First, the bocal swab......recently the tail broke off of my bocal swab, so I will never again pass that swab through a bocal. Why? Well, as some of you know from firsthand experience, swabs can become stuck inside of whatever they're supposed to be cleaning/drying. Can you imagine trying to extract a stuck swab from a delicate and expensive bocal? Perish the thought.
|This is a bocal swab with its tail ripped off (see top of photo). Now it's the same as a swab with no tail, which is NOT recommended!|
This is a proper, intact bocal swab:
|an intact bocal swab with tail|
The same swab style - silk pull-through with a tail - is ideal for the boot and tenor joints. Washing these swabs is not as simple a matter, though, because they take longer to air dry (they're too fragile for the dryer) so you must plan the washing according to your playing schedule. So I had to wash them today, Christmas Day, because this is my first day off from playing the bassoon in a long time.
I washed both the boot and tenor swabs today and hung them outdoors to dry (because the fresh air makes them smell good). I just hope they'll be dry before tomorrow's Nutcracker performances. (They will be - silk dries quickly. On a breezy day like today, they'll be dry in a couple of hours.)
|My boot swab hung out to dry|
Another very important part of swab maintenance is cutting off any frayed ends of tails. Ragged tail ends may cause the swab to easily become entangled, and as many bassoonists have learned the hard way, it's absolutely mandatory to be sure that there are no knots in the swab before it is inserted into the joint or bocal. Also, it can take a long time to disentangle a swab, and if you're in a hurry you may be tempted to go ahead and use a tangled swab. (Don't!!)
|Cutting the ragged end off is highly advisable!|