“Where do those tiny little scratches on my flute come from? My flute is pretty new, and I didn’t notice them before at all.”
Oh boy. This is a common theme amongst flutists who have received a nice, shiny new flute. They just feel so badly when they notice that it has lots of fine little lines and scratches all over it. So how does this happen?
Keeping our flute in really good condition takes some extra thought that becomes habit very quickly.
Good thing I’ve been around long enough to know exactly what’s going on. There are usually three different reasons this happens. Let’s explore each one:
- Your jewelry is the culprit. Many flutists wear bracelets and rings while they play the flute not knowing the damage that is happening. It is basically not noticeable, but a slight glance across the instrument while putting it away, etc is just enough to put an ever so slight mark through the top layer of perfectly buffed silver.
What do we learn from this?
Take your jewelry off before playing.
Get in a habit of taking your jewelry off and placing it in your case each time you get your flute out for practice or performance. This way you won’t forget to put it back on when you are finished. Most of my students who visit my studio here are in this habit, and it’s a perfect solution!
- Your cleaning cloth is an offender as well for those minuscule marks on your flute. I think we don’t realize the damage that is being done as we attempt to ‘detail’ our beautiful instrument, but if our cloth is not the right type that is okayed for use on fine silver, then we should expect scratches.
Examples of this are using a dishtowel or other type of clothing that is slightly abrasive. Even if it doesn’t look like it will damage the finish, it always does within time.
What does this mean for us?
Use a cloth made for use on flutes.
Get online and order a cloth made for your instrument. I prefer silk for the inside and microfiber for instruments. These are my favorites (click on any highlighted word to link): Silk and microfiber.
There is one more cloth that is good for working on the tarnish:
- The last item that scratches our flutes is usually quite deceptive. Believe it or not, it’s your cleaning/tuning rod. Yup – it’s hard, made of metal or wood and isn’t always perfectly ‘wrapped’ when you swab our your flute.
Think about it. We’re always worried about getting the inside of the flute dry and possibly don’t have our attention focused on what happens as it travels from the case, through the flute, and back into the case again.
How can we watch this step more closely?
Use a tuning rod made of wood.
I recommend always using a tuning rod that is made of wood. Whoever thought of using metal for the tuning rod just wasn’t thinking. If you need to order yourself a new rod (made of wood), here’s a link to a good one.
All in all, keeping our flute in really good condition takes some extra thought that becomes habit very quickly.