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Maintenance/Care Tips

Basic Brass Instrument Care Tips

  • Frequently clean your mouthpiece with soap, warm water as dirt and deposits tend to collect there. Eating and drinking should be avoided immediately before playing, if not residue will collect inside the instrument. Don't force the mouthpiece into the instrument - a mild rotation is all that is required when inserting. If mouthpiece becomes stuck, don't try to remove it yourself.

  • Tuning slides need to be kept clean and lubricated. If they become difficult to move, then remove them, clean them with a soft cloth and then apply new tuning slide grease sparingly. If they are stuck or will not move smoothly, perhaps is time to send instrument to our shop.

  • Piston/rotor valves are precision machined to very close tolerance. Any dirt or foreign particle that finds its way between the valve and valve casing has the potential to make the valve action sluggish or can stop the valve to function altogether. Lubrication of the valves is recommended before use.

  • If a brass instrument is in good condition but won't be played for a very long period of time and be stored, it is advised to remove tuning slides and wipe off grease. Once the instrument will be used again, apply new tuning slide grease sparingly and assemble, this can avoid stuck/frozen slides.

Basic Woodwind Instrument Care Tips

  • Use care by not bending keys when assembling instrument parts. Typical problem areas are clarinet bridge keys, flute foot joint keys, and saxophone neck octave keys.

  • Avoid eating or drinking sugary beverages before or during playing. Sugar accumulates inside the instrument bore causing sticky pads and dirty tone holes.

  • Avoid over-oiling keys, too much oil applied to keys will migrate to key corks and felts, causing them to fall off due to glue failure. A periodic single drop of oil is all that is required to keep keys moving easily.

  • Flute head joints or foot tenons do not require cork grease or oil. Tenons fit best when they are clean and free of dirt. If sticky dirt or residue does build up on the tenon, a small amount of oil can be used to loosen the dirt. The tenon should then be wiped dry with a clean cloth (inside and outside) before playing.

  • Instrument bores should be swabbed out after playing to remove excess moisture. When finished playing, mouthpieces should be removed from necks and clarinet barrels to avoid permanent cork damage.

  • Please avoid using PAD-SAVER (SHOVE-IT) style swabs on saxophones and flutes. They trap moisture inside the instrument and promote bacteria growth. Traditional "PULL TROUGH" style swabs are recommended to remove moisture after playing.

Basic Piano Instrument Care Tips

  • Make sure that piano fall board (keyboard cover) is locked after use. Please use only District provided lock (P601). If you do not have a lock or lock hasp, please let us know and we will provide one. If you request a piano service and piano is locked with non-district lock, then the technician will not be able to service it.

  • When opening the fall board, make sure there are no objects such as pencils, drum sticks, paper clips, etc. Objects can roll inside of the piano and cause piano action to malfunction and cause buzzing sounds.

  • Key tops can get very dirty, and can be cleaned with multi-purpose cleaner. Just spray the cleaner on a soft rag and wipe the key tops.

  • If you would like to roll the Grand piano across auditorium floor or room, make sure there is clearance between pedal lyre and floor, this will avoid causing the lyre to snap and break. If you want to place grand piano facing the wall, please make sure the piano bench is not in front of the piano. A bench that is left in front of the piano will cause the pedal assembly to snap, which can severely damage the piano or in some cases cause a personal injury.

  • Try to avoid placing pianos in a location where air conditioning or heater vents are blowing directly at the back of the piano. If possible, try to avoid placing piano in a location where the sun shines on the back of the piano.

Basic String Instrument Care Tips

  • After each use always use a cloth to wipe dust and rosin off your instrument. This insures rosin does not build up and hurt the varnish.

  • When not in use, place your instrument in the case. Nearly all damage done to an instrument is when is out of the case.

  • Periodically check your bridge to make sure it is standing straight and is not warping or leaning forward. The bridge should set centered between the inner notches of the f-holes and centered with the fingerboard. It should fit perfectly to the top of the instrument with no gaps.

  • Always keep your instrument away from extremes in temperature and humidity. When you need to replace strings, do not take all of the strings off at once but replace one at a time. This will keep the tension on the top of the instrument and help keep the sound post in the correct place.

  • Remember that your bow is just as important as your instrument. Loosen the hair after every use. Wipe excess rosin off the stick with your cloth.

Additional Tips

  • When instruments are not being played, they should be placed in their corresponding case or be placed on a proper instrument stand.

  • Do not store sheet music, cleaning cloths, or swabs on top of the instrument inside of the case. Swabs and cloths should be stored in the case accessory area to avoid bending keys during handling or inside instrument bore for woodwinds. This will also prevent damage to case hinges and latches.

  • Do not switch body parts between different instruments. For instance, a Yamaha clarinet upper joint and a Bundy lower joint will not work properly together. This also applies to saxophone necks, and flute head joints and foot joints. Each instrument part should be labeled so that they do not become separated from instrument during cleaning.

  • Be sure to include all parts of the instrument, when sending to our shop. If any parts come loose from the instrument, be sure to include them when submitting the repair. For example, a saxophone cannot be properly tested without the neck. Replacement parts are becoming obsolete, especially for non-district approved brands. For this reason, the music shop strongly recommends purchasing district approved known brand instruments.

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