Celebrating 37 years of guiding flutists

Flute Repair FAQ's

We're always happy to answer your questions! Send your questions to: info@fluteworks.com , or send through our email Newsletter, Technical Notes. To sign up for Technical Notes, enter your e-mail address below.

Subscribe To Our Mailing List

1. How long should pads last?

There are many pads of different quality. Much of the pad's longevity depends on its quality. When you purchase a new flute, you don't know what kind of pad is used by the manufacturer. We do. We can tell you how long those pads will last and with how much maintenance. In general, pads should last between three to six years. If you do yearly maintenance and cleaning, longevity will be more towards the six year mark. If you don't do yearly maintenance, it is will be three years.

2. What can I do to make my pads last longer?

  • Annual Maintenance is the most important. It will take care of leaks that have cropped up either by pad skin shrinkage or pad compression before you have started to compensate by pressing harder - and harder. Good pads can be reseated many times. When a pad is compressed very much at all, the pad needs to be replaced. It cannot be reseated. Replacing pads costs much more than the Annual Maintenance.
  • Swab, swab, swab the flute every time you're done playing. Put the damp cloth outside of your hard case but inside your soft case cover. You can also tie it on your case handle.
  • Hold your flute where there aren't any keys while assembling it. It will keep your adjustments and pads better, longer.
  • If you are a teacher, put your flute on a vertical flute stand if you aren't playing during a lesson. The moisture drains and dries faster. Better yet, keep a swab handy.

3. How can I tell if my pads leak?

All kinds of things are affected by leaks: intonation, tonal clarity, quickness in response especially in tonguing, ease of low notes, lack of fluidity or connection between notes - especially going at notes from a leap. If the leak is really bad, it is hard just to get the note out. Here is a good test:
  • Start on C (left hand index finger down) in the staff.
  • Play a strong C and without changing your blowing or rate of air, slowly, slowly, lower the B thumb key. If there is no leak, the note will "pop" out. If there is a leak, the tone will "slide" into the B as the pad is squished enough to seal.
  • Continue this test all the way down the chromatic scale. The key to this test is pressing the key down slowly and not changing your air rate.

4. I have a curved headjoint flute. The headjoint is too loose and moves when I try to play it. How can I cure this?

For a permanent fix, the curved part of the headjoint will need to be refit by a good repairperson. But as a quick fix, take one of your hairs (yes, this works and it is safe for the flute!) and lay it across the tenon of the crook and gently slide the crook into the body. The hair won't scratch the tenon and you always have some with you!

5. My foot falls off! What do I do?

Much of the reason for joints loosening (either headjoint or foot) is from hurried assembly or disassembly of the flute. Rocking the joint onto the tenon is another cause. Carefully line the two parts and twist them together as they meet. This will keep even the most delicate gold tenons fitting well. A good repairperson can refit the rounded tenon, but if it gets worn from not lining the parts up before assembly, the foot will always wobble.

As a quick fix, use the suggestions for a loose curved headjoint

6. Even after my foot is tightened, it gets loose again.

This is from not assembling the flute correctly (see Question #4).

7. When I swab my flute, my headjoint cork moves.

The cork is leaking! It needs to be replaced. The headjoint cork is a cylindrical cork fit to the diameter of your headjoint and placed in a specific position between your headjoint crown and embouchure hole (the hole you blow across). The fit of the cork, or how tight the cork grabs the tube has a lot to do with how well your headjoint plays. We'll have to write an article about this! But for a good example, think of how your flute plays if someone has their hand around the tube of your headjoint while you're playing. It sounds muffled, lacks response, and is stuffy. A well fit headjoint cork should seal but not be tight. Because of this, a well fit cork doesn't last very long - a year or so. A leaky cork has strange effects on the playability of your flute. Intonation is wild and unpredictable through the scale, tonguing is sluggish, and the ability to blow through a phrase (fluidity) is gone. We fit student headjoint corks just like we do on a Pro flute. We also coat the cork in paraffin to resist moisture.

© 1989-2017 Cincinnati Fluteworks, Inc