Bore Oil?

by Mike Willner
(Brooklyn, NY)

What do you recommend in terms of oiling the bore of my R13? I've played high-quality baroque recorders for years, and they require regular (bi-annual) oiling

This amounts to a small amount of a mild oil applied to a lint-free cloth, pulled through once or twice. Then, let it sit overnights, and next day pull a clean cloth through, clean excess off finger holes, done!

Is there any such routine needed for wood clarinets, the R13 in particular?



Hello Mike,

Thanks for the question. I play relatively older Buffet R-13s and whenever I give it to my instrument repair person, he does oil the bore, but he also pulls the clarinet apart as to not get oil on the pads and corks. I believe you could put a light coat of oil on an old clarinet swab and run it through the bore occasionally and letting it sit overnight. Very similar to your practice on recorder, just being careful of avoiding oil on pads and corks.

To me, it makes sense to do this occasionally, but I’m not a master at the exact science of this practice. I’ve looked up a few webpages that will give you some good information on oiling or not oiling your instrument.

From Tom Ridenour: Ridenour Clarinet Products recommends using good bore oil periodically and the best types of oil to use (hydrophyllic oil made of vegetables or nuts).

From The Clarinets: A good synopsis of the clarinet bore and the pros and cons of oiling the bore.

From The Clarinet Pages: Short and sweet recommendation. Yes of old clarinets, no for new clarinets. Question is, when is the cross between old and new? Telling this is by looking at the bore. Does it look dry? Is the normally black wood a little lighter color or white? If it is dry or looks light, you likely need a coat of oil.

And, as you are a recorder player, you probably either never had to deal with keys or few keys at best. Remember to oil your clarinet keys regularly at the rods and posts with key oil. All of those mechanisms need good quality lubrication to keep them quiet. Same advice as with bore oil, wipe off the excess as to not touch the pads or corks.

Wishing you luck with the clarinet. Do you have any great recorder duets, trios, or quartets to recommend to the clarinet world? Let us know.


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