Stuck Flute Footjoint

I have been teaching for more than 22 years (at the time of writing this article), and I have encountered this same problem only twice.  And, both times happened within the last 6 months to two of my students.   I’ll explain:

When the flute is properly put together the joints are to be “twisted” into place.  Not pushed straight on.  The ends are actually “tapered” a bit.  So, when pushed straight on or pulled straight off, the metal is forced to stretch just a bit.  Over time, the joints become loose.  (problem)

Here in this article, I’m going to address what happens when the footjoint has the opposite problem.  It’s actually frozen on.  I mean, completely stuck.  Not movable at all.  Sometimes a footjoint can be accidentally “cross-threaded”.  I know it doesn’t look like there are threads on there, but there are.  Believe me.

Both flutes were ruined!

 

BTW, if this hasn’t happened to you.  Be glad.  Very glad.   It takes a good repairman to get it apart without breaking the flute.

I’ve had a couple of sad students who took their flutes to their dads, who then got the pliers (!) out and worked on it themselves.  Bad move.  Both flutes were ruined.  One was a brand spankin’ new  $4,000. flute.  Yikes!

I believe in both cases above, a small piece of dirt or lint from the flute case was caught between the joints when the students were putting them together.  Because the joints are supposed to be completely airtight, it just made it impossible to get off.  Clean your flutes, friends.  A lot.

Please, if this happens to you.  Do not take the pliers to your flute.  Read the following carefully and see what really needs to happen.

NOTE:  ***I am going to add a video to this page demonstrating how to properly take on and off your footjoint, and what to do if you find it stuck.

 

The following is a really confusing email I received from a very famous flute technician in New York.  Read it if you dare.

First: here are instructions about removing a stuck footjoint.

1.        Every single time that you put your flute together, take the microfiber cloth and carefully wipe the tenons.  Those are the pieces that fit inside the other pieces the headjoint tenon fits into the barrel of the body, and the footjoint tenon at the end of the body fits into the receiving box on the footjoint itself.  Take your fingernail and press the microfiber cloth up against the ring that separates the body from the footjoint tenon.  You want to wipe off any dirt or solder that might scratch the receiving box.  The footjoint tenon should always look completely clean and shiny.  Then also wipe inside the receiving box on the footjoint.  It’s harder to see in there, but you want to wipe it as firmly and carefully as possible to also remove any dirt or loose solder.

2.       When you put the footjoint on the flute, you will try to do the opposite of the steps I’m about to give you for taking the footjoint off.  It’s just easier to describe the steps to take it off first.

a.       Hold the body of the flute just above the rods (and keys) below the barrel where the name of the company appears.  The goal is to have your two hands as close together as possible.  Your left hand will be palm up with your fingers curled around the body of the flute.

b.      Hold the footjoint with your thumb either on the actual E-flat key or on the body of the footjoint.  The palm of your hand will lie over the rod that holds the rest of the footjoint keys.  Your fingers will extend over past the rod and keys.  Your right palm will obviously be facing down (just like you play the flute).

c.       Practice turning your left hand towards you while your right hand turns away from you.  They will move in the opposite direction.  That twisting motion gives you lots of leverage to twist the two pieces apart.  At the same time that you roll the left hand towards you and the right hand away from you, you will pull the right hand over to the right so that you exert some leverage to pull the footjoint away from the body of the flute.  (You don’t just want to twist the footjoint around and around on the tenon!!  You have to pull it off in a lateral motion as well.)

d.      I have seen Jeff take footjoints off by simply holding the footjoint with his thumb and his index finger.  I can’t really do that.  I use the heel of my hand (below your knuckles) to push against the rod a little bit.  When you push gently with the weight of your hand distributed across the whole rod, you won’t damage the rod.  However, it’s important to use the leverage in your left hand turning inwards as well as using your right shoulder and arm to pull the footjoint away at the same time.  When you have all of that leverage coming from all of those directions, the pressure you’ll put on the rod will be so slight that there’s no way you can hurt the keys.  It’s just enough to give it a little bit of extra push.

e.      When putting the footjoint back on the flute, just make sure that you have the footjoint lined up exactly with the body.  Don’t come at an angle or you might dent the tenon.  Remember that your two hands should always move in opposite directions and both hands need to move at the same time.  Don’t just move your right hand.  You need the extra leverage coming from your left hand.  I usually line the rod of the footjoint up with the rod of the body and then twist on.

3.       A lot of teachers tell you not to touch the keys or rod of the footjoint.  The problem with that is that if you hold the footjoint down at the very end of the flute, you have very little strength and leverage.  You are also putting a flexing and downward-bending pressure on the footjoint.  If you are cleaning your footjoint tenon and if you are using the right leverage and twisting motion, you will not harm the footjoint keys by holding them.

