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Why Clarinets Crack (and other wood instruments)


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
So why do Clarinets crack ?

It's because you stare at them !! :eek:

Normally clarinets crack due to some type of temperature change.

How much of a temperature change ? I don't know and I really don't want to experiment and neither should you.

New grenadilla instruments may crack due to the wood "changing" into a slightly different shape as it is played and dries out again. Think of a cross cut of wood. The wood has rings in it. Dependent upon where the bore is cut in that crosscut the clarinet may expand and shrink back down in odd shapes. Of course these shapes are usually too small to visually recognize but enough for wood to crack.

In new instruments (and old) the crack usually occur when the inside of the bore is wet (and expands) and the outside is dry and maintaining its shape. This creates conflicting pressures and sooner or later something gives (the outside) and a crack is created.

This also occurs if the instrument is cold and a player starts to play it before it is properly warmed up. In this scenario the inside and outside of the clarinet is cold. As a player starts playing the top most of the clarinet gets warm(er) and expands (in comparison to further down the clarinet). The outside of the clarinet is still cold and holds to it's shape. The internal pressure outwards sooner or later will overcome the pressure to maintain it's shape and a crack is created.

Well review how to warm up your instrument and prevent cracking in certain scenarios ....
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