Instrument overhauls

Posted by
Erin Nichols
 July 24, 2018

Nothing incites more sticker shock in this industry than finding out that someone’s instrument, after careful storage for many years, is in dire need of a re-pad and overhaul. In a perfect world, a flute could sit on a shelf for untold numbers of years and be ready to play just as good as new–but unfortunately, the opposite is often the case. Pads, which serve the purpose of sealing the keys to the tone hole when depressed, are made of a combination of cardboard, felt, and thin intestine-like material, all of which are inherently disposable eventually. After years of neglect, temperature and moisture changes, and (ick!) the possibility of bug infestation, a re-pad, or overhaul, is almost always necessary.

So why does this cost so much? Well, here’s the long answer:
First, the mechanism and keys are removed, pinned sections are broken down and lubricated, and pins are replaced as necessary. Have you seen a flute completely taken apart, IKEA style? There are a TON of tiny little parts!
The mechanism is then cleaned out and polished. Keys are adjusted as necessary to remove excess side play within a section. Pivot screws and pivot joints are cleaned and refitted to remove section side- play and wobble. Springs are removed, so the body can be worked on, bad springs are replaced. Tone holes are checked for integrity, and re-soldered if necessary. Extruded tone holes are checked, put into round as needed and their surfaces are checked to make sure they are perfectly flat, with no burrs or sharp edges. Key cups are checked for roundness and bowing. If bowed, they are re-shaped and centered over their tone holes. Pad screws and washers and grommets for open holes are checked for integrity and flatness so that a leak cannot develop under a pad. They are cleaned, polished, refitted and replaced as needed. All key corks, felts and shaped corks are replaced. Head joint cork is replaced, fitted, secured, so that a baffle or chamber leak cannot occur. Then it is greased / waxed and set to temper octaves. Crown is secured. Springs are re-installed, and tension is adjusted for a light, snappy and balanced action. Body is cleaned, polished and straightened if necessary. Tenons are re-fitted. All pads are replaced, shimmed flat, and to a uniform height out of the key cup: approximately .014”. Pads are given a suction test to insure integrity. Mechanism is re-installed, coverage is adjusted, and pads are seated. Height of action is set. Mechanism is regulated, and lost motion is eliminated. A final check of coverage with a feeler gauge, and the instrument is ready to be test played.

*deep breath*…now does that price tag make a bit more sense? I am always happy to evaluate instruments to determine the best course of action. Give me a call or send me an email!

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