The Importance of Cleaning and Servicing Your Music Instrument
Imagine a scenario where you show up to a concert only to have your musical instrument not function? Believe it or not this happens frequently to musicians all over the world. From professionals to students engaging in band programs, this stressful situation happens when we least expect it. This happens more often to neglected instruments, but even the most finely tuned-up musical instrument(s) are not immune to unexpected equipment failure. These issues can be anything, sticky pads, aging springs, rusty guitar/violin strings, stuck valves/pistons, and the list goes on. Cleaning and servicing your musical instrument makes all the difference.
As a music educator and instrument repairman, I see this issues often. Here is a list of reasons why you should have your instrument inspected, maintenance, and cleaned often.
Preventative Maintenance and Potential Damage
Did you know through practice and performance that we, as musicians, could be the cause of damage to our musical instruments? This is very true! We often think of damage being external, including instruments falling on the floor, hard cases slamming on parts, other instruments slamming into you, and similar. Sometimes, parts just come off and you accidently toss your instrument across the room (speaking from experience…). Although these instances are unfortunate and sometimes uncontrollable, the real issue is what is happening on the inside of the instrument or parts that we cannot see. Old Valve Oil, Moisture, Grease, Dust, Finger Oil, and other items inevitably make their way into (and onto) our precious instruments. This leaves valves, pads, finishes, screws, and other critical parts vulnerable to damage. Regular cleanings ensure that your instrument is well maintained and functional. Like machinery, one issue may lead to another and cause more expensive repairs down the road. Dry, cold, hot, wet elements also factor in causing damage over time. Frequently servicing and cleaning your instrument may be frustrating, costly, and sometimes time consuming, but will protect your musical investments and keep them in top shape to play those upcoming concerts. Taking your instrument in for an inspection, cleaning, maintenance, will also allow experts to identify issues before becoming major problems.
We know how important sound is when it comes to performing or creating music. Well…it is everything to a musician. All that time practicing, performing, finding your “sound”, can all be for nothing with a neglected instrument. Corrosion, grime, rust, oils, dirt, and other elements all can contribute to a poor sound quality and playability. Moisture can lead to pads not covering holes properly, water left inside drums can cause rust, verdigris (green crusty rust) can cause stalling with brass instruments, even fretted and string instruments can bow, crack, and buckle in poor conditions. The most common instance of poor sound quality is the grime and oil, from our fingertips, coating strings on fretted instruments. Food particles, including salts and sweets, can accumulate and cause instruments to sound out of tune. Simple applications like washing hands, wearing instrument gloves, brushing teeth, wiping strings, and swabbing instruments will help set you up for the best tone quality. Set up an appointment with your local instrument repair shop to help keep your instrument in top condition to produce the best sound possible. A clean musical instrument makes all the difference in your sound quality!
Ever wondered why musicians tend to get sick more frequently than others? The answer lies with what we put in, or on, our instruments. Lack of cleaning, or instrument “hygiene” can create a domino effect of health issues for every musician. Germs can manifest from food particles, poor storing conditions, and of course the sick musician. Think about it, your constantly touching your instrument, for winds and brass players you have to blow into it …the perfect conduit for germs. Even though our body builds immunity toward various diseases, the germs presented will hammer at your immune system for sure. Keep those mouthpieces washed, wipe off those guitar strings and piano keys, and keep those instruments clean. Cleaning and servicing your musical instrument will keep all those germs at bay!
Musicians spend countless hours developing and perfecting their craft. Regular maintenance and cleaning brings peace of mind when it comes to tone and functionality. The risk of instrumental breakdown during rehearsals or performances lower the more your able to maintenance and inspect your instrument. There is a psychological benefit having an instrument that feels and looks its best. Performing with a clean, polished instrument is one of the best ways to set you up for a great performance.
Choosing a Repair Shop
Choosing a reputable and trusting instrument repair shop, or in some cases a luthier, are important in keeping your valuable investment in top playing condition. I was fortunate to be shown by various repair technicians the do and don’ts on how to repair instruments, including triumphs and errors of my own. With my small business, Chris K Music Lessons and Repair Studio, I am able to help musicians throughout the area with most repair needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out more information about repair technicians in your area.