Review of the Clarinet Repair Kit in 'The Clarinet'

By Ann MacMillan

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Curt Altarac's MusicMedic repair kit is professional in every way. The kit includes all tools and supplies needed to perform basic clarinet repair. While most repair kits are designed for temporary repairs only, the MusicMedic kit includes instructions and materials to help you achieve professional results in the same manner as an experienced repair technician. 

The instruction manual begins with a set of guidelines for approaching repair. Curt stresses using common sense, patience, available repair literature, and experienced technicians. Also included is a complete list of commonly used terms. These are helpful not only as a repair novice, but they are also useful when describing instrument problems to your own repair technician. 

While most emergency repair kits are filled with costly items that are rarely used, the tools and supplies included in the MusicMedic are very well thought out by someone who knows what is needed as well as what is not needed. For a very reasonable price ($69.95) the MusicMedic kit includes a butane torch, leak light, pliers that can be used for installing springs (a pair of these pliers from a supplier can cost $35 or more themselves), a good selection of pads, cork, felts, and springs. There is also contact cement, pad glue, precut tenon corks, sandpaper, key oil, screwdrivers, a razor knife, a spring hook, key wedges, a key leveling tool, and materials to make a feeler gauge. This kit has an amazing amount of useful parts and tools, all of which are items used daily by professional technicians. 

The last 20 pages of the manual are dedicated to basic repair instructions that include: replacing and leveling pads, checking for leaks, replacing tenon corks and springs, applying new key corks, removing keys, using the suction method for finding leaks, and using a feeler gauge. Though experience is everything when it comes to repair, Curt's instructions are very clear. They include diagrams and required tools for each repair as well as warnings about what NOT to do. For example, he describes proper and improper placement of the flame from the butane torch. In addition, the manual includes instructions on how to size pads for replacement orders. 

I teach repair classes at the University of North Texas and give clinics and workshops for band directors throughout the year. I typically begin with clarinet repair and I cover exactly what Curt covers in this kit, in almost exactly the same way. The MusicMedic kit has everything needed to get started in repair. Further more, Curt is more than willing to answer any and all questions about the kit, supplies, and repair techniques.


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