Celebrating 37 years of guiding flutists

Flute and Piccolo Repair
with
Traditional Felt, Straubinger, and Schmidt Pads


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Repairs and Modifications, Straubinger Pad Certified

Professional Flute and Piccolo repair services are the cornerstone of the Cincinnati Fluteworks. A thorough understanding of manufacturers' techniques and many years of experience in instrument building, restoration, and mechanism design enables us to offer guaranteed professional repairs of every kind. It also equips us to make modifications to suit the needs of each individual flutist. Pat North, Director, has over 39 years of experience in repairs of any type of flute imaginable. We work hard to keep abreast of new technology, and because of our years of experience repairing pro to beginner flutes, we know what will last.

Why Our Repairs Are More Stable and Reliable

There are specific techniques and materials that make our repairs more stable and last longer than other repair shops. Here's a sampling:

  • Before padding the flute, the stability of the mechanism is assessed. Excess movement on all axis, left and right, back and forth, is gauged and corrected. Many aspects of a flute contribute to how well your instrument will wear, stay in adjustment, and how long your pads will last. These details are checked, corrected, and tweaked using techniques only repair people accustomed to building flutes employ. This experience, in addition to the patience, and fine touch of a flutist, makes a world of difference between us and most repair shops.
  • I suppose if just reading about our procedures would make other repair shops also do them, their repairs would be as reliable too. However, the skill, fastidiousness, and experience of what works and what doesn't, as well as 39 years of repairing handmade professional flutes, shows up in the stability and longevity of our repairs. Clients often comment that their instrument plays better than when they were new.

Great Products Also Contribute To This Stability

  • We offer:
    • Professional Lucien Deluxe felt pads (even in student flutes)
    • Professional Straubinger synthetic pads for flutes and piccolos
    • Professional Schmidt Gold-plated pads

  • We're happy to offer Straubinger pads as replacements on instruments that have had felt pads earlier, or on instruments that wereoriginally designed for them. Not only are they perfectly sealing, but the hard shell design of the outer pad makes them exceptionally stable and less susceptible to humidity.

    The reflective qualities of their construction give an instrument quicker response and a richer, more vibrant sound. Not a brighter sound.

  • We use the best Italian Lucien Pisoni Deluxe pads on even student overhauls and complete pad jobs. They are a firm pad that resists packing down and the leaks that a packed down soft pad creates. The skins are tough and clear (double yellow skins). A firm pad that seals well makes articulation (tonguing) and response much quicker and clearer on any flute. Though these pads cost us more than the ones that came on your flute originally, they make for a longer lasting repair.


  • We keep the largest inventory of Manufacturer's Original Parts in the US. If your Yamaha piccolo needs a replacement rib wood screw, we have it. If your Mateki is missing a french hole pad retainer (grommet, bushing), we have it. No long waits for simple parts. No forcing the wrong sized part to do the job of an OEM. Your instrument will be like it was when it was new.

  • We only use Moisture-proof Shims in padding Pro and Pre-pro flutes. They are impervious to moisture and make a much more stable seat for the pad. Moisture is the enemy of pads, adjustments, and the paper shims that make pads seat. It makes them swell and leak. With moisture-proof shims, the pad will last longer without as much maintenance or downtime for repairs. We shim to .0005 inches. That's much less than the thickness of a human hair! Shimming this finely with plastic and moisture-proof shims takes more time during the repair and the shims are much more expensive than traditional paper shims, but the benefits are tremendous. This is another reason we offer the Longest Warranty in the Business.

Straubinger Flute and Picolo Pads

Design

Straubinger pads are constructed of a hard shell delrin support, a cushion made from an ultra suede-like fabric, and wrapped with two very high quality yellow pad skins. A significant part of the system are the delriin stabilizer and hard plastic shims under the pad, as well as the washers and screws used that cause less air turbulence. Normally the ones that come orignally on your flute aren't as aerodynamic.

For such a simple pad design, the whole "system" has a powerful effect on your flute and playing.

Graphics of Straubinger pads courtesy of Straubinger Flutes

Effects and Benefits

  • The Straubinger pad was designed to seal the tonehole perfectly. The benefit is pretty elementary. You must have pads that seal as best as possible for an instrument to play. The better it seals, the better it plays.
  • Because of the synthetic construction, the whole system is more stable and less suceptible to humidity. The benefit is less leaks popping up because of humidity. Less repairs and adjustments when the flute is prepared and pads are installed well.
  • Because all of the parts of the system are hard (the cushion is very thin), the pad becomes more reflective acoustically. The BIG benefit of ths is the flute response is more lively and vibrant. Even richer sounding. NOT necessarily brighter.

