Things you should know about instrument repair
People regularly ask how often their wind instrument will need repair. Unfortunately, there are just too many factors to answer this question honestly. We can, however, share some important facts that will help minimize your visits to the repair shop.
Keep it clean: (Not just the outside)
Regardless of what you play, your instrument needs to be cleaned to continue functioning properly. Purchasing and using a cleaning kit can be a huge help in reducing repair costs.
Regular Chem cleaning: (for brass instruments)
It is recommended to have your brass instrument chemically cleaned yearly. This in addition to regular cleaning at home will ensure trouble-free performance.
Eats & sweets = a sticky mess:
It's important to never eat, drink,(other than water), or chew gum while playing your instrument. Sugar is the enemy and acts like cement on brass instruments causing slides to become stuck and valves to become sluggish. For woodwinds, it causes pads to become sticky. If you will be playing your instrument after eating, be sure to rinse your mouth with water prior to playing. This helps reduce food from reaking havoc on your instrument.
Treating your instrument with respect:
When you are finished playing your instrument, be sure to put it back in its case or on an instrument stand. Never leave your instrument on the floor or in a place that others could accidentally sit on, step on, or knock it over.
Use the lubricants:
Clarinet, Sax, and all other instruments with corks. Be sure to keep your joint corks greased. Failing to do this will make the corks tear prematurely.
Brass players. Keep tuning slides greased. Don't wait for slides to stick to add grease. If you wait, it may be too late.
Dad, please leave your tools in the garage:
If you play trumpet or trombone and your mouthpiece becomes stuck, bring it to the shop. Very often we have trumpets brought in with stuck mouthpieces. Unfortunately, many of them also have broken braces and mangled lead pipes. This is because someone in the family had a tool but not the "correct" tool for pulling mouthpieces. Attempting to pull mouthpieces without a mouthpiece puller almost never works and usually causes lots of damage to the instrument. Typically, we can pull the mouthpiece at no charge. In extreme cases there could be a small charge, but far less than you will spend if you damage the instrument attempting to pull it yourself.
Instrument repair is a specialized skill. A good repair technician spends years perfecting his craft. The smallest adjustments to your instrument can have a huge impact on its playability, so your best bet is leaving it in the hands of a professional. Like most things in life, good repair work is not always cheap, but cheap repair work is never good.