Removing a Key from a Woodwind Instrument

By Curt Altarac

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Tools and supplies that you will need:

NOTE: All of these tools and supplies are available in the MusicMedic Repair Kits.

1. Identify the type of pivot system for the key.

2. Using your spring hook remove all needle springs applying pressure to the key from their cradles. In the case of a key with a flat spring, you will not be able to remove the pressure.

3. Unscrew pivot screws or hinge rod that is holding key in place.

4. In the case of pivot screws: unscrew screws on both ends of the key, the key should come right off. If the pivot screw does not unscrew easily, apply a drop of penetrating oil and wait several hours or days before trying again. Be careful not to strip the slot on the screw. Be sure to apply a little oil on the pivot screws when replacing the key.

Remove Pivot

5. For hinge rods: Slowly remove rod from the key. Be careful not to bend the rod while removing it. Be careful not to marr the rod with pliers. If the rod in the hinge tube is straight and no binding is taking place, you chould be able to remove the rod without the use of pliers.

Remove Hinge 

6. Once the key is off use a hinge tube cleaner to clean the inside of the hinge tubing. Wipe all oil off the rod and apply fresh oil when the key is put back on.

7. Once the key is off the instrument, try passing the hinge rod through the hinge tube. If both are straight and working properly, the hinge rod should pass through the hinge tube without friction. If this is not the case, something is bent, dirty, or marred.


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