Care and Feeding of the Fife.


After each use, swab the inside with a soft lint-free cloth attached to a stick. Occasionally swab the inside, and wipe down the outside, with a cloth moistened with almond oil or woodwind bore oil. Mineral oil can also be used. Because mineral oil is thicker than the former, it must be applied several days before performing with the instrument. A flute or recorder cleaning rod or brush works well. Cooperman Drum Company sells a Murphy Stick that is well suited for this purpose. It's cost is around seven or eight dollars.

Sudden changes in temperature may cause cracking; avoid this by leaving the instrument wrapped in a cloth to adjust to changing climate conditions gradually. I made fife socks from leftover wool to protect my fifes. Try not to leave your fife outside in freezing temperatures.

Fife Socks

Take a piece of cloth, preferably wool, that will completely wrap around the circumference of your fife. Make sure that the cloth is at least one inch longer than the instrument and you have enough width to allow for the seam (1). Fold the cloth in half width-wise and sew across one end then along it lengthwise to the other end (2). Make sure that you leave an opening for the fife to fit through! Now you need to invert the sock. Place the tip of your fife on the bottom seam of the sock. Hold the fife with one hand and begin to work the sock over it (3). It will take a little while as you are reversing the sock ­ take it slow and easy (4). Fold the open end of the sock over the fife ­ add ties if desired to secure the open end (5). When done, you can store the socked fife in your fife case. I usually store mine with a Murphy stick inserted.