Why Is a Clarinet Like a Bicycle?

Yamaha student clarinet

Yamaha student clarinet

Made you think! Why is a Clarinet like a bicycle? You might be surprised!

No, I didn’t reread “Alice in Wonderland” this weekend. And no I don’t know why a raven is like a writing desk. But I did have a funny “instrument repair” experience last weekend when I took my kids’ bikes in to be repaired that some of our customers at Bertrand’s Music in Burbank might identify with. I know I did.

My children are 18 and 15 and it’s been a while since they used their bikes. A while is a euphemism for they’ve been sitting outside for a couple of years. But it’s summer and they are old enough to go off and do things in Burbank during the long vacation so they asked if we could get their bikes tuned up. Easy enough, right? Nope.

I took the bikes to our local Bike Shop, H&S Bicycles on Victory Boulevard, who have done great work for us in the past. Plus we love going to local small businesses, of course!

Dragged the bikes out of the hatchback, walked them down the block in the sweltering heat, assisted by a very kind bystander, and arrived in the showroom to talk about the repairs. And I had an experience that some of the Bertrand’s Music customers might find familiar: they told me to go buy new bikes.

Sure, when they were new they were okay, they did the job. But after weather and neglect and a few years gone by, our inexpensive kids’ bikes were not worth fixing.  The labor alone would be more than the price of a new bike, and then there were the parts.

I totally got it.

Sometimes we have customers come in to have us look at Grandma’s Clarinet. It has great sentimental value and the grandson or daughter is ready to get to learning how to play it. But it’s a brand that is no longer manufactured and we can’t get parts. And the pads have all been eaten by moths in the garage. Or…

Customers come in with an inexpensive instrument that they have bought online, but it is not working. It’s practically brand new, but it leaks, it’s out of tune! Sadly, we can’t get parts for those, either as they are not available in the US. And the keys are out of alignment, but the metal they are made from is so soft, it won’t stay and we can’t guarantee the repair. Instrument repair guarantees are very important to us.

There are times when both bicycles and Clarinets should be replaced, not repaired. When those times come, you are better off buying or renting a high quality Clarinet–or a Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone or Flute–and get started playing right away! Of course, sometimes all your well-built and maintained instrument needs is a little tweak or a pad or two and we are happy to do that, too!

I bought the kids new bikes and a friend gave us a couple more for mom and dad and we are all both happy and mobile. What will you do about Grandma’s Clarinet or that one you bought online? Bertrand’s Music can definitely help, but we might tell you it’s better to replace than repair. Please come in and let us take a look! We are always happy to evaluate your instrument free of charge and get you or your child playing as soon as possible, no matter the instrument!

Wendy in Burbank