Instrument Assembly/Disassembly

For all instruments, when you are opening the case, make sure you have laid it on a flat, stable surface. If there is a label on one side of the instrument, it should typically be facing upwards. Another helpful hint is that most instruments should lay so that the latches flip upwards when you open them. Other times, instruments may have it so that if you are looking at the case where it is split along the side to open, one side may be smaller than the other. This will typically be on top, as well.

When taking instruments out, please note how the pieces are laying in the case! That way, when you go to put each piece away, you will recall how each part should fit into the case.

Flute
    Your head joint gets gently slid into the end of the body of the flute (the longest piece). If you hold the body so that the key that sticks over the side (the Ab key) is facing away from you, the head joint will go in the left side. The hole in the mouthpiece that you blow into should more or less line up with the keys of the instrument, or the writing on the left side of the body (if there is any; some instruments have the brand written here). Never push the head joint all the way in! If you do, then you will not allow yourself room to tune your instrument.
    The foot joint gets put on the other end of the body. Avoid grabbing the instrument tightly as you do this, and try not to grab around the keys. If you do so, you may bend a key or rod. The keys of the foot joint should NOT line up with the keys of the body. Rather, the rod that the keys of the foot joint are on should line up with the center of the keys on the body.
    When disassembling, please take care again to not grasp the keys while you take the instrument apart.

Clarinet
    Start by putting your reed in your mouth to soak. This should happen before you put your instrument together to allow it enough time to soak.
For your instrument, start by taking the two body joints (the ones with all the keys on them) and gently sliding the top joint into the bottom joint. The top one should have the brand of the instrument at the top of it (on the front), and the bottom joint has three large keys spaced about an inch apart on the bottom. Be very careful when putting these joints together. The clarinet has a mechanism called the "bridge key" and if you are not careful when you put these two pieces together, you can bend or break this key, and then the clarinet will not function properly. The bridge key must be pressed when putting these two pieces together. To do this, hold the top joint in front of you with the keys facing you, and press the key second up from the bottom. When pressed, you should see a flat piece on the bottom left move as well. This is the part that needs to be taken care with when putting it together with the bottom joint. I recommend holding the top joint with your right hand and pressing the bridge key with your thumb, either resting the palm of your hand against the back of the instrument with fingers sticking up, or gently curving your fingers around the back so as not to grab the keys on the front of the joint. Same thing for the foot joint, hold it towards the bottom from the back (no keys) so that you do not grasp the keys or rods. It is important that you try not to grip these keys or rods on either joint as you put the instrument together; if you do, as you twist the instrument together you may break or bend a rod or key. You will know if these joints are lined up correctly if the bridge key is centered with the corresponding mechanism on the top of the bottom joint, and the keys/holes are lined up.
    Next, still taking care not to grasp the keys, gently twist the bell onto the bottom of the clarinet. After this, take the barrel (the one that simply looks like a tube or barrel) and twist it down onto the top of the clarinet (the end of the barrel that bulges out slightly should be the part that connects with the body of the instrument). Finally, twist the mouthpiece into the barrel and voila! The place on the mouthpiece where the reed goes should line up with the long, straight key (called the "register key") on the back of your instrument.
    About every other time you play you should grease the corks. Once you play more frequently and over a longer period of time, the corks will start to flatten out slightly and you won't need to grease them as often.
    When disassembling the instrument, again take care not to grasp the keys, and lay the instrument carefully back in the case the same way that it was when you took it out. If you have a swab, please swab your instrument out before putting it away (take the mouthpiece off first, then drop the weight end of the swab through the bell and down through the barrel, and gently pull through.

Saxophone
    First, put the neck strap around your neck. Now carefully hold the bell of the instrument (the large open part at the end of the bottom curve) with one hand while holding the top part (with a lot of keys) with the other to take it out of its case. On the back of the instrument you will see some sort of loop attached to the instrument; this is where you connect the neck strap to the saxophone. Once it is secured, take the neck of the instrument out of the case (the curved part with the cork on the end). Loosen the screw at the opening of the top of the instrument. Gently twist it into the top of the saxophone: the little rod sticking up just over the top of the saxophone body that goes under the metal loop of the octave key on the neck should be right in the middle of that loop. Tighten the screw that holds the neck in place.
    Carefully twist the mouthpiece onto the cork until it is about halfway done or a little more (there should be about 3/4 inch of cork showing). The hole where the reed goes should be on the bottom. Adjust the neck strap now so that the mouthpiece comes right to your mouth. You should never bring your head to the instrument; always the instrument to your head.
    When disassembling, do this sequence in reverse, and if you have a swab you should swab out your instrument before putting it away.

Trumpet/French Horn/Baritone
    Place the mouthpiece into the appropriate hole in the instrument, but please don't push it in. Simply set it into the instrument, or you may even give it a slight twist. If it is pushed in or twisted too much it may get stuck.
    When disassembling, make sure that the instrument is laid back in the case the same way it was when you took it out. Empty your spit valve before you put your instrument away each time.

Trombone
    Take the slide out of the case first, ensuring that the slide is locked so that the other part does not fall off and get damaged. Stand it up so that the rubber nub on the bottom is touching the ground. Next, take out the bell of the instrument, and place it on the corresponding part of the slide (should have the other half of the part that gets screwed on. The part with the lock is where the mouthpiece goes). Place it on and screw the pieces together. The bar on the bell and bars on the slide should make an "L" shape, or a right angle. The mouthpiece then gets placed in the instrument on the other half of the slide. Take care that you please don't push it in. Simply set it in the instrument, or you may even give it a slight twist. If it is pushed in or twisted too much it may get stuck.
    When disassembling, make sure that the instrument is laid back in the case the same way it was when you took it out (for example, the spit valve on the slide typically will be facing up rather than down). Empty your spit valve before you put your instrument away each time.

Percussion
    When setting up your snare drum, the instrument should come to just about where your belt would be if you were wearing one.

Comments