I have an old bass clarinet I haven't played for years. I opened it up and it smells really musty. The reeds were icky so I threw them out. How do I get the smell out without damaging it? It's not mouldy, just smells of cellar.


It depends on how bad it is. I would first try setting it out in a safe place, not in the sun. Give it a few days. If it is really bad take it to a trusted repair shop. I never take mine apart and I never put anything but a cleaning swab inside.

  • I will try this first. I will put it somewhere with a good flow of air and report back in a week. – RedSonja Jun 22 '15 at 10:55
  • If it has been years since played then you may want to have the pads replaced as well as the cords. – user21079 Jun 23 '15 at 5:12
  • This worked very well. I put the case out on the balcony and the clarinet on its stand by an open window and left it for a week. Almost good as new! – RedSonja Jul 6 '15 at 10:43
  • I just had the one problem with this; the corks dried out completely and I had to re-grease them. next time I'll grease them first ... – RedSonja Oct 30 '15 at 13:24

I find that the mustiness smell mostly comes from the case. I'd suggest vacuuming the case then leaving it out in the sun for a few hours.

For the instrument, wipe it down with a dry rag or paper towel. You can get any of the dust out from between the keys using a small soft paint brush or q-tip.

If the smell still does not go away and it seems that it is the instrument itself that is the problem, the clarinet is in need of a repadding and should be taken to a repair shop.

  • This is a good tip. I will try this and report back. – RedSonja Jun 23 '15 at 6:38

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