Freezing slides and valves when carol playing


It was cold up here in the North West yesterday. All our valves were seizing up and trombone slides and triggers stuck solid playing carols in the evening.

Is anyone else finding carol playing interesting during this cold spell?

Thirteen Ball

Active Member
It is usually a bit of a chore when it's this cold.

I suppose the problem with valves is not just to do with the water that lubricates them approaching freezing point. I seem to recall mine becomeing VERY stiff on a gig on Haworth main street where the temperature never got above -6 all day, and I can only put it down to the valve sleeves and pistons contracting at different rates in the cold....
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Bass Trumpet

Active Member
I remember my trombone slide freezing. It got very slow and gritty and I had a little icicle on the end where the water key didn't fit properly.
we played a couple of weeks ago at local supermarket, around -10 degrees. slides on basses and trombones were constantly sticking. Ended up doing relays into shop to warm them up enough to play another carol then run back in!!!!
Thank god the pub had a nice hot open fire!!!!!! ;)


Staff member
'When I were a lad me valves used to freeze up all t'time. In fact it were so cold in them days me valves used to freeze up in t'summer jobs an all...' :p

Leicester is built at the bottom of a valley so we're slightly more sheltered from the elements than you hardy types up North, but I do remember when I was at Wigston they used to go around the streets at a lovely little village called Shearsby - which is at the top of the valley. This particular night everyone's valves were seizing up - in fact I seem to remember one bass player giving up completely because his instrument was completely unplayable (more so than most basses are normally...). It only took about an hour to get around the whole village, but it was a blimmin' cold bunch of players who completed the gig with a welcome pint in the pub.

I'm soft these days - we tend to do most of my carol playing in supermarkets.


Active Member
I went busking in Cardiff with a few friends a couple of weeks back, and the Euphoniums and horn seized up completely - I took one of the valves out of a Euph (after breathing on the block to try and unseize it) and there were ice crystals all over the holes in the valve...


Supporting Member
How long before one of our Aussie friends jumps in to tell us of the day his cornet melted in the heat?


Just checked the Met Office site for tomorrow - we're playing at a local Tesco (outside the store!) and the forecast is -12. Never mind the bass valves freezing up - it's my lips I'm worried about, trying to play the thing (and no, I've not yet acquired a plastic mouthpiece).


Active Member
Has anyone tried using concentrated windscreen wash? Just curious, I might need it later this week....


Active Member
I always used to wrap a towel round the valve block on the BBb.
Valve oil tends not to freeze although the valves do tend to stiffen a little.
Smaller instruments are much easier to keep warm if you keep playing


Active Member
Has anyone tried using concentrated windscreen wash? Just curious, I might need it later this week....
The detergent in screenwash breaks down the valve oil and reduces the lubricating properties (it can also take the paint off your car roof, over time, if too concentrated)


Well-Known Member
Nothing to do with carol-playing, but I recall doing a carnival parade in Germany some time ago; think it was February-ish, and it had been snowing. Clear blue skies, bright sunshine, and about -18C; it was interesting. Particularly, there was this tradition that if you met another band coming the other way (carnival procession routes in Germany are less rigid than over here) you were supposed to serenade each other with a chorus of "Ein Prosit" (German drinking song) ...

Well, if you've never heard two bands trying to play "Ein Prosit", simultaneously, in two different keys, but with most instruments restricted to open notes (or notes limited to whatever valve combination happened to be down when the instrument froze), well, you've never lived ...


Active Member
I can only recall having stuck valves due to cold once before but Sunday night playing in Baslow was a first - all 4 basses suffered at various times with up to 4 valves frozen. Fortunately we were playing outside the kitchen of a restaurant and one of those industrial blow lamps for creme brulee came in very hand.

We did get some questions from the audience why the basses were taking it in turns to nip into the kitchen. Now does any one know a good instrument repairer?:rolleyes:


Not long back home from the outside-Tesco job - for the first time that anyone there from the Band can recall, we had to finish early as instruments - not just basses - were freezing on such a regular basis. We're back there tomorrow, when the management have assured us that we'll be allocated a space in the foyer, so even if only half a band can play at once and it'll still be draughty, at least frostbite should be kept at bay.