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Re-Gluing Pads and Corks:

There are many types of pad glue in use today. Shellac is the traditional pad glue. It is usually used in stick form and melted but flake shellac can be dissolved in alcohol. Pads glued with shellac can easily become loose if the brittle shellac cracks. White pad cement is more durable but can still become brittle with age and crack. Hot melt glue does not become brittle and therefore almost never fails if applied correctly.

If a pad falls out, try to replace it in its original position as it will have a pronounced crease and will seal better if the crease lines up with the edge of the tone hole. First heat the pad cup with a small flame--e.g. a small LP torch, a cigarette lighter, alcohol lamp or match if nothing else is available. Hold the clarinet beside the flame with the key open so that the flame is as far from the body of the clarinet as possible. Make sure the centre of the back of the pad cup is held near the centre of the flame. If the clarinet is held over the flame or if the flame is too close to the edge of the cup, heat may spread out over the edge of the cup and blister or melt the body. Then position the pad on the tone hole with the crease on the edge of the tone hole and close the key gently. Hold the key closed until the cup cools enough for the cement to harden. The cement on the pad and cup should be enough to hold the pad when re-heated. Next check the seating of the pad with a corner of a cigarette paper by closing the key on the paper with no more than normal finger pressure and pulling the paper out. There should be some resistance Check in at least four places around the pad. If there is a side of the pad that doesn't grab the paper, re-heat the pad cup slightly (only enough to soften the glue) and shift the pad in the direction of the area that doesn't grip the cigarette paper. Alternativily, with the key closed, pull the pad down on that side with a needle. Re-check the seat with a cigarette paper.

Corks can be re-glued with a tiny dab of contact cement.

Cleaning and Lubrication:

Over time a clarinet will collect a lot of dirt and dust around the keys and posts. This can be cleaned off by pulling strips of cloth through and around the keywork, taking care not to get the cloth caught on any pads or springs.

However, it is necessary to disassemble the keywork in order to completely clean off all the old oil and dirt that the oil collects. Regular cleaning and lubricating of the rods, rod tubes and pivot screws can also reduce wear on these parts, lengthening the life of the instrument.


You will need the following tools, etc. to work on the clarinet:
· Screwdrivers to fit all pivot screws and screw rods
· Spring hook
· Screw block (made by drilling holes in a piece of wood to receive screws and screw rods; see diagram)
· Pipe cleaners
· Key oil (preferably in a precision oiler with a needle tip)
· Workbench where disassembled parts will not be disturbed
Towel or cloth to work on (to keep small parts from rolling away and to provide ascratch-free surface)

Lower joint ......... Upper joint


As you disassemble each part of the clarinet place each pivot screw or rod in its place in the screw block and lay out each key on one side of the workbench in the same relative position as it fits on the clarinet. This will help eliminate confusion about what goes where when it comes time to reassemble the instrument.

Using the spring hook, release the springs from the catches where possible before removing the key. Some springs and catches are recessed into the body of the instrument and cannot be released before the key is removed. Care should be taken here that the small key doesn't fly off as the rod is removed.


Wipe the old oil off the rod with a cloth and clean out the key tube with a pipe cleaner. Put a drop of oil in the end of the key and a drop of oil on the end of the rod. Insert the rod into the tube and twist the rod as you move it in and out to distribute the oil evenly. Wipe off any excess oil from the end of the rod and tube so that the oil doesn't get into the pad and cause sticking. As you finish with each section of keywork, set in back into position on the side of the work bench.

When you are finished cleaning and oiling all the keywork and pivot screws you may like to clean the body of the clarinet. This can be done by immersing it in warm soapy water and using a soft toothbrush to clean around and inside all the tone holes. A bore brush can be used inside or a cloth can be pulled through the bore several times to clean it out. Wipe the body dry and, if you have a wooden clarinet, apply some bore oil to the inside and outside of the joint. Let the oil soak in for a while, then wipe off the excess and buff the outside with a soft, clean cloth. Check that there is no excess oil in the crevices around the tone holes.

Reassemble the clarinet, fitting the underneath keys first. You may like to check the seating of each of the pads with a piece of cigarette paper now as described above.