Daily Flute Maintenance – Part 3
Exclusively Flutes does not recommend anything other than very basic cleaning, and maintenance be carried out by flute owners, unless they are confident in their abilities.
Occasionally your flute may develop some minor problems, which can be easily remedied between services; two of them are outlined below.
What tasks can you complete yourself, between services?
If you have a sticky pad, (that is, a pad that makes a sticky clicking sound as you play – NOT a key that is stuck shut), you can easily remove the stickyness by placing a piece of cigarette paper under the key, and gently closing it. This gives the paper an opportunity to absorb the stickiness. Release the key and remove the paper, and test to see whether it has worked. If it has not worked, you should try it again with a fresh piece of paper, but failing that, you may wish to hold the key closed whilst pulling the paper out.
Flute repairers cringe at the thought of this, as it damages the pad.
If this has still not worked adequately, some musicians even go to the extreme of adding a small amount of talcum powder to the cigarette paper, before placing it under the pad. Obviously, each of these is a less-than-ideal situation, and should generally be employed in emergency situations only. A better technique is to moisten the cigarette paper with alcohol (ethanol), let it sit, then open the key and remove. It should be noted that some companies manufacture their cigarette paper with a small strip of glue down one side – simply fold the paper in half, joining the glued edges, to prevent transferring this glue to your flute. Bear in mind that any cleaning of a pad shortens it’s life.
If you are having difficulty assembling or disassembling the flute, the joints may need cleaning. Firstly, take a clean dry cloth and wipe the joints to remove excess grease and dust. Reassemble the flute and see whether this has helped. If not, see a professional flute specialist. Under no circumstances add cork grease, petroleum jelly or any other lubricant. While these may appear to help, the joints on metal flutes are designed to work best when clean and dry. All lubricants attract dust, which acts as an abrasive. If you doubt this, ask any flute maker.