Proper maintenance is essential to keeping your woodwind instrument in top playing condition. Each instrument in the woodwind family is unique and in need their own care products, some maintenance is universal. All woodwind instruments need regular cleaning and very careful handling.
With that in mind, East Midlands Music havs put together their list of the top 10 care tips for new woodwind players, plus a bonus tip!
- When assembling your instrument never touch or pick up your instrument by the keys. See your method book for directions on how to carefully put together your instrument or ask your instructor for help.
- Never eat or drink anything while playing except for water. Doing so will lead to scary UFO’s (Unidentified Food Objects) invading your instrument. Some players will also brush their teeth or rinse their mouths immediately before playing as an additional preventative measure.
- After playing, remove moisture from the inside of the instrument. For smaller instruments, use a cleaning rod with a soft moisture swab attached through the slit in the end. For other instruments, you’ll need a swab with a string that you can pull through. Make sure you insert the string at the end or bell of the instrument so that you aren’t pulling a wet swab through areas of your instrument that are dry. Silk and microfiber swabs are preferable to cotton.
- Pad Savers are recommended for wind instruments because they draw moisture away from the pads while the instrument is in its case.
- Never use liquid polish or paste such as Silvo. Polishes can gum up the key mechanism and destroy the keypads. Instead, wipe down the keys and body after playing with a tissue or soft cloth. (For saxophones, we suggest a flannel rag.) Use a cotton bud to clean between the keys. If the instrument appears tarnished, it is best to take use a silver cloth or it to a qualified technician and have it professionally polished and adjusted.
- If the joints fit too tightly clean the tenons and receivers with an anti bacterial wipe to remove any dirt. Apply a small amount of grease both to the cork and inside the receiving joint. If the fit is still too tight take your instrument to a qualified technician. Never force the joints together as you may bend the keys or damage the cork itself.
- For flutes check the position of the head joint cork periodically using your cleaning rod. The notch in the rod should align with the middle of the aperture of the flute lip plate. Also, check for leaks in your head joint by closing the aperture hole with your thumb and sucking the air out of the tenon end.
- For all other instruments, you will need to clean the mouthpiece regularly! Use a mouthpiece cleaning brush or an old toothbrush in warm (not hot) water. If the water is too hot you can warp the plastic mouthpiece.
- Chipped mouthpieces should be replaced with new mouthpieces. Contact us for your requirements.
- Never store cleaning cloths or anything else in the area of the case designed for your instrument. Your instrument is made to fit snuggly into its case. Storing items with the instrument itself can bend the keys. You should instead store cleaning cloths, reeds, mouthpieces, and other accessories into the pockets and other areas of your case designed to hold them.
BONUS TIP: Your last step is to always latch up the case! All instrument cases either have either latches or zippers that need to be fully closed before moving your instrument. It’s important not to forget this step. Otherwise, when you move your case, your instrument might tumble out and hit the ground causing costly damage.
If you should notice a problem with your instrument, bring it in as soon as possible to be checked or serviced. Repairs to wind instruments can take just a few minutes, several hours or sometimes several weeks, so don’t wait until it is too late! We use a NAMIR accredited woodwind repair technician who we can put you in touch with or take your instrument to.