PSA - Knock Off Horns

Hey Gang,

We wanted to take some time to share information with you regarding online instrument sales. We had a customer come in that was really proud of the great deal they got on a Selmer Paris Reference 54 Tenor Sax. The instrument is marked with the correct logo and model, and it says, “Made in France”, but this isn’t a guarantee that you have found the real deal.

Here are a few clues that can help you determine if you’re purchasing a genuine article:

The Price
Be conscious of how much the instrument you’re interested in purchasing is selling for elsewhere. If it’s $10,000 at 99% of instrument retailers, and it’s $1,000 on one website, ask yourself why that would be. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Laser Etched VS Stamped
Professional quality instruments will have the logo stamped, not laser etched. You can usually tell by looking at an image, but you’d definitely be able to feel the difference as the stamp is an indentation.

Exotic Colors
Sometimes phony horn sellers will offer instruments in exotic colors that the true manufacturer does not offer. Always reference the manufacturer’s website to see what model variations are in production.

Sloppy Keys
Horns that are a copy can often be difficult to play even being brand new. The keys will have slop, and you may notice that something just doesn’t feel right. A lot of these horns are made by referencing photographs of the genuine instrument and trying to replicate it.

The internet is not a bad place, and there are a number of deals you can find. We just urge you to use caution. The safest way to shop online is to visit manufacturer’s websites. They will list all of the products they manufacture and they will list authorized dealers that you can make a purchase from.

We’re always here for you to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have when buying an instrument for yourself or your student.

Valve Oil: Petroleum VS Synthetic

Valve Oil Al Cass and Hetman

Petroleum VS Synthetic Valve Oil

By Tim Brennan

When it comes to valve oil for brass instruments, there is a wide variety to choose from on the market. Personal preference is what it boils down to in the end.

BUT. Let's explore the two main kinds of valve oil. Petroleum, and synthetic.

The basic difference between the two is that Petroleum oil is made up of molecules of varying sizes. When using a petroleum based oil, the smaller molecules tend to evaporate quicker, leaving only the larger molecules. Some say that the larger molecules which remain, give the valves a more sluggish feel. This also may lead to using the traditional petroleum oil more frequently. 

Synthetic oil is made of molecules of similar size. A lot a lot of players say synthetic oil provides a more slippery feel when playing. They also find that they are lubricating less frequently with the synthetic oil.

Valve Oils Petroleum and Synthetic

So...."which one is better?" you may ask.

Truly, it is an individual preference.  A lot of players of valved brass instruments will choose a petroleum oil, simply because that is what they have always used, it gives them the best results, and they are loyal to their brand which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  

Al Cass is a popular brand, which I have personally used and seems a little lighter in viscosity. This makes it good for quick notes, but will have to be applied more frequently. Another petroleum based oil is Blue Juice. I have also used this brand, and have found it works well, but like the others, has to be applied more regularly and it has an "oily" smell.  From my research, I have found that petroleum based oils also tend to leave a residue when they evaporate.

Many pro players use the synthetic oils for the simple reasons that they don't need to lubricate their valves as often, and they don't leave a residue after they evaporate.  

There are several brands of Synthetic oils on the market today --- Ultra Pure, Alisyn, Hetman, and Yamaha are all popular with brass players. I have used Alisyn, and Ultra Pure, with excellent results. Hetman and Yamaha both have different grades of viscosity. Hetman choices are #1, #2, and #3. Yamaha has Light, Regular, and Vintage. From my understanding, the Vintage Yamaha oil is a good choice for the older instruments whose valves have NOT been rebuilt. A final bit of information on synthetic oils --- If you decide to switch to synthetic, it is recommended that you get the instrument ultrasonically cleaned prior to switching.  

Whatever direction you decide to go, take care of your instrument and it will take care of you!

Caring For A Wooden Clarinet

Caring for a Wooden Clarinet
By Tim Brennan

As a former music educator, and a parent, I would frequently remind my students that the holidays are a perfect time to make requests for additional "cool" band gear to enhance their musical experience. My students would come back after a birthday or a holiday, excited to show me their new gear. This ranged from music stands, to mutes, and sometimes, a new instrument.

A wooden clarinet is a perfect gift for the advanced clarinet student who is looking for a new challenge. Parents take note, this step will be financially significant, and proper care is vitally important.

Step-up and professional clarinets differ from student clarinets in a number of ways, but the body material of the clarinet between beginning and advanced models is the biggest difference and requires attention. Step-up and professional model clarinets are made with a wooden body, whereas student model clarinets are made with a resin/plastic body. What do we know about wood? Wood expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. Below we list a few guidelines to follow if you think you or your student is ready to take this step. These points are important to follow so your new wooden clarinet stays in top condition.

1. Never play your wooden clarinet when the instrument is cold. Let it warm up to room temperature before playing. Our breath is warm, if we play our wooden clarinet without letting the wood come to room temperature, the heat from our breath could potentially cause the wood to crack.

Wooden Clarinet
Shocked Face

2. Never submit your clarinet to extreme temperatures. This includes marching, do not march with your wooden clarinet. (Keep the plastic bodied clarinet you started on, you'll need it for marching band).

3. There will be a break-in period with key steps to follow. Read these steps carefully:

  • Play your new instrument only 15 minutes a day for the first week.

  • During the second week, you can play the clarinet twice a day for 15 minutes each.

  • Gradually increase your playing time until you are at normal practice time.

The longer the break-in time, the less likely your new wooden clarinet will crack.

Cold Temperature

4. During the winter months, if you live in an area with cold weather, the chance of cracking your wooden clarinet is greater due to the drier air. Purchasing a humidifier to keep in the case will help a great deal. We carry a product called a "Dampit," which is a humidifier made for wooden instruments. The Dampit works to maintain the humidity levels in your instrument case. 



5. Be sure to swab your wooden clarinet after each play session, and if you run into a marathon practice session, swab periodically.


Following these simple steps will ensure you have success and are able to enjoy your new instrument to the fullest. It only takes a small amount of care to keep your new instrument looking and sounding it's best for years to come. Your friends and family will be amazed and truly excited to hear your wonderful new sound!

6 Ways to Prolong the Life of your Reed


Tips to protect and preserve the life of your reeds

Reeds are important for creating the sound on your woodwind instruments. They will need to be replaced regularly, but there are ways to protect and help keep them lasting longer.

1. Always Use a Mouthpiece Cap When You’re Not Playing

When taking a break from playing, it’s important to put the cap on the mouthpiece to protect it from possible chipping. Using the cap also keeps the reed moist and ready to play.

2. When Finished Playing, Remove the Reed from the Mouthpiece and Store in a Reed Guard

After playing, always remove your reed from the mouthpiece and store in a reed guard. This protects the reed from damage and the guard keeps the reed flat, preventing it from warping as it dries.

3. Don’t Handle the Reed By The Tip

The tip, vamp, and rail of a reed are extremely thin and fragile. Always handle the reed by the bottom, or the stock, to prevent chipping or cracking.

4. No Chapstick or Lip gloss

Chapstick, lip gloss, and lip stick will leave a residue on your reed that will lessen its life.

5. Rinse Your Reed With Water, Dry Before Storing

After you’re done playing your instrument, remove the reed and rinse it in clean water. Then, dry it by passing it through a cloth or paper towel. Be sure to pass it through towards the tip, not the stock. 

6. Use A Reed Vitalizer Case for Storage

A Reed Vitalizer case helps prevent cracking and warping by regulating the humidity level inside the case.