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 clean
Author: curious clarinetist 
Date:   2001-10-08 17:10


I have this paper that came with my clarinet (buffet)and it says that it's better if you swab your clarinet every 15-20 minutes. So how come that whenever I watch an orchestra and see the clarinets or the oboes, how come I never see them swabing their clarinets ??? Won't that damage the wood????Do I really need to swab it every 15 minutes??? Is it good or bad to leave the spit in the clarinet while you play???

Thanks in advance!!!

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 RE: clean
Author: Don Poulsen 
Date:   2001-10-08 17:25

This doesn't answer your question, but you might like to know that the moisture that collects on the inside of your clarinet is not spit, but condensation.

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 RE: clean
Author: Peter 
Date:   2001-10-08 18:50

With my wooden clarinets I swab every 30 minutes, or between pieces played, depending on how much condensation collects in it at any given time.

Sometimes I am not sure what makes the difference, but I can play one shorter piece where the clarinet will start dripping onto my toes (I spend a lot of time barefoot,) while at other times I can play for a half hour and it will be dry as a bone, including the tennon joints, where often moisture collects.

It isn't oiling or lack moisture in the wood either, as it could be the same instrument that does it. Maybe general ambient humidity content?

Anyway, I swab at least every half hour, unless I see signs that I should swab more often.

I have a Selmer 1401 that I play when I don't feel like taking care of things I am using and that one I swab whenever I get around to it, or when the dripping becomes annoying.

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 RE: clean
Author: Jessica 
Date:   2001-10-08 19:05

Well, I'm no expert at swabbing clarinets, but I usually swab every forty-five minutes to an hour & always when I finish playing and my clarinet seems to be in great condition. Every fifteen minutes though (unless you drool down it :-) seems pretty extensive though, IMHO.

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 RE: clean
Author: sarah 
Date:   2001-10-08 20:17

I use a swab when I feel it is necessary, because like it was already said, my clarinet dosn't collect moisture at the same rate all of the time.
sarah

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 RE: clean
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2001-10-09 14:30

Swab as much as you need to not get water gurgling or blocking in tone holes.
In a warm room or concert chamber this may be never.
In a cold environment it may be often. It will vary for different instruments and possibly different players. Tone hole sizes and locations vary in different models and the inside surfaces and pad openings also vary.

Some players do indeed spit into their instruments. I accumulate saliva behind my lower teeth and swallow when able.

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 RE: clean
Author: connie 
Date:   2001-10-09 16:57

Au contraire, I have seen our local professionals swab their clarinets practically at every rest, and ALWAYS between movements/pieces. I personally thought that was excessive, but at that level of performance, you can't afford a gurgling key.

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 RE: clean
Author: Sandra Franklin Habekost 
Date:   2001-10-11 02:09

As you become more proficient on your clarinet you will know when to swab. Much depends on the weather and the temperature of the clarinet and the temperature and humidity of the area where you are playing. On a very dry day in hot weather in the southwest USA you might not have to swab atall!

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 RE: clean
Author: Janine 
Date:   2010-06-20 00:40

I realize your original post was in 2001, however I was told from the start from my clarinet teacher that it was condensation. A friend of mine has been told the contrary.

If I think about it, it couldn't be spit because how would spit enter the clarinet through the very tiny slit between the reed and the mouth piece.

Anyway my teacher also advised me to rub a little cork grease around the inside where the wood is close to the connecting parts to stop the condensation ruining the clarinet.

Hobbyist.

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 RE: clean
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2010-06-20 01:24

It would certainly be possible for spit to get into the mouthpiece and from there run down into the bore. That said, most of what's inside the clarinet is, for most of us, condensation. That said, it probably doesn't make much difference what it is - if it gets into the tone holes it will gurgle or, occasionally, may interfere with the seal of a closed hole, mimicking a leaky pad. The results can be musically disastrous, but not especially dangerous to the clarinet itself.

The original poster has probably long ago figured out what he or she needed to know about how often to swab. I'm curious what the result of your teacher's cork grease trick is. The water (whatever generates it) will still run down into the instrument - it has to go somewhere and the clarinet is down, which is where the water is going to flow. My repairman has painted melted beeswax around (above) the tone holes that are most in the line of the water flow, and others recommend coating around the tone holes with bore oil. The purpose is only to divert the water with a water-repellent surface so it goes around the hole instead of into it.

