There are few things you need to do to keep your instrument in good working condition. Woodwind instruments have a lot of pieces that require specific care. If you treat your instrument correctly, it will function properly for a longer amount of time.
Using a good reed is the first step towards making a great sound.
IF YOUR REED LOOKS LIKE A HALF EATEN POTATO CHIP, OR LIKE BART SIMPSON'S HAIR YOU WILL NOT SOUND GOOD!
Just because your reed is not chipped, does not mean it is still good. A reed that is more than 3 weeks old will most likely be too soft and will sound bad.
Every day: All woodwinds should SWAB after playing. The condensation from your saliva and bits of whatever you ate for snack will be left on the pads will destroy them sooner than later. It’s gross, but true!
Every day: Do not eat or drink sugar before playing….if you do, rinse with water or brush your teeth. Sugar destroys the pads.
At least once a week: Clarinets/Saxophones should clean the mouthpiece with warm water and mild soap at least once a week. When your mouthpiece looks like a science experiment and smells like old socks, you’ve waited too long! If there is build up that will not come off the mouthpiece, make a mixture of 1/3 vinegar, 2/3 water, and let your mouthpiece soak for an hour. Clarinets be careful not to let the cork get wet.
A couple times a year: Clarinets should twist a damp paper towel into the tone holes of the instrument to clean out oils and gunk that have accumulated.
Never, never, never! – Clarinets/Saxophones….NEVER leave your reed on the mouthpiece!