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Woodwind Instrument Care & Maintenance

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Caring For Your Instrument

Taking good care of your instrument is essential to keep it in optimum playing condition.  It will repay your efforts by helping maintain the resale value of the instrument, and by keeping repair costs to a minimum.

Do be wary of attempting any repair, however small, yourself.  It may well prove cheaper in the long run to bring it to us, or another competent workshop.  We see many instruments in our workshops that have been further damaged by well meaning “help” from parents and friends. 

Listed below are some general guidelines for instrument care.

After Each Playing Session

Remove moisture from the instrument after every session - excess moisture on pads is the biggest single cause of seating problems.

On wooden instruments, removing moisture after playing is also essential to preserve the bore of the instrument.  (They also need occasional application of bore oil.  This is a standard part of our service, and is all that some players need.  If you do apply oil yourself, we suggest a very small quantity appllied with an old pullthrough.  Placing cigarette papers under your pad while you apply it will reduce the chances of oil seeping onto your pads.  Too much bore oil can cause its own problems.  It can turn your pads brown, and can age them prematurely.)

Wipe the instrument and keywork down after playing with a soft, lint free cloth.  This helps reduce the effect of dust on the mechanism and helps keep the keywork plating in good order, by cutting down the the acids and oils from the players hands.  However, don't try to clean under the mechanism.  It is easy to damage pads and springs by catching them with your cloth.

Take the instrument apart after playing and keep it in the case.  Never leave it together overnight.  If the joints become tight to assemble or take apart, don’t play the instrument until a repairer has freed the tenons.

If possible, don't store your pull through or cleaning cloth in the case with the instrument.  It is better to keep it separately.

Temperature and Humidity

Try to avoid sudden changes of temperature; for example, don’t blow warm air down the instrument immediately after coming indoors from a cold street.  It is best to leave the case open for a few minutes before starting to blow.

Don’t store the instrument in extreme temperatures, such as near a radiator or in a cold cloakroom.  Don’t leave them in the boot of a car.  As a general guide, instruments will be comfortable where you are!

"Playing In" New Instruments

Ideally, you shouldn’t play a new wooden instrument for too long at a time.  After 30 minutes or so, dry it out thoroughly and leave it apart for another 30 minutes.

If the joints become too tight to assemble or take apart, don’t play the instrument until a repairer has freed the tenons.

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