From: []
Sent: Sunday, January 08, 2012 11:12 PM
Subject: Suggestions for Oboe and Clarinet Crack Prevention

       Because of the drastic weather fluctuations during  this past month, most music shops are overwhelmed with Oboe crack repairs right now. Would you please forward these suggestion to any woodwind musicians who might find them beneficial.
Alvin Swiney


Basic Crack Prevention 

Here are a few suggestions for wood care and crack prevention that my repair teacher, W. Hans Moennig recommends: 

  1. Never buy a new instrument during the cold winter months as extreme temperature fluctuations will increase wood cracks by 100%. The great oboists, Marcel Tabuteau, would only buy instruments during the months of June and July. He felt that this would give him a chance to gradually break the new instruments in over the Summer and allow them to acclimatize naturally. When instrument are shipped during cold weather they can sit on loading docks and shipping carts under freezing conditions for long periods of time. This exposure dries out the already unstable wood and causes the pads to detach from the key cups. After delivery, the player deposits large amounts of moisture inside the bore which causes the internal wall to expand against an external wall which has contracted due to dehydration. These opposing forces against the fragile wooden instrument wall will inevitably result in one or more major cracks.    
  2. Use a humidifier to supplement the moisture of the horn. Suspension humidifiers work better than dampets as they do not come in direct contact with the wooden instrument body thus causing stress.
  3. Always store the horn in a wooden cabinet or desk drawer to insulate it from outside humidity changes.
  4. When Traveling store the instrument in an ice chest to prevent temperature exposer. (No ice please)
  5. If using orange peelings (A natural humidifier) Please allow the peelings to dry at least 12 hours before use. Never allow peelings to touch the keys as citrus acid will cause plating to oxidize, corrode or even flake off. Store peeling in a reed slot and not on wood as mold can occur.
  6. Never store the instrument near heaters, air conditioners, or even air vents as this will dry the wood to quickly and add even more stress.
  7. Use a wooden instrument case with a heavily insulated case cover.
  8. Never leave your horn idled out of the case for more than two hours as this will cause the outside wall to dry faster than the inside bore. (Stress)
  9. Never leave your horn on an instrument stand as the bore will not dry on the peg and the tenons corks will compress and become loose.
  10. Leave the swab in the case and NOT in the bore. The extra moisture will help. And the horn will dry internally. Pull through silk swabs are recommended instead of the stick type.
  11. Use a light bore spray or Almond oil and not the gummy commercial bore oils from music stores.
  12. Blow the tone holes dry with compressed air before placing the instrument in case as swabs do not remove water from tone holes, only the bore.
  13. (CLARINETISTS) Coat the Barrel and upper joint with wood conditioner such as Bore All to maintain stability in bore dimensions and tuning. This should be done every 3 to 4 months for best results.
  14. (OBOISTS and CLARINETISTS) Use wood wedges to prop open trill and G# keys. This will allow the horn to dry more evenly and reduce wood stress. This suggestion is from Arkansas State University Professor, Dan Ross.
  15. Play the instrument every day for at least 30 minutes to keep moisture in the wooden body!!!!! Most important rule of all!!!!!