Greetings Woodwind fanatics!
by Mary Jones
I am going to talk about a topic I have talked about before, because it is an important and timely one. As the weather begins to cool, here in the repair department, we start to see instruments coming in with cracks. Any instrument made of wood can crack, so here are some tips to help protect your investment. While this article is written from the perspective of woodwind instruments, many of the ideas also can be adapted to strings too.
As soon as you start heating your home, start humidifying your instrument. A home humidifier is a good start. You should also consider a humidifier (or 2, if it is a large instrument) made to fit in your instrument’s case. Ward Brodt sells a number of humidifiers for this purpose, including products from Damp-It. These are safe products, that if used according to directions, will not leak in the case. When using a humidifier in the case, be sure to keep the case closed, even when you are using the instrument, as this will help maintain the humidity level it the case. A hard case is preferable to a soft case, as it will hold the moisture longer. With a soft case, you will need to refill the humidifier much more often.
The cold is also hard on wood instruments. I believe in keeping my instruments where I am comfortable. If I’m too warm or too cold, the same is true for the instrument. For smaller instruments, fleece lined covers are available for cases, and these are great for cold Wisconsin winters when you have to take your instrument outside, and they also keep your case looking nice, too! For woodwinds, never play a cold instrument (below room temperature.) Give it time to warm up, or if you cannot wait, tuck the barrel and upper joint of a clarinet (or upper joint of an oboe) under your arm for a few minutes to raise the temperature of the wood. A cold instrument expanding from the inside out will cause a problem.
For woodwind instruments, such as clarinets and oboes, now is the time to oil the bore. Twice a year is recommended, and one of the times is now when the weather is changing. Do it again in 6 months. We sell oiling kits in our band and orchestra department, or you can ask us to do it for you in the repair department as part of your yearly maintenance. And keep those woodwinds swabbed! This should be done every time the instrument is played, as well as wiping excess moisture out of the sockets. Excess moisture can cause as many problems as a lack of moisture, so be diligent! We have a variety of swabs on hand to fit your needs.
This covers the basics. For additional information, check out our fact sheet on preventing cracks. It talks about all the points listed here and more. If you still have questions, just ask us. Unfortunately, sometimes a crack will happen despite your best efforts. Don’t panic. It is common problem, and our technicians have the experience and knowledge to repair your instrument. It is time to start your cold weather maintenance routine, so get the items you need and start using them, and keep using them until the heat is turned off next spring. But don’t forget why you have the instrument.
Make music. Enjoy!
Your Ward-Brodt Music Technicians
Give your guitar some love & attention
by Mary Jones
The guitar is one of the most popular instruments available today. If you play guitar, this article will help you provide the proper care necessary to keep your guitar healthy and fun to play. This article will focus specifically on the guitar, though many of these tips could also apply to other string instruments.
Your strings are a key element to keeping your instrument sounding its very best. We recommend that you wash your hands before playing, as the oils and grime on your hands will shorten the life of the strings. When you are done playing, wipe the strings down with a clean cloth. While you are at it, wipe down the entire guitar to help preserve the finish. It is recommended that your strings are replaced every 3 months or when the strings start to sound dull. You can do this yourself or let an expert at Ward-Brodt do it for you, and we stock a variety of excellent brands of strings, such as D’Addario, Martin Marquis and John Pearse. Be sure to clean your fingerboard when you change your strings! You can also bring your guitar into our shop for a “set-up”. When doing a setup, the strings are properly installed, stretched and tuned, the truss rod is adjusted, the finger board is cleaned and oiled as needed, and the saddle height is adjusted at the bridge for proper string height. These elements come together for a guitar that sounds its best and is comfortable to play!
Like any instrument that is made of wood, your guitar should be kept in an environment where you yourself are comfortable. It should never be left in a hot (or cold) car. It should not be left in a hot attic or a musty basement. Careful humidification is important, especially in the winter. We have Planet Waves and Dampit humidifiers for use during the months when you are heating your home. Please ask a professional at Ward-Brodt Music if you have questions about your guitars humidification needs. As always, if you are not playing your instrument, it should be kept in its case, or at least on a proper guitar stand. We have hard cases and gig bags in stock, as well a variety of guitar stands to provide your instrument with a safe place to rest.
Check out our selection of guitar and string accessories and care products. In addition to strings, we carry Dunlop string winders, a selection of polishes and treated polishing cloths to clean the finish, and conditioner for the fingerboard.
Stop in and let our staff help you select the right gear to help care for your instrument. If you need more extensive work done, remember, we have a full service string repair department right here in our store. An instrument that is properly maintained will be more enjoyable to play, and it should last longer than an instrument that is not properly cared for. Why then would you not want to give your instrument the very best care possible?
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