Instrument Care

General Woodwind Care
  • When putting an instrument together, take note where you place your hands. It is important to avoid placing hands over the keys in order to prevent bending or breaking them. This can also prevent pads from leaking.
  • Never eat or drink before playing, especially sugary foods. The sugars mixed with saliva spreads through the instrument, building up on pads. This causes them to stick, tear, rot, and leak. It is essential to keep instruments clean.
  • Keep corks greased. Dry corks can cause ripping or peeling. However, do not over grease and never use lip balm.
  • Avoid extreme temperature change. Quick expanding and contracting can impact the pads, corks and the body damaging the instrument. 
  • After playing, run a cloth through the instrument to remove moisture.
  • Keep mouthpieces clean. Sterilize a flute lip plate by simply wiping it with rubbing alcohol. Wash a clarinet or saxophone mouthpiece in warm soapy water, after the reed and ligature have been removed.
  • Avoid leaving neck straps attached to instruments while in the case.
  • Always remove the reed after playing. Do not store it on the mouthpiece while in the case.
  • For saxophones, it is important to use an end plug. This prevents damage to the octave mechanism.
  • Make sure all zippers and latches are securely closed when transporting.
  • It is recommended instruments are taken to a professional at least once a year for proper cleaning and repair. This can prevent costly repairs in the long run. Many professional technicians can find issues that may have been missed or forgotten about.
General Brass Care
  • Take care when attaching the mouthpiece to the instrument. Avoid heavy pressure to prevent it from getting stuck.
  • Make sure slides and valves stay well oiled and lubricated. Unscrew caps often to prevent sticking.
  • When oiling valves, pull the valve out straight without twisting.
  • To oil french horn valves, remove the cap and oil the end of the bearing. Flip the instrument, and oil the back end of the bearing (the small gap in the valve mechanism). Finally, remove slides and drop a few drops of valve oil down slide casing to reach the valves. Move the valves to spread the oil.
  • Make sure slides are well lubricated. Slide grease helps keep the instrument airtight. Never use vaseline on brass because it can be corrosive.
  • You can clean the inside of the instrument with a rod and a soft cotton cloth.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes as this can be damaging to the instrument. 
  • Never ignore broken solder joints, this could cause further damage to the horn.
  • Horns should be fully flushed at least once a month to remove any accumulated dirt and to prevent brass from corroding. This can be done at home in a large sink or bathtub. Fill with lukewarm water and a mild soap (such as dish soap). Remove all felts and corks to keep them from getting wet (water key corks are okay to remain in water). Pull all slides and valves from the horn and place everything in the water. Use brass cleaning brushes and a snake brush to scrub the inside. Once clean, dry with a soft cotton cloth. Replace any felts or corks that were removed. Reassemble with greased and oiled slides and valves.
  • It is recommended instruments are taken to a professional at least once a year for proper cleaning and repair. This can prevent costly repairs in the long run. Many professional technicians can find issues that may have been missed or forgotten about.