In the end, the problem with condensation or saliva in the clarinet bore while you're playing has more to do with gurgles and leaks than with doing physical damage to the clarinet that could ruin it. Water left in the bore and joint sockets while the instrument is stored in its case is another matter, which is why you should always swab when you take the instrument apart and put it away.

Karl

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 Re: clean
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-06-20 02:01

To answer your question, no, swabing out often will not hurt the bore of your clarinet unless you use a very coarse swab, which none of us use. Swab as much as you need so the pads don't get wet.
I play in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and I swab my clarinet very often, regular clarinets as well as bass clarinet. One of my colleagues also swabs out often, the other two not nearly as much. Anyone that thinks that the moister is only condensation I'd like them to know that I have a very old bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell them, cheap too. I, like many others, play with a lot of saliva, that's the reason the if I don't swab out very ofter, about every 10-15 minutes depending on how much I'm playing, then I get a lot of saliva in the bore and it get's into the pads. If it were only condensation all four of us in the BSO would have exactly the same amount of "water" in there clarinets, that's not the way it is. I've had students who's clarinet are soaked in 15 -20 minutes, pads are wet etc. and in the same room, the same day, the next student has very little moister at the end of the lesson. It makes no difference if we play in A/C, heated hall or outside, I have to swab much more then the person next to me and that's a fact because my saliva glads work much more than someone else. I'd really like to put this to rest, it's stupid to think that the moister in your clarinet is ONLY condensation, period. I've seen players play an entire solo work without having to swab yet I have to swab after every other movement and still I often get moister in some pads. Why, because I spit a lot when I play. Not on purpose, I just can't help it. DUH! ESP http://eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: clean
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2010-06-20 02:48

Ed Palanker wrote:

> If it were only
> condensation all four of us in the BSO would have exactly the
> same amount of "water" in there clarinets,

Ed, I don't think this is true. The condensation is moisture that is carried in the player's breath (like humidity in the atmosphere). When the breath, which is warm and moisture-laden when it's exhaled, hits the cooler walls of the mouthpiece and even cooler walls of the clarinet, the moisture would condense out of the breath. No doubt everyone's breath carries different amounts of water, accounting for differences in the amount that ends up in the clarinet. I would think it even makes a difference how long you hold the air in your lungs, so different phrase lengths might produce different amounts of condensed moisture. Also, individuals' oral and core temperatures may be different, especially under the physical stress of playing, so the difference when the exhaled air hits the mouthpiece and barrel might be enough to account for some differences between players in the amount of condensate. I don't think the condensation has much to do with the humidity level of the room air.

And of course there *is* a certain amount of actual saliva that gets blown past the reed, so your point is probably correct that individual salivary levels probably account for some of the difference in players' need to swab more or less often.

I'm more curious about Janine's teacher's advice about using cork grease to prevent water from getting into the instrument (or at least to somehow prevent it from "ruining" the clarinet). Sounds like it could create a small mess inside the bore and I have trouble imagining what benefit it would provide. I'm hoping Janine will explain a little more about it.

Karl

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 Re: clean
Author: dansil 
Date:   2010-06-20 06:19

A very simple way to end this debate about whether the fluid we regularly accumulate in our instruments after playing is just condensation of water vapour in our breath or saliva is to test it's chemistry and inspect it under a high-power microscope. Saliva will have a very well-documented chemistry containing a much higher level of sodium, potassium and chloride ions than condensation of water vapour, and it will also have some cells from the lining of the mouths and tongue.

It wouldn't be expensive to do this simple experiment and when I return from Europe in a few days I will practice heaps, drip profusely WITHOUT swabbing (a laudible sacrifice in light of the importance of this research) and take it around to my local pathology lab to have it tested.

The results will be posted on this stream as soon as possible but don't hold your breaths, just keep playing (and swabbing).

Cheers, Danny Silver

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 Re: clean
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2010-06-20 06:56

I have about 8 swabs I carry with me.

