Elana Segal's Music Studio

Wooden Clarinet Care

Sunday, June 18, 2023 by Elana Segal | Clarinet

How to care for your new wooden clarinet. Break-in process and winterize your new instrument.

Break-in Process
Your new wooden clarinet needs to be conditioned properly to condition the wood for moisture and temperature changes. These steps should also be followed if you bought a used instrument that has not been played in a while.

Playing on your new instrument for an extended period of time will risk the wood taking on too much moisture and stress the wood from the extreme temperature changes. Taking the time to break in your new instrument will condition the wood and reduce the risk of a major crack. 

Follow these steps:
  • Swab out the instrument (bell to barrel) with a microfibre swab after each use
  • Play on it for 5 minutes a day for the first week
  • Play on it for 10 minutes a day for the second week
  • Play on it for 15 minutes a day for the third week
  • Play on it for 20 minutes a day for fourth week

Winterize Your Clarinet
Your new wooden clarinet will be very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Make sure that you never leave  your instrument in the car, by a heat or A/C source. 

A case cover can help manage the temperature of the instrument. Companies like Protec and Altieri make thermal bags that fit common clarinet cases.

Using  a humidification system can also reduce the risk of your clarinet drying out and cracking. Products like Humistat and Dampit offer in case options, or just throw some orange peels in your case to release moisture. It is important to note that you can easily over humidify your instrument, so carefully monitor the case humidity levels. I have found that my clarinets need more moisture in the Winter, and less in the Summer. 

Take extra precautions in the winter months!
The biggest enemy for clarinet is cold temperatures. Even traveling a short distance in the cold Winter is enough to drop the clarinet temperature down. Always feel your clarinet and let it sit for a few minutes to acclimate to the room temperature.

Instrument insurance
It is a good idea to get your instrument covered under your home owners insurance policy. If you will be traveling with you instrument, you may want to look into instrument specific insurance company like Clarion Instrument Insurance.