Mark Jacobi's Guide to Crack Prevention
*borrowed from the upcoming atelierjacobi.com website! Please visit for more information, including a guide on selecting and breaking in new clarinets.
The main concern of a clarinetist in caring for their instrument is to prevent it from cracking. Cracks usually happen during cold weather or in air-conditioned rooms. Cracks generally occur in the upper end of the clarinets upper joint and barrel. Never blow into a cold clarinet. If you blow into a cold clarinet the warm breath will cause the bore to expand rapidly. The outer wall, still cold, hard and contracted can crack under the pressure. There are several precautions you can take to lessen the chance of cracking.
1. Never play a clarinet when the temperature is below 60 degrees.
2. Never blow into the bore of a clarinet to warm it up.
3. Before playing check the rings to ensure that they are tight. Loose rings are an indication that the wood is drying out. If they are loose, tighten them with paper before you assemble the clarinet.
4. Grease the tenon corks. The best grease to use is “la Tromba”, the grease used in manufacturing at Buffet-Crampon.
5. Put the barrel and upper joint together. Place barrel and upper joint under your armpit for five minutes to warm them up.
6. Assemble upper and lower joint. Play slowly starting with long low notes for about five minutes.
7. After playing, swab the bore of the clarinet. Draw the swab through the clarinet 2 or 3 times. The mixture of condensation and saliva is harmful to the wood, pads, and springs.
8. Take the clarinet apart, Dry and wipe out the sockets.
9. Blow water out of the tone holes. Blot tone holes/pads with cigarette paper.
10. Grease corks and put the clarinet away in its case. Do this every day when you are finished playing. Otherwise the corks will compress and cause emission problems.
11. Do not leave the clarinet out on a stand over night. Put it away in a humidified case. Around 45/50% should be fine.