Cutaway of Straubinger System. Note the profiled washer and screw set that reduces air turbulence.

The Importance of Precision Preparation and Pad Installation

It can't be stressed enough the significance of how well your instrument is prepared for Straubinger pads. It is imperative that the mechanism be very well fit - no movement left or right in the keys. Pins and adjusting screws (if your flute has any) must be very firm.

The surfaces of the tonehole that touch the pad must be perfectly smooth and flat. If your instrument doesn't have these attributes already, just preparing it for the Straubingers will improve it greatly!

Installing, shimming, and adjusting the pads must be done with just as much precision. They can't be just plugged in or even seated with the same technique as felt pads. All of the problems that I have ever heard of with Straubinger pads can be attributed to poor execution of preparing and installation.

Using paper shims, original washers, screws, and grommets as well as less-than-precise preparation and installation greatly reduces the effects and benefits Straubingers would have on your instrument and playing.

With original flat washer and screw

Is My Instrument A Good Candidate for Straubinger Pads?

Straubinger pads are popular in new handmade professional flutes, and most of the instruments that we prepare for them that have had felt pads earlier are pro instruments. But many pre-pro and well made step-up instruments can benefit from them.

Our Criteria

  • A well fit mechanism. If there is motion left and right in the keys, it must be able to be refit to be snug.
  • Pad cups must not be misshapen or bent. A poorly advised technique for seating student instruments is to bend keys. The cups must be concentric to accomodate a Straubinger pad.
  • The toneholes must be in good, undamaged condition. For a Straubinger pad to seal, the tonehole must be flat and very smooth.
  • Tonehole rim has rough filing marks. This must be rectified before Straubinger or Schmidt pads are installed.

  • The instrument and headjoint must be good enough to make Strubinger pads cost effective. If they are, with the combination, you could save yourself from purchasing a new instrument!
Cost

Because of the additional time involved in preparing an instrument and the cost of the pad itself, the price of services are slightly more expensive, but the improvement is well worth it. See the Repair price list on the right for Straubinger repairs to Professional instruments that have Straubingers already installed presently. In general, preparation of a flute that had felt pads previously adds $125.00 to the cost of an overhaul, plus the cost of pads ($140.00). Please call for more exact prices to prepare and install Straubinger in pro, pre-pro, and step up instruments that presently have felt pads. Let us know the brand, model,and approximate age of the instrument.

A Word on Tone Holes

Many "lesser advised" repair techniques use filing tone holes as a way to make a pad seat easier, and short cut the time it takes to pad an instrument. Surprisingly, some repair people working on Pro instruments file tone holes. Not only can filing a tone hole change the intonation of the flute, something manufacturers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars perfecting, it greatly compromises the structure of the chimney hole. We do not file tone holes unless they have been damaged in an accident or a previous careless repair and filing is imperative.

In preparation of installing Straubinger or Schmidt pads, we will reshape if the surfaces aren't within tolerances. They require a flat as possible surface.

Scheduling Repairs and Turnaround Times

Meeting your deadlines is important to us! We committ ourselves to meeting your schedule deadlines and quick as possible turnaround times. Please phone or write us about scheduling. We'll get you right in and get your instrument back in your hands as quickly as possible. In addition, be sure to tell us the brand, model, age, and description of the problem (or maintenance) in your e-mail. We look forward to making you a happy customer!

Contact us at (513) 579-8294 or e-mail us at info@fluteworks.com.

For details on what is included in each type of repair: Annual Maintenance, Overhauls, Repads, Repad with Mechanism.

Repair FAQ's

These are Questions and Answers that clients often ask. We'll keep adding to this column. Send us your questions and we'll be happy to answer them.

How Often Does My Flute or Piccolo Need an Overhaul?

Here are the symptoms: If you have noticed any sluggishness in tonguing response, weakness of sound in the low octave, or difficulty playing an even chromatic scale, your flute probably is the culprit. Leaks and lost action tend to sneak up on the flutist. While leaks may seem minor, any leak affects the response of the entire instrument. Compensation with increased pressure may seem to help, but slows technique. It also makes the leak progressively worse and causes further deterioration of the pads. In addition, after a year or two, the headjoint cork will begin to shrink from the effects of moisture. This also causes leaking and sluggish response. Because this leak is not readily pinpointed (as with a leaky pad), the player is often blamed for the instrument's shortcomings.

