Tips Posts

Quick Tips on Saxophone Care

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 saxophone.

You can find more care and maintenance videos for saxophone by clicking here.

Meet The New Yamaha Silent Brass

One of the most important things we can do as musicians is practice.  The more time we spend playing our instrument on our own, the better we will become.  The problem is that instruments, especially brass instruments, are hard to play quietly so it makes it even more difficult to find that winning formula of time, place, and the ability to practice. 
Yamaha is always developing ways to make playing easier from the advancements they make with their instruments to a full line of accessories to keep those instruments playing well, so it should come as no surprise that they have upgraded their Silent Brass offerings to make practicing that much easier.

First off, the Silent Brass System is a practice tool that incorporates a mute, headphones and a control unit.  When the player puts the mute into the bell of the horn, they can play unnoticed by most people as loud as they want.  They have control of the volume and all of the sound goes into the headphones, so they can literally practice anywhere.

The updated Silent Brass System, takes what was a good practice tool and made it even better.  The mute is smaller, so in most cases, it can be stored in the bell when the instrument is put away, so there is no need for a larger case with more storage, this also makes it more convenient to take it with you.  It is also vented so that it is more ‘free blowing” so there is not as much resistance.

The control module utilizes “Brass Resonance Modeling” This is unique to Yamaha.  It helps to reproduce the clear sound of playing without the sound of a mute.   In the player’s ears, it sounds like their instrument; it does not have the “muted” sound that most practice mutes have.  And the beauty is that you do not have to worry about how loud it is, as one you can hear it.

Come in today and try one out, you will be amazed at how good they sound.

Does Your String Instrument Have An Extra Buzz?

tom-may

From time to time we get string instruments in with a complaint about a buzzing sound or vibration. Sometimes a buzz is a simple matter to correct. Sometimes it can be a long process of elimination that proves very frustrating. There are some simple causes and corrections that need to be considered before anything is taken apart.

Some simple causes are loose fine tuners, fingerboard position tape, the chinrest vibrating against the tailpiece, unsecured chinrest tightening screws, unsecured string sleeves, low nut notches, objects inside the instrument, defective or fraying strings, open seams, and glue or varnish in f holes. With cellos and basses the endpin rod will cause a buzz when it is not secured or even when it is not pulled out.

It is often a combination of the above problems, which leads to a process of elimination that can take time. This can be quite frustrating when the answer is simple but elusive. Sometimes it is a judgment call if or when a string that looks fine is actually false or has loose winding. It is a bit of relaxed humor in our shop that the bass bar is sometimes considered first when it is almost never the bass bar causing the buzzing.

Stopping a buzz is almost always simple. Always check the simple things first. If it proves elusive, our shop is happy to help.

Vandoren Alto Sax Reeds – Looking For That Perfect Sound

Reed players are always looking for the perfect sound.  They have that sound in their head and they just need to go find it.  There are many factors that are in play when the musician is searching for it.  One of the most important pieces in that musical equation is the reed.  One of the most popular brands, worldwide, that players from beginner to professional rely on is Vandoren.

Vandoren is known for making a very consistent reed, so, as a player, you know that you are going to get a good reed each time you open the box. They have quite a few different options and cuts, which makes it that much easier to find the “perfect fit.” This week we are going to focus on the different styles of saxophone reeds that we stock and the features of them.

Vandoren Traditional – This is the standard blue box. This reed has the thinnest tip and the thickest heart of the sax reeds. This provides the player with crisp articulation with a full, dark sound.
Vandoren V12 – This reed has a thicker heel and are cut on a longer palette than the traditional reeds. The longer palette means that more of the reed is vibrating which results in a deeper, richer sound. It also has a slightly thicker tip than the Traditional cut reeds giving more body to the attack of the notes being played.
Vandoren Java (Green) – The Java reed has a thicker tip and more flexible palette than the Traditional reed allowing for greater vibration. This added flexibility gives the reed a bright sound with immediate response.
Vandoren Java (Red) – The Java Red is very similar to the Green, but it is a filed reed. This makes the reed slightly more flexible for the player giving them a full, rich sound with an extremely precise attack.
Vandoren V16 – This reed was designed for players that wanted the Java reed with more “wood”. It has a thicker heart than the Java (thinner than Traditional) which provides the player with a strong attack with a deep, rich sound.
Vandoren ZZ – This reed was designed by taking the heart, spine and rounded tip of the V16 and putting it with the flexible palette of the Java. It gives the player a rich, colorful sound with quicker response. The ZZ provides an immediate response without sacrificing the brightness and tone quality that is needed for playing Jazz.

If you have any questions about clarinet reeds, please contact us via email or give us a call at 1-800-382-1099.

