Flute maintenance

Flute maintenance

HNY to all, a question regarding flute maintenance …

I’ve been playing a Casey Burns folk flute for a few years and was fairly easy to manage from a maintenance point of view. No brass liner in the head piece and threads in the joints, so wipe after playing to remove condensation and occasionally treat with almond oil did the trick.

I’ve recently (4 months) changed to playing a flute with cork in the joints instead of thread and brass lining in the head piece. I’m noticing a few differences …
The cork swells way more than the thread and after playing for 30 mins or more is almost impossible to undo the joint without serious torque. Overnight the cork will contract so much that the headpiece fell on the floor a few days ago it was so loose. I’ve taken to adding a couple winds of thread over the cork to make sure it doesn’t happen again but don’t know if this will make matters worse ?
As I couldn’t clean the headpiece correctly, I’ve noticed the brass has become discoloured due to the condensation. Not sure if this is ‘normal’ or not and should I remove it or not and how ?

Any advice welcome, Rosie.

Re: Flute maintenance

Hi it’s not the cork that is swelling, its the wood. The tenons will soak up condensation and make the joints tighten. The wood needs to be played in, until it gets to a steady moister content then the fit will be good. You need to grease the cork. I have used many types of grease on the cork, but these days petroleum jelly, Vaseline, I find is good. Is the brass you are taking about the tube going in to the barrel of your flute ? Do you know what wood the flute is made of and if possible a makers name ? That might help others to help answer your questions.
Cheers.

Re: Flute maintenance

Thanks Jon, I’ll put Vaseline on the shopping list.

My new flute is made by Stefane Morvan in Brittany. African Blackwood is the material.
The brass liner runs through the head and mates with the tuning slide in the barrel.
Thanks.

Re: Flute maintenance

Hi I have often had his flutes on my bench for service etc. he is a fine maker. I assume this is a new flute.
You should only be playing for about half and hour a day for the first few weeks. Then take the flute apart and place in the open case in a safe place and let the condensation evaporate naturally.
This will let the wood soak up what it needs and loose the rest.
As far as the brass tube goes just keep it clean including the inside of the barrel. Do not put grease on the brass.
Cheers

Re: Flute maintenance

Thanks again Jon, regarding the staining on the brass, ignore it as long as it’s clean, use a product to clean it or leave it until service to let the professional take care if it.
Rgds, Rosie.

Re: Flute maintenance

I’ve experienced this expansion/ contraction with a flute made from boxwood and it’s part of the nature of that material. But I thought the idea of using blackwood is that it’s a lot more stable and less prone to this. I’ve had two new blackwood flutes and one secondhand one and can’t say I ever noticed this as an issue with them.

Posted .

Re: Flute maintenance

Excuse me, it’s actually a Mopane flute. I think it’s in the Blackwood family so should have same properties.

Re: Flute maintenance

Hi Rosie, I use almond oil on my Cotter blackwood, inside and lightly on outside and it is fine. I had the cork seals renewed lately by my local flute expert (Norwich, England), and the instrument feels better than new - more solid.
I am expecting delivery of my own brand new mopane keyed from Stephane any day, so I am following your experiences, (and the associated expert advice from Jon, for which many thanks), with interest! I hope the problems you mention resolve soon.

Re: Flute maintenance

Thanks Simon, Stephane’s flute is worth the wait. It made me a better ‘sounding’ player immediately.
A couple of things surprised me, the holes are much larger than my other flute, especially the D, and the D, E, F are spaced more apart than I’m used to.
It’s taken me a few months to get a solid lower D back working.
It’s also quite a light flute.
You’ll love it. Rosie.