Repair Posts

Basic Tuning Tips for Woodwind Instruments

We’d like to talk about the basics of tuning your woodwind instrument. While this may seem oversimplified there are some important details about the different families and the instruments within that are important to know.

All brass and woodwind instruments are designed around the A440/A442 pitch and can be adjusted higher (sharper) or lower (flatter) to a certain extent. Adjusting too far either way will affect the scale of the instrument and can actually cause playing problems.

On this blog we will start with the woodwinds.


Flute/Piccolo-Where the head joint tenon fits into the  receiver at the top of the main body tube is where the tuning is done. You would normally start by inserting the tenon all the way in and then pulling it out about 1/8-3/16 inch to start tuning. Then you would push in more to raise the pitch or pull it out to lower. Never use the head crown assembly for general tuning. For more info about the head crown assembly see our post titled "There’s A Cork In My Flute. What Does It Do?".

 

Bb-Eb Clarinets-Where the barrel fits onto the top of the upper joint is where the primary tuning is done. After assembling the clarinet pull the barrel out about 1/8-3/16 inch to start. Then you can push on further to raise or pull out to lower the pitch. The mouthpiece should always be all the way into the barrel.

 

Alto/Bass Clarinets-These depend somewhat on the make and model of the instrument. Basically the tuning is done by adjusting the way the neck fits into the receiver. Out if it is sharp or in if flat. On pro models the neck is usually in two pieces with a slide attachment to do the same.

 

Saxophones-All the saxophones have a cork on the neck that the mouthpiece fits onto and the mouthpiece itself can be adjusted on further to raise and pull out to lower the pitch. An alto sax mouthpiece should go on about ¾ inch to start with and tenor/baritone sax about 1inch.

 

On clarinets and saxophones the mouthpiece itself can affect the tuning also. Different brands have different lengths so if you are having an extreme problem being too flat or sharp to begin with a different mouthpiece can help out.


Oboe-Oboes have a cork tube that is part of the reed. This can then be adjusted in or out of the reed receiver at the top. Different brands of reeds also have varying overall lengths which can make a difference.

 

Bassoon-Bassoons have a little bit of adjustability in or out where the bocal fits into the receiver of the body. However, it is limited because the whisper key on the body must be able to cover the whisper key riser on the bocal.

 

Bocals come in three different lengths to help facilitate tuning. #1 (the shortest), #2 (most common) and #3 (longest).

bassoon-vocals


As I stated in the beginning these are just some basic details about the tuning of your instrument. Nothing is more important than carefully listening and learning “how” to play your instrument in tune with others. It is constantly changing and you must learn how to adapt to your different playing environments.

Meet Taylor Roberts – Repair Department Office Assistant

Position: Repair Department Office Assistant

Start Date: June 2017

Training or Education: Saint Joseph’s College- Bachelor of Arts in Music Education

Where are you from originally: Indianapolis, IN

What instruments do you play: Clarinet, Saxophone, Ukulele

What groups do/did you play with: Indianapolis Symphonic Band

What do you enjoy most about working in the shop: I enjoy being able to help customers who want to give their student a rewarding experience through music. I also think that some of the repairs my coworkers do are amazing and it’s impressive how talented they are at their craft.

What is your most memorable musical experience: When I was at St. Joe our choir was invited to tour in Rome, Italy and sing at many different churches.  One of those included St. Peters Basilica where we sang for the Pope. My favorite band memory would be playing the Star Spangled Banner at ISSMA Marching Band State finals with a brass choir from St. Joe.

Meet Ben Parrott – String Technician at Paige’s Music

Ben Parrott - String Instrument Technician at Paige's Music

We’re very excited to introduce you to the latest addition to our string technician staff in our repair shop, Ben Parrott.  Learn more about him by reading our quick Q&A with him below!

Position: String Instrument Technician

Start Date: June 2017

Training or Education:
Graduated from Indiana University School of Music in 1999 with an A.S. in String Instrument Technology. Worked in Philadelphia at Paul Stevens Violins until 2000. Worked for Casa Del Sol Violins until I started working for myself as a full time violin maker in 2001.

Where are you from originally:
Franklin, IN

What instruments do you play:
Classical guitar, violin and a small amount of cello.

What do you enjoy most about being a technician:
I enjoy helping an instrument play to its full potential which also helps the player reach their musical goals.

What is the most unusual repair you’ve had to deal with:
Most unusual would have to be the 18th century violin that had the top crushed from a falling bottle of water.

What is your most memorable musical experience:
Listening to, and  talking with Janos Starker about his cello in the shop. He also mentioned his classical guitar to me several times that was given to him by Andres Segovia.

Tips On Caring For Your Trumpet

Daily care and maintenance of your instrument is very important to how well your instrument performs. Watch this quick video below for a few, quick tips on caring for your trumpet.

Take Care Of Your Instrument On Summer Break

repair-brad

With schools out and possibly no summer program going on it can be difficult to get your instrument in to the shop when you live a distance away. Here are a couple of tips for those of you this effects.

Brass instruments – At the very least make sure you grease up the tuning slides and move them in and out a few times to spread the grease around. Keep the valves oiled and make sure you get the instrument out from time to time to move the valves and slides around. Clean your mouthpiece out!

Woodwind instruments – On reed instruments make sure you take the reed off the mouthpiece and clean it out with some mild liquid detergent soap and lukewarm water (not hot!). On flutes you can also clean out the headjoint (not the main body) with some mild liquid detergent soap and lukewarm water (not hot!). Be careful to not move the head crown assembly or it will have to be reset.

String instruments – Make sure and let the tension off on the bow to keep the hair from stretching. Use a soft cloth and wipe the rosin off the top. Do not try and use generic home cleaners as they may damage the finish.

These tips and more are covered under our “care and maintenance” videos which you will find on our website and in previous blog posts.

Above all make sure the instrument is stored in a dry climate controlled area. Too much heat and/or moisture can cause mildew and mold in just a short time.

As always, please contact us if you have any questions.

Get Your Instrument Serviced Over Summer

Has it been a while since your instrument was in for a check-up? If summer is a down time for you and your playing time, then you should send your instrument in for a check-up. We recommend two visits each year to help keep your instrument in proper playing condition and the summer is the perfect time.

In fact, schools across the state will be sending in all kinds of school-owned instruments this summer to be cleaned, repaired, and refurbished so that they are ready to go for the next school year.

The best way to get your horn serviced during the summer is to bring it to the store. Our District Managers are visiting some schools during the summer, but not all schools and not every week. It’s very sporadic. The safe thing to do is call us first to see if arrangements can be made to drop off a loaner and pick up your instrument. You can call us at 1-800-337-0471.

Have a great rest of your summer and don’t forget to practice!

The NAPBIRT Convention 2017

A couple of months ago we talked about how we’re always learning in our repair shop to keep up with the latest trends and techniques in instrument repair. In late April, I was able to attend yet another key event in the life of a repair technician.

This year the annual NAPBIRT (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Technicians) finds us in Albuquerque NM. There are almost 300 technicians  attending this year in order to learn about new techniques, methods and materials used in the repair of your instruments.

Quick Tips On Euphonium Maintenance

Daily care and maintenance of your instrument is very important to how well your instrument performs. Watch this quick video below for a few, quick tips on caring for your Euphonium.