22 Feb Clarinet and Saxophone Care, Maintenance and Repair
I get a lot of questions about Clarinet and Saxophone Care, Maintenance and Repair. There are a lot of contradictory theories and answers out there. What follows is my opinion. Take this with a grain of salt. Figure out what works best for you….
Let’s start with Clarinet/Saxophone Care……With the clarinet, after playing, you should always swab out your instrument. I also swab out every half hour of playing and after all playing sessions I wipe out the joints. I prefer cotton swabs, and clip the edges a little to avoid getting them stuck. I do not like silk swabs, I find they just push the moisture around and don’t really absorb. Do not expose wood clarinets to extreme hot or cold. I like to leave a reed on my mouthpiece to protect the facing, but be sure to dry the mouthpiece as well. Moisture leads to mold; mold in an instrument case is no good. I like to leave cases open at home to circulate air from time to time, and it’s a good idea to Lysol the inside of your case a few times a year and leave it to dry in direct sunlight. I do prefer to swab out a saxophone, and the neck can be swabbed with a neck swab of some sort, like a small clipped clarinet swab. I like the pad saver to put inside the saxophone, but I will also go without it at times. One more thought, remember to wash in the washing machine your clarinet swabs. Every couple of weeks is probably a good idea. Swabs will get moldy and funky, and it’s probably best to replace them once a year as well.
A good trick for cleaning mouthpieces of both instruments…….immerse them in white vinegar for twenty minutes. Scrub the organic material off the outside and inside of the chamber with an old toothbrush, and rinse with luke warm water. Good mouthpiece maintenance is a very healthy idea!!
Clarinet and Saxophone Maintenance
Master clarinet and saxophone technician Mike Manning likes the woodwind clamps for saxophone to keep the keys in place when stored in your case. I’ve been using them, they are a bit more work, but this seems to be a great idea. I also use a clamp for the low E on the clarinet that keeps that key down when I put it away. Mike’s custom cases also feature very tight construction that keeps the horns from rattling around during transport, which he feels keep the instruments in adjustment longer.
Additionally I use a small amount of an almond oil/olive oil mix on the outside of my clarinets a few times a year which seems to hydrate the wood and makes the wood shiny and appealing looking. I just dab it on an old swab and rub it in. I like how it brings out the shine on the wood.
Clarinet and Saxophone Repair
Regarding repairs……..there are plenty of repair people out there, and my first rule of thumb is, you probably get what you pay for. That does NOT mean you should use the most expensive person you can find. It does mean that less expensive repair bills probably mean shoddy workmanship and cut rate materials. Always ask how long work is warrantied for, and obtain an estimate. If you have a great teacher, see my blog post #2, have them look at the work, and always follow their suggestions and recommendations.
The next blog post will address Reed Care And Maintenance, And Mouthpieces/Ligatures
Thanks for your interest……Markos