How should I care for my wooden clarinet?

How can I avoid possible cracking?

The following article we came across written by Peter Spriggs of 

The Clarinet Center, Penticton, BC, Canada.   We felt it to be an excellent article, well written, concise and accurate...

This section pertains only to those of you who have wooden clarinets.

Cracks in clarinets are something that most players dread. There is one main reason why clarinets crack and that is because the bore: (A) of the instrument swells faster than the outside (B).

There are two causes for this happening:

1.Playing the clarinet when it is cold which heats up the inside faster than the outside. PRECAUTION: Always let the instrument warm up to room temperature before playing.

2.Allowing moisture to enter the wood faster from the bore than it does from the outside. All wood swells when water is applied to it and a clarinet is no exception. PRECAUTION: With new instruments or ones that have not been played for some time there should be a breaking-in period. This will allow the wood to absorb moisture slowly and lessen the chance of it cracking.

There is no guarantee, however cautious you are, that the instrument will not crack; however, some advice for breaking- in a clarinet would be:

•Play only 15 minutes per day for the first week.

•15 minutes twice per day the second week (i.e. morning and evening).

•Gradually increase the time per day until you are playing regularly.

•The longer the breaking-in period the less chance of cracking.

•During the winter or when temperatures are low is the worst breaking-in time due to the drier air.

•Keep some kind of humidifier in the case during the winter. There are some good quality ones available on the market, "DAMPITS" work well, or you can make one yourself. A pill bottle punched with holes and a sponge inside is adequate. Keep the sponge damp at all times.

•Always swab thoroughly with a good quality handkerchief style swab after every playing. Also dry out the sockets and blow out any water remaining in the tone holes.


Care of wooden instruments