What Does a Flute Overhaul Include?

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What does a flute overhaul include

How do you know if a flute just needs a quick fix or if the entire flute needs extensive repair work? What does a flute overhaul include?

It require professional maintenance and care for flutes to play in tip-top shape. Even if the flute isn’t being played often it will require some visits to a technician for adjustment periodically.

The Body

First of all, a technician will check the body of the flute will for dents and deep scratches. The tone isn’t affected by many dents, but if they are visible through the inside of the barrel, they will most likely be ironed out.

Sometimes the shiny silver plating of a flute is brown and icky colored. It’ll be washed and treated with a special polish so that it will shine like new again.

Sounds easy enough, but doing this yourself at home isn’t recommended because the technician has to take the entire flute apart first (including all the little pins inside the mechanism).

The Mechanism

After disassembling the flute, the technician can clean out the tubings and check all of the retaining rings. Similarly, most of these will either be replaced or cleaned thoroughly with a special solution.

The technician combs through each pad one at a time, but usually all new pads are used in an overhaul.

TIP: Ask for high quality pads to replace whatever was originally on your flute. Straubinger pads are a good bet and will make your flute sound like a champ. Don’t cheap out on this step.

TIP: Ask for high quality pads to replace whatever was originally on your flute


After replacing the pads the condition of each key can be evaluated. It’s important that each key and pad sit very level on the keyhole. You want the tightest, levelest, most perfect fit. THIS is crucial to your playing and tone success.

Special attention is all given to the headjoint during a flute overhaul. The cork is replaced and the cap is seated correctly so it won’t accidentally spin. The cork is a key part to your flute’s natural intonation, so it’s nice to have it put back into the proper place. Yay for playing in tune!

And lastly, you’ll usually find that flute technicians are almost always very accomplished flutists, so they can really do a good play-test on your instrument after they have completed procedure. They know when something doesn’t feel right, and can detect the slightest issues.


Freshly overhauled flutes play so easily!

It takes a very proficient repairman to do a great job. In order to complete the job well, they need 100% accuracy.. We applaud those who have taken the time to hone their skills in this area!

As you consider getting a flute overhaul, here are important things to think about:


How to find a good technician

Ask the most advanced flutist you know who they take their instrument to. Follow their lead.  Caution: dropping your flute off at the neighborhood band store isn’t always the best idea.

How often do you need a flute overhaul?

I’ve often heard it said that a flute should visit a tech at least once a year. I know that instruments that are properly and meticulously cared for can stretch that much longer. But, most brands do require an overhaul every 5-8 years at least.

IF your flute is a starter instrument and not worth the price of an overhaul, it’s good to know that you can pick up another for a low price and it should come freshly set-up by a tech from the store (or place you purchased it from).

Most importantly, do your homework first. An overhaul is not cheap, and will often outweigh the cost of just purchasing a new flute.

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

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

4 thoughts on “What Does a Flute Overhaul Include?”

  1. Myriam Cobián

    I just pick up my flute from an overhaul yesterday. First thing I noted was that it’s still tarnish and scratches… even the little dent still in there. I said to me, ok this is just cosmetic so… I gave the flute a little tried at the workshop and, of course, I felt a huge difference between after and before because the flute was in a very bad shape. But when I get home and I really played the flute, then I started to notice several failures.

    1. The left hand mechanism is very heavy… Well, I don’n have delicate hands, I play percussion too, including hand drums… so, I don’t like the mecanism to be light, but now, even for my hand the acction is too strong.

    2. When I played very quick scales I felt some notes where missing or doesn’t sound with clarity… so, I played long notes with the minimun pressure possible and I noticed a leak in the G key.

    3. The right hand mechanism is, in general, better than the left… BUT… the E key was very, very weak before the overhaul and, despite now is better, it doesn’t comes 100 percent with my finger, so I can feel a little delay on her response that really, really bothers me.

    4. The pads in the trill keys and in the first cup of the left mechanism (the tiny ones) doesn’t seem like the other pads… there’s suposed to be Straubinger pads… well, those ones are yellow and the others are very light, almost white. I don’t know what to think.

    Well, bad thing is that, that was in NY during my visit to my daughter and tomorrow I’m going to Alvany, then to Canada, where I have to play, and then I’m going back to Puerto Rico, where I live. So, I don’t have time to go back to the workshop and claim… and it was very expensive… 😒

    1. Myriam, I’m so sorry for the experience you had while getting your flute overhauled. It is difficult to gauge the quality of the overhaul you had without seeing the stage your flute was at beforehand versus now. Even if you are unable to make it back to the workshop, I suggest you call or send a message to them and let them know what your problems are. Those issues definitely shouldn’t be happening after an expensive overhaul. I wish you the best and hope it will get taken care of. -Rebecca

  2. Okay, it may be longer than 8 years since an overhaul.

    I’ve played more this year than any one year (except college in the ‘70s) and I know I need cord, pads and a general cleanup. Where in Indiana can I get it done ? It’s a 1970 Gemeinhart open-hole silver flute.

    1. Hi Tracy, yes it sounds like your flute can go for a COA at least. It may not need an overhaul. It might also not be cost-effective to do an overhaul, but you can determine this with your technician when you find one. I suggest calling the biggest, best instruments stores you can find and asking them about their flute technicians. Find out who is doing it in the store or if they have to send it out. You can also call the local university and talk with the professor about who he/she maintains their flute. Good luck! I can’t wait to hear if your flute sings! Rebecca

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