How to Keep Your Recorder from Clogging

Inexpensive plastic recorders can be a great investment for people who want to learn a musical instrument.  They’re cheap, readily available, consistent, and easy to learn in the beginning stages- some less expensive yamaha soprano recorders can cost as little as $5 to $15.  Unfortunately, one of the problems of recorders is that they tend to clog up with moisture- plastic recorders are notoriously prone to clogging.

More expensive recorders have a cedar “block” installed below the windway (the narrow channel which the recorder player blows into).  Cedar is used because it is an extremely absorbent wood; moisture that is blown into the instrument is, in large part, wicked out through the block.  Plastic instruments, however, have a plastic block, and therefore can’t wick moisture out of the windway.  This deficiency is what inevitably leads to clogging.  Larger sized recorders like Yamaha bass recorders are notoriously infamous for clogging

Fortunately, even with plastic recorders there are some measures you can take to reduce the amount of clogging.  The first thing you can do is to make sure that your recorder is totally warmed up to body temperature before you play, especially if you’re coming in from outside on a cold day.  The easiest way to warm your recorder up is to take the head joint and hold it under your arm for a few minutes while you unpack the rest of your things and get ready to play.

Another measure you can take is to treat the windway every now and again with an anti-clogging solution.  An easy solution can be made at home by diluting a small amount of dish detergent with water.  Fill up a cup or bowl with detergent, and dip the head joint in so that the windway is submerged.  Take the head joint out, let it dry, and wipe the detergent off of the exterior of the recorder, leaving the windway coated.