Welcome to my online resource for advice, care, repair and maintenance
for woodwind instruments.
Whether you're interested in buying an instrument, maintaining your flute
or clarinet, hints on saxophone repairs or just plain curious about woodwind
- you'll find something to interest you here, presented in a clear and
If you require further information or wish to comment on anything on the
site (or just fancy sharing your experiences) there's a contact link on
Haynes Clarinet Manual hit the shelves about a month ago, and feedback
has been coming in.
It's all good, which is a relief, and I'm particularly pleased that the
photography got a few mentions. In fact it's been said that the clarinet
manual is even prettier than the sax manual. I'm quietly pleased, given
that clarinets are nowhere near as photogenic as saxes.
Copies are now available at major bookselllers across the
globe - but for those of you wanting something a little special, signed
and dated copies are available from this site.
See the Haynes Clarinet
Manual page for more details.
What might surprise you - as much as it surprised me - is
that it's a lengthier book than the sax manual.
When I set out on the project I had it in mind that it might be hard to
fill quite as many pages - after all, the clarinet is a far simpler instrument,
As it turns out, no.
In fact the clarinet manual is shorter than originally intended. I'd planned
to cover all the bases and incorporate the standard Boehm system clarinet
as well as the Oehler and simple systems and the alto/bass clarinets.
But as the page count rose and rose it became clear that it wasn't going
to be a viable proposition - and even with much pruning it's still thirty
pages longer than the saxophone manual.
It was a difficult decision, but one made easier by the
realisation that the choice was between putting out a manual that really
went to town on the standard Boehm system clarinet alone, or one that
covered the harmony clarinets and multiple systems in less depth. I chose
the former, on the basis that there may be an opportunity later on to
write an alto/bass clarinet manual.
The clarinet manual features instruments by Hanson - the
cover shows two T6s. I was delighted to have the opportunity to work with
their instruments, having been very impressed by the T6 I reviewed
back in 2010 - and perhaps in some small way the book will give a bit
of a much-needed boost to the UK clarinet industry, which still has a
very great deal to offer in the face of some very stiff international
I'm slowly getting back to the workbench. At the moment
I'm wading through the backlog of larger jobs interspersed with minor
servicing work, as well as catching up with emails and all the paperwork
that's piled up over the last year or so (where does it all come from??).
I've also found some time (though heaven only knows how)
to do a few updates to the site - and as usual I have some real treats
in store for you:
There's a review of the new TJ
SR tenor, which looks to be an excellent way to get a lot of what
the TJ RAW gives
out for around £1000 less.
Speaking of which, there's a new Notes
article about my impressions of living with the RAW tenor for the
last few months - we're both very happy...
Sticking with tenors, there's a review of Mauriat's unfortunately-named
PMST 86 UL tenor.
The model name's a mouthful, but does the instrument satisfy...?
And as if two unlacquered horns aren't enough, rounding up the trio is
the new M2 Earth
Series tenor from Bauhaus. The M2 has proven to be very popular, so
how will the Earth Series stand up to scrutiny? And hot off the production
line, a brand-new Keilwerth
SX90R Shadow tenor. Is it a good one?
There's a couple of altos too - an interesting own-brand
debut from the team at Windcraft,
and the new Academy Jericho
series...which might not knock down any walls, but certainly has a lot
to shout about. And rising from the flames - quite literally - the Academy
On the flute front there's a review of the Beaumont
Alina - a solid-silver-headed challenger to the Yamaha 311...but at
the price of the 211.
Striking a more unusual note is the Celeste
ii C soprano - a modern take on a rare member of the sax family. It's
a bold move, but it might just rekindle interest in this useful addition
to the range.
On the accessory side there's another update to the Cebulla
strap review - this time I look at the new extended buckle, which
promises to take yet more pressure off the sides of the player's neck.
There's also a couple of new additions to the Handy Hints section - how
to make an octave key pad out of
that incredibly useful Sugru stuff, and an in-depth look at the fluid
mechanics behind oiling the action. It gets a bit geeky, but the first
half is well worth a read.
But it's not all good news, oh no - there's another new
exhibit in the Black Museum...the
soprano of shame!
So read on, and enjoy - and with a bit of luck (and a fair
wind) there'll be a few more updates in the coming months...
So, what's on the site?
There's the Handy Hints section,
which contains pages of advice and hints to enable you to care for and
perform minor repairs on your instruments. It's worth checking back from
time to time as this is likely to be an ever-growing section. For those
looking to have an instrument repaired, there's a basic guide to the various
levels of servicing.
Oiling the action - for geeks,
Sugru octave key pads.
The Reviews section is the place to
find the bottom line on that horn you've had your eye on.
As and when instruments come through the workshop ( or rather, when I
have the time! ) I'll post my comments about them here. The emphasis is
more on the mechanical side, given that playability is very much a subjective
matter - though if I find issues that may affect this significantly I'll
comment on them. There's also a section here which offers some advice
to those of you about to buy an instrument, new or secondhand - perhaps
for the first time, plus some notes on the vintage/modern saxophone debate,
and some hints for choosing a pro sax.
The new TJ SR tenor,
the Mauriat PMST
86 UL tenor, the Bauhaus
M2 Earth Series tenor, the Windcraft
alto and their new clarinet
- and the Academy Jericho
alto...and their new clarinet
too. Beaumont's Alina flute
makes its debut, and the Celeste
ii C soprano struts its stuff. And this just in - the very latest
The Misc. section is where you'll find all
the articles that don't quite fit anywhere else, including the infamous
Latest update: The
soprano of shame.
In Testing...Testing I'll be examining
in more detail some of the commonly held ideas appertaining to woodwind
instruments. For example...people 'say' you should use a Pad-Saver...but
why? And are they right?
Kangaroo skin pads and Noyek Reflectors...Hype or Hooray!? And at last,
the above-mentioned pad saver test!
In the Glossary you'll find explanations
for a great many of the curious words and terms used throughout the site.
If you're very new to musical instruments it might help to open this section
in a separate browser window so that you can refer to it as you read other
sections of the site.
A complete revision of the point screws article (nice new piccies!).
Notes...from a small workshop is a place
where you can get the low-down on workshop life, a chance to pull up a
seat and share a cuppa whilst the great issues of, well, anything I fancy
really, are mulled over. I won't often publish detailed update notices
here...so just drop by and peek in from time to time.
Me and my RAW tenor...
All material on this site copyright Stephen Howard Woodwind,
unless otherwise stated. 15/03/2013
Haynes logo copyright Haynes Publishing