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 Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: Elkwoman46 
Date:   2011-10-21 04:50

Hi, could someone point me to a mini refresher course "link" here or elsewhere on caring for a wooden clarinet?
I had read something long ago, but I think I have kind of forgotten some of the hints/basics in order to keep the wood in great shape and at all costs avoid the cracking of them (care and temperature).
I also don't mind, the easy basics or the OCD basics either. LOL
Thanks so much in advance.

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 Re: Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: Tony M 
Date:   2011-10-21 05:24

http://www.woodwind.org/clarinet/Equipment/Care/index.html

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 Re: Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2011-10-21 12:31

The most basic temperature rule is ....... 'If you're not comfortable in it, neither is the clarinet.' So NEVER leave your clarinet in a freezing car over night. Or if you do, allow it at least an hour to come back to room temperature before pumping air down the bore.

My one story about that is a gig the band had close to a service door to the outside on a frigid evening (one clarinetist seated close to the door). Immediately after finishing a set, the door was propped open and gusts of bitter air swept in. In a matter of minutes there was loud snapping noise, and the upper joint to the clarinet by the door was no more.




.....................Paul Aviles



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 Re: Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: Elkwoman46 
Date:   2011-10-21 12:34

Thank you so much for all the information and also the link...I am really helped.
Thank you.
Paul, I hear you! Good to know. Thank you.

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 Re: Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2011-10-21 12:41

Always dry the bore after playing (you can do this with the clarinet still assembled but with the mouthpiece removed by dropping the pullthrough down from the bell and pulling the string from the barrel socket, pulling it slowly all the way through the bore), then dry all the sockets with a piece of kitchen towel instead of the pullthrough as that way you'll keep the pullthrough clean and reduce the risk of getting cork grease coating the bore and occluding toneholes. Then wipe the keywork and joints over with a cotton cloth to remove fingerprints and perspiration.

As long as you dry the joints after playing, you shouldn't encounter any problems. The pullthrough will absorb most of the condensation but will also distribute any remaining moisture evenly in the bore instead of leaving some areas more damp than others, but several passes through with the pullthrough (and pulling it through slowly) will remove a high percentage of condensation. If you've bought a new cotton pullthrough, wash and dry it first as that will make it more effective.

Don't use padsavers with wooden clarinets - they're fine on plastic or metal instruments, but not ideal for wooden ones.

Chris.

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 Re: Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: Elkwoman46 
Date:   2011-10-21 13:08

Why thank you Chris for the information; I will do just that. I am in need of putting a new cloth on my pull through, and the best cotton I have ever discovered for instruments in general is 100% flannel cotton. Of course, just like any cotton it will fray so have to be mindful of that, and the size to cut.
And yes, I fully understand why cotton has to be washed first, because most presentations whenever cotton is used, even on fabric bolts that one buys by the yard, cotton is basically treated with "sizing" so it looks better.
Washing any of this out will bring out the cotton and make it softer immediately and of course remove any sizing it might have.

By the way, I discovered these circular thingies at the dollar store, in the kitchen utensils section. These things are meant for opening up pickle jars and things hard to open.
Yesterday, I wanted to try these on removing my mouthpiece from the barrel and barrel to tenon (a very tight fit) and I was amazed how easy and gentle it was without even remotely touching anything but the wooden area with just the slightest touch got it safely off. I think I just discovered new equipment for my case. These one dollar packs come with 4-6 of them inside and look like a creamy white colored woven spongy thing. Hard to describe, but very good for this purpose.

I have never seen padsavers, but thank you so much for saying this...I would not have known. Thanks.

Also, thanks so much for the heads up about cork grease inside the bore...is that a bad thing? I have not read anything about this problem. How does one get that out?

Again, thank you so much!

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 Re: Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: Elkwoman46 
Date:   2011-10-21 13:27

Oh, I wanted to ask kind of a silly thing really, but perhaps one that should be addressed...I am thinking about getting a clarinet stand. Obviously, if one uses a clarinet stand the instrument is out of the case much more. In a safe area, can a clarinet be left out most of the time? Indoors, temperature controlled environment? Or is that bad for the instrument to be out all the time?
Just wondering. In a way, it seems that a clarinet inside of a case has its problems too...moisture build up if not dried perfectly and all that too.
Pads not having a chance to thoroughly dry maybe. A case could be a bug habitat in certain places. Just wondering what is the best approach when wanting to have the clarinet in arms reach through out the day versus packed up in a case and what is best for the longevity of a clarinet.

Also, it seems that most vintage cases for clarinets bear witness that life in a case was hard for the clarinet and the case.

How does a clarinet fare on a stand that is of course in a safe place indoors?

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 Re: Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: SteveG_CT 
Date:   2011-10-21 13:33

In addition to storing the instrument at reasonable temperatures as the others have mentioned you will want to monitor the humidity as well. Typically you want to maintain about 40-50% relative humidity in the room you store you clarinet or at the very least within the clarinet case. During the winter in the US it is very common for the indoor humidity levels to drop well below this. Up in New England where I live it is common for the relative humidity to drop below 20% in the winter.

