Instrument Repair Do’s & Don’ts
How often do I need to bring my instrument in for repair or maintenance? This is a loaded question which has many factors that determine the answer. When it comes to instrument repair and maintenance, there are some simple things that you can do to help minimize the need for costly repairs.
Do: Clean it. Inside and out, that is. To function properly, you need to keep your instrument clean, regardless of what you play. For brass instruments, that means regular “Chem Cleans,” in addition to regularly cleaning your instrument at home. We recommend purchasing an instrument care kit, which we stock for all woodwind, brass, and orchestral stringed instruments.
Do: Smooth operator. Huh? What does that mean?!? It means, cork/slide grease, slide cream, and valve oil are your friends. Clarinets, saxophones, oboes, bassoons, and all other instruments with corks need to make sure to keep those tenon corks greased. Trumpets, and other valve instruments, keep those valves oiled and slides greased to prevent sticking. Trombones, slide grease/cream/oil should be used to keep those slides nice and smooth.
Do: Be kind to your instrument! Always place your instrument back in its case or on an instrument stand once you are finished playing. Leaving it on the floor where it could be stepped on or on a chair where it could be sat on or knocked over is a big no-no.
Don’t: Eat & play. You should never eat, drink (other than water), or chew gum while playing your instrument. This can create, for lack of a better term, a sticky situation for both brass and woodwind instruments. Valves and slides on brass instruments can become stuck and pads and keys on woodwind instruments will be sticky and this can mean costly repairs.
Don’t: Do it yourself. Step away from the tool box, and no one gets hurt. You may think that trying to fix that stuck slide or mouthpiece with a pair of pliers from the garage sounds like a good idea, but just don’t do it. More often than not, this leads to even more damage to the instrument, and more $$ to get it fixed. Stuck mouthpieces on brass instruments are a fairly simple fix that we can usually do on the spot in the store with little to no cost using a mouthpiece puller made just for this purpose.