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Care Of Your Baroque/Renaissance Recorder
For Care Sheet in Japanese, Click Here (145KB PDF)

General Care | Breaking In | The Enemy Within: Gunk | Oiling | How To Install Your Thumbrest | Repairs and Revoicing

Do not expose your recorder to high or low temperatures or humidity or to direct sunlight. Leave your instrument out of its bag or case whenever possible so that it can dry between playings. Protect it from freezing and be sure to let it warm to room temperature slowly if it is very cold.

Warming up and Drying off: Before playing, particularly in a cold room, warm the headpiece to body temperature. After playing, leave the instrument out of its case so it can air dry. You may wish to dry the bore, although this is not necessary. Use a long stick or swab with a handkerchief in its slotted end. Be careful not to dent the block with the tip of the swab. Don't use a "mop" type swab, because the fibers catch in the bore dampening the tone.

Care of the Joints: The tenons are wrapped with waxed silk thread. Don’t use cork grease on them. Use a twisting motion when assembling and disassembling the instrument. If the joint is loose, unwrap a meter or more of thread and rewind it. The rewound thread won’t be as compressed and so will fill the joint. The free end can be found by gently scraping across the thread with a fingernail. It is bent 90° to make it easier to find. If the joint is too tight, remove some thread. If the free end doesn't stick again, rub a little beeswax on it. Don't tuck the free end underneath other strands - this makes it impossible to find again. When replacing all of the string, glue down the first windings with clear, solvent based glue to prevent the thread from slipping and locking the joints together.

Humidity: Particularly in winter, it is a good idea to keep the instrument and case in a plastic bag when they are out of a properly humidified room. A piece of cotton soaked with water and placed inside the plastic bag will provide sufficient humidity. Don't leave the instrument in a moist, airtight container for too long or it may get moldy. If possible, store your woodwind in a room which is humidified to between 40% and 50% relative humidity.

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What to do: A new wooden instrument requires special care during the first few months to prevent cracking. During the first fifteen playings, your recorder should be played for no more than 30 minutes a day. You may increase playing time by 15 minutes each succeeding five playings, up to a maximum of two hours per day. We don't recommend playing your instrument more than two hours a day.

Why you do it: Playing puts moisture into the bore of the recorder while the outside stays fairly dry. The difference in moisture content between the interior and exterior creates a strain on the wood because the interior expands while the exterior doesn't. This strain can crack the recorder, most likely at the headjoint. The coating of linseed oil on your recorder helps slow down moisture absorption but it is still important to gradually introduce moisture into the wood by limiting playing time during the first month.

Revoicing: Please plan to return your instrument to us after it has been well broken in (before the end of the first year you own it) so we can revoice it for you. This is a normal requirement for a new recorder and will bring it to the peak of its performance. There is no charge for this service.

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Cleaning: If your instrument needs cleaning, wash the pieces in lukewarm (100 degrees F. or 38 degrees C.) water containing dishwashing liquid. If you are comfortable doing so, remove the block before cleaning the instrument. A swab or soft bottle brush may be used in the bore. Then rinse in clear, lukewarm water and dry carefully. As long as the instrument does not remain wet for more than fifteen minutes no harm will be done to the wood or finish. It is best not to get the key, cork or string joints wet. The bore may be reoiled after the wood has had a few hours to dry.

Clogging: Properly breaking-in a recorder and warming the instrument before each playing will reduce clogging problems. It is normal, however, for condensation to form in the windway when playing for any length of time. When this happens, cover the window with the palm of the hand and blow sharply through the windway. If clogging remains a problem, prepare a solution of one part of detergent (without lanolin or perfume) to three parts of water. Joy, Sunlight or Dupenol all work well. Apply it to the top of the windway with a bird feather and allow it to dry. This should help by allowing the condensation to run off more freely. If clogging persists, the instrument may be in need of revoicing. If the recorder clogs easily after oiling, the problem should go away in a day or two.

Mildew: If mildew is a problem, keep your instrument out of its case between playings. This will allow it to dry thoroughly, thus reducing mildew growth. To remove mildew, swab the affected areas with white or apple vinegar and let stand for five minutes. Then wash the pieces in lukewarm water as described under "Cleaning".

