The realities of humidity

Looks normal on the outside. Fusion of clarinet on the inside. Not fun.

As many know, the area of Virginia that I live in is crazy humid in the summer.  Like, walking outside feels like swimming through hot soup.  Anyways, a few weeks back I decided to practice my A clarinet.  I put the instrument together like normal, including putting the upper and lower joints together.  I twisted them together to line up the bridge and I felt the infamous CLUNK of wood rubbing on wood.  I know all you clarinetists know what I’m talking about!  Oh geez, I thought.  I hoped that I could get the two joints apart.  I tried twisting them apart.  Wouldn’t even budge.  Me being me, I decided to put it in the back of my mind and get to practicing (in my head I hoped that the magic clarinet fairy would come while I practiced and loosen the joint).  An hour or so later, when I was finished, I tried again to take the two joints together.  Nothin.  Uh oh…this is bad, I thought.  So I left it on my stand in my practice room.

Fast forward to now.  I guess I had hoped that the humidity would go down (I’m way too optimistic for my own good) and that I would be able to wretch it apart.  Every few days or so I would give it a go.  Every time, it was like cement.  Finally, today, I took it in to the local repair tech, and he was able to get it apart.

Fused clarinet, ready for transport to the repair shop in a pillowcase (didn’t fit into the case, duh)

He offered to shave down the area in the joint where the swelling was, but I knew once the winter came and the humidity goes down, its just going to get wobbly.  He said he had some fancy cork that can fix that problem…but I chose not to simply because I didn’t want to spend all that money.  I can afford to not push it in all the way (I just have to remember!) since I don’t really use my A all that much.  But, come December/January and I’m still having the swelling issue I will probably have him shave it down.

I had a similar issue last year while I was at the Navy school of music.  Except it had nothing to do with the humidity because it was a Buffet Greenline clarinet…my barrel got stuck to the upper joint.  I immediately went upstairs to the repair department because I knew if I tried to get it unstuck myself, it could shatter, or the tenon joint could snap off.  Luckily they were able to fix it!

Has anyone else had this happen to them before?  I’d love to read stories in the comments!


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