My Horn Isn’t Pretty, Does That Make It Bad?

We’ve all seen a professional musician playing on a beautiful instrument, one that is most likely way out of our budgets. Sometimes we start to look down on an instrument because it’s not “pretty,” and I think that’s a stigma we should break.

Your horn doesn’t have to be pretty to play well. It’s just a fact. Many of us receive our instruments as hand-me-downs, or maybe the ones we bought used have some finish imperfections and don’t look new or shiny. This is totally okay! Many professional players got famous on instruments that aren’t the best looking, and that’s because it’s about the sound of your instrument. Sure, it’s nice to have your instrument look super sparkly all the time, but not necessary.

I like to bring up the example of Louis Armstrong’s first cornet. It’s currently on display in the museum that was his home growing up, but that horn has a lot of issues, from an aesthetic and a repair standpoint.
Louis Armstrong’s First Cornet

Obviously there are certain things we must consider; if there is an aesthetic “boo-boo” that disrupts the playing ability/functioning of the instrument, it’s time to take action, but most aesthetic issues don’t affect the instrument in that way.

What I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t be discouraged if your horn doesn’t look awesome. If you enjoy playing it and it sounds good to you, that’s the baseline for what matters. If you’re concerned about the way your horn looks, bring it on in for me to take a look at! We can see if what’s going on has anything to do with structural integrity, or playability. We can discuss aesthetic-improving options. See you soon!


Essential in Learning; Essential Elements


Image result for essential elements

Essential Elements is one of the many method book series we keep in stock here at the store, for many reasons! Checkout this article on how they got started, here.

What’s The Deal with Rico Royals?

If you’ve ever stood at our single-reed wall, you’ve most likely notice that some reeds are packaged in blue, rather than orange. These reeds are the Rico Royal reeds, and they’re different for a reason. Let’s dive in!

Single reeds come in two flavors–filed or unfiled. The orange package of reeds are filed, while the royals are not. The difference? Tonal clarity. Filed reeds have bark on their shoulders, which creates more resistance. The Royals go through an extra step in which the bark is cut off the shoulders, allowing for faster vibrations. The Royals are easy to play, designed for students, and have increased clarity in their tone. The reeds come in both clarinet and saxophone, 1.5 through 5. So, if you’re finding the orange reed too hard to vibrate, or if you’re looking for increased clarity in your notes, give the Rico Royals a try next time!

*Royals Come In…

  • Bb Clarinet 1.5-5
  • Eb Clarinet 1.5-5
  • Alto Clarinet 1.5-4
  • Bass Clarinet 1.5-4
  • Soprano Sax 1.5-4
  • Alto Sax 1.5-5
  • Tenor Sax 1.5-5
  • Baritone Sax 1.5-5

*Sizes in stock vary, some sizes/instruments available only through special order. Call for inquiries.

Reed Profile photos sourced from/property of D’Addario & Co. 2019

The Importance of COA’s for Woodwind Instruments

What is a COA?

A Flute Undergoing a COA

The abbreviation “COA” means a Clean, Oil, and Adjust. In length, this means that your woodwind instrument is going to have all the keys taken off. I’ll then clean and polish the interior and exterior of the body, as well as all the keys, hinge rod tubes (the place the rods go in), screws, and rods. This cleaning removes any old oils or dirt that could cause the keys not to work as freely or smoothly as they should. I’ll then assemble the instrument, oiling the rods and screws, adding or replacing any felts or corks as needed, and making any key interaction adjustments needed. When your instrument is all clean and oiled, not only will it’s fingerprint-free finish polishing make it look nice, but it will play with a faster touch response, and smoother movement.

A Saxophone on the Bench for a COA

A COA is common maintenance, occurring every 3-4 years, depending on the player. It’s important to know that this cleaning can become necessary in the instrument’s ability to play throughout its life. Without regular cleanings, rods and screws can freeze up, and keys (as well as the body) can start to deteriorate. Cleaning your instrument helps it live longer, play better, and look swell in the process.

How Long Will I be Without My Instrument?

COA’s are a common maintenance procedure, and can usually be turned around anywhere from 2 days to a week (depending on the lineup at the bench). Please allow the appropriate time for cleaning your instrument before you need it.

For more information on COA’s or to see if it’s right for you and your instrument, please bring it by for us to look at. Every instrument is different, and will be evaluated before determining if the COA is right for it. Our evaluations are free and done in shop, so drop by anytime. Thanks for learning with me, and I hope to see your horn on my bench soon!