Cream or Oil? – Let’s Talk About Trombone Slide Lubricants

The trombone hand slide is a delicate part of the instrument, and its mobility is extremely important to playing the instrument. There are so many different oils and creams on the market, but how do you know which one is right for you? Let’s talk a little bit about them.

Tuning Slide Lubricant vs. Playing Slide Lubricant

Your tuning slide and playing slide (hand slide) have two different jobs. We expect the tuning slide to stay in place where we adjust it to, whereas the hand slide should move freely throughout its entirety. Some players use two different lubricants on the different slides. For an example, let’s look at two of the cream products Superslick offers. Superslick’s Tuning Slide Grease would be a good choice for the tuning slide, as it is thicker and would let the slide move, while still being able to hold its place. Superslick’s Trombone Cream would be suitable for the hand slide, allowing it to move without needing force.

Should I Use Oil or Cream? And Which One?

Lubricants We Offer In Store

As with many things in the musical world, like cases, instrument materials/models, or mouthpieces, slide lubrication comes down to personal preference. I know, experimenting with lubricants can seem daunting, with there being so many, but I promise you it will be worth it. We carry 5 different options for hand slide lubrication, and there are so many more. Why do we carry those 5? Because local players and our technicians have experimented and found they like these ones, so we carry them for you to try too! It may take a bit to find what you prefer, but that’s okay. It’s one of the fun adventures you’ll get to take as a musician. In the meantime, ask your instructor, band mates, or technician what they prefer for a starting point.

Some Local Recommendations

George Wiese says…

Ponds Cold Cream. “I tried Trombotine and a Yamaha cream for a while, but it didn’t work as well as the Ponds.” George advise the cold cream and a small spray bottle with water. He says it “Works beautifully! The water spray will reanimate the cream a few times too, so you don’t have to do the whole [application] process every time.”

Jack Sullivan says…

Ponds Cold Cream or Yamaha Slide Lubricant. “I used [Ponds] for a while and found it very effective (it also feels much more natural on the fingers than oil, and smells nicer too!)…Right now I am using Yamaha’s new Trombone Slide Lubricant, which seems to be between oil and cream. It looks like snot, but it works really well. When it’s been on the slide a while it doesn’t dry out like creams do, but it provides more of a smooth sliding experience than oils.”

Nicole LaRoche says…

Hetman’s Slide Oil or Superslick TSI. “I use Hetman’s concentrate and a spray bottle of water on my main/newer horn, I like the ease of application and the way it feels, plus it helps protect my slide from red rot while it’s in there.. But, on my older horn that has intermittent some issues in the slide I use the VSI. The silicone beads up on the slide, acting sort of like a ball bearing, compensating for the imperfections in the old slide… I’m constantly changing up what I use, just to see what products are out there.”

What’s The Deal with Rico Royals?

If you’ve ever stood at our single-reed wall, you’ve most likely notice that some reeds are packaged in blue, rather than orange. These reeds are the Rico Royal reeds, and they’re different for a reason. Let’s dive in!

Single reeds come in two flavors–filed or unfiled. The orange package of reeds are filed, while the royals are not. The difference? Tonal clarity. Filed reeds have bark on their shoulders, which creates more resistance. The Royals go through an extra step in which the bark is cut off the shoulders, allowing for faster vibrations. The Royals are easy to play, designed for students, and have increased clarity in their tone. The reeds come in both clarinet and saxophone, 1.5 through 5. So, if you’re finding the orange reed too hard to vibrate, or if you’re looking for increased clarity in your notes, give the Rico Royals a try next time!

*Royals Come In…

  • Bb Clarinet 1.5-5
  • Eb Clarinet 1.5-5
  • Alto Clarinet 1.5-4
  • Bass Clarinet 1.5-4
  • Soprano Sax 1.5-4
  • Alto Sax 1.5-5
  • Tenor Sax 1.5-5
  • Baritone Sax 1.5-5

*Sizes in stock vary, some sizes/instruments available only through special order. Call for inquiries.

Reed Profile photos sourced from/property of D’Addario & Co. 2019