Taking care of Opera

Mr. Sherman Friedland,

I’m an amateur hobbyist who very much enjoys playing, and I have found (and purchased) a set
of used Leblanc Opuses in a double case (with your various articles and impressions of them
constantly in the back of my mind while looking for a good set of professional clarinets). After
searching your site many times, I haven’t found anything describing how to care and maintain
the clarinets. I live in NJ which can be battered with humidity changes and temperature
changes, and would like to know the best methods to ensure that these clarinets will last me a
lifetime. Should they be oiled on some sort of schedule? How should I store them in the case
to better protect them from cracking (I’ve had two of my past clarinets develop cracks by the
register tone hole and so I’m obviously missing SOMETHING, even though I’m swabbing them
after every practice session). Is there anything you recommend to keep the keys as shiny as
possible? And is there anything else I’m forgetting?

Thanks for the time you take with your website as it’s helped me and I’m sure lots of others
with very handy bits of information! I’ll be making every attempt to hear your upcoming concert
in February 25, ’06! Can’t wait!
——————————————————————–Hi A:
Many thanks for your note about Opus Clarinets, and rest assured you will have a problem-free tenure with these instruments.
Having performed my magic, I will continue by telling you that there are many ways , more than many ways prescribed for keeping clarinets safe from harms way.
I consider that by harms way we mean cracking and I will tell you, that there is no fool-proof way, for one simply cannot tell about wood, one cannot divine what will happen, but there are definite and absolute things NOT to do.
In other words an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Here is a list of things I know NOT to do in taking care of clarinets.:
Never place them in extreme temperatures, or move them from frozen to room temperature without waiting until they and you adjust to the temperature, which means of course, do not leave them in the trunk of your car to freeze or to fry, and then move in and play them immediately, which is a absolutely a recipe for disaster….or living on the edge….of a crack.
Come inside and open the case cover of your instruments and let them get accustomed to the temperature and the humidity of the room before playing on them.
And when they are new, play them only briefly each time, and not for long periods of time.
I have never oiled a clarinet in my life however I notice it is all the rage on the various boards, I think almond oil being the current lubricant advised by anyone with a website.
This is I think different from bringing a clarinet back to life, that is to say, a horn that has been languishing for many years and needs to be played again. The oil seems to be a better idea for a completely dry and dried-out instrument.
It seems to make more sense….my only reason for suggesting this, however as I have said, I have never oiled a clarinet.
I have had only one that has had a crack and this was in a set of two, the crack developing on the Bb horn on the edge of the clarinet that faced the case opening. This I thought was because the cold air was always there at that edge. Perhaps I was right.
Anyway I had it pinned and never worried after that.
Other than that there was one more that developed within the metal socket of an articulated G# on a Mazzeo Clarinet upon which I played the keys off.
The whole socket became loose, and still I played on it, and then finally the crack I saw stopped me and I had it repaired. That is the end of my crack history.
I have had students who developed cracks, but I cannot tell how, not exactly.
As to keys binding you will probably never have that problem, not with then being used and Opus, for I think they choose the wood for those with extreme care and whomever owned thenm prior to you probably suffered any binding that was to happen.
Pads need to be replaced from time to time. I would have all cork pads installed in the upper joint by a competent work person, and leather kid pads in the lower joint wherever possible.
I have these now on my clarinet and I really like the effect that these pads give me, very secure.
I have heard of many students and colleagues and friends ruining instrument by soaking them in various oils, specifically olive oil if you can believe it, so, as I have said, I do not oil clarinets.
Put the words “clarinet oil” into your browser or your google and do a search, in miliseconds you will have a list. Use it carefully, please.
Good luck with your Opera.
sincerely, sherman

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