Budget clarinet repair near Toronto
January 6, 2014 11:03 AM   Subscribe

We found ms scruss' clarinet in a recent house clearout, and we'd like to get it playable again. It's probably not worth too much, and we're on a budget anyway. Suggestions for what to do with it are welcomed.

The instrument is a wooden Noblet 27 from 1965, if ClarinetPerfection's data is correct. I understand it's an okay-to-good student instrument, of no real monetary value.

It hasn't been played for 25 years. The wood is dry, clearly shrunk, but there are no visible cracks. The metalwork is very dull. I haven't attempted to assemble it because of the obvious shrinkage.

I currently have more time on my hands than I'd like, and may be able to do some basic repairs. I have not got the tools, materials and experience, though, and I don't want to cause irreparable damage to an instrument that might make a decent little player for someone in the future.
posted by scruss to Media & Arts (2 answers total)
Hmm I don't know how you'd go about restoring the dry wood (repeated oiling might work) but you will definitely have to replace all of the pads as they will have shrunk as well. I've only ever had a professional do that (many years ago) but a quick google throws up tutorials and videos. Take a look and see if you think you're up to it.
posted by goo at 11:27 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: Clarinetist here. Step away from the clarinet. :-)

The problem is that unless you know how to play, you will have no way of testing whether you've done the repad job and left it better or worse. Not that you need to test it, because you'll definitely make it worse.

Even for a basic, rank beginner to play it (perhaps ESPECIALLY for a basic, rank beginner), pads have to be fitted with some precision both for sealing tone holes and for the correct height from the tone holes. This involves heating up the bits that the pads are in with a butane flame to loosen the adhesive, and replacing with new pads and the same kind of adhesive, and making some fiddly adjustments. A lot of special parts and tools. Using other adhesives (like super glue) can make it a horribly difficult job for someone to come after you and fix it.

I've been playing for 30+ years, I've watched a lot of repair guys and gals work on my instruments, and everything I've seen has convinced me not to DIY.

Also, hitting an old instrument that hasn't seen the light of day in years with a bunch of bore oil might do more harm than good. If it were otherwise in working order I'd start playing it a few minutes a day and let the moisture get back in the wood (if it can). Kind of moot given my other advice, but I thought I'd mention it.

Ebay it as a parts clarinet or sell it to some music store, as-is, for a hundred or so. If it can be restored, they can do it and sell it.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:12 PM on January 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

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