: heat the lead pipe causing the metal to expand, while cooling the mouthpiece causing the metal to contract and come loose.

Step 1: What You Need...

- Tuba, trumpet, trombone, etc. with a stuck mouthpiece
- ice (preferably in something like a ziplock bag)
- cloth to cover the ice from the heat
- a heat source (I would suggest a hairdryer, but NOT an open flame)

Step 2: Ice the Mouthpiece

Start by putting the ice into a plastic bag. Surround the mouthpiece in ice, leaving the lead pipe of the tuba exposed. Cover with a cloth to prevent the ice melting too fast when heat is added. Let stand for a minute or two to allow the mouthpiece to get thoroughly cold. At this point you can check and see if cold was enough to loosen it, if not proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Add Heat

Make sure the ice is covered so it won't melt too fast. 

If you are using a hairdryer, turn it to medium/high heat. Center it over the lead pipe, warming between the base of the mouthpiece and a few inches down the lead pipe. Don't heat the base of the mouthpiece itself because this defeats the point of having cold and hot. Continue for about a minute.

Step 4: Pulling

Turn off the hairdryer and remove the ice. Carefully holding the instrument steady, firmly grasp the mouthpiece. twist and pull straight out. Be careful not to pull/twist so hard as to bend the lead pipe. If your lucky, it with come out easily, if not repeat the previous step. If it still doesn't work, you probably need to take it to a repair shop.

Good Luck!



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    I play the euphonium and I am sure to need this someday, but my only concern is if the sudden heat will damage the brass. (I am very picky on how my instrument looks as well as sounds)

    1 reply

    it will be fine hairdryers don't get hotter than 120-230 degrees F, not hot enough to hurt the brass or its coating.

    Would this also work on the tuning slides for a tuba, almost all of the instruments in my school's band are stuck and this would be a HUGE help if it worked with that.

    1 reply

    11 months late... if you still have the tuba's with stuck slides this method will work. Alternatives such as using wd-40, and gently tapping on the slide with something like a rawhide mallet have proven effective, maybe even in conjunction with this. I would apply wd-40 every day and let it seep in between the stuck slides, if they are just purely stuck. To make sure you are not pulling too hard, insert a rag in between the slide crook and give it a few solid but not too strong tugs. Any combination of all these methods will likely do the trick. It is important to check for any dents on the slides!! If you find any, it must go to a repair shop to be taken care of, otherwise a) the slide will not come out b) you will likely damage the instrument by using force. Once the stuck slides are removed, you should clean out the slide and the circuit in which the slide rests, because if you don't, it WILL get stuck upon re-inserting it (ask me how I know this). Good luck!

    Also, I don't think that the heat from a hair-dryer would be enough to damage your instrument. An open flame, possible. But probably not a hair dryer. Where I live, it gets hotter than a hair-dryer can get and the instruments are fine.

    With sousaphones, application of blunt force to the part of the bit where the mouthpiece shank is located is the most reliable way to remove the mouthpiece, other than using a mouthpiece removal tool, which doesn't work when you have bits stuck in other bits.