Instrument Care

Brass Instrument Care | Stringed Instrument Care | Guitar Care | Percussion Care | Woodwind Instrument Care

Welcome to our musical instrument care center. Here you will find all kinds of information on preserving your instruments and keeping them in top playing condition. Use this information as a guideline, but be sure to check with the manufacturing company that designed your instrument for specific care instructions.

    Brass Instrument Care
  • Rinse your instrument once a month with an approved brass cleaning solution and warm water. You will want to then rinse with cold water and dry your instrument with a cloth. **WARNING - RINSING WITH HOT WATER MAY DAMAGE THE FINISH OF YOUR INSTRUMENT**
  • A flexible cleaning brush (snake) should be used to clean out your instruments slides and tubing.
  • A valve cleaner may be used to clean the valve casings by using an approved casing brush.
  • Use a lint-free cloth to wipe the pistons. Pistons should be removed and replaced very carefully in their initial positions.
  • When lubricating your instruments slides, only use tuning slide grease and a small amount of valve oil on the pistons. Using other lubricants can affect the function of the valves and can destroy the tuning slides.
  • While polishing your lacquered or silver plated instruments, avoid using abrasive brushes. It is recommended that only soft cleaning cloths be used to apply and clean polish.
  • Trombone players can clean their slide with warm soapy water. Move the slide up and down several times and remove the water and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Dry your instrument thoroughly with a lint-free cloth.
  • When cleaning the inner and outer slides, you will want to separate and clean using a flexible trombone brush (snake) to ensure cleanliness of the bottom of the bow.
  • Apply a small amount of slide cream to the inner slide. You can use a trombone oil as a lubricant ensure smooth action of your instrument.
  • If you are not using your instrument, keep it in its case and out of areas of extreme temperature changes. Severe heat or cold can cause can excessive damage. Standing your instrument on its bell for lengthy periods can cause the bell to bend or change form.
    Stringed Instrument Care
  • Cleaning the rosin off strings can make a remarkable difference to the sound of your instrument. A common wine cork serves very well by scrubbing off the crust of rosin without damaging the winding of the string. A dry microfiber cloth is often recommended as it retains the dust well. A cloth with a little rubbing alcohol is also effective, however, any droplet of alcohol touching the varnish can easily damage the varnish making your instrument difficult or impossible to restore.
  • Your tuning pegs may be treated with peg dope intermittently when they either slip too freely or when they stick, making tuning difficult. Some players and luthiers use a small amount of ordinary chalk on pegs to cure slippage.
  • String musicians generally carry replacement strings with their instruments to have in the event of an emergency. Strings may need replacement every few months or with frequent use. The higher strings require replacement more frequently than the lower strings. The price of strings varies, however, please note that the quality of the strings strongly influences the timbre of the sound produced.
  • The only maintenance your bow requires is regular cleaning of the stick with a cloth and re-hairing. In the course of playing the violin, hairs are often lost from the bow, making it necessary to have it re-haired periodically. Other maintenance may include replacing the wire lapping and leather grip, or lubricating the screw. Large cracks and breakages in the bow are usually fatal; they cannot be repaired like the body of the instrument can. Loosening the hair when the bow is not being used helps keep the bow from becoming "sprung," or losing its camber, and the hair from becoming stretched.
    Guitar Care
  • It is advised that you safeguard your guitar in a properly fitted guitar case. Keeping your guitar in the case when you are not using it will prevent it from being damaged. You may want to invest in a guitar stand if you play frequently and need it at a moment’s notice.
  • Proper guitar care also includes being careful to avoid intense sunlight and/or heat as damage can occur. Exposing your guitar to these elements may cause the wood to become brittle, cracked, or warped. Once this occurs the bridge could start to separate from the body rendering it completely useless. The best procedure, whenever possible, is to keep it at room temperature (between 55-65 degrees) and out of extreme climate changes.
  • Certain guitars may require the use of a humidifying system to keep the wood from drying out. The system is placed inside of the sound hole and is useful if you live in a hot or dry climate.
  • Regular cleaning will keep your guitar looking good while maintaining better sound. Simply wipe down the neck and body after each use. Over time the oils from your fingertips begin to accumulate on the surface of the strings and they lose their brilliance. Try to maintain the habit of wiping down your strings with a soft cotton cloth after each use. This will help to limit corrosion and extend their life.
  • When you notice your strings are showing signs of wear and sounding dull, you may want to change them. Your strings will generally need to be changed based on the frequency of use. New strings should keep your guitar in top sounding condition.
    Percussion Care
  • On a weekly basis, you will want to wipe the dust off of the head and shell of all drums, cymbals and bars off with a dry cloth.
  • On a monthly basis, you may want to oil all lugs with an approved 3-1 oil. Check your manufacture for details as different metals/finishes are used.
  • Inspect the condition of your snare drum mechanisms to ensure proper fit.
  • Inspect the condition and tuning of all heads. Heads should be individually balanced and tuned in relation to resonating heads.
  • You will want to check the condition of all bar mounting posts and strings/felts periodically and replace as necessary.
  • Periodically, lean and lubricate all hardware, frames and pedals.
  • Check hardware for missing or parts as they may loosen over time.
  • Clean metal bars with an approved cleaner (steel and synthetic bars only).
    Woodwind instrument Care
  • One of the most important things to remember when handling your woodwind instrument is to do so carefully, as there are numerous parts that can bend and/or break.
  • Bassoon players should make sure not to take the bocal out of the case until the entire instrument is together.You will want to use a small amount of cork grease on the tenon corks when to avoid friction when assembling your instrument to avoid damage. When you finish playing your bassoon, make sure to thoroughly clean the inside with a swab. Take off the reed and bocal first and place the bocal in your case. Swab the lower and upper sections separately until clean.
  • Flute players will want to wipe off the tenons when finished playing. Make sure you keep the head joint socket clean by using rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth.Flutes are a delicate instrument and may need to be taken to a qualified technician for maintenance. If the adjustment knob is loose, do not try to tighten it yourself as you may damage your instrument.. Make sure you do not use any type of lubricant to make the parts fit easily as you can severely damage the finish.
  • Clarinet players will want to use a small amount of cork grease on the tenon corks as needed. When you finish playing your clarinet, clean the inside of the clarinet with a swab. Take off the mouthpiece first and swab the lower and upper sections separately. Each month you will want to clean your mouthpiece using cool water, dish soap, and a mouthpiece brush.
  • Oboe players will want to use a small amount of cork grease on the tenon corks as needed.When you finish playing your oboe, clean the inside of the oboe with a swab. (If you are using a silk swab, only pull until you feel a little resistance and make sure to take it out of the same end you started with.
  • Saxophonists will want to pay special attention to the octave key mechanism when handling to avoid costly damage.Use a small amount of cork grease on the tenon corks when needed to ensure smooth assembly.When you finish playing your saxophone, clean the neck with a saxophone neck cleaner and clean the inside of the body with a swab. Take off the mouthpiece first and swab the lower and upper sections separately.Wipe your sax clean with a soft cloth on a daily basis, including the inside of the instrument’s body where the neck fits.It is very important to use the end plug when returning your instrument to its case to avoid bending the octave key mechanism.Additionally, you will want to find a local repair shop with qualified technicians to perform necessary maintenance and adjustments from pads and metal resonators to key functionality.
  • Woodwind instrument have delicate components and they can damage easily. When returning your instrument to its case, make sure to place your instrument in the case in the correct indentations. Indentations are there to carefully protect and store all of the delicate components of your instruments. Do not force your instrument into the case as damaging your instrument can cause costly repairs.