The Cincinnati Fluteworks gives each repair, whatever size or level of flute, our complete, professional attention. Our workmanship and materials are fully guaranteed (see our Repair Warranty). We also specialize in many kinds of personalized modifications to bring out the best qualitities of an instrument (and the player!). Our years of experience with these modifications have made us leaders in the field.

What Level is My Flute Model

If you aren't sure what level your flute model is, please phone and describe the flute to us. We're happy to help you figure it out.

  • Student Level Model: Closed hole, entirely plated. Beginner flutes.
  • Step-Up Models: "Intermediate" and "Advanced" models with silver headjoint (or silver head and body), open holes, plated mechanism.
  • Pre-Professional Models: Pointed key arms, open holes (i.e. older Trevor James Masters or Reictal 1 Models).
  • Professional (Handmade): Any handmade flute (various descriptions).
A note about Pre-Professional flute models:

In the last few years, more "hybrid" models have been introduced. They are a wonderful combination of some handmade parts, like the headjoint or mechanism, married to other parts or sections that are more "assembly line produced". They make a great playing, but less expensive instrument than a completely handmade professional flute. Because of these more handmade original building procedures, more professional repair techniques are needed to "make the flute play and look like it did when it was new". Our prices reflect that additional care, time, professional parts and materials we use to make them new again. Most other shops use student type procedures and materials when working on them. If your Pre-pro flute was repaired as if it was a Student level flute, it would no longer play like the wonderful Pre-professional flute that it is.

Several times recently, we've been asked to resurrect Pre-pro flutes that have been repaired at "bargain" student flute prices. Unfortunately, some of the damage caused by cheap, shortcut procedures are irreversible. Don't allow this to happen toyour expensive flute!

Annual Maintenance & Adjustments are Crucial for the Flute to Keep its Value ("Clean, Oil, Adjust" Plus)

Periodic overhauls (every three to four years, depending on use) and Yearly Maintenance to make your existing pads seal perfectly again, will keep your instrument in optimum playing condition. This is critical in keeping tonguing response and attacks as quick and responsive as possible. Annual Maintenance (also known as "Clean, Oil, Adjust Plus") will correct any leaks or problems before they become irreversible. This will also help stretch the time between overhauls.

We do much more than what other shops call a "COA".

Procedures performed:

  • A complete diagnosis is made of your instrument, and you are given an exact price quote for your approval, before we start the work.
  • Each instrument is play tested and assessed for response, leaking, lost key motion (up and down, back and forth), and mechanism freedom of axis movement. If the mechanism is sluggish, it may be necessary to remove section pins and thoroughly clean inside the hinges (tubes) to completely free the mechanism. This would be assessed in the diagnosis and an additional charge, if any, would be quoted at that time.
  • Tenons are cleaned and assessed for fitting. Adjustments are made (with your permission).
  • Pad skins are examined under high powered magnification for holes, excessive hairiness, or the beginnings of holes and tears. Any perforation of the skin degrades the sealing and response of the flute. A recommendation would be made to replace the offending pad(s). Pricing of individual pad replacement is extra and is quoted in the diagnosis.
  • Each existing pad is removed and reseated by shimming (partial shims), the same way the pad is seated when new. We do not bend keys to try to make the pad seat! Not even on entry level beginner flutes!
  • All adjustment corks, bumpers felts and kicker felts are checked and replaced if necessary.
  • Keys are adjusted and lost motion removed.
  • The headjoint cork is removed, examined, and replaced if necessary. Headjoint corks seal optimally for about a year.
  • Each key and the entire flute is wiped with alcohol to remove dust and oils. If a more extensive cleaning is needed or polish is requested, an additional charge would be quoted in the diagnosis. We do not buff, we only polish by hand.
  • Silicone is applied to the pad skins to help resist moisture, keep them from drying out and to help them retain suppleness.
  • The embouchure hole is gently cleaned. Any lip balm or epithelia (skin cells) inside the embouchure hole degrades your tone and tonguing response.
  • The instrument is again play tested by a professional flutist.
  • Springs are regulated (with your permission).
  • Dust is removed from the case interior.

Click here for Annual Maintenance Prices.

Hand Cutting of Embouchure and Tone Holes

We are nationally recognized for our innovative work with these modifications. If your flute is stuffy or stiff sounding, it would probably benefit from our skillful hand cutting of the embouchure hole. Each headjoint is individually assessed to ensure maximum improvement. Tone hole fraizing remedies excessive cracking of notes between intervals. Please refer to our Data Page, Fraizing and Undercutting, for a more detailed explanation of these procedures.

