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Sluggish pistons are a pain and often times caused by the player using too much valve oil. Oil your pistons less.
Use less valve oil.
When a player brings their valved instrument in to the shop with sticky or sluggish pistons the first thing we always check is how much valve oil is on the instrument. In most (not all) cases the pistons are dripping with oil. Pools of oil are in the bottom caps. Not only does this make a mess, it slows down the performance of your instrument.
Use only two drops of oil per piston.
Different fluids have various viscosities or thicknesses…how sticky it is. Oil is thicker than water and pulls on your piston more than water would. If you use more oil you end up with more pull. This is why using too much oil actually creates the sluggish piston problem.
How to Oil a Piston
Pull your piston out of its casing. Remove your bottom cap. Swab out the casing so it’s dry and free of any debris or lint. Wipe off your piston with a lint free rag. Put one drop of oil at the top of your piston and one at the bottom. Now reinsert your piston giving it a slight twist while you’re putting it in to spread out the oil; make the valve guide set in to position and screw the top cap back into place. Replace the bottom cap.
If you sell valve oil (which I do) then using gobs of oil is great because we sell more of it…but it’s not good for your playing. Simply, use less.