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Breaking In | Revoicing | General Care | If You Have A Problem
Please call or write to us with any questions you might have regarding your instrument. We recommend obtaining information directly from us to avoid misinformation often given by inexperienced persons. Here are some suggestions for keeping it in good repair.
What to do: A new wooden instrument requires special care during the first few months to prevent cracking. During the first fifteen playings, only play your recorder for 30 minutes a day. You may increase playing time by 15 minutes each succeeding five playings, up to a maximum of two hours per day. We don't recommend playing your instrument more than two hours a day.
Why you do it: Playing puts moisture into the bore of the recorder while the outside stays fairly dry. The difference in moisture content between the interior and exterior creates a strain on the wood because the interior expands while the exterior doesn't. This strain can crack the recorder, most likely at the headjoint. The coating of linseed oil on your recorder helps retard moisture absorption but it is still important to gradually introduce moisture into the wood by limiting playing time during the first month.
Please plan to return your instrument to us after it is broken in (before the end of the first year you own it) so we can revoice it for you. This is a normal requirement for a new recorder and will bring it to the peak of its performance. There is no charge for this service.
Do not expose your recorder to high or low temperatures or humidity or to direct sunlight. Leave your instrument out of its bag or case whenever possible so that it can dry between playings. Protect it from freezing and be sure to let it warm to room temperature slowly if it is very cold.
Warming up and Drying off: Before playing, particularly in a cold room, warm the instrument to body temperature. After playing, leave the instrument out of its case so it can air dry. You may wish to dry the bore, although this is not necessary. Use a long stick with a handkerchief in its slotted end. Be careful not to dent the block with the tip of the swab. Do not use a "mop" type swab, as the fibers catch in the bore dampening the tone.
Humidity: Particularly in winter, it is a good idea to keep the instrument and case in a plastic bag when they are out of a properly humidified room. A piece of cotton soaked with water and placed inside the plastic bag will provide sufficient humidity. Don't leave the instrument in a moist, airtight container for too long or it may get moldy. If possible, store your woodwind in a room that has between 40% and 50% relative humidity.
Adjusting the joints: The joints may loosen because the wood will shrink in relation to the brass (the brass doesn’t change in dimension). If the joint is too loose, find the end of the string by scraping away from the end of the joint, then unwind about an arms length of string and rewind it on the joint. Because the new windings aren’t compressed, they’ll make the joint tight. Keep the joint from being too tight by removing some string.
Cleaning: If your instrument needs cleaning, wash it in lukewarm (100 degrees F. or 38 degrees C.) water containing dishwashing liquid. If you are comfortable doing so, remove the block before cleaning the instrument. Use a swab or soft bottle brush in the bore. Then rinse in clear, lukewarm water and dry carefully. As long as the instrument does not remain wet for more than fifteen minutes no harm will be done to the wood or finish. It is best not to get any keys or string wet. The bore may be reoiled after the wood has had a few hours to dry.
Clogging: Properly breaking-in a recorder and warming the instrument before each playing will reduce clogging problems. It is normal, however, for condensation to form in the windway when playing for any length of time. When this happens, cover the window with the palm of the hand and blow sharply through the windway. If clogging remains a problem, prepare a solution of one part of dishwashing detergent (without lanolin or perfume) to three parts of water. Joy, Sunlight or Dupenol all work well. Apply it to the top of the windway with a bird feather and allow it to dry. This should help by allowing the condensation to run off more freely. If clogging persists, the instrument may be in need of revoicing. If the recorder clogs easily after oiling, the problem should go away in a day or two.
Mildew: If mildew is a problem, keep your instrument out of its case between playings will allow it to dry thoroughly, thereby reducing the mildew growth. To remove mildew, swab the affected areas with hydrogen peroxide and let stand for five minutes. Then wash the pieces in lukewarm water as described under "Cleaning". Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar also kills mildew and, if applied and not rinsed off the wood, should prevent its reappearance.
