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.
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!
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 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!