Oiling outside of recorder only

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    Michael Alderman

    I’m reading Thoughts on the Recorder by Geert Van Gele. Mr. Gele recommends oiling only the outside of the recorder and says the oil will eventually penetrate through the wood into the bore. I’ve never heard this before. I was taught to oil the bore. Is it possible for oil on the outside to penetrate through to the bore? Has anyone out there tried this?

    Alexei Peshkur

    Hi Michael,
    Actually, the book of Geert regarding the musical side of things is really, really excellent!

    That being said, all his comments on care and daily use are absolutely off the wall and nonsensical, according to professional makers, with Geert claiming to know more about recorder making than the makers do…..!

    Fact is: a thin coating of oil on the outside of the recorder cannot possibly reach the interior. Whereas, when you coat the interior, a micro layer builds up to assist in increasing the instrument’s resistance to moisture.

    It is not even a question of getting oil into the wood, it is a question of getting a layer on the wood. This was also Bob Marvin’s and Adrian Brown’s standpoint. (read Adrian’s book on care, top notch) !

    With a good maker, the wood has sat submerged in oil for months before it even gets put on the lathe, and will normally always retain an amount of oil trapped inside it. Extra oil on the outside and inside form protective barriers to hold this in.

    Michael Alderman

    Hi Alexei!
    Thank you for your response! You’ve confirmed what I thought about this recommendation. I agree that Geert’s book is very sound on technique, practice, etc., but his comments on care of the instrument are eccentric to say the least. I’ll carry on oiling the inside of my recorders!
    Again, thank you for your response!
    Mike Alderman

    Alexei Peshkur

    Hi Mike,
    Maybe off-topic oiling, but:
    Personally, I found his tip about learning difficult fingering combinations worth the price of the entire book!

    There is a section where he mentions tapping the fingering with force to the tonehole, then immediately relaxing it (without blowing). I found that several iterations practicing this way solved a number of difficult passages that I had been battling with for a longer time. So simple yet s effective. Also works on traverso and clarinet of course.


    Richard Hureau

    Yeah, the idea of oiling the outside and thinking that the oil will eventually reach the inside is bizarre, IMHO. For example, with all the recorder players who oil the INSIDE of their instruments, I’ve never once heard any of them complain about oil seeping onto the outside of the instrument from the inside. It would be really gross if this ever did happen! 🙂


    The best advice on oiling the recorder that I’ve seen is from Mollenhauer, as per this YouTube video https://youtu.be/mFjdHWnNrZo

    Mostly alto, plays with Balmain Baroque

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