Woodwind Instrument Care

Caring for your brass instrument

A well maintained instrument increases “playability” and enjoyment. Always remember that musical instruments are fine, precision instruments and are easily bent or broken. Always treat you instrument with utmost care.

Quick Tips

All Instruments

• Swab out the instrument every time you finish playing.
• Wipe fingerprints off the instrument to prevent damage to the finish.
• Wipe off the tenons to keep them clean and easy to assemble.

• Remove the reed from the mouthpiece.
• Replace the mouthpiece cap on the mouthpiece.
• Place your reed in its case.
•Clean your mouthpiece once a week.

Remove the mouthpiece from off the neck.
•Insert end plug in body socket before placing saxophone in its case.

Check for a loose tuning cork once a month by giving a slight tug on the crown.
•Never store the swab inside the body of the flute.

Do not leave your instrument in the car!

Exposing your instrument to extreme temperatures can result in irreparable damage.

Contact Summerhays Music’s professional Service & Repair department if you have any questions about, or are in need of service for your instrument.

Necessary Maintenance Items

You will need a few items to assist you in keeping your instrument clean, well lubricated, and well protected.


They include:

Woodwind Maintenance Tool Chart


Cleaning Your Instrument

All points of friction in the key mechanism should be oiled regularly with key oil. Apply it with a toothpick or a needle. This will minimize wear, keep the key action in top shape, and eliminate the possibility of screws rusting.
Always be very careful when assembling your instrument to hold it in such a way that keys are not bent. Be especially careful of keys that “bridge” across joints.

Always swab the moisture out of the bore of the instrument with a swab each time you finish playing. This will extend the life of the pads and prevent unpleasant odors. Feathers will not wick moisture and are not recommended.
Adjustment screws are for delicate adjustments of the mechanisms, particularly in the care of flutes and oboes. THESE SHOULD NOT BE MOVED. If you believe the instrument needs adjusting, see a certified Summerhays Music repair technician.

Always remove the reed from your mouthpiece or oboe after playing and store it in a reed protector or case. The mouthpiece should be cleaned off with a soft lint-free cloth, swabbed out, and the cap replaced. The mouthpiece should be cleaned with lukewarm water, liquid dishwashing soap, and a mouthpiece brush once a week. NEVER use hot water to clean your mouthpiece.

Never force the mouthpiece on the neck. If it seems to go together too tightly, apply a little cork grease on the cork with the tip of your finger then place the mouthpiece on the neck.

Cork grease should not be used on the neck tenon. If it becomes difficult to place the neck in the body, take the instrument to a certified Summerhays repair technician to have it refit.

Never force cork joints together. If assembly of parts is difficult, simply apply a little cork grease on the cork with the tip of your finger and then put the joints together.

Never assemble an instrument when the bell, body, or barrel rings are loose, as serious damage may result.
In certain areas, wood instruments require special care because of sensitivity to temperature and humidity. If you have a wood instrument, you should consult with a Summerhays Music repair technician as to the proper care of your instrument.

Flutes & piccolos require little maintenance other than regular cleaning. If the joints on your instrument become too tight or too loose, or if it becomes difficult to tune, bring it to a Summerhays Music repair technician to be properly inspected and/or refit. CORK GREASE SHOULD NOT BE USED ON FLUTES.

To prevent tarnishing, fingerprints should be wiped off the body and keys of silver instruments with a clean lint-free cloth or polishing cloth. Silver polishing cloths are available through music stores and jewelers for this purpose. Be careful to avoid rubbing the edges of the pad with the polishing cloth. Doing so will damage the pads, making it necessary to replace them.