Looking After Woodwind & Brass Instruments

Posted by Brittens Team on

Brass and Woodwind service and repairs


When something obvious goes wrong with your clarinet, flute or trumpet, it's a simple decision - it needs mending. However, it's not so obvious when your instrument begins to perform less well over time, or when there is a problem which you can't spot but is affecting the way it plays. Woodwind and brass instruments are a little like cars - if they're not maintained properly they start to go wrong, which is why we recommend regular check-ups and servicing to keep everything in tip-top condition! Small dents, damaged pads, misaligned keywork and dirt and dust picked up over time can all affect playability and the last thing you need is to be struggling with an underperforming, squeaky saxophone... 

At Brittens we offer a full repair service for woodwind and brass instruments. Whether your clarinet needs a small adjustment, your trumpet tuning slide is stuck, or your bassoon which you haven't played for 40 years needs a complete overhaul, our highly skilled and experienced repairer can fix it!

Minor repairs can usually be sorted out fairly quickly, and normally you would only be without your instrument for a few days. Services and more major restorations are pre-booked, so that you know how long you will be without your pride and joy! The average time for a service is 1 week, major work may take longer, especially if spares have to be sourced.

This allows for things like slight adjustments to regulation, tenon corks and so on. Sometimes when woodwind instruments are new, the keywork settles and may require a tweak. All instruments bought from us are covered by a year's warranty, and provided the problem is not caused by mishandling, it can be sorted out under the warranty. Emergency repairs (because we all know that if you have a major concert or exam coming up, there is a law that dictates 'something will go wrong') can also usually be undertaken quickly.

Instruments over 2 years old should ideally be serviced every 12 to 18 months. This involves a full strip down of the keywork, thorough clean, replacement of pads, corks and felts as necessary, re-lubricate, reassemble, regulate and play test. The cost will depend on how much remedial work is needed, and we usually quote a 'from' and 'to' price.


Brass Instruments, if regularly washed through by their owners, usually need less major maintenance than woodwind since there is no keywork to go wrong. However, valves do need servicing from time to time - they need a thorough clean and any felts and washers replacing. Tuning slides can become sluggish and difficult to move smoothly. The cost will depend on the amount of work required and we quote a minimum price, with extra work being added on to the cost.

Estimates can be provided in advance of any service, so please do ask if you would prefer to know roughly what you will be paying. 

Older woodwind instruments which have not been regularly serviced or maintained may need a repad. This involves replacing all the pads, plus a service as above. The cost is fixed and can be quoted in advance. 

This work is recommended for professional players who use their instruments extensively. Price is on application and subject to inspection by the repairer.

Your instrument will give you a lot more pleasure if it is working to its best capability. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have a problem with it that needs attention.

See our Repairs page for more details

* Small repairs are subject to availability and confirmation at time of enquiry

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