4.       Don’t ever use oil or cork grease on the footjoint tenon.  Keep it impeccably clean, and that will help to prevent any binding or scratching.  (Oil or grease is sticky and attracts dirt and lint that will scratch the tenon.)

5.       All of this might sound complicated, but once you practice doing it this way, you will become very skilled and very fast at taking the footjoint off this way.

 

Right hand index finger will lie on the E-flat key (not the thumb!!).  The thumb is on the tube of the footjoint near the left ring of the footjoint.

 

Watch for a video from me (Rebecca) to be added to this article.  I will try not to be as confusing as the information above.  This is important! If you have a question comment down below, I always answer. 

 

Rebecca Fuller Flute TeacherRebecca Fuller

 

 

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Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller
Get Flutie with us! Learn and enjoy every musical minute.

34 thoughts on “Stuck Footjoint!”

  1. Hi Kaitlyn, the head joint won’t come off? Hmmmm….. it must be really dirty. Students who leave their flute assembled for days in a row will have the head joint cemented on there. You have to twist really hard to get it off. As long as you don’t grab and bend any keys while you do it, you should be okay. Find someone with strong hands to help you. Careful of the keys! Don’t grab them. Good luck!! Let us know how it goes. ~Rebecca

  2. hi, i recently rented a flute from school. recently, i’ve been trying to practice but the headjoint wouldn’t twist on all the way. now, it won’t twist off. is it just that i didn’t clean well enough or is there an issue????

  3. Glad you’re doing well learning, Jamie. Those ‘double notes on one’ are probably eighth notes? They’re fun!

  4. I’m a little better at it now but now we’re learning a song and it has like double notes on one!! How what are they called?

  5. Hi Jamie, Sawmill Creek sounds like a great one! I actually don’t have a video on this one, sorry. I can play it though. Fun Fun 🙂 ~Rebecca

  6. Dear Rebecca,

    In band class we’re learning “sawmill creek” and I’m having a little trouble do you have any videos on that song

  7. Hi Cindy, are you having troubles with the low F? Try blowing softer, warmer air. Also, it’s possible you have a leak in one of your pads – that can prevent certain notes from playing… ~Rebecca

  8. DEAR REBECCA! I can’t play the note F I take lessons and online it doesn’t seem to help I can play Bf C D Ef G A Af but not F!!! What should I do I practice a lot any tips or tricks

  9. Oh I’m so sorry, Chloe. It happens if you put it together and slightly ‘cross thread’ the foot joint. If you can’t get it to twist off (and not smash the keys), then you’ll need to take it to a repairman. He/she can do it safely for you. And, for future reference, you’ll want to be sure to keep your tendons (foot joint and body end parts) clean, clean. Also, be really careful to twist your foot joint on (instead of shoving straight on and off). If it doesn’t feel right when you are putting it together, then it’s probably not.. back it off and start again. Good luck!! ~Rebecca

  10. As I was practicing my flute…sadly the foot joint got stuck to the body joint!!!!! My mom and I tried doing anything we could think of after searching it up on the Internet it still wouldn’t budge at all!!! What shouldo I do?!

  11. Hi Rainy, if you’re already on my email list you’ll get free information every week including a link to the free silver level page. I send out lots of info. See you soon! (make sure you’re signed up – use the opt-in box on this page,.. you’ll need to use a “real” email address, and then check it often) ~Rebecca

  12. Hi Rainy, I’m glad you’re learning to play the flute. You can catch up really fast with the skills you need by joining the Gold Level membership here at Learn Flute Online. In fact, you’ll get so good you’ll pass everyone and be first chair in no time. Try it! ~Rebecca Here’s the link: https://learnfluteonline.com/gold-lessons/

  13. This has nothing to do with the flute footjoint but I’ve been having a hard time in band playing in behind and only know three notes but they’re already playing songs I would practice but idk the notes

  14. I GOT IT OFF IM SOOOO HAPPY I JUST LEFT IT OVERNIGHT AND THE NEXT DAY IT CAME OFF EASILY! NO LUBRICANTS OR ANYTHING REQUIRED! ( I’m watching your YouTube flute tutorials )

  15. Oh dear. I’m so so sorry. If you can’t get it off yourself (safely), then you’ll want to take it back to where you have it rented. They can get it off without damaging it for you, and probably won’t charge you much. It’s better to be safe… good luck!! ~Rebecca

  16. HELPPPP!!! I can’t take my flute to the techniacian and the foot joint is stuck I twist twist twist and it won’t work and I wiggle and mine is a rented please anything else

