Sax on the Web Forum banner

Grenadilla Wood, Environmental Effects, and Organic Bore Oil

3451 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  tictactux
The best read on this subject that I have read to date:

by Larry R. Naylor

"I have received copies of Web discussions, involving whether grenadilla instruments can become blown-out, from customers and repair technicians from around the country. Since I have been restoring instruments in this condition for many years, I assumed that most musicians were familiar with this problem. Apparently, this is not the case. Identifying slowly accumulating problems with one's instrument can be problematic because most experienced musicians can readily accommodate to, or compensate for, these changes-up to a point.

Some musicians are not as sensitive to idiosyncrasies in their instruments; they tend to "drive" an instrument rather than play it. I suspect that some musicians may have only experienced instruments in a relatively compromised condition, thus they do not perceive performance problems on their current instrument; they are unaware how good an instrument can be. For example, a comment I frequently hear from first time clients is, "I didn't know my clarinet (oboe, English horn) could play like this!"

1 - 1 of 9 Posts
garyjones, you are right to direct attention to the possible commercial implications of the article, but unless your cutting board is grenadilla (and side-grain at that) the experiment isn't that conclusive. I'm sure that any technician who does oil immersion treatment knows enough to warm the instrument, then lets it stabilize and wipes it down before reapplying the keywork and returning the instrument to its owner. I can't imagine that any soloist would accept a refurbished horn that sweated oil when the temperature dipped. Anyway, bore oiling is always a hot topic among clarinetists. I have a Selmer that I never oiled for 35 years until this past summer; it never developed any cracks, but I eventually decided that there were good reasons to oil the bore and, having read many of these discussions, I settled on an organic oil developed specifically for the purpose.

If you've got some spare time, travel over to the SEARCH
feature at the Clarinet BB and check out the discussions on "Bore Oiling". Here's an excerpt from Dr. L. Omar Henderson:

I am a scientist with all the tools and instrumentation at my disposal to perform quantitative and qualitative chemical analysis - my vocation. I am also very conscious of statistical experimental design and the proof of the null hypothesis in testing and experimental work. I have analyzed the clear, colorless bore oil sold by several of the large instrument manufacturers and it is light mineral oil. Some go so far as to add volatile petroleum distillate fractions to speed evaporation giving the impression that the oil is readily absorbed into the wood. I have also analyzed the native Grenadilla oil extracted from the raw wood and the combination oil extracted from numbers of junk instruments from the major manufacturers and determined what they use to impregnate the wood. Commonly it is a plant derived oil. As I indicated, in accelerated studies (using increased, but not destructive, temperature to speed up chemical reactions - a common practice) I have documented, using phase contrast microscopy or other types of microscopy, denaturation of both the cellular structure and wood architecture of Grenadilla wood infused with mineral oil as well as other petroleum based products. Again, these studies demonstrate a process, not a chronology in everyday life which may take longer than you keep an instrument to be manifest.
L. Omar Henderson
The Bore War
See less See more
1 - 1 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.