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.

Repair Tips: Plastic Instruments and Cork Grease

 "If your oboe or clarinet is plastic, I would recommend using paraffin wax instead of cork grease.  Cork grease makes it difficult to line up the bridge keys between the joints because it increases the friction between the cork/plastic relationship, whereas paraffin wax creates a smooth, “gliding” between the cork and plastic sockets.  It seems logical that if there is tenon/cork tightness, then more cork grease should be applied; however, it is possible to over-apply cork grease, which will only make things worse.  Excessively applied cork grease is messy and can deteriorate the bond of glue holding the cork to the plastic tenon, as well as the glue bond on the surrounding key corks.  Applying paraffin will protect this glue bond, and can be purchased inexpensively at any grocery or convenience store.  If you do not have paraffin, cork grease is better than nothing at all."  --Eric Anderson