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Clarinets :: Instruments :: Information
Care & Maintenance

Regular maintenance is important, a little time and effort will certainly pay off and should avoid problems which could result in a costly repair bill. However, beware of attempting any repair, however small, yourself. If in doubt, consult a qualified instrument repairer for advice.

♪ When assembling a clarinet be sure you hold it where there are few keys, keeping them closed. The keywork is very delicate and can bent easily if not handled correctly. The link bar which links the two tenons together can also be easily bent while assembling if not done correctly. Joints should ALWAYS be put together and taken apart with a twisting back and forth motion. If this is not done, the fragile tenons may crack. One of the most common faults we see are bent keys, almost invariably caused by rough handling.

♪ After every playing session the inside of the clarinet needs to be dried using a pull-through or pad saver. If this is not done after each time the instrument is played the pads will start to rot and require replacing. If you have a wooden instrument, the moisture may also cause the wood to split which may call for an expensive repair.

♪ Always remove your reed after playing and store it in your reed case. Wash your mouthpiece in warm soapy water at least once a week. Do not use hot water as this can discolour your mouthpiece.

♪ Cork joints need a regular application of cork grease. A new cork joint will require greasing for the first few uses - thereafter at least twice a month or more if the joints seem tight. Don't apply too much in one application - always wipe away the excess with a cloth and avoid getting it over the rest of the instrument, especially on the pads. Bore Oil needs to be applied to wooden clarinets.. Use sparingly and as directed by an experienced teacher or repairer.

♪ If the joints become tight to assemble or take apart, don’t play the instrument until the tenons have been freed by a repairer. Wooden clarinets are sensitive to temperature change, if the weather has been damp or humid for instance you may find the joints will stick together. If this happens put aside and try again in a few hours time. If the joints will not come apart at all, take your clarinet to a qualified repairer and they can free the joints for you.

♪ Use a soft, lint free cloth after playing to reduce the effect of dust on the mechanism and acids and oils from the hands on the plating. On silver plated keys you can use a silver cleaning cloth that is impregnated with both a silver polish and an anti-tarnish agent. Care should be taken to avoid damaging the mechanism and catching the springs.

♪ NEVER put your clarinet in water! Doing so would result in costly repair.

♪ Eating and drinking sweets and sugary drinks should be avoided immediately before playing as particles will be blown into the instrument and will make it smell after a time. Certain foodstuffs will also cause corrosion inside the instrument. Sweet and sugary items tend to make the pads sticky which will then require cleaning or even replacing.

♪ Do not keep music or anything else in the case unless there is a separate compartment specifically for this as there is a risk of bending keywork when the case is being closed

♪ Try to keep your clarinet in an atmosphere of even temperature and humidity and never in direct sunlight or near sources of heat, even when in it’s case.

♪ If you play regularly you can leave your clarinet on a clarinet stand. This will not cause any damge to the instrument. However, make sure it is kept somewhere safe and on a solid surface.

♪ Remember that the adjustment of the key mechanism and changing of pads is a very skilled job and should only be taken on by a qualified repairer. Try to have your instrument looked at by a repairer at least once a year, to ensure that any little problems are sorted out before they get worse.


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