Most players find that having their instrument examined every 2 years works well. Of course, bring it in sooner if something doesn’t feel right, or there’s a problem.
What a repair tech does every two years might include a play test and a check to make sure all the pads are sealing well. Here at Charles Double Reeds we use a machine that measures how much air is escaping when all the pads are closed. It’s a test in which we plug one side of the joint, and then use a magnehelic machine to blow a steady stream of air in from the other side. If any air is escaping, we’ll know right away.
There’s usually a bit of dusting needed, and depending on how much you’ve been practicing, the instrument might be pretty dirty. Your repair tech might simply polish and dust or they might recommend a more thorough cleaning. Cleaning before the instrument gets really dirty will extend the life of the pads, and make the whole instrument feel better to play.
Then a light oil is applied in the places where metal touches metal and moves. This usually does not need to be done more regularly. If you live in a very humid, or arid climate, oiling the keys more often might be a good idea.
You might expect a biannual examination to take about an hour. The cost can vary if parts are needed, or there is a specific problem like a crack or bent key. Ask in advance, and your repair tech will give you a quote, and work to keep it affordable.
For even more info, visit our instrument repair page.