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Oil the bore of your recorder after the first year, and every two to three years after that, using almond oil. A small bottle has been provided. Before oiling, make sure that all surfaces are completely clean and dry (the recorder should not have been played for at least four hours, otherwise moisture in the bore will interfere with the absorption of the oil). If needed, clean the instrument first as described under "cleaning". Remove the block, if you are comfortable doing so, and any keys. Apply a heavy coat to the bore, toneholes, and sockets with a cloth swab. To preserve the exterior finish, oil it at the same time. Avoid getting any oil on ivory fittings, string joints, keyways or pad areas. While you are oiling the bore, apply some oil to the part of the block which faces the lip. Oil on the top of the block isn't harmful, but it is best to avoid this area. Allow the oil to soak in for about an hour or two, then wipe off the excess. If no oil is left on the surface after the soaking period, the wood was overdue for reoiling and should be reoiled every two months until oil is no longer being completely absorbed.

Oiling the Roof: You may oil the roof of the windway without removing the block by applying the almond oil with a small feather, allowing it to soak in for an hour or so, then blotting up the excess with a tightly rolled and flattened piece of cigarette paper.

Removing the Block: If you choose to remove the block yourself, have someone experienced in the procedure show you how to tap it out carefully using a 5/8" (15mm) dowel. Coat the roof with almond oil using a feather. The area where the bore is ordinarily covered by the block should also be oiled. Allow it to soak in for an hour or so before wiping off the excess. Then carefully put the block back as far as it will easily go with your fingers, finally pushing it in the rest of the way with a smooth 1" (25mm) dowel held in the palm of your hand. If the block does not go completely in, the side of the dowel may have to be tapped with a wooden or rawhide hammer. Be careful when doing this as it is easy to slip and accidentally hit the tip of the mouthpiece, shattering the wood. Removing or replacing the block can usually be done easiest in the early summer when the air is becoming humid, as blocks loosen on their own during this period. It helps if the instrument has not been played for a few days. It is very important to have an experienced person show you how to insert or remove your block. If it or the recorder is damaged, the cost for repair could be high.

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Your thumbrest has already been prepared to match the contour of your instrument's center, To install it:

  • Wipe the back of the center in the area where the new thumbrest will go with alcohol, acetone, or nail polish remover to remove excess oil from the surface.
  • Locate the thumbrest position (usually its bottom is centered between the 4th and 5th holes) and gently trace it with a sharp pencil.
  • Apply a thin layer of contact cement both within the lines on your instrument's center and on the back of the thumbrest. Use a pin or needle to spread it for precise coverage. If the contact cement is too thick the bond won't be as good.
  • Allow it to dry completely (15-30 minutes) and press the parts together.
  • Resist the temptation of enthusiastically testing it as the bond is meant to be relatively easily broken.

That's all there is to it!

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Do not attempt to change the voicing of your recorder. Revoicing and other repairs should be done only in this workshop. This recorder has a precise longitudinal curvature in the windway which must be maintained. Improper filing or sanding of the block will destroy the voicing. Our guarantee does not cover the approximate $100 cost of repairing damaged voicing. We will make normal adjustments to voicing and tuning free of charge within the first year. We complete most repairs or revoicings within a day or two of receiving the instrument, although cracks and other major operations take longer.

Cracks: In the unlikely event that your instrument should crack, notify us immediately. Keep the opening free of oil and dirt.

Questions: Please call or write to us with any questions you might have regarding your instrument. We recommend obtaining information directly from us to avoid misinformation often given by inexperienced persons.

Returning your instrument: If you live outside the United States, please observe the following instructions when returning your instrument to us:

  • When you send the instrument use a mailing method that includes shipment tracking;
  • Insure it for as much of its value as possible;
  • On the customs tag state "instrument being returned to the maker for repairs; will be returned to owner after their execution";
  • List it as "No Commercial Value" or "(N.C.V.)".  If you must list some dollar amount it should be under $1200.  While there is no import duty involved on repairs, any package valued at more than $1199.00 requires a formal customs entry using a costly customs broker.

We will state "instrument being returned to owner after repairs by maker" on the customs tag when returning your instrument, listing it as having "No Commercial Value" to ensure that no duty is assessed you.

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