Every instrument requires regular maintenance to keep it in top condition. At Powell Flutes we have a repair shop which can take care of every flute or piccolo and keep it playing in tip top shape. Our services include Clean, Oil and Adjusts and Overhauls, as well as wooden flute maintenance and miscellaneous repairs. We accept all brands of flute or piccolo in our shop.
The repair shop is always here for you but there is plenty you can do between regular maintenance to keep your instrument playing great.
To protect your instrument, swab it out after every playing. Cover the end of the swab stick with the gauze cloth, and steadily and gently push the swab through the tube in one direction. (If you’re swabbing a piccolo, be careful not to get the swab stuck in the tapered body!) While swabbing out the headjoint, do not force the swab stick against the headjoint cork. Always store the swab in your case cover, not inside the body of the flute.
Next wipe the exterior of the flute gently with the polishing cloth and stay away from pads and corks. (Do not use silver polish to clean your flute.) We also urge you to brush your teeth and wash your hands before you play.
The headjoint corks on Powell flutes and piccolos are positioned for correct intonation when they are shipped. In the event that you need to check your headjoint cork position, each swab stick has a register mark, which should be centered in the embouchure hole to indicate the correct placement of the headjoint cork. The player is advised not to reposition the cork themselves, unless they have been trained by a professional.
Powell uses special oil that does not mix with common instrument key oil. If your flute is in need of new oil and you are not having your flute repaired by Powell, be sure the Powell key oil is flushed out before the new oil is added.
It is common to have moisture build up on a pad which leads to sticky pads. To relieve the stickiness, place a piece of woodwind drying paper (or non-gummed cigarette paper) between the key and tonehole. Close the key, then open the key and remove the paper. Do not pull the paper out when the key is closed.
A brand new wooden instrument must be properly broken in to assure the instrument reaches its fullest potential. For the first two months you should play your instrument for no more than twenty minutes at a time. Let it rest for four hours, making sure you swab your instrument immediately after each playing session. During the first month, do not play the instrument more than twice a day; during the second month, you may increase the frequency to three times a day. After the first two months, gradually increase both the time and frequency of playing sessions until, after six months, the instrument may be regarded as fully broken in.
A well made and well cared for wooden instrument will improve with age and give you years of delight. To minimize the chance of cracks occurring, two cautions are absolutely essential:
(1) Avoid rapid changes in temperature (keep the instrument well insulated and do not leave it in your automobile), and (2) Never allow standing moisture to accumulate in your flute or piccolo, especially in the headjoint.
The benefits of oiling are an improved appearance and a slight increase in the moisture resistance of the wood. Only Powell Flutes or an authorized Powell repair technician should undertake the task of applying oil to the bore of a body or footjoint. Your wooden headjoint may benefit from an occasional application of almond oil to the bore and embouchure hole after it is at least one year old. Use only sweet almond oil. Use extreme caution in wiping around the embouchure hole, as the delicate edges of the hole might become damaged. After it is applied the oil must be wiped off thoroughly but gently.
Clean, Oil and Adjust
The Clean, Oil and Adjust (C.O.A.) is intended to keep your flute or piccolo playing at its peak and to extend the time between overhauls. A good rule of thumb is to have a C.O.A. done once a year. The price of a C.O.A. is $325.00 for flutes and $250.00 for piccolos; it includes up to three hours of repair time and is warranted for 30 days. Expect to be without your instrument for two weeks while it is being cleaned, oiled and adjusted.
1. The instrument is play tested
2. All pinned sections are taken apart and cleaned
3. All keys are cleaned out and oiled
4. Tarnishield is hand applied to the flute body to remove as much dirt and tarnish as possible without buffing.
5. The keys are reassembled and the instrument is regulated. Minor pad shimming is done if necessary.
6. The headjoint cork is checked and replaced if necessary.
7. The instrument is play tested.
Exclusions: A C.O.A. is much more limited than an overhaul. Complete repadding is not included. Lost key motion is covered, but key side play is not. Removal of dents (if requested) is extra and charged at the rate of $85.00 per hour, (minimum charge $45.00). Pad replacement during a C.O.A. is limited to three pads at an extra hourly charge plus the cost of the pads.
The Overhaul involves the complete disassembly and reconditioning of an instrument. The time between overhauls is dependent on many factors, including climate and the quality and frequency of C.O.A.’s. A rough average would be three to five years. For a normal overhaul the labor charge is $1100.00 for flutes and $725.00 for piccolos, and the only parts cost is a set of pads. Expect to be without your flute for four weeks or piccolo for three weeks while it is being overhauled. Overhauls are warranted for 90 days.
1. The instrument is play tested and checked for all mechanical and structural work that will be required. The client will be contacted if the required work exceeds the authorized limit, and the charges will be discussed.
2. All pinned sections are taken apart; pads are removed and thrown away.
3. Corks, felts, foams and headjoint cork are removed and thrown away.
4. The flute is cleaned in an ultrasonic bath to remove dirt, oil and grease. The flute body and keys are then dipped in a tarnish remover.
5. Swedging, replacement of worn pins, and key fitting, as well as required mechanical and bodywork are done, as per findings in #1 above.
6. The precious metal parts are shined and treated with silver polish.
7. Pads are installed.
8. Corks, felts and foams are attached. The headjoint cork assembly is polished and a new headjoint cork is installed.
9. The keys are oiled and assembled.
10. During the final padding process the instrument is played frequently so that pads can settle. Adjustments are made.
11. The instrument is play tested.
12. The instrument case is cleaned and polished, then shimmed (if necessary) so that the instrument fits snugly.
Exclusions: The removal of scratches, nicks and dents is done only at the client’s request, and is charged by the hour. A bearing job may be required if the right and left hand sections exhibit side play in the F# post at the cost of $213.00. Re-soldering of un-soldered tone holes is charged by the hour.
Powell technicians will evaluate your flute before any work begins. If it is determined that more than the requested level of work is necessary, we will always give you the option of having your flute returned in its present condition to be repaired at a later date. The repair times listed above are estimates. Due to the individual nature of handmade instruments, some may take slightly more or less time to complete. C.O.A.s are covered by a 30 day warranty and overhauls are covered by a 90 day warranty. If your flute is overhauled with Straubinger pads, pad seating is covered under the warranty; with felt pads, seating is not covered. The warranty is void if anyone other than Powell (unless approved in advance) works on the instrument during this period.