Category: Instrument Repair
Tips from our Techs--Humidity Issues
Tip from head repair technician, Eric Anderson
Summer is that time of year when humidity increases and the wood body of instruments begins to expand. This happens along the width and length of the wood grain affecting both the fit of keys, levers, and tenons. When the wood expands in the summer months, woodwind instruments often don't fit together without a struggle, if they even fit together at all! We find that this issue is most prevalent during the first year of a new instrument's life, and especially prevalent in newer clarinets.
If this happens with your instrument to the point where abnormal force is required to take it apart, it's best to have an experienced repair technician take care of it. A technician will be able to adjust the fit of the tenon cork, the exposed wood on the tenon, or sometimes both. Ignoring the problem and blowing warm, humid air down your instrument will only make it worse!
The humidity will also make keys fit looser, but don't worry! We never fit keys too tightly in the summertime because they will most likely expand in the fall/winter and potentially bind once the humidity drops. Loose key fittings won't harm your instrument, they only cause them to be slightly noisier. If you can live with the loose key fitting in the summer, great! It should return to normal in the fall/winter. If it is an issue for you, we can certainly fix it, and if we do, don't forget to come back to get the fit readjusted after the humidity changes.
If you ever experience issues with your instrument and don't know what to do, remember we are only a phone call away and are happy to help!!
Introducing our newest repair technician, Brian!
We are happy to announce that we have a new team member! Brian DeGayner has joined MMI in the repair department. He graduated from Southeast Technical in Red Wing with a diploma in band instrument repair in 2016. Prior to joining the repair team at MMI, Brian worked for Twin Cities Instrument Repair in Edina, focusing on flute and double reeds. He is a member of the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians, and attends state and regional conferences. Brian spends most of his free time outdoors, or playing in local orchestras.
We asked Brian a few questions to get to know him better!
What got you started in repair?
"After a few years of playing horn, I realized my love for working with my hands could be applicable to the industry. After talking with Greg Beckwith, I dropped everything and went to Southeast Tech in Red Wing."
What groups were you playing in prior to going to school for repair?
"I have played for several orchestras around Minnesota. Mankato Symphony, St. Andrew’s, Bloomington Symphony, Minneapolis Civic, Wayzata Symphony, and currently St. Paul Civic."
Any favorite pieces?
"I love Mahler’s symphonies, especially 3, 4, and 5. Ein Heldenleben, Holst’s Jupiter, Sibelius....basically anything horn-heavy. Otherwise, I’m usually partial to playing in small ensembles, such as Daniel Baldwin’s Landscapes for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon and Piano, Martinu’s Quartet for Clarinet, Horn, Cello and Snare Drum, or Barber’s Summer Music."
What is your favorite repair to do?
I love a challenge. My favorite work to do is overhauling instruments: breathing new life into an instrument is very rewarding, and hearing an instrument I fixed on stage always makes me smile.
Any hobbies at home?
I would consider myself a maker. I’ve used my machining experience to make plenty of hand tools and a few machines to help with various projects. Currently, I’m refinishing my tool chest, painting models, and working on my jewelry making skills. I wouldn’t mind getting into watch and clock mechanism repair...
You’ve mentioned your love for the outdoors...
I go hiking and camping as much as I can, year round. I am an Eagle Scout (Troop 494, White Bear Lake, 2009), so I basically grew up outdoors. My family moves a lot of timber every year, and I hunt and fish whenever I can.
Please join us in welcoming Brian to MMI! We are so happy to have him part of our team!
Emily Brebach Oboe & English Horn Masterclass
You're invited!! FREE!!
Reception following the class
Large selection of oboes and English horns for trial
Free small repairs
Emily Brebach joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra playing English horn and oboe in the fall of 2012.
Ms. Brebach, a Philadelphia native, has performed with several orchestras throughout the United States, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony, and the Houston Symphony. In past summers, she has performed at the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Des Moines Metro Opera, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Aspen Music Festival. Prior to joining the ASO, Ms. Brebach held the position of English horn and oboe with the Sarasota Orchestra.
Ms. Brebach holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, and studied with Louis Rosenblatt, James Caldwell, Robert Atherholt, and Robert Walters. She is an Artist Affiliate Instructor of Oboe at Emory University, a faculty member of the Atlanta Symphony's Talent Development Program and maintains an active private studio in her home. Ms. Brebach has also given masterclasses and reedmaking seminars at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Florida State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of South Carolina, and the North Carolina School for the Arts. She spends her summers in residence at the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, NC, as English horn and oboe as well as artist faculty.