 

The Challenges With Rotor Valves

There are many problems with rotary valves. Maintaining them requires skills in tying knots, gentle tapping with special hammers, not to mention all those little screws and bumpers. Then after they are completely apart, they must be cleaned off all the dirt and debris on the valves and inside the casings. Lubricating and returning them to their proper casing and reassembling are the next hurdles.

This first picture here shows valves from an instrument that the valves were barely working on. You can see the oxidation and staining on the valves from lack of lubrication turning them almost black. Prolonged lack of lubrication along with dirt and debris caused this build up inside the casings and prevented the rotors from turning smoothly. Sometimes it is so bad we have to forcibly, but gently, drive the valves out of the casings. We then have to clean the valves and the body of the instrument in our ultrasonic cleaner to get them back to new condition.

In the second picture you can see the valves after they have been cleaned just before they are re-installed in the instrument. Proper lubrication will keep your valves looking this way and prevent sluggish action due to oxidation and build-up. Even when you instrument is not being used for prolonged times it is very important to keep lubrication on the valves, and slides, to keep them from freezing up.

In the Repair Shop we use Hetman’s Oils. They are a synthetic oil that lasts much longer and therefore does not need to be re-applied as often as petroleum based oils which dry out faster.

If you have any questions about our blogs or need more specific information please don’t hesitate to contact us here in the Repair Shop.

Vandoren Clarinet Reeds – Looking For That Perfect Sound

Reed players are always looking for the perfect sound.  They have that sound in their head and they just need to go find it.  There are many factors that are in play when the musician is searching for it.  One of the most important pieces in that musical equation is the reed.  One of the most popular brands, worldwide, that players from beginner to professional rely on is Vandoren.

Vandoren is known for making a very consistent reed, so, as a player, you know that you are going to get a good reed each time you open the box.  They have quite a few different options and cuts, which makes it that much easier to find the “perfect fit.”   This week we are going to focus on the different styles of clarinet reeds that we stock and the features of them.

Vandoren Traditional This is the standard blue box.  These reeds are the most widely played reeds in the work.  They are suitable for all styles of music.  They are known for their excellent response in all registers.
Vandoren V12– These reeds are manufactured from reed tubes that have the same diameter as the cane used for Alto Sax reeds.  This causes them to have a thicker heal and are cut on a longer palette.  The longer palette means that more of the reed is vibrating which results in a deeper, richer sound.  It also has a slightly thicker tip than the Traditional cut reeds giving more body to the attack of the notes being played.

Vandoren 56 Rue Lepic– This style is designed from a thicker cane with a heel taper very similar to German Style reeds. The tone from this reed is rich and centered.   It has a pure sound  with quick response throughout all of the registers.

 Vandoren V21– This is the newest reed from Vandoren.  This reed takes the shape of the 56 Rue Lepic and the profile of the V12 and puts them together.  This combination makes all registers of the clarinet more accessible with a warm tone.  This also makes the clarinet play more responsive.  Lastly, it is the perfect reed for performances that require the player to play large interval leaps while still keeping and even and rich tone.

If you have any questions about clarinet reeds, please contact us via email or give us a call at 1-800-382-1099.

 

There’s A Cork In My Flute. What Does It Do?

cork-and-headjoint

A common complaint when a flute or piccolo comes in for repair is that “it is just not playing like it used to” or that “it sounds airy”. The first thing we check is the position and the fit of the head joint cork assembly. If it’s not in the right place, or if it’s too loose, the intonation and tone quality of the instrument will be affected. Proper placement of the head joint cork assembly is crucial. Use the following steps to check the placement of your cork assembly.

cleaning-rods

On the end of your cleaning rod, you will notice a line. This is actually a measuring tool to check the placement of your cork assembly. Place that end of the cleaning rod into the open end of your head joint until it makes contact with the head cork plate. rod-open-endLook into the embouchure hole (blow hole) and locate the line on your cleaning rod. It should be in the center of the embouchure hole. rod-holeIf the mark is down toward the open end of the head joint, you should tighten the head crown to pull the cork assembly back up the tube. If the line is too close to the closed end of the head joint, loosen the crown slightly and push on it to move the cork assembly down. The goal is to get the mark in the center of the embouchure hole. In rare instances, advanced players may find the need to move the cork assembly in order to bring the different registers of their flute in tune with each other.

A common mistake young flutists make is moving the cork assembly for general, every day tuning. Instead, for general tuning simply pull the head joint out of the receiver if you’re sharp, or push it in if you’re flat. Don’t make a habit out of moving the head cork assembly.

The cork part of the assembly will need to be replaced from time to time. The cork dries out and shrinks causing air to leak around the cork itself causing problems. If you notice that your cork assembly moves too freely, it’s time to have the cork replaced.

Quick Tips on Trumpet Care

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.