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Lack of repairs?

Taking care of your instrument

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SylvreKat
Posts: 133
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:56 am
Location: KC metro

Lack of repairs?

Postby SylvreKat » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:57 am

A side note after rereading my post regarding the old Armstrongs--

Either I'm fantastically lucky with my horns, or exceptionally careful with them, or something.

My old student Gemi hasn't seen the repairman since I got the Armstrong. And its only repairs were pads and corks, plus taking out a small dent in the head joint 'cause I was a stupid 4th grader joining all the other girls twirling their flutes (yes, I dropped it. On the gravel parking lot. Which completely devastated me) It still plays well enough for me to leave it at church during the school year for those times my choir director looks at me and says, "Oh yeah, I forgot to ask you to, did you happen to bring your flute tonight?" I could probably play solos on it in a pinch, although it really doesn't play as well as either of my other flutes.

The Armstrong hasn't been in since maybe 2004 when I had my repairman tweak the keys' action. Not that it needed it, I just wanted it. No repairs besides pads and corks. And an upcoming cleaning 'cause I noticed a spot of tarnish just starting on the lip plate, plus crud around some of the posts.

The Yami I don't think has been in yet, except to loosen the head joint just a smidge as it came with that joint awfully tight. I don't think I've even had pads changed yet.

The Gemi picc has only had typical pads and maybe a cork once.
The Armstrong wood, same. Plus a total tuneup including oiling the wood.

The bass needed its right-hand keys adjusted shortly after I got it in about 2013. I'm guessing a difference in my playing vs Chris Potter's since it had leaks fixed before she allowed the owner to sell it to me. Nothing else since.

The piece of crap Artley is the exception. It needed a complete repad three times in three months once I hit high school and played it more. Turns out Artley didn't finish the edges of the metal of the holes. No, it's not like it's razor-sharp and slices fingers. But it is sharp enough to eat through pads. My repairman fixed that problem by hand-cutting a set of pads from trumpet spit valve foam. Zero issues since (well, ok, probably a cork), although that did not help its playing/tuning/key action any! OTOH, in marching band I could keep playing when it started to rain.

Is this normal, to not have much repair work needed? Or am I indeed lucky here?

>'Kat
Flutes:
1975 Gemeinhardt M2 in chrome nickel
1982 Armstrong 80
2006 Yamaha 584

Piccs:
1978 Artley piece of crap 15 P
1982 Gemeinhardt 4S
1980s (?) Armstrong all wood (no model)

Bass:
2006 Jupiter di Medici G0199

Plus many many flute-cousins....

User avatar
pied_piper
Posts: 1609
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Lack of repairs?

Postby pied_piper » Sun Sep 03, 2017 6:19 pm

Hmm. Well, to start off, I'd say there is no normal because there are a lot of variables:
  • How often/how many hours a week you play the flute
  • How well you care for it (i.e. not twirling it) :D
  • Where you store it (in a closet, in a car, ...)
  • How often you play it outside
  • Where you live (near the beach/high humidity/salty air; dry desert air)
  • etc.
So, there are a lot of factors that affect how often a repair tech needs to see your flute.

In my own case, I am a part-time repair tech and maintain my own instruments. My C flute gets the most use. I don't play it every day but it typically gets 5-10 hours of play time each week. I live at the east coast (but not at the beach) and the air here is very humid. I will typically do a COA on my C flute roughly every 2 years. For the COA:
  • the flute is disassembled
  • the old oil is cleaned off the pivots, steel rods, and and fresh oil is applied to the mechanism (you might be surprised how dark the oil can get just after a year or so)
  • each pad is thoroughly checked for leaks or wear and re-shimmed or replaced as needed
  • felts are replaced as needed to ensure the proper adjustment of the mechanism and to keep the key noise at bay
  • the head joint cork is checked and replaced at the first sign of deterioration.
Would it still play OK if I didn't do this? Probably, but I am a believer in preventative maintenance. You'd be surprised how humans learn to adapt and compensate for poorly performing instruments. Even for my own flute, I've thought it was playing fine, but during the COA, I often find a few tiny leaks. It's not enough to cause noticeable problems, but after I get everything JUST RIGHT, and I play test my flute, I notice how much more responsive it plays. I'll bet you would be too.

My Picc, alto, and bass flutes see far less action, so they get a COA less often.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents that is now 50 cents due to inflation. :cry:
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

SylvreKat
Posts: 133
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:56 am
Location: KC metro

Re: Lack of repairs?

Postby SylvreKat » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:25 pm

Hmm. Well, to start off, I'd say there is no normal because there are a lot of variables:
  • How often/how many hours a week you play the flute
  • How well you care for it (i.e. not twirling it) :D
  • Where you store it (in a closet, in a car, ...)
  • How often you play it outside
  • Where you live (near the beach/high humidity/salty air; dry desert air)
  • etc.
My answers to your list--

Hours? Uh, sure, let's say it's an hour. Yeah. That's it. I'm sure. Yeah. Can we just count when I'm highly motivated about playing for something special?

I swab out my good-good flute every playing, and wipe the outside most times. Same with the bass. The good flute gets a shove-it shoved inside (unless it's really wet, then I swab it), and the head joint swabbed if it's really wet. Otherwise, why don't they make a shove-it for head joints? Ditto the piccs. And the Gemi, poor thing, typically just gets shoved back into the case. But it's rarely played, and by the time it gets cased it's typically been sitting for half an hour or more, after played for maybe ten minutes intermittent. And no twirling since 4th grade--one dent taught me that lesson!

They're stored on the floor of my bedroom, or in the front hall during Band season, or sometimes if I'm really motivated to practice on the stand for the bass and the good-good. Rarely ever do I let them sit in the car, and then only if the temp's pretty cool. I just don't believe in leaving expensive anythings in a car.

Outside playing--the good flute most Band concerts. Ditto both piccs (yes, I play the wood one outside. Deal with it :D ) The good-good usually just one concert (Mem Day, a very important one!)

KC Metro, which means all sorts of humidity and dry and wet, but no salt in the air

*****

I'm not sure any of my flutes have ever had a COA. I don't think they've even had a complete repad ever. Gosh pied, you're starting to make me feel bad about apparently neglecting my horns. But I'm a little loath to take them in when they're playing just right for me--what if screws get tightened more than before, or springs adjusted, or something innocuous done which changes the feel of how it plays? Esp with my piccs where the tiniest adjustment can make a huge difference!

I'm a bad girl. That's all there is to it. HEY ALL YOU YOUNG'UNS, DON'T YOU FOLLOW IN MY EVIL PATH!!!!!! :twisted:

>'Kat, probably facing banning for sure after this post.... :roll:
Flutes:
1975 Gemeinhardt M2 in chrome nickel
1982 Armstrong 80
2006 Yamaha 584

Piccs:
1978 Artley piece of crap 15 P
1982 Gemeinhardt 4S
1980s (?) Armstrong all wood (no model)

Bass:
2006 Jupiter di Medici G0199

Plus many many flute-cousins....


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