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.