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Playing wood clarinet outside, hot temperature

Hi!I would like to play clarinet in street with my other musician friends.I want to buy wood clarinet Yamaha 32 or 450.now i have plastic Yamaha 26I I.We will often play under sun and in summer also, with temperature around 35-40'.wood clarinet can have damage with this temperature? . I would like to have wood clarinet just to have more beautiful sound.or you think that is better that I play the plastic clarinet ? Maybe people that listen us in street will not notice so big difference in sound between plastic and wood.is intermediate wood, not professional Quality.do you think that the sound is much more beautiful in intermediate wood clarinet than in plastic one?


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
Comparing a student wood clarinet vs a student plastic clarinet for outdoors I would opt for the plastic.
Outside in the sun I would recommend a plastic clarinet.

Wood, being an organic material, will expand in the sunlight on a hot day. If played continuously in the sunlight it may also acelerate the wood drying out, if not properly cared for (though we're not talking a week, we're talking longer exposures).

The key with wood is making sure the internal bore temperature does not vary too much to the external temperature, especially if the internal temperature varies much higher than the external temperature (this is when cracks pop).

Most people do not notice the tonal variation between a professional clarinet (being played by a professional) to a student clarinet (being played by a professional).
The key is making sure the instrument is properly setup and you're playing in tune with the rest of the ensemble.
ok,thanks.Last question: if I play the wood clarinet outside in hot day,under shadow and not under sunlight,the hot summer temperature 35-40' can damage the wood? If I buy wood clarinet and crack,if after I repair this crack,anyway this clarinet loses value and after is more difficult to sell it,because in general people don t want to buy clarinet with repaired cracks.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
Playing it ONE day on a hot day in the shade I don't think is going to have any effect.

Playing it consistently can.
When I deal in clarinet repair I always keep the humidity 40% - 50% as this stabilizes the wood. Bodies can expand/shrink and have rings become loose. Since wood no longer is alive it has a tendency to dry out. That's why the manufacturers initially pressurize oil into the wood to stabilize it for a long term. And thus later reoiling also helps. ==> http://clarinetperfection.com/Oil.htm

But overall, the plastic clarinet is just going to be more stable outside, and since you have one why not use it ?


Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
If I buy wood clarinet and crack,if after I repair this crack,anyway this clarinet loses value and after is more difficult to sell it,because in general people don t want to buy clarinet with repaired cracks.
I'll let Steve, our resident clarinet expert, answer the technical part of your question, but as for the part above, let me answer that as a someone who only doubles on clarinet. If I had the option to buy two clarinets, one had had cracks repaired, and the other didn't, I would pick the one that had not been damaged. Simple really.

That said, it really also comes down to how significant the cracks were; how deep they are; and where they are located; and how well they were repaired, and by whom. I recently bought a wooden Albert system clarinet that had 2 very minor hair-line cracks. My tech is suburb, and you can't see these repairs at all. They did not require pins, just a tiny amount of glue. This clarinet of mine of is likely from around 1900, and has obviously been extremely well taken care of. It has never been exposed to temperature extremes, or been dropped, or banged, or any of the other things that can damage wooden clarinets.

You're always better off as Steve said to begin with, to use a plastic clarinet outdoors in the heat, cold, rain, etc, and save the wooden clarinet for the inside. People really can't tell the difference between a plastic and wooden clarinet sound. The trick is to work on your tone, and develop a good sound. Use a good mouthpiece & reed combo that will help enable you to get the sound you want: the rest is up to you. The gear is the smaller part of your overall sound: you are the bigger part.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Let me throw another couple materials in there: metal and rubber. What do you think about them and weather extremes? Would it be better not to worry about the horn so much as pads, felts, and corks? As an example, I had to bring my bari from college to home in Western NY, about an hour and 1/2 drive. The temperature was around 0F. Several pearls fell off.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
A few years ago I studied cracks.
I recall a customer said that as their daughter was playing they heard a snap, and then the instrument did not respond well.
After setting it aside for a while they played it again and the instrument played fine. For about 10 minutes.

This then brings up the science of how a crack is created (in one specific instance) ==> http://clarinetperfection.com/WhyCrack.htm
Essentially, a cold body clarinet, when starting to play, the internal bore temperature increases dramatically fairly quickly. that puts pressure on the outside thickness of the instrument.

I recreated the scenario on a tube of wood put in the freezer for a bit to bring the temp down. Then I had a hot air gun shoot inside the instrument. I was able to crack the wood tube. Repeat on the other side and repeated a crack. I wish I took the internal and outside surface temp. Oh well.

If the outside temperature is cold and it is compressed it will hold the inside from expanding.
For a while until the outside temp, of the wood expanding reaches a certain temp, then the inside pressure pushing out greatly exceeds the outside pressure maintaining the pressure going inside. Then "snap" the outside dimension cracks.

The above link, I was able to repeated have the outside open up.
This is consistent with players saying everything works fine for 10 minutes (or some amount of time) then the instrument stops responding. The inside pressure then opens up the outside crack.

As to values ... well, a damaged clarinet I basically put at half of it's "as-is" market value. This was shown consistent when I did some valuation research a few years ago ==> http://clarinetperfection.com/ClarinetValue.htm

After all. Would you buy a car that has 10 miles on it in perfect condition.
or a car with 10 miles on it that was crashed, junked, but someone rebuilt it to "perfect" condition ?
and how would you value those two EXACT same cars ?

It's just one of those things. Just play a plastic clarinet because it is less to worry about.
I subbed in an outdoor concert before, on clarinet. I played my B12.
Other woodwind players had intonation issues of their horns being in the bright evening sun on a hot summer evening. The plastic clarinet just minimized potential issues for me.

Fixing a crack I've found is more than just using pins. One must seal the crack - through glue - to keep the seal totally closed.
Think of it this way too. If you have a crack going into a tonehole slightly cracks opening in the tonehole will create a bypass to the pad an viola, the instrument won't be able to maintain airtightness anymore.

I had another example where the crack was a LAYER in the wood close to the bore. as it slightly expanded it created a very small chamber which was essentially a crack and the instrument wouldn't play well.

Cracked instruments bring about the uncertainly of the instrument thus they are valued much less by the player.
Retail places add their work to the instrument so their prices will be higher than an open market sale. think of it as custom motorcycles or cars. The first owner pays a premium for custom work, the 2nd owner doesn't care and the first owner uses looses a bunch of original purchase price money.