Flutes tend to lose functionality over time, but this can be fixed or prevented by servicing.
Loss of functionality can be caused by regular use, since there are many small moving parts that wear out, and also by environmental factors that tend to degrade the pads and corks. The further the instrument degrades, the more difficult it is to play. On good quality flutes, this can all be fixed, keeping the flute in good playing condition.
It takes around 2 hours to service a student flute. The following items are attended to during a service, as time allows:
General Service (2hrs)
- Replace pads (up to 4)
- Reseat existing pads
- Replace keycorks
- Replace or reset the head joint cork
- Basic cleaning of the flute body
- Balance springs
- Minor adjustments to tenon joints
- Remove double action in keywork
- Adjust key heights
- Adjust timing of the keywork
- Straighten keys
Full Service (3-4 hours)
- All the steps performed in a general service
- Up to half the pads can be replaced
- Clean keywork, as much as time allows
- Tighten mechanism where it is worn
There is other work that can be carried out during a service, or can be added as an extra item if needed:
- Soldering keys or parts that have broken
- realigning keywork
- Polishing heavily-tarnished flutes
- Fixing stuck tenon joints
- Removing stuck swabs
- Refitting tenon joints
- Replacing springs
- Removing dents
- Realigning posts
Full Flute Repad
Often, if your flute is in particularly poor condition, it may be best to completely repad the instrument to have it in good working order. Unfortunately, this often costs almost as much as a new flute, making it an unrealistic investment.
Sometimes (but not always) it is possible to compromise and temporarily adjust some of the existing pads in a full service, to try to spread the cost over 2 or 3 years.
Care and Maintenance
After the instrument is serviced, you will want to keep it in great shape for as long as possible. You will receive some detailed instructions about how to care for your flute, to keep it in excellent playing condition for at least the next full year.