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Clarinets Wooden clarinet care

Colin the Bear

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After years of playing various synthetic clarinets I recently acquired my first wooden clarinet. I'm impressed and would like to keep it in tip top condition.

I've heard talk of the wood splitting and people talking about oiling. I'm familiar with maintaining the mechanism but what do I need to be doing to keeping the wood in good condition?
 

Sue

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I took my wooden clarinet to Paul Carrington(local tech who has a good rep on here) who said the best way to look after them is make sure they are dried thoroughly after each use. Also not to leave out if you have central heating (or other heating) changing the room temperature. I asked him about oiling and he said not too often and very very lightly with almond oil.
 

Ads

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You can buy clarinet bore oil off E-Bay for about £3 a bottle (Yamaha and others do it) , just damp a rag with it and pull the thing through a few times, enough to get the bore covered . every six months or so is what I was told but as Sue says, make sure the horn is pulled through dry after each session and make sure the tenons are dry too as water collects in there
 

jbtsax

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There seems to be quite a bit of disagreement about oiling clarinets among repair techs, especially where "oil immersion" treatment is concerned. Techs in the U.S. speak highly of Naylor's Organic Bore Oil.

I have had good success with Dr.'s Products Bore Doctor with my clarinet.

This is what Morrie Backun has to say on the topic.
 
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kernewegor

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Yes, I have heard different ideas on "oil or not to oil".

I've had mine since I was fifteen. It was secondhand and a good price for a good instrument.

I oiled it twice in the first year with raw linseed oil (which was the advice I was given - "too thick!" most say...) and never since. It never had even a hint of a crack or split.

I have had an awful lot to do with timber over the years - I spent most of my life as a boatbuilder and marine surveyor, fitting other stuff - like writing, music, languages, philosophy, politics and one or two other things - in as well, here and there.

The single biggest cause of timber cracking and splitting - 'shaking' in the trade - is allowing it to dry out too much or too quickly. The way the grain runs makes a big difference, too.

I would oil a new clarinet every six months until I got bored or forgot to do it (which is what I did all those years ago...)

I'd probably use linseed oil because I have used it in lots of applications over the years - it was traditionally used for oiling masts and spars on sailing boats, sometimes as a finish or sometimes before varnishing. I might use olive oil, or sunflower oil - I always have them for cooking, anyway... not mineral oil, though.

Knowing wood, any of those would be fine. As you aren't going to slather it on and get it on anything except the woodwork - are you? - then it won't clagg anything else up. And none of them will harm wood. And they will all give the clarinet an extra bit of help not to dry out and crack.

It would do no harm at all to do the same with a secondhand clarinet.

Whatever you do never let it dry out too much or too quickly. If you have central heating keep it away from radiators. If you are mean like me you have at least one unheated or partly heated room. Don't leave it in the conservatory, sun lounge or whatever or lying around in direct hot sunlight for hours on end. In a car boot is better than on a seat in hot sun.

Dry the bore with a clarinet brush after playing. Storing it in its case slows down moisture loss. If your pads go mouldy you are overdoing it!

In a temperate climate with moderate or high humidity the risk is negligible unless you are pretty careless.

And they play clarinets in pretty warm parts of the world, too...
 
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kevgermany

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Another known killer is a rapid big temperature change. Always allow to come to temperature in the case. And I'd never leave a wooden instrument in the car in the sun, even in the boot. Glue melts, wood warps and splits. Strings are more sensitive than woodwinds due to the tension, but...

edit - I've also read a lot of posts from the US, where they have big issues with cracking due to drying out in the drier areas. Shouldn't be such a problem in the UK.
 
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old git

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Dry it out carefully after use.

Want to borrow a blow lamp?>:)>:)>:).
 

jbtsax

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One should avoid using "vegetable oils" which turn rancid over time. Petroleum oils were commonly used years ago, but have largely been discarded in favor of natural oils.
 

baritonesax

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Another vote for almond oil here, just once a year. Linseed is good too, but can leave quite a smell for a while. Leaving a wooden clarinet unplayed for long periods isn't good for them... so it's a good idea to give the thing a toot every month or so if you can.
 

Colin the Bear

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Every month? I've only put it down for a clean and service. I may wear out the new pads. It's a lovely thing.
 

baritonesax

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Every month? I've only put it down for a clean and service. I may wear out the new pads. It's a lovely thing.

You've got few worries then - if the instrument is played regularly, and looked after well then oiling isn't such a big deal. Some clarinettists think that if you bother to oil the bore at all, then it should be in the Autumn to protect it as much as possible from the dry air caused by central heating.

I became much more interested in this whole subject about 3 years ago when a vintage full Boehm R13 I had split.

You never said what clarinet it is, did you?

Bill
 

Ads

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Can't beat that ! , even the plastic cortons tend to go for 3X that amount ... the wood ones even at normal price are far better value than the wooden Boosey regents with fragile pot metal keys and the various plastic versions . I loved the later proper metal keyed Besson/Boosey Edgeware but you`d never get one of those for a tenner (£100 is closer)
 

Colin the Bear

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I suppose a plastic clarinet is a safer bet. A wooden, spares or repairs, stored in a garage for 20 years, no returns item was a bit of a gamble. I was lucky and it seems to have paid off. A bit of cleaning and oiling and replacing of a few top end pads and it's a go.
 

RedBottom

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I too have a 1970s wooden Corton that I bought secondhand for £90 in 1994. It's never given me a ha'porth of trouble other than the time (in the early days) I dropped it and bent a couple of keys. All I ever do is pull through the individual sections when I put it away.

I was once on a summer school with the ex-MD of Rossetti, the UK distributors of Corton. He had a good look at the instrument and declared it a good example of one the best student clarinets ever manufactured. Certainly my teacher always said that if I wanted anything noticeably better then I'd be looking at paying well over £1000.
 
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