Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

Hallo, so I have a technical question and a statute question.
I bought a new flute almost two years ago from a very reputable maker. It plays beautfully and I’m very happy with it. However, a year ago, a crack appeared in the head and another in the barrel. Another feature I noticed was that I had to reduce the position of the slider continuously to stay in-tune until the head and barrel were against each other. Anyway, contacted maker, and he replaced both parts without any hassle.
Now, I’ve noticed another crack starting on the barrel and I’m having to reduce the slider position until I’m again nearly out of ‘play’ again and starting to sound flat even with head against barrel.
I assume this is all occurring because moisture absorbtion is expanding the flute bore, although my flute has a liner in the head, so I don’t understand how it could be affecting the tuning. So, my questions …
1. What’s going on with the tuning, and is this unusual to be having so many issues ?
2. Should I contact maker now for a repair or wait until things stabilize ?
Gratefull for your help & replies.

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

Rosie

Is your climate very much drier than the climate the flute was made in? I’m thinking if a lined flute cracks (and it seems to be doing this repeatedly), it’s probably because shrinkage of the wood is being resisted by the metal liner.

Now why that also presents as flattening of the flute is less clear. The bore of the replaced parts, if lined, cannot be shrinking.

Unless it’s a seasonal effect on the rest of the flute. Is it winter where you are? Does your house humidity dry out considerably in winter? Could it be that the rest of the flute (unlined) is shrinking, causing a flattening effect?

If you think this could be the case, humidifying the flute might be the answer.

Terry

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

Generally said that lined flutes have more issues with cracks. Differential expansion of metal and wood etc. What sort of wood is it made of? - ‘blackwood’ is more stable than ‘boxwood’. Do you shake/ blow it out after playing to get rid of excess moisture?

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Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

I have been playing flutes with lined HJs for more than thirty years. Never had one crack but once - when I left a flute unplayed and uncared for on a shelf in a house heated with wood stoves. My fault. With minimal attention no flute should crack. I say this having been on the road, in and out of air-conditioned buildings, traveling in conditions of continually changing humidity, with never a problem. Terry is being very kind and diplomatic. It might not be the maker’s fault.
I don’t know any **reputable** maker who makes flutes from wood that isn’t seasoned properly. Blackwood is more apt to crack than boxwood, which tends to warp and change dimension rather than crack. I do know other makers who have had flutes returned with cracks that were clearly not the fault of the maker or of the material, but rather due to the neglect of the owner. The makers replaced the damaged parts at the time, to avoid difficulties. But the second time? Either the wood was not seasoned properly or the owner isn’t paying attention to normal maintenance.

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

Thanks for your replies.
My flute is played daily, disassembled afterwards, wiped down, stored in it’s case away from direct light & heat. Tenons greased & body oiled monthly.
Heating in the house is underfloor heating so very even, plus I have three other flutes in the house (unlined) with no issues.
It’s spring time in my part of the world.
It’s made from mopane which I understand would share the characteristics of blackwood.

The fact that it’s becoming gradually flatter with time would I think indicate that the volume inside the flute is increasing in the unlined sections, and this has to be compensated for by reducing the volume in the barrel and above, so the slider goes in. Indicates the flute is moist and absorbing condensating/oil over time.
Meanwhile, the barrel on the other hand is shrinking causing a crack to appear. Is this logical ?

Thanks again, Rosie.

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

Got it. Good for you. Sounds as if you are on top of flute maintenance.
I’d then be more inclined to ask the maker about the quality of the wood he’s using.
You shouldn’t have to deal with these issues. I am sorry to hear of your troubles. If you are in fact dealing with a reputable maker then he will be responsive and will want to make you happy with your instrument.
I haven’t ever heard of a flute getting flatter because the inner volume is decreasing. If that were the case — the bore getting smaller — you’d think that the flute would get sharper. Have you checked to see if the stopper in the HJ has moved away from the blow-hole? That could make it go flatter to some extent. And is it blowing flat on every note? It could be that your embouchure — tone — and your ear are improving and you’re noticing problems with the flute’s tuning that you’d overlooked before.