Avoiding any comments regarding how often do you swab the horn. I look at this differently. Your clarinet was set up, say from Selmer , Buffet, whomever, in dry conditions. The instruments are finely tuned to as little as 3 or 4 mm's in dry environmental conditions. So lets take just the bore of the horn. Water bubbles, water particles form throughout the horn so your intonation will change due to less volume in the bore. Most of you know you have to play the horn for a few minutes to warm it up, because it plays flat when cold. Thats true and adding moisture will make the horn play even higher in pitch. It's not unusual to play cold at 438 and after 5 minutes or so it's at 439. Added moisture can bring the pitch up to 441.

Hence the need to keep the horn as dry as possible.

You surely don't need 8 swabs, but I use 1 a day and run them through the washing machine at the end of the week. I can't handle looking at swabs that are all brown and gross looking.

With that said there is a great benefit in keeping the horns dry. The notes will remain stable and in tune as much as possible.

I won't get into the mouthpieces, because that wasn't the subject here.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: clean
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2010-06-20 11:04

Danny Silver wrote:
> It wouldn't be expensive to do this simple experiment and when I return
> from Europe in a few days I will practice heaps, drip profusely WITHOUT
> swabbing (a laudible sacrifice in light of the importance of this research)
> and take it around to my local pathology lab to have it tested.

Caution. As a side effect they might find out things like that you've been swapped in maternity clinic back then, that you did inhale back in '68 and that the beer that tastes like cat pee ..., well, you get the point. [tongue]

Ed Palanker wrote:
> If it were only condensation all four of us in the BSO would have exactly
> the same amount of "water" in there clarinets

The water in each clarinet accumulates differently - be it from different rags smearing different amounts or qualities of cork grease in the bore, be it from the different wood grain, .... on some of my clarinets the water accumulates in tone holes while in others it forms tiny rivers and just dribbles out the fastest way possible. I even think it also has to do with the piece you're playing - long chalumeau tones have a different effect than upper clarion staccatos, and so on...

Hmm. Today would be a good day to wash my swabs... [right]

--
Ben

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 Re: clean
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-06-20 14:26

Having played professionally for 48 years and teaching about that long I stand by my belief that saliva plays a roll in how much "water" gets into the bore of a clarinet while playing. My clarinet gets lots of "water" whether it's in a cold room, producing a lot of condensation, or a very warm room, producing less. I still have to swab out very often due to my saliva flow and as far as i'm concerned that's a fact of life, and playing the clarinet for me.
I have the same saliva flow when I'm not playing the clarinet having to swallow often. My dentist told me that is not an uncommon problem, that is having saliva glands that are more active than what some would consider "normal". He agrees that it would reflect on my having to swab my clarinet out more often than someone without that problem because I would be blowing some saliva through the instrument as I push the air through it. He said that is one reason I have a large build up of calcium on my lower teeth, a large saliva flow. It also appears that the moister in the pads and tone holes is a bit thicker than what I would consider plain condensation so I'm sure at least some saliva goes into the bore, more with some, less with others.. My question to those that don't believe it is this. Where does all that saliva go that normally forms in my mouth when I'm playing the clarinet since I don't swallow nearly as often as I do when I'm not playing yet I can feel it still forming in my mouth? To me that is just common sense that some goes into the instrument carried by the air input. As I said, more with some players, less with others. Just keep on swabing, early and often. ESP

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

Post Edited (2010-06-20 14:47)

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 Re: clean
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2010-06-20 15:24

Ed Palanker wrote:

> I stand by my belief that saliva plays a roll in how
> much "water" gets into the bore of a clarinet while playing.
> ...I'm sure at least some saliva goes into the bore, more with some,
> less with others.. My question to those that don't believe it
> is this...

Ed, I'm not sure if you're including me in "those that don't believe it," but given your two statements above, we agree completely. Of course there's saliva getting blown past the reed and into the instrument. I hope I was - I tried to be - clear in my original post that I think both saliva and condensation are involved, and I'm sure the mix is different from player to player.

In any case, as I suggested in my first post, it really doesn't make much difference what the moisture is - I think we'd agree that you need to swab often enough to keep it out of tone holes, or whenever a gurgle tells you it's too late.

