Woodwind Care & Maintenance

WoodwindsMusic Showcase is committed to helping our customers find the greatest potential in their musical investment. For your convenience, we have put together this special care guide for your woodwind instrument. For the best use from your instrument, it is important that you give careful attention to the following recommendations.*

*Music Showcase provides this information without liability. Please consult our repair department if you have questions regarding the maintenance of your instrument.

Flute Care

Flute Diagram

Flute Assembly
  1. Holding the top of the body (not the keys), attach the headjoint to the body. Do not push the headjoint all the way in. Leave about a quarter inch of room.
  2. Line up the embouchure hole with the center of the keys.
  3. Still holding the top of the body, attach the foot to the body with a gentle, twisting motion. Be very careful not to bend or twist the keys.
  4. The tenons work by friction and you should not use lubrication of any kind. If you are having trouble connecting them, use rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth to clean.
  5. The embouchure hole should center with the C key and the D post on the foot and the D tone hole on the body.
Cleaning and maintenance

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Oboe Care

Oboe Diagram

Oboe Assembly
  1. Attach the bell to the bottom joint. If you have a low Bb key, hold it closed while assembling the joints.
  2. Line up the posts so that the bridge keys will close the Bb.
  3. Assemble the upper and lower joints, holding the top of the upper joint and the bottom of the lower joint. Align the main key posts rather than the bridge keys.
  4. To assemble cork joints, gently twist the two parts until they come together.
  5. Hold the upper joint, avoiding any keys, and insert the reed all the way.

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Clarinet Care

Clarinet Diagram

Clarinet Assembly
  1. Attach the bell to the lower joint.
  2. Attach the upper joint to the lower joint. Be careful not to put pressure on any keys.
  3. While holding the top of the upper joint, attach the barrel to it by twisting gently.
  4. Attach the mouthpiece to the barrel.
  5. Attach the reed and ligature to the mouthpiece.
Cleaning the Body and Pads

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Saxophone Care

Saxophone Diagram

Saxophone Assembly
  1. Hold onto the bell and neck when assembling the saxophone. Be careful not to bend any of the keys.
  2. When attaching or adjusting the mouthpiece, hold onto the neck. This will help you avoid bending the neck.
Saxophone Tips

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General Woodwind Care Tips

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More Information

Woodwind instruments should have moisture removed from the bore after every playing. Pulling a swab through the bore of a clarinet removes the moisture that can accumulate and possibly cause cracking. Moisture should also be removed from the exterior of the instrument as well. Wipe the outside of the body using a soft cloth. Also wipe the keys to remove any residue that could result in tarnishing.

There is much debate at this time as to whether a wood body of a clarinet should be oiled. Some experts in the field (including manufacturers) suggest oiling the bore with a fine bore oil to maintain resistance against moisture absorption. Others say the wood will only absorb a slight - amount of oil (on the surface) creating an imbalance between the surface and the wood below. This would create stress resulting in the body cracking. If you do decide to oil, use a minimum on a soft cloth. The cloth should not be dripping wet, just damp. Avoid oil on the pads and corks.

Sticky pads can sometimes be adjusted by dragging a soft cloth between the pad and tonehole surface. Place the cloth between the pad and tonehole, then lightly close the pad against the cloth. Pull the cloth out being careful not to apply too much pressure which could cause the skin of the pad to tear. We generally do not recommend the use of powders which are supposed to dry the moisture on the pad. The powder doesn't work any better than the cloth and usually ends up in the key mechanisms causing the keys to be sluggish. If the cloth doesn't work after several tries, the pad should be replaced.

Key mechanisms need to be checked periodically for loose screws. Grasp the key and gently try to move side to side. If there is play, tighten the pivot screw until the key has a minimal amount of movement. If you tighten too much, the key will lock up. Loosen the screw slightly until the key moves again. Rods need to be tightened for proper seating of the pads. Check for rods that are extending beyond the post and tighten if necessary.

Oiling of the key mechanisms is essential for proper key operation. Any of the fine key oils available from the major manufacturers will work (or sewing machine oil is acceptable). A drop on the end of a needle pin is plenty for each key that contacts a post, either where a rod goes through a key, or where a key is held with a pivot screw. Oil the keys once every year. Too much oil and it will run over the keys, eventually removing the key corks. Not enough and the keys will dry out causing the keys to be sluggish.

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