Almost exactly a year ago we posted an article with this same topic. What about the woodwinds? Do you need to chemically clean them? The answer is both yes and no. Yes you do if you have a metal instrument that is suffering the effects from dezincification or pitting on the plating. No, if you have a wooden instrument that doesn’t require chemicals for cleaning. That does not mean however that those woodwinds may not require maintenance, just a different kind.
The most prevalent woodwind instruments that I see in need of chemical cleaning are bass clarinet and saxophone necks. I can’t tell you how many times I have opened a case and found the mouthpiece still attached to the neck and lime and scale is pouring out of the socket. These necks definitely need to be cleaned for the health of the instrument and also the players!
There was a case last year in Atlanta of a man that had developed a chronic lung condition. The article from livescience.com states that,
“Indeed, a lack of regular instrument cleaning seems to be the root of most cases of saxophone lung. In a 2010 editorial in Chest by Dr. Yvon Cormier, she noted that “it is quite likely that the problem [of sax lung] has existed for many years because of the cleaning habits of many musicians. Upon consultation of a few saxophone players, I was surprised to learn that most only brush-clean their instruments, and in some cases, only once or twice a year. Washing with a chlorine solution or isopropyl alcohol was never mentioned.”
Save yourself a trip to the doctor and bring your instruments in for cleaning today!