Did you just buy a new piccolo or are you thinking about it? You should learn how to take care of a wood piccolo so that you don’t damage it.
Things can happen, but you can do a lot to mitigate the risks of needing expensive repairs. Read on to learn how you can maintain your wood instrument well.
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Warm Up the Outside
It can be tempting to just assemble your piccolo and start playing. But to take care of a wood piccolo, you need to start by warming up the outside of the instrument.
This can help reduce the risk of the wood cracking because the instrument will be warm. So when you blow warm air into the piccolo, it will already be at or close to that temperature.
You can warm up the outside by holding the instrument close to your body. Put the headjoint under your arm or use your hand to warm it up before you start practicing.
Start With Short Sessions
When you first buy a wood piccolo, especially if you buy new, practice for short periods. Try not to play for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time.
This will allow the wood to acclimate to your environment. After a few weeks, you can slowly start to practice that piccolo for a bit longer, and you can eventually play it as much as you want.
You might not need to do this when buying a used wood piccolo, but it’s still a good option. That way, you can get used to how the piccolo responds without wearing yourself out.
Swab It Out
During and after a practice session or rehearsal, use a piccolo swab with your piccolo’s cleaning rod. This can help you keep condensation from building up inside the piccolo.
When that happens, it can be hard to get the inside to dry completely. Your piccolo may start to develop mold or other problems that can keep the instrument from sounding at its best.
At a minimum, you should swab out your piccolo whenever you finish practicing. But if you notice water building up or getting in your keys, swab it out even if you aren’t ready to put it away.
Set It on a Stand
Another important step to take care of a wood piccolo is to use a piccolo stand. You can set the instrument on a stand to keep it upright, which can help condensation flow out.
Also, you won’t have to rest your piccolo on a chair or a similar surface and risk it rolling off. If you have a long rehearsal, it’s nice to have a safe place to rest your piccolo during a break.
You could put it in the case, but you’d have to reassemble it and tune again before you start playing. A stand makes things easier, so you can take a short break and keep your piccolo relatively safe.
Don’t Squeeze the Keys
Whenever you assemble or disassemble the piccolo, be careful about how you do so. Make sure you avoid squeezing the keys as you hold the body.
You’ll also want to avoid the embouchure hole on the headjoint. Don’t use it to get the headjoint out of the case, so focus on the tenon end instead.
Now, it can be hard to completely avoid touching the keys on the body. But try and put most of your hand’s weight on the smooth part so that you don’t damage the mechanism.
Take It to a Tech
If you play the piccolo a lot, you should take it to a flute or piccolo repair technician about once a year. The tech will perform a clean, oil, and adjustment (COA) on your instrument.
Sometimes, your piccolo can sound a lot better and be easier to play after a visit to the tech. You can look for repair techs in your area, but you may need to drive an hour or two away.
In some cases, it may be worth shipping your piccolo to a specialty flute repair shop. You can pay for shipping insurance to make sure your piccolo gets to the shop and back safely.
Use Oil on the Headjoint
Between trips to the flute repair tech, you may want to use oil on your headjoint. This can be a great way to keep the wood from drying out and cracking more easily.
Almond oil is a good option, and you can put a little bit on a Q-tip. Rub it on the headjoint but avoid the embouchure hole. Then, you can let the headjoint rest for a few hours to let the oil soak in.
Before you do this, talk to a tech to make sure they think it’s safe for you to do this. And if you get their approval, you should avoid the body so that you don’t get oil in the mechanism or on the pads.
Put It in an Insulated Bag
When you aren’t playing your piccolo, you want to keep it somewhere safe. Most piccolos come with a case cover that has some sort of insulation.
However, you can buy a Fluterscooter Bag to keep your piccolo and flute together. These bags have good insulation, so they can keep your piccolo from reacting to major temperature changes.
Be sure to zip up whatever bag you use so that you get the best results. You can also keep the bag itself in a larger bag to provide more protection when going from a cold environment to a hot environment or vice versa.
How Will You Take Care of a Wood Piccolo?
Knowing how to take care of a wood piccolo is crucial for any serious piccolo player. Be sure to consider a few tips, such as warming up the instrument and using an insulated case cover.
Then, you can keep your piccolo in the best possible condition. And if you can do that, you’ll be able to enjoy playing your instrument for years to come.