* Prices may differ from that shown
Is there a recorder player in your household?
If you are considering the purchase of a Thomann rod then hopefully there is. If not I don't want to know why you are looking to purchase one - I shall be very self controlled in this review and make no references whatsoever to tickling sticks or other such smutt which readily leap to mind. This is serious stuff (oi you - go and stand in the corner til you've stopped sniggering!)
**Why do you need a Cleaning rod?
Every time you blow down your recorder (wooden or plastic) you create moisture either directly by spittle or through condensation on the inside of each of the pieces of the recorder body. For a plastic instrument this can lead to an unsavoury smell (especially for young or inexperienced players who dribble a lot!) and a build up of residue which can cause a disturbance of the clarity of tone.
In a wooden recorder the effect is even more serious as damp wood can lead to warping and disturbance of the wood itself.
So, every time you have finished practicing it is a good idea to wipe through your instrument and clear out the moisture.
Don't most recorders come with a plastic stick and a bit of cloth?
The perceptive amongst you will realise that many recorders arrive with a plastic stick at the top of which is a gap. You need to obtain a small piece of cloth which you then insert into the gap and hey presto - a cleaning rod of your very own! These rods are relatively effective and for the beginner recorder they are adequate. However, they are not very accurate and need swizzling in order to reach all edges of the inner body. The real mcCoy in recorder cleaning is the Thomann cleaning rod which looks a little like a carwash brush!
The Thomann rod has fluffy bristles right the way around the rod and half way along. This allows contact with the inside edges of the recorder body all the way along and is a much more precise method of cleaning than the rather haphazard small cloth on a stick. The well padded rod also means there is less chance of scratching the inner tube (again affecting sound quality).
The down side to the Thomann rods are their portability. True, they are light and quick drying - the problem lies in the quality of your recorder case rather than the product itself. Most recorder cases are designed to be fairly tight around the body of the instrument and thus do not allow room for a cleaner as big as the Thomann rod. However, a good half way house is to travel with a standard cloth rod within your case and use the fabulously fluffy Thomann on your return home or after rinsing your plastic recorder.
Inexperienced rod users please note: do not be tempted to thrust the rod up into the mouthpiece section of your recorder. This area is delicate and finely honed in order to deliver quality vibrations and does not benefit from heavy rodding. A clean around as far as the entrance narrowing is more than sufficient especially when the outer area of the mouthpiece has been wiped down too.
Thomann cleaning rods are available for all sizes of recorder from the teenie sopranino through to the hefty bass instruments. My rods cost me £2.50 for a descant and £3.99 for treble and tenor versions and are on sale in most music shops. An internet search today, however, has revealed and online shop:
in which they are available from as little as 60p!
Do make sure your cleaning rod has dried out before confining to bag or drawer or you might end up with mould or at the very least must! I quite like the look of mine and store them in full view in a basket on the windowsill of my music room - I am really bad at keeping plants alive and these add a welcome bit of colour!
Which ever ones you choose to play! (But don't forget to clean up after yourself!)