Do I need to clean my saxophone or clarinet everyday? Does it need to be tuned up?
These are common saxophone maintenance questions I get asked all the time! Let's start off with daily and weekly saxophone and clarinet maintenance. Moisture build up in the instrument can cause the pads to go bad as well as promote the buildup of bacteria and mold. The primary goal when cleaning your saxophone or clarinet is to eliminate moisture inside of the instrument. I recommend using a swab like the Hodge Silk Swab to clean your instrument after every use before you put it away in the case. The swab is designed to be pulled through the fully assembled instrument. They are quick and easy to use and are an effective way to rid your instrument of the harmful moisture!
Another essential part of instrument maintenance is cleaning your mouthpiece. Bacteria and other things (ewwwwww) can build up over time in the mouthpiece and this can lead to a very unpleasant odor. Using dish soap, warm water (NOT hot), and an old toothbrush, you can gently scrub out your mouthpiece. This should be done AT LEAST once a week. Check out this recent article on BBC News about lung infections caused by mold and bacteria build up in bagpipes. Keep those instruments clean people!
In addition to regular cleaning of your mouthpiece and instrument, it is important to have your instrument "tuned up" at least once a year. If you have trouble playing lower notes or it is difficult to play generally then your may need some repair work. Keys and other parts of your clarinet and saxophone naturally go out of adjustment and need to be regulated for optimal playing condition. A professional instrument technician can take care of this for you. Here are my recommended places to go for the best instrument repair in the Bay Area:
In addition to being an amazing music store for EVERYTHING (instrument rental and purchase, music, accessories, lessons) West Valley Music has a great repair shop with experienced technicians. Here are some additional repair shops throughout the Bay Area:
Menlo Park: Bridgepont music
Cupertino: Crossroads Music
San Jose/Santa Clara: The Starving Musician
Fremont: Allegro Music
Oakland: Jon's Music and Repair
San Francisco: Manning Custom Woodwinds