Common faults & repairs
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After each playing session, moisture collected inside the flute must be cleaned and removed. Take a soft cleaning cloth and pull it through the slit of your cleaning rod. Carefully push the rod through the body piece of your instrument, twisting the rod as you go so that the metal rod does not come into contact with the inside of your flute. Do the same for the head joint and foot joint.
Never use any silver polishes on your instrument. Polishes strip precious silver from the surface of your flute, ruin your keypads and can badly damage the metal of your key system. Gently wipe down your flute with a soft cloth before and after playing. A clean mouth (rinse with water even after brushing to keep toothpaste residue out of the flute) will prevent discolouration of your flute - inside and out - and keep food particles from building up in keys.
Sticky key pads
If you have sticky pads, take cigarette paper and place it beneath the sticky key. Gently push down with a little more pressure than when you play the keys. The idea is to wick the moisture out of the pad with the paper. Repeat as necessary, but be careful not to push down too hard, or your pads may be worn. Prevent sticking keys by always rinsing your mouth with water before playing.
Wiping flute tenons
Remember to regularly wipe the tenons (where your flute joints fit together) of your flute. They accumulate grease and dirt, which make it difficult to connect the joints of your flute. The head joint is essential to clean, as it is the weakest and can be easily damaged if forced into a sticky joint.
Cleaning embouchure hole
The embouchure hole of your head joint should be cleaned regularly, and if you have an open-holed flute, remember to clean the holes of your keys. Particles can build up in these places and be cleaned with a Q-tip; carefully push down the key and swipe with the Q-tip. Approach stubborn spots gently, but to help, dampen (not soak!) the Q-tip slightly in rubbing alcohol. Use only rubbing alcohol, not water or other forms of alcohol, including aftershave, as they will damage the keypads.
Damage prevention tips
Flute assembly steps
Keep your flute clean! Moisture buildup on the inside of your flute can cause damage to pads which will have to be replaced, and corrosion of the interior, causing your sound not to be as whole. After every playing session, clean the inside of your flute and wipe any fingerprints off the outside. If it starts getting corroded, send it to a professional cleaner immediately.
When you are leaving your flute anywhere, make sure it is in a safe place! Put it somewhere where it’s not going to get knocked down or put away. Never keep your flute in extreme temperatures or conditions at any time! While putting it together, be sure not to grasp it too tightly and not to hold it by the keys and rods; this does extreme damage to your flute over time.
Take your flute in for a check-up around once or twice a year. Any alignment problems, internal problems or corrosion will be noted and fixed. Always remember, to prevent damage first, keep your flute clean, safe, and in good health.
Depending on what kind of flute you have, it will have tiny flathead screws at various points. On simpler models, there will only be screws on the end of the rods. Some flutes have individual screws for every key, making it much easier to fix. If you plan on self-repair, go to your local music store and buy a tiny, flathead instrument screwdriver.
The problem is evident when a spring is not in its proper place, as the keys that are supposed to move up and down will not, and many of your notes will not play. To fix a spring, take a pen, a small screw-driver, or something long and slender and push it back into place (you’ll notice that it’s out of place if it looks like its bent because it’s on the wrong side of the little catch that holds it). It is tedious to fix this, but sometimes it’s not worth sending it to a repair shop if it’s just a little out of place.
It is essential always to follow the correct steps when disassembling or assembling your flute. All the keys are connected with delicate springs and mechanisms that may be damaged if mishandled, causing costly repairs.
Never grab the flute by the keys or mechanism.
Always twist the pieces together; never push or shove.
Put the foot joint on the body first; the uncoated metal at the bottom of the body section is the most easily bent.
Put the head joint on after the foot using the first key as a reference point for the embouchure hole.