Clarinet Swab Stuck ?


Clarinet Swab Stuck Tip No. 1 – Stop Pulling the Swab!

More than likely, you’ve pulled the swab enough to really get it stuck, but try reading through this page before you pull anymore. This could help you avoid instrument repair costs.


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1. What the swab gets caught on is the register key tube and/or the thumb ring. Both of these project into the bore of the clarinet causing the only barriers for a swab to hit in the bore.

2. The swab is bunched up when you pull it through. Solution – Make sure the swab is stretched full length before you pull it through the clarinet.

3. Swab string or swab is knotted up. One pet peeve of mine is to remove even a single knot right after the knot happens (on the string or swab). Solution – Unknot the string or swab BEFORE you pull it through the clarinet.

Clarinet Silk Swab

How to avoid getting the clarinet swab stuck


1. This should not pose a major problem if the swab is stuck here. Simply pull the barrel off the top joint of the clarinet.

2. Pull the lower joint off of the upper joint.

3. Place the upper joint on your lap (you should sit during this process) and work the swab backwards and then lightly forwards. Keep this motion light and do not tug on the swab.

4. Make it your goal to reverse the swab backwards out of the top end of the clarinet.


1. This poses a little more of a problem because the swab usually makes it all the way to the upper joint and gets stuck at the register key tube and thumb ring. PAY ATTENTION HERE – Don’t tug and pull as hard as you can out of the top of the clarinet!

2. As soon as you feel the swab stop, stop pulling. Don’t force it now.

3. Take the clarinet apart between the upper and lower joints and catch the tail of the swab.

4. Work the swab slowly back and forth in the upper joint.

5. Do your best to reverse the swab out of the bottom of the upper joint.

6. If you’ve gotten the swab stuck in a manner that the tail is not retrievable at the bottom of the upper joint, you might have to call a professional instrument repair technician to get your swab out.

Never do this when clarinet
swab is stuck...

1. Stick things in the clarinet to remove a swab. This can scratch the bore or tone holes or get more items stuck in the clarinet.

2. Tug on the swab really hard – this gets the swab stuck more and can ruin your keys from all of the pressure you are putting on the outside of the clarinet to tug on it.

Reviewing Clarinet Swabs

Avoid getting the Clarinet Swab Stuck

Getting a silk swab will reduce the amount of times your swab gets stuck. Cotton and Chamois often get stuck in clarinets due to more friction caused by the material. Make sure the weight is coated with cloth or a rubber material to reduce the wear and tear of the weight on the wood or plastic bore of your clarinet.

VIRTUALLY ANY ANY SILK SWAB IS A GOOD CHOICE OVER OTHER MATERIALS: Look for clarinet swabs: Made of silk, weight coated with rubber, black color. The silk swab is more expensive than the following two items but well worth the cost. A swab is a clarinet assessory that you use EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Buffet Swab: Since I play Buffet Clarinets, this was my choice for a long time. These used to be cotton swabs, but it looks like Buffet has switched to a micro-fiber swab.  One will likely come with your new Buffet clarinet or you could pick one up on the Buffet clarinet site.

Basic chamois swab: Usually the type that comes with a beginner clarinet. Just take care and read through the top of this clarinet swab stuck page to avoid any clarinet repair costs. These swabs are the cheapest, but the little extra you spend on silk clarinet swabs are WELL worth the convenience.

Cleaning Your Clarinet Swab

Alright, this is a tip of the experienced.  Yes, you can wash your swab in the washing machine.  However, let the swab hang or air dry!   Why?  Well, that little metal weight that is inside the string on the swab will get really hot when in the dryer, and oftern burn through the string leaving it weightless (you don't want your swab floating in the air during rehearsal, do you?).  To avoid this issue, simple wash it and hang dry the swab. 

Clarinet Swab Stuck or Unstuck. Hopefully, it is clear. Return to the Embouchure page to fix any mouth issues.