Looking after your instrument
Your new clarinet will need a careful blowing in period to let the wood get used to a gradual increase of moisture, a rapid increase in moisture can cause the wood to crack. In the first month only play the clarinet for a short time each day eg 15/20mins (or in short sessions spaced out throughout the day) and then gradually increase the playing time. This allows the moisture level to slowly build up and spread evenly throughout the wood. It is a good idea to swab with the pull through at regular intervals. (You can do this with the clarinet in one piece, take off the mouthpiece and pull through from the barrel to the bell, this will help with even distribution of moisture.) This process must be repeated if the instrument has not been used for some time as the wood will have dried out. When not in use, do not store near central heating pipes or air conditioning.
In basic terms do not play too much too soon!
After playing always pull through the bore and clean the sockets from any water. Ensure there is no water trapped in any of the tone holes, if necessary use a cigarette paper to dry the pads.
The bore should be lightly oiled when the instrument is new (eg every month) or has not been played for some time (or when the wood looks ‘dry’). Ensure the bore is dry from playing, put a few drops of Tung Oil on a swab and pull through the bore, wipe off any excess and leave to dry. You can also lightly oil the outside of the instrument which will gradually add to the finish of the instrument. Remove all keys and lightly oil the surface of the wood, wipe off any excess and leave to dry. Before replacing the keys ensure there is no oil where the pads lie, if necessary wipe with methylated spirits.
Joints may become tight or loose according to playing and atmospheric conditions, adjust the cord on the tenons as necessary and smooth with cork grease. A good fit is required for response in playing but please ensure they are not too tight as this may cause the wood to crack in the sockets. It is also a good idea to grease the wood in the sockets and on the tenons, especially the end grain. When adjusting the cord it is advisable to remove quite a few turns of the old cord and then add new cord, this is because over time the cord becomes more and more impacted and this can cause stress/pressure on the tenons.
Keys mounted on wooden saddles may stick a little when the instrument is new or has not been played for some time. (This happens when the wood dries out, causing the wood to shrink a little and making the key slot tight.) Ease off by carefully moving the key, the key should gradually free up as the clarinet is played but if necessary take to a professional repairer for adjustment.
As with all classical style instruments the seal of the leather over the tone hole is critical and if the leather has warped due to moisture it may not seal. For a short-term repair use cling film over the pad to enable a seal, or replace the leather strip.
Please avoid temperature shock to the wood, if you have travelled in cold weather let the instrument warm up to room temperature before playing.
The brass keys will naturally tarnish, this has no effect on playing. To clean, remove keys and use a brass metal polish, be careful to keep it away from the pads and ensure the sides of the keys, were they fit to the saddles, are kept clean.