Click here for Hand Cutting of Embouchure and Tone Holes Prices.

General Repair Information

Repairs are by appointment only. Rush repairs are available as scheduling permits for an additional charge of 20% of the total repair (minimum charge $25).

Prices are in effect March 1, 2015 and are subject to change without notice. All prices are in U.S. dollars, F.O.B. Cincinnati, and are subject to Ohio sales tax when applicable.

Please call or email to schedule at (513) 579-8294 or info@fluteworks.com.

The Longest Warranty in the Business

  • Overhauls, Repad with Mechanism Work, and Repads are warranted for one year for pad seating and adjustments (excludes polishing on Overhauls and corks and felts that weren't replaced on Repads).
  • For Annual Maintenance, the warranty is for 90 days.
  • For General Repairs, the warranty is for 90 days. This excludes work that was not performed by us previously.

If anyone other than employees of Cincinnati Fluteoworks attempts to repair the instrument, our warranty is void.

Repair FAQ's

These are Questions and Answers that clients often ask. We'll keep adding to this column. Send us your questions and we'll be happy to answer them.

Flute & Piccolo Annual Maintenance Prices (COA Plus)

Click here for description of procedures.

Flute
Annual Maintenance
Polish &/Or More Extensive Cleaning
Student Flute from
142.
add 50.
Step-Up Flute from
189.
add 50.
Pre-Professional Flute from
245.
add 50.
Professional Flute from
299.
add 50.
Piccolo
Student Picc from
140.
add 50.
Step-Up Picc from
155.
add 50.
Pre-Professional Picc from
219.
add 50.
Professional Picc from
270.
add 50.
  • Please add $10. for shop supplies.
What Level Flute Do I Have?
Click here for description of each level flute & picc (student model, step-up, etc.)

Flute & Piccolo Overhauls, Repads, Repad w/ Mechanism Prices

Click here for a description of procedures.

Flute/Piccolo
Overhaul
Repad w/ Mech.
Repad
Student Flute (closed hole)
349.
315.
261.
Step-Up Flute (open hole)
525.
485.
425.
Pre-Professional Flute
695.
630.
595.
Professional Flute
1200.
1100.
1030.
Professional Flute with Straubinger pads (includes pads)
1425.
1325.
NA
Student Picc
310.
289.
259.
Step-Up Picc
358.
325.
269.
Pre-Professional Picc
539.
509.
443.
Professional Picc
807.
764.
631.
Professional Picc with Straubinger pads (includes pads)
1000.
950.
NA
Alto, Bass, & Contra Bass Please call for pricing Please call for pricing Please call for pricing
  • Above prices exclude certain parts. Please add $36. for pads and shop supplies to Student and Step-Up instrument overhauls, repad with mechanism and repads. Please add $70. for pads and shop supplies to Pre-pro and Pro overhauls, repad with mechanism and repads. Please note, some manufacturer specific, or proprietory pads (such as Muramatsu) are specially priced. For other parts, please see price list below, or phone for quote.
  • Straubinger pads: If your instrument presently has felt pads, please phone for an exact quote to prepare your instrument for Straubinger pad installation. Tell us the brand, model, and approximate age of your pro, pre-pro, and well made step up instrument.
  • Professional piccolo overhaul, repad with mechanism, and repad includes woodwork, excluding repair of cracks (quoted on an individual basis).
  • Excessive tarnish or cleaning from $90.

Click here for description of each level flute & picc (student model, step-up, etc.)

Hand Cutting of Embouchure and Tone Hole Prices

Click here for description of procedures.

