Wooden Recorder Care Guide

 

A fine wooden recorder should be a lifelong investment. However, wood is a natural material and needs regular care to maintain. Follow our best practice recommendations to ensure that you continue to get the best performance from your instrument.

  • Before you start: Before fitting the instrument together for the first time, apply cork grease to the cork on the tenons. While assembling the instrument, turn slightly in one direction – cork has a grain so turn in the direction of least resistance. Continue to grease corks only occasionally, as too frequent greasing will saturate the cork and loosen the glue holding the cork to the tenon. If you need to use grease every time you put your
    instrument together, the cork is too tight and should be carefully sanded down. You can find sanding instructions here.

  • Clogging: Beads of condensation in the windway (1) of the recorder frequently cause clogging. To minimize clogging, warm the head joint up to body temperature in your hands, under your arm or in your pocket before playing. If moisture has accumulated in the windway, you can simply suck it out. Or you can take off the head joint, put your hand over the bore (5) and blow into the window (3). Never touch the labium (2) of a wooden instruments with your fingers. When it is damp it can easily warp, spoiling the instrument.

  • Preventing Clogging: To minimize clogging, first allow your instrument to dry thoroughly overnight. Then put a few drops of Duponol into the windway from the window end, covering the surface of the cedar block. Let the excess liquid drain, blow out as described above and let dry before playing.

  • Hoarseness: There are two types of hoarseness you may experience. One is caused by drops of moisture that build up in the windway. This hoarseness usually disappears after 5-10 minutes of playing and is not cause for concern. The second, results from swelling of the cedar block and is usually accompanied by a small, rolling sound, which persists with extended playing. Should this occur, the instruments must be returned for revoicing. The most common cause of this problem is excessive playing. The moisture from the breath puts wooden instruments under strain and they can only sustain a certain amount of breath moisture at a time without suffering damage. For players who plan to use their instruments for lengthy practices, we recommend buying several instruments or using a plastic instrument as backup.

  • Breaking In: Breaking in a wooden recorder is the process of familiarizing the instrument with new conditions of moisture and temperature, as well as familiarizing the player with the new instrument. The breaking in process is important for new instruments or for instruments that have not been played for an extended period of time. Don’t over-do things in this phase.  Concentrate on playing calm phrases without forcing the high register. Use the high register sparingly at first, extending the range gradually.  We recommend following a conservative break-in schedule, especially if using the instrument in a humid environment or if you are a wet player who saturates the windway easily. In the schedule we provide, playing time is defined as the total time from beginning of playing until the instrument is put away to dry. A new playing period should not resume until the instrument has thoroughly dried. For example, playing for 15 minutes, stopping for 30 minutes, and playing again for 15 more minutes constitutes one hour of playing time because the instrument did not have a chance to dry between sessions.

    It is possible for instruments to need revoicing after the breaking in process, as the block can swell and change shapes. Following our recommended schedule should make this unlikely. However, if you notice minor problems during the breaking in period, we recommend that you complete the break-in process and send it in for revoicing. Do not have the instrument revoiced before you’ve finished breaking in the instrument or you may find you need to have a second revoicing.

  • Storing the Instrument: After each playing session, take the instrument apart and wipe the bore out using a rod and cloth. Do not use a mop as it can leave fuzz in the bore. Always use caution when wiping out the head joint as the labium is vulnerable to damage. Should damage to the labium occur, a repair of the head joint is either very expensive or entirely impossible. After wiping your instrument out, allow it to dry thoroughly by storing it in an open case, if possible. Once the instrument is dry, store it in a secure case to protect it from damage. When storing, be careful that no pressure is being put on the labium or keys. Always store the instrument disassembled, rather than whole, to avoid cracks in the joints. If, however, cracks should appear in the joints, they can usually be repaired without further complication.

  • Temperature and Humidity: Wood is sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. To prevent cracking, protect your recorder from extremes of temperature and humidity and from sudden changes in temperature and humidity. Never leave your instrument in direct sunlight, in a car, or near a source of heat.

  • Oiling: Oiling needs depend on the instrument’s wood and finish. Generally, wax-impregnated instruments will never need oiling. If your instrument does need oiling, more information can be found here.

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