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Thread: Playing an old clarinet

  1. #1
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    Default Playing an old clarinet

    I used to play clarinet when I was at school until about 30 years ago and I didn’t play my clarinet again until a year ago, since when I have been playing on it very regularly. It has developed an annoying squeak at top E and sometimes D as well. I’ve tried adjusting everything - reed, pressure, embrasure etc - but nothing seems to work. I’m wondering if it might be the clarinet and that it’s basically past it. It’s an Evette & Shaeffer. Any views?

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    Senior Member pianozach's Avatar
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    Yes.

    Your clarinet (which has been unplayed for decades) probably needs some expert conditioning. You need to take it in to someone that specializes in "Instrument Repair & Maintenance".

    You might also want to consider that since you haven't played for 30 years, it might be YOU.

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    If it doesn't also squeak on low A or G it's probably ok. Play those two notes and then add the register key tohear what happens. What is your reed placement on the mouthpiece? Make the reed tip even with, or a hair below the mouthpiece tip. What reed strength are you using? Push the instrument up against your top teeth some when playing. Are you tonguing or slurring the notes when squeaking?

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    Evette & Shaeffer! I used to have one of those. Any woodwind instrument sitting unplayed for 30 years definitely needs an overhaul. The pads dry out and the slightest air leak can cause squeaks - the side trill keys are notorious sources for those on clarinets. But the whole instrument should be disassembled, all pads replaced, every cork (tenon and bumpers) replaced, springs cleaned, rods and posts cleaned and oiled, the bore probably desperately needs to be oiled...this is no job for amateurs. And it won't come cheap, either! But neither do new wood clarinets. If nothing else, they can be made into a cool table lamp!
    s-l640.jpg

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    Evette & Shaeffer! I used to have one of those. Any woodwind instrument sitting unplayed for 30 years definitely needs an overhaul. The pads dry out and the slightest air leak can cause squeaks - the side trill keys are notorious sources for those on clarinets. But the whole instrument should be disassembled, all pads replaced, every cork (tenon and bumpers) replaced, springs cleaned, rods and posts cleaned and oiled, the bore probably desperately needs to be oiled...this is no job for amateurs. And it won't come cheap, either! But neither do new wood clarinets. If nothing else, they can be made into a cool table lamp!
    s-l640.jpg
    I bought one of those for a clarinet-playing girlfriend some years ago. She loved it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    Evette & Shaeffer! I used to have one of those. Any woodwind instrument sitting unplayed for 30 years definitely needs an overhaul.]
    I found that out the hard way. I have a nice wood clarinet, but I shoved it in the closet for several years. When I finally tried to play it, it wouldn't work at all. I'm disappointed, but shame on me.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    I bought one of those for a clarinet-playing girlfriend some years ago. She loved it.
    That must have really brightened her day.

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    have it overhauled...sitting unplayed for that length of time, pads dry out, leaks develop....have it checked, give yourself a chance, at least...

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    When you say top E & D I assume you mean above the staff, no? What I do to check if a clarinet is basically OK to go is play a chromatic scale starting on lowest E up to throat Bb (3rd line). You may want do a chromatic scale as well from 3rd line B up to C to line above staff. If all these notes play to your approval you're good to go (well, at least to practice on it--for performing you may still want to take it in to a shop for an overhaul or touch up).
    Lots of shop work/overhaul these days does cost a lot. I took my student Yamaha in a couple of years ago and they wouldn't touch it for under $300. All I wanted was a few things done, but their policy included more work or nothing. So thet sold me a NEW student Selmer for &150 CAD & tax (that's about $110 U.S.). I was not happy about the repair policy but happy with the new clarinet.
    Now, if it's my Buffet that I use professionally and the repair is way more than $300 I spend that without blinking. But I'm not spending $300 on a clarinet I bought used for $100.
    But, check out all those notes. If they all play, the problem with your altissimo D & E is either your playing or reed choice/condition of reed.
    Last edited by TMHeimer; Feb-25-2020 at 04:42.
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