:)
Karl

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 Re: clean
Author: GeorgeL 2017
Date:   2010-06-20 15:36

I have seen many community band clarinetists swab their instruments during non-playing moments of rehearsals and performances, but I have never seen a bass clarinetist swab other than at intermission or after the performance. And the bass clarinet (and contra-alto) has the additional problem of having a metal pipe extending upward from the mouthpiece, thereby ensuring a rapid collection of moisture.

The most common response I have witnessed and practiced to this collection of moisture is to dump it, hopefully not in the purse or case of a person sitting near you. In the ultra-dry southwest where I have lived for my entire community band and bass clarinet career, this water usually rapidly evaporates.

Of course, brass players have the same problem with condensation and solve the problem in the same manner.

I have trouble imagining how someone would unobtrusively pull the neck off a bass clarinet, pull the mouthpiece of the neck, and swab the neck, on stage during a performance.

How do properly trained bass clarinetists solve the 'moisture in the neck' problem?



.



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 Re: clean
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2010-06-20 15:53

GeorgeL wrote:

> How do properly trained bass clarinetists solve the 'moisture
> in the neck' problem?

I'm not a "properly trained" bass clarinetist. However, every so often I would remove the neck (with the mouthpiece still attached), tilt it and let the accumulated moisture dribble out, through the mouthpiece as it is the shortest way.

Interestingly, relatively little moisture makes it down to the bow of the bell. I have a wet thumb and occasionally wet trousers (from water propelled out of the bore), but the bell is surprisingly dry each time.

Edit: for what it's worth, we have a French hornist (well he isn't French but he's playing a French horn) who'd pull out his various bows and tubes at every possible opportunity to get rid of water. Dunno if that's just him or if French hornists are "properly trained" to do so. In comparison, I am a Neanderthal when it comes to potty training for wind instruments.

--
Ben

Post Edited (2010-06-20 15:55)

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 Re: clean
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-06-20 18:01

Karl, my answer was not meant for you, we seem to agree on all points. It was meant for those that claim it is ONLY condensation in the clarinet, something that just doesn't make sense to me assuming one uses common sense of course.
Bass clarinet question.
I'm probably the only one that swabs this way but for me it works. I do in only a few seconds, maybe 15, and I have to do it often because even on my bass, if I don't swab often the upper and lower side keys pads get wet. I've even had one or two of the lower joint pads get wet if I can't swab for a long time because of playing. That would be the first pad and the fork B-F# pad in the lower joint.
I take the mouthpiece and neck off separately and with my finger I shove a regular clarinet swab into the bores of the MP and neck pieces after shaking out the moister. I keep the swab hanging on my bass stand. Then I use a push through swab that I've trimmed so it fits into the upper bore and does not leave little pieces of material on the register tube or in the bore. I would estimate that in a 2 1/2 hour rehearsal, if I'm playing a lot, I probably swab it out half dozen times. I'm just a wet player but I'm not washed up yet. ESP

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

Post Edited (2010-06-21 02:35)

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 Re: clean
Author: Lelia Loban 2017
Date:   2010-06-21 12:02

GeorgeL wrote:

> How do properly trained bass clarinetists solve the 'moisture
> in the neck' problem?

I'm not properly trained, but I pull off the neck of my contra-alto and pour it every half hour or so. That way, I avoid condensation getting down into the whole great big piece of plumbing. The shape of the neck traps most of the liquid before it gets into the bore, as long as I don't let a lot of fluid accumulate. Dumping the neck only takes a few seconds. Swabbing the whole instrument is much more of a chore, especially when Jane Feline provides intensive supervision, but this way I only have to do it once, when I'm ready to put the clarinet away.

Lelia
http://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/Lelia_Loban
To hear the audio, click on the "Scorch Plug-In" box above the score.

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 Re: clean
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-06-21 13:18

Lelia said, "I'm not properly trained, but I pull off the neck of my contra-alto and pour it every half hour or so. That way, I avoid condensation getting down into the whole great big piece of plumbing." I'm happy it's only condensation, I would hate to think that you actually had saliva in your horn. If it was only condensation don't you think the rest of the horn would get some too being that the hot air travels through the whole horn not just the neck piece? ESP

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