Learn Flute Podcast SHOW NOTES:
In this episode, you will learn about the purpose of the flute end cap, including important do’s and don’ts to help you take good care of your instrument.
This is the Learn Flute Podcast Episode 046.
What this podcast will be all about
- Information on this podcast is supplemental to LearnFluteOnline.com
- How to check if your flute needs to visit a technician
- What the flute end cap is
- The importance of the flute end cap and cork
- What you can look forward to learning from listening
Learn Flute Podcast 046
Press the Play Button to Listen Now:
Hey everybody it’s me Rebecca here with another Learn Flute Podcast today. And in this episode number 46 we will be having a quick little chat all centered around the mystery of the flute end cap, and does it really have a purpose?
Well hello all you flute-learners out there in podcast land. Wherever you may be listening to this, I hope you are enjoying your day and that you are also having an inspired life.
Again I will introduce myself in case you are just joining us for this new episode as maybe your first time. My name is Rebecca Fuller, and I am the owner and instructor at learn flute online dot-com. Where I teach people just like you how to play the flute really well. Now I always add the words really well at the end of that sentence because I think anyone can pick up a flute and wiggle their fingers around while trying to blow. They might call that playing the flute. But it takes a special person and quite a bit of inside knowledge to really learn how to play it and sound super great!
Since you are listening to this podcast I can assume that you either are already learning how to play the flute or that you want to play the flute or it’s possible that you have only heard some really great flute playing before and are aspiring to get started soon.
In this podcast I like to take a little bit of a random approach to answering questions you may have in an audio format. Of course over on the website learn flute online.com all of the lessons are done either via video, articles, PDF, MP3, or even live video webinar type format. Technology is awesome, and I intend to use all of it to help you great people really be able to learn well.
I didn’t have such a great start myself in my first few years of learning because I lived in a very rural area. There was only so much that was available to me. But now, as far as I know you could be sitting on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean somewhere listening to me, and learning with a super smile on your face because, boy, that just sounds fun.
Well anyway, today we are going to be having a quick chat all centered around that little tiny end cap that’s at the very top of your head joint on your flute. You might think it’s kind of interesting that I would center an entire audio all around this, but it’s actually quite important. Perhaps you have already heard me talk about it before, and today we’re going to get a little more in depth.
First of all I guess I should mention that some people call this little end cap a crown. So if you also hear it mentioned in the future as the crown of your flute and on your head joint then you will know that I am talking about the same thing here when I call it an end cap. I just like the terminology end-cap better because of the obvious reason that it is on the end of your head joint and it caps off the tube.
I’m going to now go straight to the heart of what I wanted to say now. And that is that it is best to not mess with the end cap. Haha what I mean by that is that you shouldn’t be twisting it casually ever.
I know that sometimes it just gets loose by itself, and I have talked to many younger students especially who say it just falls off by itself all the time. Haha well let’s hope that is not really the case because this end cap is connected to the long screw-like rod that is also been attached to the metal plate that is glued to the cork inside the top of your head joint. That cork is responsible for quite a bit of your good or bad tone.
I say good or bad because it’s true. If your cork is old it will be shrinking. Especially if you live in a drier climate or your flute is just old. Corks just yet a little bit aged anywhere from oh I would say 4 to 8 years- depending on the flute. What happens when your cork drinks a little bit is that some air is allowed to escape. It only takes a very very tiny bit to make a big, huge difference in your tone.
I think we’ve talked about this before, but I wanted to make sure that this was something that you have heard enough times that you take it seriously. Haha I’ve actually seen people take the little end cap all the way off before, and lose it! That causes a really big problem with your cork and how it can get dried out so quickly.
Another problem we have with a shrinking cork is that it tends to move a little bit inside of your headjoint. Especially if you are swapping out your head joint to get all the spit out with a tuning rod. Sometimes we flute-players get in a little bit of a hurry and we might be pushing too hard as we jam that cleaning cloth in there, twist it around, and pull it out again. We could accidentally move that cork a little more towards the top of our head joint. This would cause us to play a little bit more out of tune every single time it happens. It doesn’t matter what skill level or other things we are doing to try to play well. We would just be off tune a little bit more each time. Since we would have pushed the cork towards the top of the head joint, this would actually make us play a little under the correct intonation pitch which means we would be flat. And a flat flute player is just kind of drab sounding. You probably have heard that before haha whether it was someone else or perhaps it was yourself. It’s just not very pretty at all. It is important that you keep your flute in as new of condition as possible.
Think about this as your flute’s health, it’s kind of like this is your flute’s head. We have to take care of it. You occasionally will need to give it a checkup. In fact, every single time you take your flute out to play you should be giving it a once-over. A quick little glance only takes 2 seconds. Touch the end cap just to make sure it’s not wiggling, but don’t twist it. If it is wiggling and twisty, then go ahead and just move it until it stops and leave it there. If you remember in another episode, I talked to you about cranking it down. That will actually push the cork into a different position. And untwisting it – in lefty loosey style will move the cork out in a different position. I wish there was a better way to make sure that the end cap didn’t do anything at all, but it’s just inevitable after time.
If you are one of those people who likes to get a little bit OCD about exactly where the cork should be, which is okay to be that way, then I’m going to give you a measurement right now. Take the end of your cleaning rod and look at it. Note where the little groove is. Depending on your brand of tuning rod, you may have more than one little groove. But the little groove that we are talking about here is at the very end, almost at the end of your cleaning rod. You know- the opposite side from where you loop the cloth through the little eye hole? Well anyway, that little line should be exactly 17.3 millimeters from the end of the rod. Perhaps you have a ruler nearby and can check it out? It would be interesting to find out if there are any discrepancies out there amongst the different turning rods. There are different brands and it should be pretty precise all the way through all the different brands of flutes and tuning rods. 17.3 is standard.
If you find out that your cork is not in the correct position, then the first best idea is to have someone who knows what they’re doing help you fix it. Again, it’s very important that this cork be in the exact right spot.
I guess I should mention here that this cork is encased between two metal plates. so don’t get worried if you can’t actually see that light tan, brown cork in there. You won’t be able to see it unless it is out of your head joint- which I definitely hope it is not.
So again I say that the first idea is to get a technician to help you. It’s very simple for them to replace the cork if needed and to put it back in the most perfect spot. They can also then check your little end cap, the crown, and make sure that it doesn’t have any problems within the grooves that’s making it come loose too often.
If your flute is older and then you have the cork replaced it’s possible that your tone will improve magically all by itself just with this one simple idea. Wouldn’t that be great?
Well thanks again, that was just a quick chat. We can be more thorough in talking a little more in depth about this another time. Thanks for joining us here today for some additional training and things that will help you on your quest to become a much better flute player. For many of you this (playing flute) is a bucket list item, and you have no idea how happy it makes me to realize that I am part of your dream.
I’m here for you, and I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have in regards to learning how to play the flute- and add this, and play it well.
Don’t forget to hop on over to learn flute online.com in the lesson course membership area and take a video lesson today in one of the modules. The skills you learn from me will help you along your journey, and make things so much easier. Learning how to play the flute should be enjoyable, fun, and an exciting little challenge that will enhance your life as well as your family and friends and their lives as well.
Please leave any comments or questions in the comment section here, and don’t forget to have an absolutely beautiful day!
Thank you for Tuning In!
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about the flute as you learn about the purpose of the flute end cap, including important do’s and don’ts to help you take good care of your instrument. Join us for the next episode.