Oiling Keywork, Dusting, Cleaning Pads

Oiling the keywork on your bassoon

Every month, (if I get round to it) I oil the keywork on my bassoon. The general idea is that you should never have metal moving against metal. There should always be a film of oil between them. Some oil which is sold as key oil is far too thin and doesn’t stay in place for long. I have for a long time used ‘Hypoid 90’ gearbox oil which you can get at garages. Half a litre will last you several lifetimes. You can then dip the tip of a very thin screwdriver into it and apply it but the best way of applying it to the keywork is to get a small hypodermic syringe from a chemist or, if you know one, a diabetic who uses them. Then snap off the point with a pair of pliers and sand it smooth. Or you can get a small syringe from http://www.modelcraftcollection.com/ (from their home page, type in ‘Syringe’ in their search window¬†and then what you’ll need is a 1 ml syringe and a ‘precision dispensing tip’) . Fill the syringe with your lovely thick ‘Hypoid 90’ and you can then apply very small quantities of oil very precisely. Dab a tiny amount to all rod ends etc. including rollers, move the keys a bit to work the oil in and then wipe off any excess. If any bits seem particularly hard to get the oil into, it might be worth unscrewing the key and putting the oil directly into the hole that the screw goes into. In an ideal world, keywork should be silent and having it well oiled is the single most important step in achieving this. Also, if you never oil your keywork, the metal at the ends of the keys and the screws wil start to wear and you’ll end up with play in the mechanism which will necessitate a visit to a repairman.

Dusting under the keys of your bassoon

The traditional way of getting rid of the fluff that accumulates under the keys of a bassoon is to use a small soft paint brush or one of those bushy make-up brushes. What I use is an aerosol of compressed air which is used to blow dust off camera lenses. They can be bought from photographic shops. They are made by Kenro.¬† Do be careful to keep the aerosol upright and do not shake it or you’ll end up spraying ice-cold propellant on to your instrument. The whole instrument can be dusted in this way in a matter of seconds.

Cleaning any pads on your bassoon that have become sticky

If any pads are very sticky, take the key off and carefully clean the pad with solvent. If you have synthetic pads (more on these at a later date) they are more prone to getting sticky but this is very easily and quickly sorted by cleaning them with powder paper. Body Shop sell ‘Facial Blotting Tissues’ which work fine. I always carry a packet in my bassoon case. Some players claim that the talcum powder on these clogs up the pores on kid or leather pads and would rather use plain Rizla cigarette papers (the red ones are best and choose the king size ones) to absorb any greasiness, but I think powder paper does a better job.