Tube 150

new clarinet keys how much will they cost?

there is a clarinet that im looking at is made of grenadilla wood they only want $20 for it. Its missing some keys so it needs all new keys im of course going to do it in steps so its not as expensive but im wondering about how much to expect to pay for them. I want good ones so i know they are not going to be cheap. just want to know about what to expect to pay for them so i can be preparred. I know that they will also probably be i different price depending on area of living but im in a small town if that makes any difference.

The cost depends on 3 factors: brand, materials, labor.

The labor will differ any where you go, depending on their traffic, etc. It takes about an hour to put the keys on (including springs, pins, and so on), and another hour or two to adjust them to the right heights and adjust spring tensions. The shop may charge by the hour, or charge a base rate per instrument.

As for materials, the shop may have to order parts (certain screws, a particular key) and you will have to pay for shipping. Also, is it just the keys that are missing, or is it missing the anchor points and register tone hole tube too? The register hole tube can be VERY expensive, so hopefully that's still in tact. (You can look through the upper joint like a telescope to make sure it's there... you will see it poking up a bit.) Also, do you want silver or nickel plated keys? Silver is a little more expensive, although it won't effect your playing ability or tone. Silver tarnishes a little more quickly, but is easier to clean. If you're trying to match the keys that are still there, ask your tech what material they are made of... or you could pay for a complete key overhaul.

The other major price factor with materials are the pads- there are a few choices that will influence the price... there are cork, synthetic, leather, and bladder skin. I usually recommend that on upscale horns the upper joint pads be replaced with cork- overhaul or not. On the lower joint, try using white leather pads on the larger holes, and bladder or synthetic on everything else. Valentino pads are pretty good, as are OMNI and Gortex. Your repair tech will be able to tell you what they prefer to work with... also, if it's a Buffet, they may just use standard Buffet pads (which are double bladder Gortex and a cork for the register key). Same with Selmer. Still ask for cork on the upper joint- your tone will thank me.

As for the brand: each brand has their own particular key placements, pivot mechanisms, and key shape. So if you try to use Selmer keys on a Buffet body, there may have to be modifications to make sure each key reacts correctly and covers each hole precisely. The best way to go is to get the right brand of keys for the body... so Selmer with Selmer, Buffet with Buffet, and so forth. The keys for each brand are only a fraction of a millimeter different, but it can mean the difference between a working clarinet and a really expensive piece of crap! LOL Also, pads may or may not be included with a re-key... it is up to the store. If you have to pay for pads AND keys, it will be more expensive.

The body should have the brand name on it, usually above the "A" key on the top front of the upper joint. If not, likely it is not worth the money having the clarinet fixed- grenadilla wood or not. Again, ask your repair tech.

AND- what key system is it? Is it a Boehm system (popular in the US), or an Oehler system (popular in Germany and Austria)? There are more keys on an Oehler system clarinet, so that would raise the price. If you live in Europe or the clarinet is a German make, it could be an Oehler system, but most likely it is a Boehm system.

From the sounds of it, this poor clarinet has been through the ringer... personally, I would replace ALL the keys, otherwise you may run into problems trying to mix and match, as well as having to replace pads on some, but not all.

Here's a general idea of what a re-key will cost you (minus labor):
nickel keys: $200 - $400
silver keys: $300 - $500
pads (full set): $80 - $120
cork pads (upper joint): $40 - $60
corks (under keys): $10 - $20
register tone hole tube: $150 - $170
Springs usually are a neglegable price, but will be factored into labor because of the time to install and adjust tension.

Also, remember that many stores charge a flat rate, so they may not give you an itemized invoice... but don't be afraid to ask what they used or request something specific before hand.

Potentially you could have it all done for about $350 - $400 (assuming you don't need a new register tube), and many shops will include the corks (under the keys) and basic pads in their re-key price, though you will be charged for higher quality pads. They will also check for cracks, which if found could add $50 to $500 in extra work (FYI).

Any reputable shop will be able to give you an estimate BEFORE they start any work, and many will offer to clean and oil it for a small additional fee. If you are a student in a school band program, don't be afraid to ask about student discounts, or if you have a private instructor, don't be afraid to mention their name either- networking extends to repair techs, too!

Anyways, good luck, and I hope you get your horn into great playing condition soon! :)

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