Repairs and adjustments on your clarinet

I have received numerous questions concerning repairs and/or adjustments to one’s clarinet. This is a very touchy subject and there are many many people out there who advertise these services.There are some who have taken a couse through mail order and then simply advise that they can do an overhaul or a repad, and I have found many are disingenuous in this regard. It is one thing to install a pad or even a set of pads on a clarinet and there is quite another thing of doing it properly. I have received some that have been done quite badly and I would certainly advise one to stay away from these kinds of repair services. I received an overhaul from a place in which every pad had a small sliver of wood wedging the pads closed and when removed most everything was leaking, or even more, the delicate coupling of the two joints was not done with sensitivity and this can cause interminable problems, rendering the clarinet nothing but a difficult situation, hard blowing, bad legato, numerous strange noises being the result.
While a student and while living and playing in a large city, I found that the repair of my clarinet required me to go to the repair place and cummunicate with the technician who was usually a kind of friend or became one. Most fine repairpersons can look at an instrument for a few moments, make an adjustment and like magic, your horn will have been improved. This is not the method of many repairs done though a mail-order or auction advertisement. Rather these establishments employ many and usually do all of the school clarinets in the area and not terribly well at very low prices.
An overhaul consists of a complete disassembly of the instrument, down to the anchors of the screws(and replaced properly), cleaning , removal of all pads, polishing of all keys, changing of all springs, replacement of all pads into keys which have been cleaned and polished, placement of pads is an expecially time consuming part of the job unless one is quite adept, even gifted. There are many who mean well, but simply do not have the skill. Many.
Here are a number of considerations concerning adjustments:
1. Can you play the middle B easily with just the left hand little finger? If not the clarinet is not properly adjusted.
2. Can you play the so-called one-and-one eb/Bb easily with no break in sound?In other words, is your legato playing enhanced by this coupling? If not, whatever has been poured on or in , your clarinet is out of adjustment.
3.Do you get an excellent connection between middle B and C#?

4. Can you perform the following on each joint?:
Cover both ends of the top joint, remove the air and taking one hand away it should be difficult to remove the other because of the suction you have created. 4a. Can you do the same with the bottom joint, (after removing the bell)? If tight ,all of the keys should remain closed for several seconds.

I am reluctant to mention cost, but it can be several hundred dollars or more in some of the larger cities.One thing to remember I think, it really doesn’t matter with what your treat the tones holes , be it oil or oil and vinegar or a tasty vinagrette. If there is something wrong with the wood, perhaps something is needed, however the idea that some oil can bring a clarinet to life is something simply foreign to me. I have never ever heard of it , and find it a creation of a website which is not necessarily connected to music, rather influenced by hard cold cash.

Nobody can tell how a clarinet plays, either new or refurbished unless they are playing all of the time and have a good ear and little prejudice, hard to find indeed.
Sherman Friedland


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