Instrument Repair Services
Care of your Woodwind Instrument
Your woodwind instrument is a precision made item of engineering. If you look after it carefully it will give you many years of trouble-free enjoyment (and avoid you having to seek my services!!) if you follow these simple guidelines.
Always, Always, Always keep the instrument in its case when it is not being played. Most accidents occur when an instrument is left on a chair, under it or propped up behind a door. Don't 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. Never leave your instrument (in or out of its case) exposed to any source of heat i.e. sunlight, radiators, boot of car etc. The adhesive used to hold in the pads will melt in high temperatures and the pads may fall out or worse still may become misaligned rendering the instrument unplayable.
When assembling a woodwind instrument make sure you hold it where there are few or no keys. The keywork is very delicate. Some instruments such as Clarinets and Oboes have 'correspondence' keys which link two parts of the instrument and these can be easily bent while assembling. The same applies to the saxophone octave key. The joints should be neither too loose nor too tight - too loose and the instrument may fall apart whilst playing and cause damage - too tight and there is a risk of your hand slipping over the keywork and doing damage. If you are in any doubt, call me and I can advise.
Cork joints need a regular application of cork grease. Vaseline does not work too well and tends to go hard. 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 - wipe away the excess with a cloth and avoid getting it over the rest of the instrument, especially on the pads.
Eating and drinking (especially sweets and sugary drinks - kids favourites) 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 - have you seen what coke does to a penny? Also these sweet items tend to make the pads sticky which will then require cleaning or even replacing. The pads are extremely delicate - one way to temporarily clean them is to very gently pull a cigarette paper through between pad and hole whilst lightly holding the key down.
After every playing session the inside of the instrument needs to be dried. This is accomplished by using a pull-through (a cloth attached to a small weight by a cord). If this is not done after each session 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. To dry flute heads use a cleaning rod with a strip of cotton cloth inserted into the slot at one end and then wrapped along the length of the rod. Insert carefully into the head and rotate gently being careful not to push on head cork which may send the instrument out of tune.
The keywork mechanisms do require periodic maintenance and lubrication and it is suggested that once a year your instrument should be given a service.
Any small dents in the instrument will not adversely affect the sound but larger dents may affect the tuning of the instrument. I can advise you on this. For lacquered instruments use a soft cloth to wipe away fingerprints and dirt from the body of the instrument. For silver plated ones a silver cloth can be used. Do not use Brasso/Silvo - these are abrasive.
In conclusion, cleanliness is the key to keeping your instrument in good playing order. If you do have problems please don't hesitate to call and I will advise you with the best course of action.All the items marked above in this colour are available from me - see Accessories page