Author Topic: Guide to overhaul a clarinet  (Read 1060 times)

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Offline Fisherman

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Guide to overhaul a clarinet
« on: September 07, 2016, 06:16:15 AM »
Hello everyone!


I have a small experience on servicing a clarinet but i need to expand my knowledge especially concerning the cleaning of the wood!


I would like to give me some advice or post the links of some threads if these things have been discussed before here on the forum. I need a guide on how to clean the wood at first after removing all the keys (what to do and what to not do, what materials should i use etc)..


I would like to hear your opinions guys! :)
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 01:47:51 AM by Fisherman »

Offline a_hennig

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Guide to overhaul a clarinet
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 10:31:21 PM »
My initial thought when you posted this question was to wait and see what others thought, but seeing as no one has responded and it's been a while, I'll venture some thoughts.

My first thought is, how filthy is it? In normal use, a clarinet does not usually get so dirty as to require removing all the keys, although it does happen. Or are you just doing it as a learning exercise?

Anyway, as to cleaning the wood, wood used in clarinets is ordinary wood. You may want to take a little extra care to avoid damaging any part of it, but basically treat it like any other wood. The determining factor in what to use on it is really, what kind of dirt is on it?  Most of the time, a damp cloth is sufficient, but some kinds of grime can only be cleaned with soap and water and a stiff brush. When you get done, do make sure that you clean off all the residue - this should go without saying.

If the wood surface is excessively dry when you get done, you may want to oil it. People all disagree with each other about oiling; there is no real consensus, so you will have to develop your own sense of what you think works best. I personally prefer to use a drying type oil, that is one that will harden in the wood, because in my work as a guitar repairman, where one of the things I have done many many times is replace the frets, which are embedded in hard wood, usually ebony, I find that fingerboards that have been oiled with non-drying oils leave the wood soft and crumbly. Fingerboards that are never oiled tend to be dry and brittle. In the bore, the usually recommended once a month for new or old and un-maintained instruments, and then once a year after the first year is a good plan. On the exterior you're not constantly wetting and wiping the surface, so just oiling it after a thorough cleaning should be sufficient. Let the surface oil soak in and wipe off all the excess.

If it's dirty enough to have to take off all the keys to clean it, the keys probably need cleaning, too. Most commercial repairmen will at this point remove all the pads, because even if they're good, they are likely to get damaged while cleaning the adjacent metal surfaces - plus you can soak the metal parts in a cleaning solution if there are no pads on them to ruin. It's also usually easier to replace all the pads and re-regulate than to try to preserve half of them and try to make the way the new ones lie match the old ones.

At this point I want to go back to "so how filthy is this clarinet?" Once you take it apart to clean it, you're setting yourself up for a big job. If you can just get the worst dirt off without taking the whole thing apart, it makes life a lot easier.

Offline kokonis

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Guide to overhaul a clarinet
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2017, 03:22:48 AM »
Hi Fisherman....yes its an area that I am interested in too......there isn't much interest in repairs.....even getting out old screws in alberts that are 60plus yrs old is a real challenge.
There are some good YouTube clips.

Online Mporlos

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Guide to overhaul a clarinet
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2017, 01:16:16 AM »
Like kokoni, I also have had a great interest in reconditoning and repairing the vintage albert clarinets we all love .... i "divide the work neeeded to bring these clarinets back to life into 2 processes:


1. Restoring them back "cosmetically" ... this includes takinmg them completely apart, cleaning, sanitizing, reoiling the wood properly, cleaning/buffing keys, cleaning/buffing posts, cleaning and restoring the springs, cleaning the screwrods back to smooth surface and cleaning out the screw rod tubes.


3. Restoring the clarinet "functionally" ... the process of repadding, recorking, replacing worn springs, re-adjustung the mechanism to correct response and voicing properly through proper adjustment of the pads.


I complete step 1 and send the clarinet to an experienced clarinet tech for step 2 ....Both processes are time-consuming, but more so are challenging as often these klarina need a lot of care to get just step 1 completed. Kokoni is completely correct - frozen keys, stuck screws can be an incredible challenge and require patience, skill and learning skills through trial and error, especially if you dont have someone to teach you.


As to your question ... if you have not done this before, I would not take an instrument apart to clean it. Its a huge amount of work - AND - getting the pads to sit properly, sealing, at the correct distance from the toneholes and ensuring the right tension on the springs pppp its a lot of work. I would leave that to a pro. I also agree with a_henning ... this should not be necessary under normal use ...hope this helps !

Offline kokonis

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Guide to overhaul a clarinet
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2017, 04:44:54 AM »
Very well said Mporlos........its a time consuming process...thats why clarinet re-conditioning is so expensive.

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Guide to overhaul a clarinet
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2017, 04:23:35 PM »
i am paying $600 to re-haul a beautiful A buffet got from a friend, and its taking 10 weeks!  i hope it'll be worth it.  i wouldn't dare to do it myself, i don't mind experimenting with mouthpieces but not on a rare instrument.  kudos to you Nikos for learning how to do some of it.  it is time consuming for sure.
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Offline Kalakos

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Guide to overhaul a clarinet
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2017, 08:36:32 PM »
i am paying $600 to re-haul a beautiful A buffet got from a friend, and its taking 10 weeks!  i hope it'll be worth it.  i wouldn't dare to do it myself, i don't mind experimenting with mouthpieces but not on a rare instrument.  kudos to you Nikos for learning how to do some of it.  it is time consuming for sure.

Bass, tell about that Buffet!
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Online Mporlos

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Guide to overhaul a clarinet
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2017, 08:59:37 PM »
i am paying $600 to re-haul a beautiful A buffet got from a friend, and its taking 10 weeks!  i hope it'll be worth it.  i wouldn't dare to do it myself, i don't mind experimenting with mouthpieces but not on a rare instrument.  kudos to you Nikos for learning how to do some of it.  it is time consuming for sure.


Thanks Bass !!! ... I really enjoy doing this work... I would like to learn how to do the "Functional"" work or repadding/recorking and voicing/spring work ... and eventually learn how to do crack repairs ..... some day !!!!!


Take a look at these 2 YouTube clips I did a few years ago ... the 2nd one in particular shows the various stages of the cosmetic reconditioning ....


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=liS-vjULk-g


https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=61s&v=LCeFmPFDNBw




And Yes ... Bass  ... tell about the Buffet "A !!!!!!!








Offline Eleftarios

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Guide to overhaul a clarinet
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2017, 09:23:30 PM »
Clarinet repair is a craft totally distinct from clarinet playing. In my home town, a substantial rebuild would cost me $300 CDN. If I did it myself, I would spend far more on the necessary tools and would do a poor job that would still require $300 of work to make right. I've changed a few pads and corks over the years for emergency repairs, but wouldn't dare tackle a full restore.


And for what it's worth, I haven't oiled my mid-70s buffet in 40 years. I think it's a music store up-sell with no merit, but the oil only costs a couple of bucks so if it makes you happy do it.

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Guide to overhaul a clarinet
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2017, 02:37:22 PM »

And Yes ... Bass  ... tell about the Buffet "A !!!!!!!



my friend George Stathos from New York (clarinet player) had it poorly stored in the attic somewhere for too many years.   very dry and ready to explode, LOL.  its in key of A, it has the genuine Buffet logo on it, don't remember if it had LP stamped on it or not (i hope its LP).  one of the trill keys is missing, the one usually gets removed by Greek players.  the repair tech said he can find one from buffet to replace it.  its been soaking in oil for few weeks.  it should be ready within couple of weeks or so, i'll post pics when i get it.
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