Help! The joints of my new wooden clarinet are too tight!
Sax & Woodwind …and Brass
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Help! The joints of my new wooden clarinet are too tight!

Two things contribute to tight tenon joints. The first is the climatic conditions we experience here in Australia. The second is the warm and moist air pumped through the clarinet during playing, especially when the clarinet is new.

Wooden clarinets are generally manufactured from Grenadilla wood that has been aged for a number of years. The aging process stabilises the dimensions of the wood so that it will remain in tune. However it may not entirely counteract the effects of humidity levels. 

The result is that the wood can swell outwards, causing the tenons (joints) to become tight, and sometimes even too tight to pull apart. This problem can be more significant in rainy or humid areas, or areas where there are extremes of humidity and dryness.

Firstly, do not worry. If you can, simply give the instrument a bit of time to settle down. If after a few days the tenons are still tight, just let us know. If the joints are too tight to pull apart, bring the instrument to us, don't risk damaging the keywork by trying to force the tenons apart. We can rectify the problem with the correct factory tools in about half an hour while you have a cup of coffee next door at the cafe. On the rare occaision, you may need to leave the instrument with us for a day or so, if the joints are particularly tight.

If you have bought the clarinet from us, this service is covered under warranty. The main things to remember are:

  • This is a common issue with new wooden instruments in Australia

  • It can be easily rectified by shaving the problem tenons with the correct tools

  • If the tenons are too tight to pull apart - don't! Let our technician do the work

  • The wood WILL acclimatise, allowing you to play to your heart's content

For more information about the blowing-in procedure for new wooden clarinets, Buffet Crampon reccommends the following:
1.  In the case of a new instrument, do not play it continuously for more than 30 minutes daily during the first month.
​2. Avoid any rapid change of temperature and humidity. For instance, do not leave the instrument in the blazing sun, outdoor in winter, or near an airconditioner or heater.
3. Before putting the instrument in the case, dry the bore completely with your pullthrough (swab).
4. No bore oil, etc. needs to be used to prevent cracks in a new instrument. Observing the precautions in 1. and 2. is sufficient.

Note: Should any wooden instrument crack, it will never affect the intonation and tone quality if the instrument is properly repaired.

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