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Help: I can’t get my bassoon apart!

May 1st, 2024

The clock hands method - loosening a stuck bassoon bell joint

The clock hands method - loosening a stuck bassoon bell joint

We’ve all been there – packing your bassoon away after a tiring and long session and suddenly you can’t get your bassoon to come apart.

Brute strength may take you so far. But whether it is a change in the weather, too little cork grease or you’ve made the rookie error of putting cork grease on tenon thread, sometimes brute strength just isn’t enough.

Or maybe your strength nowadays is less elephantine and more mouse-like than it used to be, and what used to be a quick twist and pull no longer has the same effect. Too much force can also result in bent keywork if you aren’t careful as well.

Here’s the solution - the clock hands method

This method as described applies to the tenon connecting the bell and long joints; this is the tenon which most commonly becomes stuck. However, if either of the other tenons are stuck, a modified version of this method may be used.

  1. Ensuring you don’t use too much force, place the long and bell joints over your knee with the join in the middle (call this 12 o’clock)
  2. Very gently push down with a hand on each joint - don’t twist at this point, just push
  3. Release the pressure, turn the bassoon to 1 o’clock, and gently push down again
  4. Keep going until you’ve turned the bassoon to every hour on the clock.

Here's a quick demonstration:

This should break the seal and the joints will now easily twist free. If this doesn’t happen at the first attempt, continue around the hours of the clock until you succeed.

This method almost always works. If it doesn’t, bring your bassoon to us to help.