  17. RebeccaFuller

    Hey Storm, yes yes it’s a scary day when your foot joint gets stuck. We need to be so so careful as we twist those parts together. Always, always keep those tendons super clean. That will help so much. And, never force it together – this means it’s getting cross-threaded. Good luck! Glad you solved it yourself. Whew. ~Rebecca

  18. Storm Hargreaves

    This just happened to me and no matter how hard i pulled pushed twisted or turned it would barley move finally my dad carefully prized apart the foot and the body finally to my relief it came apart but it left tiny scratches on the inside but it’s not ruined. I guess its lucky we didn’t use pliers it’s fine I haven’t played it yet i,am worried it might happen again but will try tomorrow as it’s to late now any way if you have any advice I would appreciate it thanks.x

  19. Hey Marina, you’re right- we should never force the foot joint on … or off. Keep it clean, un-dented, and always always twist carefully. Remember there are ‘tendons’ like on a jar (even if you can’t see them). Cross-threading is a verrrrrry bad thing for us flutists. Great comment! ~Rebecca

  20. Hey. I had that happen, but after a while of twisting it a little, I eventually got it off! Make sure never to set it on the floor and press down on it to “tighten it”. This could lead to bending.

  21. Hi Alyssa, I’m so sorry. It is not good at all to get your foot joint stuck. I hope you have a good technician close by to help you with it. The secret is to remember that it’s like a jar with threads/tendons. You have to get it nice and straight before you twist or it just gets cemented on there. Let us know you’re okay and that you got it fixed. ~Rebecca

  22. Hi Emmalyn, it’s possible that you’re slightly ‘cross threading’ it each time you twist it on? There’s definitely a knack to the correct feeling while you assemble that footjoint. I hope it doesn’t keep happening. If it’s a used flute, it may be dented or stretched funny. Take it to a technician and see what they say. I’m glad you’re concerned. Good luck, continue cleaning it and working towards making it smooth as you twist it on. ~Rebecca

  23. Help! I have a student loaned flute that I have been using for 3 months now from switching from an oboe, and I follow all guidelines, procedures, abd clean my flute almost everyday, but my foot joint still gets stuck and is almost impossible to take apart! What shall I do?

  24. This is my second year playing flute and I’ve cleaned it every day and today my flute foot joint got stuck. Like it won’t com off at all!

  25. RebeccaFuller

    Oh dear Oh dear. It’s a super hard fix depending on how ‘stuck’ it is. The number one best solution is to take it to a technician quickly and have him/her fix it. I hope you live near a city where you can have it done properly. This happens rarely, and once you realize and remember that there are ‘threads’ just like on a jam jar you learn how to feel carefully as you twist it together each day. Good luck!! Rebecca

  26. I’ve been playing the flute for a couple months now and a while back it started getting harder to assemble. Now the foot joint is COMPLETLY stuck… I have been cleaning it regularly and i tried a lot to take it off and i don’t know what to do now. Is there anything else you can do to take it aparat?

  27. head joint is stuck? Twist Twist Twist. You’ll need to keep your flute really clean so it won’t ever get stuck like this. I don’t really recommend ‘creams’ usually. I really hope you can get it taken care of. Clean it really good – especially those parts that fit together. Keep us posted. Wishing you luck today. 🙂

  28. I was practicing my flute for school, and the head joint got stuck. It is impossible to get it out!! I have been trying so hard. My band teachers are kind of strict, and one gets annoyed when I ask for flute cream. What do you suggest I do? -Hannah

  29. Uh oh! That foot joint can get ‘cross threaded’ if you don’t put it on just right. Remember to never force it on at all… and you have to twist. Keep it clean clean clean on the foot joint side and also the tendon side of the body. Never twist it on if it’s not perfectly straight first. If I could reach through the computer and get it off for you I totally would. Can you put your thumb on the pinky key and twist it off without smashing the keys? Or, you can just take it right in to a flute technician (to be safe) and have them do it for you. Good luck! Keep me posted for sure. ~Rebecca

  30. RebeccaFuller

    Hi Oyeniyi, congratulations on your new flute! The first octave C is very difficult for beginners or flutes that aren’t in excellent condition. There are tricks you can do to make them come out. Try this; start on low G and slur your way down G, F, E, D, and then C. Does it pop out? Also, be sure you are using great posture since the lowest notes don’t come out if you are blowing on an angle too much. You need to blow more ‘across’ the flute for them, rather than ‘down’. Hope this helps. See you again soon. ~ Rebecca

  31. i just bought my premier flute yesterday and i v been tryin to practice with my little previous knowledge about flute. i descovered that my lower c note desnt sound at all sometimes sounds blunt when runnng the c majour scale. is it d flute or is it jst me

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