Basic Instrument Care
Hi, this is Stu. As well as servicing and rebuilding band instruments for many years, I have quite a bit of experience playing in many venues, including the street. I would like to support Harmonic Dissidents by helping players to keep their instruments playing, and playing well. Please write me with any specific questions about your instrument at: firstname.lastname@example.org. An instrument in good condition sounds better, and is much easier and more fun to play. In this first column, I will outline some very basic care practices that will keep your instrument in good shape. In future columns, I will go into more detail about woodwinds, brass, and percussion, list items for a “barebones quickie repair kit” and answer readers’ questions.
The two most important considerations in keeping any band instrument playing well are protection and maintenance. For protection from moisture, sun, dust, dirt, sand, dogs, inquisitive young children and city buses, I recommend that every instrument have a case. Here are some thoughts about cases: – Use a case for transport and for storage whenever the instrument is not in use. – Vacuum the inside of the case regularly to keep debris out of instrument mechanisms. – Broken cases can often be repaired, and economically priced used cases can often be found at repair shops.
Like any mechanical item, instruments need routine maintenance. Repair techs can be busy, so I recommend having your instrument serviced at a time when you can spare it for a few days. – Make a yearly trip to the repair technician for a check-up. Preventative and routine maintenance makes a big difference in the playablilty and service life of instruments. – Most North American repair technicians who are serious about their craft belong to NAPBIRT: National Association for Band Instrument Repair Technicians (whew! That’s a mouthful.) There is a technician locator at their website: http://www.napbirt.org/. Word-of-mouth recommendations are also helpful in locating a repair technician.
As I said earlier, write with any questions you have about your instrument: email@example.com. I will talk about emergency repairs to brass instruments in the next issue. Until then, as Woody Guthrie said, “take it easy, but take it.”
Stu, The Fix-it Guy