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

Thanks David, I think the bore is getting bigger in the unlined sections, compensated for by having to push in the slider. Stopper is at 22 mm from embouchure center which I think is ‘normal’ although I’ll double check.
Sadly my ear isn’t improving.
I’ll run over to chiff and see what they think there.
Thanks a bunch.

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

Just get in touch with the maker and work it out with him.

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

The pitch of a wind instrument is governed by length rather than volume, I can’t imagine that any slight change in diameter due to wood shrinkage/expansion would have a noticeable effect on pitch, I think it’s far more likely that the stopper has moved - possibly getting pushed in by over-zealous cleaning? - is there a placement mark on your cleaning stick?

As for the cracking, to me as a guitar maker ‘underfloor heating’ rings all the alarm bells. This form of heating often produces continuous very low humidity, which is death to wooden instruments. Get a hygrometer and check, if your house is regularly below 45%RH keep the flute in a humidified case.

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

@Rosie-123
Cork position is nominally about 19mm.

The flute can be flattened by an obstruction in the bore, or even possibly by air leakage. Once, I had a small separator from my case come unglued and found it in my footjoint. Flute played WTF?

Also, as otherwise mentioned, you need to keep the flute properly humidified, especially given your heating arrangement. I suggest the small cylindrical H1 (model 1) Humistat (pictured), as shown here: http://www.dillonmusic.com/p-7049-humistat-humidifiers.aspx

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

There is some confusion here about physics.

The sound of a wind instrument is created by a column of air vibrating in some way. It is analogous to a spring; the wider the column, the stiffer the spring. It is true that the length dominates the effect but width does have a noticeable effect; there’s a reason Uilleann pipers rush their instruments.

Posted by .

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

You can say what you want David, but there is plenty of discussion on various forums about lined heads v unlined heads and whether they are more prone to cracking. Some people insist they are, some insist they aren’t. Take your pick OP.

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Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

@Rosie-123
Chiff & Fipple search is down, so I had trouble finding my old post about setting the headjoint cork position. Here is it (courtesy of thesession.org Search):
http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=60057&p=787462&hilit=cork+position#p787462

Oh, and to answer your other question: You might want to humidify the flute, and adjust the cork, before sending for repair. After this amount of time, and how you’ve been treating it, I would not expect the maker to provide a no-cost repair (but great customer service if they do). You can alternatively send it to any other competent woodwind repair person if more convenient to you, and expect to pay for the job. While there may or may not have been an issue with how well-seasoned the wood used was initially, the flute has likely been abused.

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

@kkrell

Thanks for the link and the suggestion and I’ll invest in a humidifier. Otherwise I suspect the underfloor heating may be at issue as pointed out above.
I’ve corrected the cork position to 19mm, no change.
Note that my flute has not been abused in any way except through poor musicianship.

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

So, having adjusted the cork, are the 3 Ds now in tune with each other, just not with A=440 pitch? If overall still playing flat, then that still leaves the possibility of leaks (you can perform a suck test on each section), or your technique (as well as whether you normally roll the headjoint "in" or "out" in relation to being in-line with the fingerholes). Some people are sharp blowers, some are flatter, and you can probably adjust by about a semitone by the position (rotation) of the headjoint, the amount of lip covering the hole, & how you direct the air down into the embouchure hole.

Here’s a little discussion about "lipping" notes up or down:
http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/fluteacoustics.html#lipping

Re: Statute of limitations on instrument repairs

3D’s are at 294/586/1170 plus A is at 440, so lines up perfectly. I seem to have recuperated the 3 mm I shifted on the cork from 22 to 19mm on the slider which is an improvement. I’ve now got 5 or 6 mm of play with the slider.
Checked all sections and vacuum tight.
Thanks for your help, already a step better in tuning.