Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Preventable Flute Injuries

This is the time of year when we see all sorts of flutes coming in to the shop with completely preventable injuries.  Let's take some time and consider.

Case Injuries.  That's right, your case can injure your flute.  If the G# spatula rides too close to the crown of the headjoint, you may see small dents and scratches.  Some manufacturers attach a piece of velvet to the headjoint block in the case which helps tremendously.  Lacking that, you can use your own small piece of velvet.  Another sign of case abuse is a foot joint key riding much higher than it should.  When the flute is in the case, and the case is shut, there should be no sound of the flute moving in the case when it is gently shaken.  If you do hear the flute moving around in there, foam, velvet or other very soft material can make the case safe again.  If the case is broken down, the blocks are loose, the catches not working, then a new case is in order.  There are many varieties available.  My personal favorite is the Wiseman case, pictured below.
There are beautiful French cases by Northwind which can be custom fit to your flute. The more affordable ProTec cases are case and case-cover all in one.
Here is  a link to some of these cases that are available at Flute Pro Shop : Cases

In addition to cases, experience has taught us that flutes carried in gig bags tend to be dropped less often, and when they are, the damage rate is very low.  Altieri instrument bags are insulated, with inside and outside pockets.  They can accommodate flute, piccolo, lap top and more.

Many flute cases and covers are equipped with shoulder straps.  We discourage the use of the longer shoulder straps.  When you walk fast the flute case bounces on your hips, the flute rattles in the case, and you end up with preventable injuries!

Well intentioned relatives, band directors or friends may want to "help" adjust the regulation of your flute with jewelers' screw drivers, or worse. Trust us, Uncle Ernie is not equipped to make these adjustments!

So who is qualified?  Check with your teacher and use their repair specialist.  Be in touch with the manufacturer to find out who in your area is a certified technician for their flutes.  Call a local pro and quiz them about who takes care of their instrument.  A good rule of thumb is to take into account the relative expense of your flute.  If it has cost an amount that is dear to you, then take it to a flute specialist.  Will it mean shipping your flute?  Yes, it might.  Shipping has become so sophisticated that your flute is better off with Fed Ex than a well-meaning general all-around repair tech.

And here's my favorite repair tech, David Kee of Flute Pro Shop.

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