Care of Your Clarinet
This simple maintenance routine will keep your clarinet playing and looking its best for many years.
How to Assemble Your Clarinet
- Place the thin end of the reed in your mouth to moisten it while you put your clarinet together.
- Check the corked joints of the clarinet; if they're dry, rub a small amount of cork grease on each.
- With the upper joint in your left palm, use your left-hand fingers to press down the tone hole rings. (When you hold the keys down they're less likely to get bent; holding the upper joint keys down also raises the bridge key so it doesn't get bent.)
- Grasp the lower joint near the cork without putting pressure on any keys. Line up the tone holes on the two joints and gently twist them together, taking care that the bridge key doesn't catch and bend.
- Gently twist the bell and the barrel into place without putting pressure on any keys.
- Grasp the clarinet at the top so you're gripping the barrel and the upper joint at the same time (without putting pressure on any keys) and gently twist the mouthpiece into place.
- With the ligature already around the mouthpiece, slide the thick end of the reed under the ligature and align the tip of the reed with the tip of the mouthpiece. Tighten the ligature screws to hold the reed firmly in place.
When You Finish Playing Your Clarinet
- Put the cap on your mouthpiece and remove the mouthpiece.
- Use your swab to remove moisture from inside your clarinet's joints and barrel. Drop the weighted end of the string through the clarinet and then pull the wider cloth through to absorb the moisture. (The white pads under each key seal the air when you play; moisture causes the pads to get stiff and leak air, making your clarinet harder to play.)
- Remove your reed from your mouthpiece and place it in your reed holder. (Your reed holder will protect your reeds and keep them from warping.)
- Disassemble your clarinet in the reverse order above.
- Put your clarinet in its case and fasten both latches. (Most clarinet damage occurs when it's left out on a music stand, a chair, a bed, or on the floor. If you'd like to leave it out, use a clarinet stand.)
- Check for loose items in your case that could bounce into your clarinet and scratch it.
- Don't store anything (music, a cloth, paper, etc.) on top of your clarinet in its case as they might push on the keys and bend them out of adjustment.
Some Periodic Treatments for Your Clarinet
Clean your mouthpiece with a mouthpiece brush and warm water.
- Wipe the keys of your clarinet with a clarinet polish cloth. (Liquid polish is not recommended because it can ruin the pads.)
- Use a small brush to clean between the keys.
- Wash out your swab or replace it with a new one.
- Apply a very small amount of key oil to the pivot points of your keys. (To apply the right amount, put a drip of oil on a saucer, then dip a toothpick into it and touch it to the pivot points of your clarinet.)
- If your clarinet is made of wood, about twice a year apply a very light coat of bore oil to its insides to protect it from excess drying and cracking. Slightly dampen an old clarinet swab with bore oil and run it through the clarinet. Take care not to get the swab too damp with oil as it can run out on the pads and ruin them; a very light coat is all that's needed.
- Bring your clarinet to the Amro repair shop at least once a year and whenever you feel it's not playing its best. We'll inspect and test it free of charge, usually while you wait. And if you have Amro's Maintenance & Replacement plan, any adjustments and repair it needs are free.