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Elm House Farm, Crosby, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6SH
Tel: 01900 813200
Mob: 07718 394355
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by Steve Marshall


Care should be taken when assembling the instrument. Damage often occurs to instruments during assembly.

Clarinets should be assembled holding the A ring, so that the link cork is not damaged or knocked-off during assembly. Push the parts firmly together with a twist. Cork joints should be greased when the joints become stiff.

It should not be a great effort to assemble the instrument. If you are struggling, something is wrong!

Instruments should be returned to the case after playing!


Polish should not be applied.

Instrument bodies that are dusty can be brushed down using a previously unused 2" paint brush. (Care should be taken not to dislodge springs).

bore (Inside the instrument)

  • Instruments should be swabbed out after use using lint-free cloth or chamois leather pullthrough. Ensure new pullthroughs are unfolded fully.
  • Fluffy wire brushes leave material deposits in the bore and on the surface of pads.
  • 'Padsavers' drive moisture on to pads instead of taking it away from them, and also leave deposits.
  • Well made pullthroughs are best.


Mechanism should be cleaned after use using a clean lint-free cloth.

Silver plated keywork may be cleaned using a silver polishing cloth. These are impregnated with an anti-tarnish agent. Polish should not be used.


Cork grease is used for two reasons.

  1. It helps the joints slip together and
  2. it protects the cork from rotting.

(Petroleum jelly should not be used on clarinets as it does not protect the cork and it can react with glue or oil on the instrument)

Apply a small amount of cork grease to the cork and rub in with a finger. It should leave a slippy surface so the joints will fit together smoothly. If the grease is really sticky it may be better to stop using this and find a different brand.

Cork grease should be applied in small amounts and only as and when required. If there is too much cork grease it can build up and be transferred to the mechanism, pad surfaces and case.

Wipe off cork grease if a build up appears. If a joint becomes too stiff, see a repairer to have it corrected. Loose joints should also be attended to.

There are various corks on the mechanism of the clarinet. These are there for a purpose! It can be tempting to pick away at them when not playing an instrument: don't! It may cause the keys to become noisy or may even prevent the clarinet from playing at all.


Music books and sheets of music should not be stored in instrument cases (unless there is a specific compartment). It can damage the mechanism.

Loose objects in the case should be kept to a minimum. Severe damage can be incurred when objects (e.g., reed cutters, pencils, empty reed cases) are compressed against an instrument body when closing the case lid. Don't let empty reed cases gather!

Instrument cases should be secure and in good condition. Clasps, hinges and handles may be oiled occasionally to prolong effective operation.

Cases in poor condition should be repaired or replaced.


When cleaning a sticky pad, make sure that the pad surface is dry using cigarette papers or Yamaha cleaning paper. N.B. Do not pull the paper through.

Yamaha powder papers can be used to prevent pads from sticking. Apply light pressure to the pad as the paper is pulled through. Puff or blow away excess powder. Graphite may be applied to flute tone hole surfaces as an alternative to help to cure sticking pads.

OILING - mechanism

It is necessary for instrument mechanisms to be oiled like any other machinery. It is usual to have this done by your repairer as part of an annual service.

If applying oil yourself great care should be taken as some oils can rot corks, cause glued parts to become unstuck and react with some cork greases to solidify. Only tiny amounts of oil applied with a pin are necessary.


Oiling the bore of wooden instruments is a controversial subject. I see no reason why instruments should not have their bores oiled when necessary.

Oiling of the bore is difficult to achieve with the instrument assembled so is best carried out by a repairer.

Elm House Farm, Crosby, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6SH
Phone: 01900 813200

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