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Recorders :: Instruments :: Information

Care & Maintenance

Plastic Recorders
These require very little maintenance just an occasional rinse under the tap (make sure its not too hot) to remove any bits of dinner left behind! Mollenhauer recorders made of plastic can be even be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Wooden Recorders

A new wooden recorder must be played in as it needs some time to get used to the humidity and warmth created from playing. For you as a player, this is an important period too, because you can explore the special character and possibilities of your new recorder.

♪ During the first three to four weeks, you should play your recorder every day for no longer than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Don’t over-do things at this time, concentrate on playing calm phrases without forcing the high register.

♪ Warm up the instrument, especially in winter season: for example under your arm or in the trouser pocket. This is to prevent the formation of condensation which causes the hoarseness and problems with the attack

♪ Older recorders that have not been played for a long time have to be played in again. Recorders with a plastic head and wooden body can be played immediately without any restriction.

♪ After playing dry the parts of the recorder carefully using a swab. Do not forget to blow the condensation water out of the windway. Let your recorder air dry. You should not leave the instrument stuck together because it is possible that warping or cracks can emerge at the tenon. Recorders that cannot dry sufficiently tend to mold!

♪ Protect your recorder from sudden variations in temperature as this can lead to stress cracks. Avoid impact of heat, for example, in your car or by the window because the paraffin wax that the recorders are coated with can melt.

♪ After playing dry the parts of the recorder carefully using a swab. Do not forget to blow the condensation water out of the windway. Let your recorder air dry. Recorders that cannot dry sufficiently tend to mold!

♪ Always store the instrument in pieces to avoid cracks in the joints. You should not leave the instrument stuck together because it is possible that warping or cracks can emerge at the tenon.

♪ Once in a while you should clean your recorder: just wipe it with a dampish cloth, possibly adding a drop of washing-up liquid. Especially in the area of the beak you can often see hints of usage that can be removed easily this way. The windway can be wiped out carefully with a feather.

♪ The tenons of your wood recorder need maintenance to stay flexible and smooth. Therefore you should apply the cork sparingly to the tenons. Please remove spare grease so it cannot clog the finger holes.

♪ Water Clogging is the result of condensed water or little drops in the windway. Before commencing playing, the head-joint should be warmed by holding it in your hand for a few minutes. You can also purchase Mollenhauer’s Anti Condens (a mixture of biological detergent and water) that improves the flow of the water out of the windway. Drip some drops of Anti Condens in the windway and blow them out after a while by cupping your hands over the head joint and blowing through the window.


Oiling the Recorder

A recorder needs oil to protect the wood from which it is made. In particular, a recorder must be protected from the negative influence of moisture. For this we use two different types of oil.

Recorders with keys need Mineral oil (for example sewing machine oil or key oil) is only for instruments with key-work. This oil never hardens and serves to keep the key mechanism flexible. If you turn the parts of your recorder to put it together or apart, take hold of it above or below the keys to avoid bending the key mechanics. If a key runs rough and clatters it possibly needs a drop of oil you should pour into the hinge.

Vegetable oil (almond, linseed, olive, etc.) due to its chemical composition, cures and hardens as it dries. This special feature can be used to protect the wood perfectly – hardened oil fills the pores of the surface of the wood. Linseed oil is a fast hardening oil but the smell is not to everybody’s taste. Sweet almond oil can be used as an alternative. In general, every part of the recorder should be oiled except the inner surfaces formed by the block and the windway.

Start oiling like this: Put some oil on an old cleaning mop. Get your instrument and hold it with the window facing upwards. Insert the oily mop from the head-joint tenon into the recorder’s bore and stop moving it close before the block by turning carefully. It is recommended to practise this procedure with a dry mop and optionally mark the deepest position with a sign on the handle. Then lightly oil the instrument’s external surface. The lip should be oiled carefully with a small paint-brush brush or a pipe-cleaner. Place the instrument on a plate for several hours. Finally, wipe off any oil remaining on the internal and external surfaces of the instrument.  

Please Note that linseed oil can self-ignite, especially on mops or rags. Never leave a cleaning mop or an oily rag alone. Although linseed oil seldom ignites under such circumstances it is unpredictable therefore requires special attention. Put used oily cleaning mops and patches in water. Therefore putting out a fire before it can ignite. This is safer by far.


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