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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 relaxed manner.
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 the left.

Haynes Clarinet ManualThe 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, right?
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 competition.

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 Phoenix clarinet.

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.
Latest update: 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.
Latest update: 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 Keilwerth SX90R Shadow tenor.

The Misc. section is where you'll find all the articles that don't quite fit anywhere else, including the infamous Black Museum.
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?
Latest update: 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.
Latest update: 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 just drop by and peek in from time to time.
Latest update: Me and my RAW tenor...

All material on this site copyright Stephen Howard Woodwind, unless otherwise stated. 15/03/2013

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