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Lazar's Early Music


Recorder Care and Feeding

Martin Shelton

761 N. Cherokee Rd, Suite C

Social Circle, GA 30025

(770) 366-8596

(866) 511-2981




OPEN BY APPOINTMENT-Call--I'm here most of the time, 6-7 days a week


To get the best performance from your instrument, you should follow the care instructions below.

Before you start: Wood is a natural material and needs regular care. To avoid cracks you should never expose your recorder to direct sunlight, extreme cold or heat. Before fitting the instrument together for the first time, apply cork grease to the cork on the tenons. Turn slightly in one direction (the direction with the least resistance�cork has a grain) while assembling the instrument. Do not cant the joints when you put them together. However, if a crack should appear in the joint, it can normally be repaired without further complications. Do not hold the instrument over the key area�you could bend them.  Grease corks only occasionally, as too frequent greasing will saturate the cork and loosen the glue holding the cork on the tenon.  If you have to use grease every time you put the instrument together, the cork is too tight and should be carefully sanded down.  Contact me for instructions.

Hoarseness/Clogging: Condensation of beads of moisture in the windway (1) of the recorder causes clogging. You can minimize clogging by warming the head joint (plastic or wood) up to body temperature in your hands, under your arm, or in your pocket before playing. If water has accumulated in the windway, you can suck it out. You can also take off the head joint, put your hand over the bore (5) and blow into the window (3). Never touch the labium (2) of a wooden instrument with your fingers because it could easily warp when damp, and you might spoil the instrument.

Principally, there exist 2 types of hoarseness. One is caused by drops of moisture that build up in the windway, normally disappearing after 5-10 minutes of playing. The second type of hoarseness results from swelling of the cedar block. This problem, indicated by a small, rolling sound, does not disappear with extended playing. Should this occur, the instrument must be returned for revoicing (wood instruments only). For players who use their instrument for extended practicing, we recommend buying several instruments (or a plastic instrument), since wooden recorders can only sustain a certain amount of breath moisture without suffering damage. Recorders are exposed to great strain through moisture condensed from the breath.

Preventing clogging: For plastic instruments, remove the head joint and run some warm water through the windway from the large end or window. Blow out the excess water and let the windway dry.  Then fill the windway (4) with Duponol or dilute dishwashing detergent, also from the window end. Then hold the head joint with the upper end down, cover the large opening of the head joint (5) with your palm and blow the excess moisture out by blowing air through the window (3). This procedure cleans the windway. In addition, the residue of detergent or Duponol lowers the surface tension on the condensed water droplets, allowing the creation of a smooth film that can drain away more easily. After this treatment, it is necessary to let the instrument dry thoroughly outside its case (just like after practicing).

For wooden instruments, do not follow the procedure described for plastic instruments. Running water through the windway will cause severe damage to the recorder. Instead, allow the instrument to dry thoroughly overnight. Then fill the windway with Duponol from the window end, covering the surface of the cedar block. Let the excess liquid drain, blow out as above and let dry before playing.

1st week: 15 min. daily max.

2nd week: 20 min. daily max.

3rd week: 25 min. daily max.

4th week: 30 min. daily max.

5th week: 40 min. daily max.

6th week: 60 min. daily max.

Break-in: Playing-in a wooden recorder is in part the process of familiarizing the instrument with new conditions of moisture and temperature, and in part familiarizing the player with the new instrument. Don't over-do things in this phase. Concentrate on playing calm phrases without forcing the high register; use the high register sparingly at first, extending the range gradually. I suggest a conservative break-in schedule, especially if you use the instrument in a humid environment or are a wet player who gets the windway saturated with moisture easily.

The following schedule should ensure that your instrument gives you its best. Playing time is defined as the total time from beginning of playing until you put the instrument away to dry. For example, playing for 15�, stopping for 30�, then playing again for 15� is one hour playing time, since the instrument did not have a chance to dry out between the two playing sessions.

If you don�t play the instrument for an extended period of time, it should be broken in again.  It is possible for the instrument to need revoicing during the breaking in process, as the block swells and changes shape. However, following the above schedule should make this unlikely. If you notice minor problems before the breaking in process is completed, I suggest you wait for revoicing until you have finished breaking in the instrument. Otherwise you might need a second revoicing after finishing the break-in process.  

After Playing/Storing the instrument: After each playing session, take the instrument apart, and wipe the bore out using a rod and cloth. Do not use a mop--it can leave fuzz in the bore.  

Use caution when wiping out the head joint. Should damage to the labium occur, a repair of the head joint is either very expensive or not possible.  Allow your instrument to air dry thoroughly by storing it in an open case, if possible. Store instruments in their cases to protect them from damage.  Keys and the labium are especially fragile.

Maintenance: Protect your instrument against sudden changes of temperature or direct sunlight, and never leave it in a warm car or near a source of heat. Always store the instrument in pieces to avoid cracks in the joints. Wax-impregnated instruments generally will never need oiling. Oiling instructions are included for those instruments that need it.  Contact me if you have any questions.