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How to Lubricate Your French Horn Slides

Close up of French horn on a piano with an open tub of slide grease in front of it


French horns have tuning slides and valve slides that will need frequent lubrication to them moving. You will need a relatively thick grease, so that the slides don’t move without you pulling them out. Some good options are pictured below.

Three slide greases side by side - (L to R) Superslick tuning slide grease, Hetman number 7 slide gel, Bach tuning slide grease

Do not use any general household products, as these are not suited to the materials of your instrument. It’s not ideal to use petroleum jelly either, as this will become hard over time.

The Process

Image of French horn on its side on a table. The first valve is depressed and the corresponding slide is being pulled out with other hand.

1. Whilst pressing valve number one, remove the corresponding valve slide and remove the old grease with some paper towel or a cloth. Avoid using tissues, as parts may break off and end up inside your instrument.

The slide that was behind the valve slide is being pulled out and the grease is being removed from it with a paper towel.

2. Pull out the slide behind it and remove the old grease.

A finger dips into some glide grease and applies it to the slide that was removed.

3. Apply a small amount of grease on the ends of each tube.

4. Insert each slide inside the outer slide, moving it in and out a few times to spread the lubricant. You really don’t need to use much.

Excess lubricant is being wiped off the instrument with paper towel.

5. Once you have done this, wipe off any excess lubricant with some paper towel.

4 images in a grid layout. Other valve slides are being removed while depressing the corresponding slide.

6. Repeat these steps with the other valve slides and tuning slides.

It’s best to do each slide one at a time so that you don’t get any of the parts mixed up.

Read our blog on oiling rotary valves to get all of the parts of your horn moving smoothly.

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