I Broke My Clarinet!

Hi, If it’s okay to take keys and things off the clarinet for cleaning, why is it so messed up from just tightening all the screws?



Hi Irene

It IS OK to take keys off for cleaning, but they bear adjusting when you put them back on the clarinet. The essential thing to concern oneself with is the amount of tightening in each key or set of keys you replace.

It is not a good idea to simply tighten all the screws as you put on each key; as a matter of fact you would never do this with even such a thing as a tire. There are various ways of tightening lug nuts, but one never tightens each single one full and then go to the next – certainly a recipe for difficulty.

How many keys did you dismantle? All? Why? I never ever did that.

But it should be relatively simple to fix: Go to the first key that is binding, wherever it may be, and loosen the screw a turn or two; the key should immediately become free, or perhaps will after several turns. If it doesn’t, the key may have to be removed, cleaned, lightly oiled, then replaced. BUT you may be in “tiger country” if you have replaced the wrong screw with the right key.

Do not forget that you are dealing with wood and metal, a difficult marriage for the wood is much more alive than is the metal. And, of course, you have sometimes long rods fitting into screwed holes that simply bind. Clarinetists and repair people know generally what these are. Perhaps you do not as yet.

Also take great care when you take out thin pieces of cork or plastic strips that serve as silencers on the key mechanism; if only one drops on the floor, without you taking notice, you can get play or even a clacking that will make you wish your were not so fastidious.

I hope that this may help. I certainly mean no disrespect. You know, there are players who will allow no one to touch their instrument. I mean nobody. It is serious stuff , delicate. But go easy, and I am sure you will be OK.


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