I have a clarinet and a recorder, both made of wood. The clarinet is five and the recorder 25 years old.

I just learned that I should oil from David Pino's "The Clarinet and Clarinet Playing". However, further research has led to often contradictory information about the type of oil (eg mineral vs nut), the frequency, and whether or not oiling is even necessary (Pino says 1/yr for a student, others say it is not needed at all for the first 10 years). Still others say oiling is needed more in climates that are either too dry or too humid. Most confounding, the manufacturer of my clarinet says that oil shoul not be used under any circumstance.

Is there a "correct" answer, or more specific guidelines?

  • 1
    If the manufacture says that oil should not be used on a specific instrument, that should trump generic comments from other sources. – Dave Aug 20 '13 at 15:03
  • The manual says that the oiling of the keys should not be done, and that bore oil should not be required when the instrument is new (implying that it might be required when the instrument is no longer new). – Kaz Aug 22 '13 at 3:05
  • Are you concerned with the exterior of these instruments? Or just with the interior of the bore? – Kaz Aug 22 '13 at 3:14
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    @kaz the interior, or whatever constitutes proper care – Abe Aug 22 '13 at 15:30

I think the first statement about never using oil refers specifically to the keys and metal exterior parts.
The next statement, about not using bore oil on new instruments, is open to interpretation. Perhaps the implication is that older instruments do benefit from occasional oiling as the wood ages. Certainly every teacher I had (way back in the dawn of time, 60's and 70's :-) ) recommended an occasional bore oil application -- after being sure to swab all the moisture out of the instrument.

BTW, given the number of times I had to replace a joint cork, I'm jealous of you youngsters that Buffet now has synthetic corks which won't fall apart!

Edit: in this link: http://www.woodwind.org/clarinet/Equipment/Care/BoreOil.html a senior Buffet fellow is quoted as recommending occasional oiling of older instruments.

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