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.
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).
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.