Thursday, October 10, 2013

Clarinet Troubleshooting and Repair

This week I showed my elementary music teacher colleagues quick fixes for clarinet repair and thought I'd share here too!

Problem: No sound is coming out or the clarinet keeps squeaking.
- Check the reed! Kids are notorious for chewing on, maiming, or destroying reeds. Crooked reeds also won't play.
- Check the ligature! Ligatures that are too loose, too tight, too high, or too low won't be holding the reed on in the right place.
- Check the player's embouchure.

Problem: Some notes play, but others don't
There is probably a pad leaking or missing somewhere. Check everywhere! It might be a pad that isn't used a lot. It could also be a pad that is still attached, but where the membrane has worn off. If the membrane is worn, then air can leak through.
- If the pad is there, put a piece of teflon tape around it to hold the pad in place. If there is no pad, use a piece of silly putty as a makeshift pad and hold in place with teflon tape.

Problem: No ligature
- Rubber bands or hair ties work to get through concert night.

Problem: Loose or wiggling keys.
- There is a screw missing or loose. Screws often just come loose on their own. Invest in a dollar store eyeglass repair kit. The screwdrivers come in a variety of sizes so you can use the one that is the right size for the screw. When putting the screw back in, try your best not to damage the metal.
- A spring has come loose. Compare the none working clarinet to one that is working. There are many small springs that are simple rods. The rods need to be in the right place to apply pressure so that the keys spring back up.

Problem: Joints are too loose.
In older clarinets the corks can become very worn down. Use as much teflon tape as you need to get a secure connection. You will need to take it in to get the cork redone.

Problem: Joints are very hard to get together and apart.
Common in new clarinets. Use a polishing nail file to gently sand some of the cork away. Make sure you don't sand any of the wood, that you sand evenly, and that you only sand a bit off at a time.

Hope this helps!

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