Embouchure Cutting
Fraizing
Professional Flute
271.
167.
Student Flute, solid silver
179.
145.
Other Repair Prices
Other Service, Flute & Piccolo Replacement Parts
Gold Springs and Installation
340.
(subject to gold fluctuation)
Headjoint Cork and Fitting
20.
Fitting of Headjoint
60.
E Insert (G Donut) and Installation
95.
Per Hour Labor
72.
Minimum Labor Charge
25.
Replacement Section Pin and Fitting
8. each
Replace 1 Pad on Pro Flute
68.
Replace 1 Straubinger Pad on Pro Flute
90.
Replace 1 Pad on Pro Picc
50.
Replace 1 Straubinger Pad on Pro Picc
80.
Replace 1 Pad on Student or Step-Up Flute
30.
Replace 1 Pad on Student or Step-Up Picc
30.
Replacement Pad Screws/Washers
Quoted according to brand
Replacement Open Hole Pad Retainer (bushing, grommet)
Quoted according to brand
Replacement Crown
Quoted according to brand
Cleaning Rods
  • Wood (recommended)
  • Aluminum
  • Plastic
  • 12.
    8.
    6.
    Replacement Cases  
    Plastic for Flute with B or C foot (Original Manufacturer made by MTS) same as Gemeinhardt, Emerson, etc.
    39.
    Economy French Clam Style for Flute with B or C foot (Trevor James, Sonare, Lyric, made from softer wood, vinyl covered)
    68.
    Pro French Clam Style for Flute with B or C foot (Hardwood, vinyl covered, lasts much longer)
    95.
    Pro French Clam Style for Picc (Hardwood, vinyl covered, lasts much longer)
    79.
    Pro Handmade Clam Style for Flute or Picc (Hardwood, leather covered, hand embossed)
    Please call for quote

    Please phone for these and more care products and accessories.

    Details on Overhauls, Repads, Repad with Mechanism Restoration

    A complete description of every procedure we perform for an Overhaul would be impossible to list. Because of our training in building flutes, we perform nearly every procedure in the building process, beyond soldering the parts together. This makes the flute play, look, and last like a new flute. In some cases, even better.

    We dedicate the same care, skill, and consideration to the overhaul of student flutes and piccolos.

    For both Student and Pro categories, we also offer a Repad with Mechanism Restoration which includes all the procedures in a complete overhaul except for tarnish removal and hand polishIng. A Repad only is also available. It includes the replacement of all of the pads and headjoint cork, and replacement of corks and felts as needed.

    Professional & Pre Professional Flute or Piccolo Overhaul

    • A complete diagnosis is made of your instrument, and you are given an exact price quote for your approval, before we start the work.
    • Each instrument is play tested and assessed for tone and response, leaking, lost key motion (up and down, back and forth), and mechanism freedom of axis movement.
    • Complete disassembly of the instrument (including pulling section pins.
    • Cleaning, tarnish removal, and hand polishing throughout. We never buff, only hand polish. The embouchure hole is gently cleaned.
    • Keys and pivots are refitted (up and down, side to side).
    • Tenons are cleaned and assessed for fitting. Adjustments are made (with your permission).
    • The mechanism is properly oiled with appropriate manufacturer's or synthetic oil.
    • All pads are replaced and shimmed with waterproof shims (partial shimming process to .0005 thousandth of an inch).
    • Silicone is applied to the pad skins to help resist moisture and to help retain adjustments.
    • All corks, felts, bumpers, and headjoint stoppers are replaced.
    • Normal cleaning and oiling and general maintenance is performed for wood, excluding cracks. Cracks would be assessed in the diagnosis and quoted for your approval.
    • The instrument is again play tested by a professional flutist. Springs are regulated (with your permission).
    • Dust is removed from the case interior.

    Please inquire for Straubinger and Schmidt Gold pad quotes.

    Student & Step-Up Flutes and Piccolo Overhauls

    • A complete diagnosis is made of your instrument, and you are given an exact price quote for your approval, before we start the work.
    • Each instrument is play tested and assessed for tone and response, leaking, lost key motion (up and down, back and forth), and mechanism freedom of axis movement.
    • Complete disassembly of the instrument. (Section pins are pulled and or replaced if needed. There may be an additional cost for this as quoted on your diagnosis for your approval.)
    • Cleaning, tarnish removal, and hand polishing throughout. We never buff, only hand polish. The embouchure hole is gently cleaned.
    • Keys and pivots are refitted (up and down, side to side).
    • Tenons are cleaned and assessed for fitting. Adjustments are made.
    • The mechanism is properly oiled with appropriate manufacturer's or synthetic oil.
    • All pads are replaced and shimmed with water resistant shims (partial shimming process to .001 thousandth of an inch).
    • Silicone is applied to the pad skins to help resist moisture and to help retain adjustments.
    • Corks, felts, and bumpers are replaced as needed.
    • All headjoint stoppers are replaced (curved headjoint flute kits often come with two heads!).
    • Normal cleaning and oiling and general maintenance is performed for wood, excluding cracks. Cracks would be assessed in the diagnosis and quoted for your approval.
    • The instrument is again play tested by a professional flutist. Springs are regulated.
    • Dust is removed from the case interior.

     


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