Oiling: Oil the bore of your recorder at least once a year using boiled linseed oil. Before oiling make sure that all surfaces are completely clean and dry (the recorder should not have been played for at least four hours, otherwise moisture in the bore will interfere with the absorption of the oil). If needed, clean the instrument first as described under "cleaning". You must remove the block, along with any keys. Apply a heavy coat to the bore, toneholes and windway with a cloth swab. To preserve the exterior finish, oil it at the same time. Avoid getting any oil on keyways or pad areas. While you are oiling the bore, apply some oil to the part of the block that faces the lip. Oil on top of the block isn't harmful, but it is best to avoid this area. Allow the oil to soak in for about one hour then wipe off the excess with facial tissue or cloth rags. If no oil is left on the surface after the soaking period the wood was overdue for reoiling and should be reoiled every two months until oil is no longer being completely absorbed. Make certain that no oil is left on any surface for more than two hours as it will harden and become difficult to remove. Linseed oil soaked rags or paper will catch fire spontaneously! Put them in a sealed metal container or throw them into an outside trash can immediately after using them. If there are beads of oil on the outside of your instrument, they can be removed by rubbing gently with 0000 steel wool. If the exterior color starts to lighten, you’re rubbing too hard.
Removing the Block: If you choose to remove the block yourself, have someone experienced in the procedure show you how to tap it out carefully using as large a dowel as will fit in the bore. You can put a sock over the end of the head to prevent the block from flying out. After oiling, carefully put the block back in, pushing it as far as it will easily go with your fingers. Push it in the rest of the way with a smooth 1" (25mm) dowel held in the palm of your hand. If the block does not go completely in, tap the side of the dowel with a wooden or rawhide hammer. Be careful when doing this as it is easy to slip and accidentally hit the tip of the mouthpiece, shattering the wood. On bass recorders, lay a flat piece of wood on top of the block to protect it if you use a hammer. You can shrink the block slightly by drying it with a hair dryer (for about three minutes), making it easier to replace. It is easiest to remove or replace a block in the early summer when the air is becoming humid, as blocks loosen on their own during this period. It helps if the instrument has not been played for a few days. It is very important to have an experienced person show you how to insert or remove your block. If it or the recorder is damaged, the cost for repair could be high.
Bass Cap: Remove the cap when the instrument isn’t being played. There is a pouch in the bag for the cap. The cap is aligned properly when the dots on the back of the recorder line up (for direct blow caps).
Keys: If the key is not opening fully, put vaseline on the cork where the two key parts meet. Never allow oil or vaseline to touch the leather key pad that covers the tonehole. The springs on the keys are adjusted so that very little effort is needed to close them. This means that if the instruments are at an angle of flatter than 45° from the floor, they may not open fully. If you don’t mind a little more tension, you can unscrew the springs and bend them gently over their entire length to decrease the diameter of the curve, thereby increasing the pressure on the key. Be careful not to bend the spring in the axle hole region because it could weaken the metal. It takes very little bending to make a big difference in key pressure. The axle position can also affect how the key operates. Adjusting the depth of the free end of the axle in or out of the instrument can relieve a stress on the mechanism, which may be binding the key. First take the free end completely out of the wood and see if that helps. Then try inserting the axle into the wood at different depths to see what works best. If you remove the key, always take off the pad portion first so that the upper portion can be removed with the least stress on the spring. In reassembling, be careful not to damage the cork underneath the tip of the upper portion of the key. Grease this cork to keep the key operating smoothly. If the key is too noisy, lubricate the axle with Vaseline, which reduces the metal to metal contact. Woodwind key oil will allow the mechanism to move more freely, although it doesn’t reduce noise as well as Vaseline. Remove the fontanelle (key cover) regularly to prevent it from sticking in place! If it needs to be more firmly attached to the instrument, press gently, as too much force can split the bottom end.
Repairs and Revoicing: Do not attempt to change the voicing of your recorder. Revoicing and other repairs should be done only in this workshop. This recorder has a precise longitudinal curvature in the windway that must be maintained. Improper filing or sanding of the block will destroy the voicing. Our guarantee does not cover the approximately $100 cost of repairing damaged voicing. We complete most repairs or revoicings within a day or two of receiving an instrument, although cracks and other major operations take longer.
Cracks: In the unlikely event that your instrument should crack, notify us immediately. Keep the opening free of oil and dirt.
Returning your instrument: If you live outside the United States, please observe the following instructions when returning your instrument to us:
We will state "instrument being returned to owner after repairs by maker" on the customs tag when returning your instrument, listing it as having "No Commercial Value" to ensure that no duty is assessed you.
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