We look forward to seeing you at this great, FREE event!! RSVP here!
Virtual Tour of Our New Location
We absolutely love our new location and think you will, too!! The store has doubled in size!! We've added practice/lesson rooms, a recital hall, increased the size of our repair shop and sales floor. Please stop by for a visit! We'd love to show you around!
Our repair staff working hard in the new repair shop!
Our new recital hall with seating capacity of 60!
One of our new teaching/practice studios!
A street view of our new space.
We look forward to welcoming you in the store soon!
Thank you for attending our grand opening celebration!
I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to everyone that came to our grand opening celebration! For those of you that came, emailed, sent flowers or called with your best wishes, we are extremely grateful. Below are some photos from the event.
A big thank you again to our generous sponsors/vendors: Buffet-Crampon, Fox Products, Loree, Puchner, Heckel, D'Addario, Peak, and Clark Fobes.
We look forward to many more events and please keep an eye on our calendar for updates!
Jessica Nelson, General Manager
Owner and founder, Mike Aamoth gets a thumbs up after the Friday night reception from long-time customer, David Braslau.
Katie with customers at the Friday night reception.
Friday night reception.
Friday night reception.
Friday night reception.
Eric thanks a customer after work in the repair shop.
Our first customer during the celebration on Friday!! Jessica with her friend and oboist, Siri Garnaas
Friday was repair technician, Matt Reich's birthday! We surprised him with a cake.
Julie Gramolini William, Chris Marshall, and Greg Williams, of the MN Orchestra during their trio performance
Ever wonder what goes into the crack repair process on your oboe or clarinet? Take a look! Eric, our head repair tech, takes you through the process of repairing a crack.
Instrument Cases - Is Yours Damaging Your Instrument?
As many players know, our instruments travel just as much as we do. Our instruments spend quite a bit of time being removed from and placed into their cases. If you're investing in your instrument, be sure to invest in an instrument case that cares for your woodwind too.
Many instruments that come through our repair shop suffer from ill fitting cases. Some cases can actually be detrimental to your instrument's safety. Reoccurring problems on your horn (rods becoming loose, keys going out of alignment) might actually be caused by the way an instrument fits in the case. We have seen bent keys from cases fitting both too tight or with excessive movement. If your current case is not fit to your instrument, be sure to attend to this issue. Scratched plating and blemishes in the body of an instrument can be caused by a loose bocal, screwdriver or other items left in the case. Consider a case with an outer zipper pouch to collect all of your accessories! We're here to help and our sales team has many options to offer when considering updating your case. Visit our online store to see our options for cases: oboe cases, bassoon cases, clarinet cases, saxophone cases. We can also special order cases--call us for more details.
Repair Tips: Oboe Adjustment Screws
If you play the oboe or any or any instrument with adjustment screws, and you are not trained in proper adjustment techniques, I would advise against fixing or turning them on your own. It is easy to turn a small problem into a larger one with the slightest turn of a screw (this includes all screws perpendicular to the oboe).
Repair Tips: Oboe Octave Vents
If you are experiencing excessive water in your octave vents on your oboe, we have something that may help! When you bring your horn to us for repair, we can apply a thin layer of silicone inside the octave well and cap, which will help repel water. This technique has seemed to help others in the past...please inquire for more information.
Repair Tips: Tight Tenons
This summer has been exceptionally humid, especially in the upper Midwest, which leads to the swelling of wood. If you play oboe, bassoon, clarinet, or other wooden instrument, you may be experiencing tight tenons (where the joints fit together). If your tenons reveal slight friction when assembling your instrument, but come apart when you are finished playing, then just wait out the summer; the tenon/socket fit will get better in a month or two. It is best to not remove material if possible because the tenon will be loose in the Fall after the humidity decreases, and with oboes and clarinets this can mis-adjust the bridge mechanism. However, if your tenons are so tight that force is needed to assemble and disassemble your instrument, bring it in and we will turn down the wood to a proper fit. Do not force the instrument or you can risk bending the keys!
Repair Tips: Stuck Swab
Remember to swab out your oboe after every playing session! Always check a pull-through swab for knots before sending through the instrument. The slightest knot in the silk or string can be enough to get the swab stuck near the crown (inside the top of the oboe). If a swab seems to be stuck, but the tail string is still showing out the bottom of the top joint, you can pull on the tail string (with MINIMAL force) to retrieve the swab from your oboe. However, if your swab does get stuck with no string visible to pull back through the bore, bring it in to us or another qualified repair technician for proper removal. Do not attempt to remove a stuck swab on your own at home! Midwest Musical Imports offers stuck-swab removal at no charge.