How to Replace Clarinet Cork

Replacing Clarinet Joint Cork /
Replacing Clarinet Mouthpiece Cork

Instructions for Replacing Clarinet Joint Cork   
*Please note:  replacing mouthpiece cork is done the same way as the other clarinet joints.

Damaged clarinet tenon joint can be replaced easily.  Clarinet cork that is dried out will eventually break away from the clarinet tenon joint.  This can cause a leak or a wobble in the clarinet tenon joint.  Replacing a worn or damaged clarinet tenon joint cork, with new, all-natural sheet cork, is considered a standard maintenance item for clarinets. Student, or rental clarinet tenon joints are often replaced with Synthetic Clarinet Joint Cork .  Synthetic clarinet tenon joint cork is great for student clarinet tenon joints because it is more resilient to the abuse student clarinets endure.  Synthetic cork will "spring back" after leaving the clarinet assembled for an extended period of time.  All natural clarinet tenon joint cork will stay compressed if the clarinet tenon joints are left assembled.  The methods for replacing clarinet cork are the same for synthetic clarinet joint cork and all natural tenon joint cork.  Clarinet mouthpiece cork is also replaced exactly the same way as the other clarinet tenon joint cork.

 Step 1
Remove old clarinet cork for Clarinet Cork Repair

Remove all old clarinet tenon joint cork with a screwdriver or pliers.  Be extremely careful to avoid scratching your clarinet or bending any keys when removing clarinet tenon cork for clarinet cork replacement.  Even a slightly bent key will cause a “leak” in your clarinet.  This can cause your clarinet to be difficult and sometimes impossible to play.  

Step 2

Thoroughly clean the surface of the tenon joint with mineral spirits or soap and water to prepare the joint for the new, all natural clarinet cork.  Avoid using rubbing alcohol when removing clarinet cork for clarinet cork replacement, as it can permanently discolor or even damage some plastics.  

Step 3

Using a ruler, measure the width of each clarinet tenon joint.  Cut the new clarinet tenon joint cork the appropriate width.  Do a “dry” test fit with each piece before applying contact cement to the clarinet joint, or the new clarinet joint cork.    Bevel the edges of the new clarinet cork with sandpaper (avoid aggressive sanding).

Step 4

Be sure to follow all safety instructions included with your contact cement.  Apply non water-based contact cement to the back side of the new clarinet cork and the surface of the clarinet joint.  Allow the contact cement to dry for approximately 10-20 minutes.  A plastic clarinet will usually need 1-2 two coats of contact cement for new joint cork.  A wooden clarinet will need 2-4 coats for each new joint cork.  It is always best to use more thin coats, rather than trying to apply one thick coat on each new joint cork.  You have enough coats when the surface of the joint cork appears glossy and is tacky.  If you wait too long after applying the contact cement to the new joint cork, you can re-activate the cement by applying an additional thin coat. 

Step 5

Starting on the back side of each joint, wrap the clarinet cork gently around.  Take your time at this point!  You will not get a second chance!  Once you have begun to install the replacement clarinet cork, it is virtually impossible to remove the replacement clarinet cork without damaging it.  Wrap the replacement clarinet cork around and allow it to overlap the starting point.  Make a preliminary cut that is well past the actual meeting point of the cork.  This will allow you to get the best view of the meeting point.  Then make your final cut and press the replacement clarinet cork firmly. 

Using a large pair of pliers, gently press around the entire new tenon joint cork.  Be extremely careful not to damage your new clarinet cork or your clarinet! 

Step 6

Sand the new clarinet tenon joint cork.  Be careful not to scuff other areas of your clarinet.  Sand each new tenon joint cork, without focusing on one particular area too long.  Gently test fit each joint, without fully assembling.  Sand until it will “almost”  go together without cork grease. 

Step 7

Apply an extremely liberal amount of cork grease to your new clarinet tenon cork.  Gently twist each joint together.  If  a joint is too tight, you can still sand more off, but the cork grease will tend to clog your sandpaper, so it will take more work to sand at this point.  Apply cork grease very liberally each time you assemble your clarinet for the first few times you use your instrument after installing new clarinet tenon cork

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