On Winter and Binding Keys

January 30th, 2014 by Trent

Those of us living here in the upper half of North America have been experiencing an unusually frigid winter. As a result, here in the repair shop we’ve been seeing some severe binding of keys and mechanisms with Grenadilla instruments. Wood is a natural fiber which will tend to “breathe” and either contract or expand depending on the weather. Cold and dry rooms will cause the posts that hold the actual keys in place to move closer together, causing keys to bind. This shrinking of the wood also has the tendency to cause rings on the tenons to become loose and sometimes fall from the instrument.

You can try to prevent some of these problems in the following ways:

  • Store your instrument in a warm, humidified room.
  • Always allow your instrument to acclimate to any indoor temperature prior to assembling and blowing warm air through it.
  • As always, swab out your instrument after every playing.

By taking a few of these precautions, you may avoid problems with your instrument seizing up or even cracking.

Midwest Musical Imports Repair Department

Eric Anderson & Matt Reich


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