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Sticky F and/or F# Keys

Another question about the 12 year (or so) old Buffet B12 Bb clarinet I inherited recently. Apologies in advance if it's been asked a thousand times before.

Either one or both of the ring keys for the F (thumb) and or F# are sometimes, but not always, slow to rise when depressed and released.

I say "one or both", because I'm having trouble isolating the actual problem. It sometimes seems as if the ring on the thumb key is catching on the nickel silver post, and then it seems like the F# key is sticking on it's post, when played alone.

I also wonder if the pad that goes down when both keys are played is sticking, but that's my least favourite choice of culprit.

Would there be any mileage in cleaning inside either of the rings? Or is there a more likely problem - and solution.

Thanks for any comments and all the help so far.


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I would suggest removing the thumb ring, cleaning the inside of the ring and the steel rod with alcohol and cleaning the hinge tube with a cotton pipe cleaner. Dills is a good brand. Then reinstall the ring putting a small drop of key oil in the hinge tube or on the rod. Holding the first finger ring down so as not to affect the thumb ring, move the thumb ring up and down to see if there is any friction. If there is, watch to see if the ring is centered on the metal tube or off to one side or the other. If it is off center, you can bend it back tapping a short hardwood dowel with a small hammer.

Checking the top ring is essentially the same. The pad it is attached to may be sticking as well. You can cut an index or business card into a narrow strip and dip one end in a cup of water, and then pull the wet end from under the pad a few times followed by the dry end.
Thank you for the detailed and extremely helpful advice, John. I'm away from home for a few days (with the clarinet but not my box of sax - and now clarinet - repair tools, which includes alcohol cleaning fluid, key oil and pipe cleaners). I'll follow your advice to the letter as soon as I'm back home.