Lower humidity levels will cause the wooden joints on your clarinet to start drying out and the wood will shrink. This will cause the tenon rings to get loose and you will be at great risk of cracking your tenon sockets if you assemble an instrument with loose rings.

My solution was to buy a small room humidifier and set it up in the room where I store all of my instruments. If I keep the door to the room closed the humidifier will maintain the humidity level in the room at a reasonable level and I haven't had any problems with loose ring since.

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 Re: Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2011-10-21 14:13

Clarinet stands are only for use while you have the clarinet assembled but aren't playing during practice, rehearsals or concerts, but not for keeping clarinets on for any longer periods than is neccessary. Always put your clarinet away in its case after use and never left on a stand as there's always someone or something that can knock it over and dust will also collect on it.

It's always best to keep your clarinet in its case while not in use, such as in between practice sessions and travelling as that's the safest place for it to be. Also having the clarinet all in pieces allows any moisture to dry out and also allows the tenon corks to recover as keeping the joints assembled for very long periods will compress them.

Cases also give some insulation and protection against sudden temperature changes such as going from a heated house to a cold street or car and then into a warm rehearsal hall - the temperature change within the case will happen, but much slower than if you weren't using a case at all.

Always store your clarinet in an environment that's comfortable for you, never leave it in a car and never in extreme temperatures. If you're uncomortable being in a room for long periods that's too hot or cold for you, you wouldn't be too happy and neither will a wooden clarinet.

Chris.

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 Re: Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: Elkwoman46 
Date:   2011-10-21 14:27

Hi, SteveG CT, I just wrote a message to you on the other topic...thank you for saying this. As for here in the South, I will be careful in the winter, but here in the South...LOL...our indoor readings for humidity is mostly around 42- 52 even with air conditioners going and everything.
We have nights here where it is hard to breathe outside because it is so humid. Here the saying is on these days, humidity is a 1000%.
I remember I hung some clothes to dry outside under a porch roof and the most remarkable thing happened...I think the wetness attracted wetness. The floor had a pool of water all day and by the end of the day I was wringing out more water from them than I did when I hung them out. It was indeed amazing. I had to bring them inside to get them to dry.

Howbeit, I will be very careful with the clarinet in the winter because on really cold days when the heater is going, I am sure the humidity drops quite a bit...I will be watching that. Right now with the heater running, the humidity is 46.

But be advised, it sounds great for instruments, but I don't know about that.

Years ago I had a huge fascination for antique stitched samplers and studied up on them. There are very, very few samplers that survived in the South, even from the 1800's. Even linen and silk cannot survive here over time.

All this makes me wonder more about the amazing difference between woods selected for violins versus dense woods selected for clarinets.
Stradivarius violin woods vibrated amazingly and were from places in Europe, yet the dense woods (Africa mostly?) need that heavy thickness to not make our clarinets sound like some squeaky plastic recorders, yes?
So what keeps the dense wood dense? Is it humidity? Or is it necessary? Does the shrinkage of the wood hurt the sound? Does it make the sound better or worse...speaking of denseness? Does shrinkage make it more dense or not?--just lost more denseness by the shrinkage? Or the other way?

Are we comparing apples with oranges when we are talking about violin and clarinet woods? Old woods on violins for example get a better tone theoretically through the drying out process and time...what happens to old wood clarinets??? Are they better for the age or not? Tone quality? Is humidity good for clarinets in that way or not? (Not talking about loose parts though, just the wood.) Is the objective of dense woods to keep them humid or not? Just speaking of the sound elements, and the wood alone.

Finally, what is the survival rate for dense woods kept in certain climates?
Have any tests been made of where clarinets have been for a long while versus other areas, and is the sound quality affected by it over time? (Again, not talking about the temperature drops that crack them) Basically, just wondering if (clarinet) wood sound qualities change in different areas.

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 Re: Basics in caring for wooden clarinets
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2011-10-21 14:56

Violins use much less dense wood in their construction than clarinets - the bodies are maple, the soundboard and soundpost are spruce for tone and the fittings (pegs, fingerboard, bridge, saddle and tailpiece) are usually ebony for strength and wear resistance. The bridge is usually beech for strength and usually has an ebony inlay for the E string to prevent it cutting into the bridge.

Clarinets are made from very dense grenadilla due to the properties it offers, mainly for precision of machining and also dimensional stability of the finished product. But like all wood it is hygroscopic, so it will be affected far more by humidity changes than by temperature changes.

Plastics such as ABS, PVC and others aren't as dimensionally stable as grenadilla under temperature changes but are used in the manufacture of instruments, but there has to be a certain amount of end play designed into the keywork so the keys won't bind up when it's cold. Unlike wooden clarinets, humidity changes won't affect plastic clarinets.

Chris.

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