Felts for Pearl flute

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HMannfan
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Felts for Pearl flute

Post by HMannfan » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:44 pm

Hi everyone,

I have just taken apart a Pearl 501 student flute. In place of the usual cork pads on key feet, Pearl has used felt. Can you tell me where I can obtain replacements for these felt pads? Or, can you tell me what thickness felt is used? It appears to be somewhere in the neighborhood of .030 and .035 inches in thickness, but I find it very hard to measure because of its compressibility. Any help would be appreciated.

When I have used cork on these key feet, I am able to vary its thickness to adjust key openings, but this would not be possible with the use of felt. Any comments about this point would be appreciated too.

Mark

mirwa
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by mirwa » Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:17 am

Just use cork

HMannfan
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by HMannfan » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:16 am

Thanks Steve. I couldn't help but laugh at first reading of your reply. Simple, straightforward.

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pied_piper
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by pied_piper » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:29 pm

Cork works and as Steve points out, it is easier to adjust to the desired thickness. On student flutes, like the 501, cork is perfectly acceptable.

On step-up or pro flutes, many players and repair techs prefer felt. I use felt or synthetic felt for most flute kickers because I prefer the feel and find that it is a bit quieter than cork. The problem is that felt comes in sheets and it must be cut to fit. The tech must stock felt in a variety of thicknesses to accommodate all the various applications for flutes, so it's not terribly practical for do-it-yourself repairs.

JL Smith is a good source for synthetic sheet felt in all the various thicknesses from .5mm-1.8mm.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

mirwa
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by mirwa » Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:57 pm

Even on high end flutes, I still use cork, I am a stickler for lost motions on keys, the felt does not come in enough varying thickness's to accomodate my tastes, my cork comes in .3-1.5 in .1mm increments and can be sanded for even finer adjustments.

Steve

fluteguy18
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by fluteguy18 » Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:48 am

It depends on the make of the flute for me. Student/low intermediate (Gem. Armstrong, Emerson, etc), I use cork. Anything higher (Azumi, Sonare and higher) I use synthetic felt. I bend the feet for adjusting for lost motion and don't have any issues. So, HMannFan, if you wanted, you could use a dense felt that's a similar thickness and bend the feet to make up the difference (up or down). You just have to be aware that you can cause the key cup to flex and it can create leaks at 12. I personally don't like cork because you have to sand it, and it's easy to scratch the body without a lot of preparation.

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pied_piper
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by pied_piper » Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:46 pm

mirwa wrote:Even on high end flutes, I still use cork
I maintain my own flute (a Muramatsu), but if for some reason I had to have someone else work on it, quite frankly, if it came back with cork instead of felt, I'd be VERY PO'd. If the OEM uses felt, so do I and I have no lost motion.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

mirwa
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by mirwa » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:15 pm

Luckily in my area, customers are happy with my process, I am not a fan of bending key feet as it can alter key geometries, it can twist hinge tubes, it can break pins.

I even doubt people would be aware of what are fitted, the most important thing is how it feels under ones fingers with no lost motion, no sensation of picking up other keys during its travel

It also means that once its corked and key height set, it does not need to be done again, as felt compresses over time cork does not.

Just because a manufacturer used it, does not mean its the best for the instruments ability to keep regulation.

As a side note, I have repaired which includes repads overhauls replating and so forth probably in excess of 10,000 flutes and have used cork on every single one without one single customer saying what no felt.

Steve

HMannfan
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by HMannfan » Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:16 pm

Thanks for all the replies.

I'm with Steve on this one. I don't like bending things unless absolutely necessary, especially feet. Feet are pretty substantial, and the chance to damage something else in bending them is ever present, especially if they are still attached to the instrument. I like the infinite adjustability that cork provides. I take great care in protecting the body of the flute against scratches prior to using sandpaper, and it takes little time to do so. But, to each his own.

fluteguy18
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by fluteguy18 » Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:45 pm

Cork most certainly compresses. Far more so than a synthetic technician's felt. And if you're adjusting a foot enough to cause those sort of problems, then it's clearly the wrong thickness of material being put there.

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pied_piper
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by pied_piper » Sat Jul 18, 2015 4:26 pm

I agree that bending any part of a key is not good - unless it is far out of adjustment. The only time I find it necessary to bend is when it is to correct damage or to correct some previous repair that was poorly done. There are enough thicknesses of felt or synthetic felt available that bending is not needed to eliminate lost motion. Yes, it may take a little more time to find the correct thickness of felt, but like most things in life, doing it right may take longer, but its worth it.

I will reiterate from my first post that I do use cork on student instruments if that is what it originally had or was equipped with. But pro flutes deserve better and IMO, that is felt.
However, as hmannfan said - to each his own...
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

mirwa
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by mirwa » Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:11 pm

Mmm, very interesting replies

First, no disrespect to anyone, but I really am not fussed by what others do, I simply tell people what I do, is that arrogance, maybe / maybe not. I have been repairing flutes for so long now that what I do is second nature. When you have been repairing many flutes for there whole lifespan (from manufacturer to repairs to its first repad to its subsequent repairs and next repad to finally its retirement) you get to see things that maybe others may not have.

If a person is using foot corks that are compressing far quicker than felts then I would suggest you need to find different cork, my corks never compress.

A flute deserves something that will hold regulations irrespective of the model. Felt does not do that.

The key of a flute should be sprung so that approx 30 grams of force will close it perfectly, allowing that sprung key to travel 4mm and contact the flute body is not sufficient enough force to generate a clunking sound great enough that requires felt to suppress the sound, compare that to a sax with triple the spring force and upwards of 18mm travel, in this situation you do want some felt to suppress the sound generated from the keys action.

Not using felt is not being dis-respectful to the model or brand

Steve

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pied_piper
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by pied_piper » Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:44 pm

No disrespect taken and I've nothing but the greatest respect for you, Steve.

Like you, I've done this for a while and repaired my first flute in 1973. I used to use cork exclusively on flutes, because that it what was used on the flutes of that era. Over the years however, I've followed the lead of the flute manufacturers. Today, all of the top pro flute makers use felt and now I do too. There is nothing inherently wrong with cork and nothing really bad about it, but after having used both, I believe that felt, especially synthetic, is superior to cork. I also believe that felt has a longer life than cork. I don't find that cork compresses significantly but I do find felt quieter. I'm not hearing "clunks", but I can hear slightly more "sound" from cork than felt. Granted this is a really small difference, but with pro instruments, it's the little things that can make a big difference.

So, if your customers are happy with cork then by all means continue to use it. After all, the customer is the ultimate judge. Perhaps this is just a regional difference. Sort of like USA flutists all want open holes and B foot while some other regions prefer C foot and some like closed holes.

Bob
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

mirwa
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by mirwa » Sat Jul 18, 2015 9:15 pm

Its all good, my point was simply, this is how I do it, not to try and convince others to do it my way, I have no intention of changing my process any time soon.

Steve

HMannfan
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Re: Felts for Pearl flute

Post by HMannfan » Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:47 am

I appreciate pied_piper's view of replacing like material when doing repairs, and that is the main reason I asked the question originally. Because the flute I'm repairing is my own, and I don't have a selection of good quality felt to replace the existing/damaged felts, using cork is not a real issue. But on my Pearl 765 Quantz I may feel differently about replacing the felts with cork.

J.L. Smith carries synthetic felt in five thicknesses ranging from .5 to 1.8mm. Ferree carries four of the five listed at J.L. Smith. Do you know of other suppliers with greater or different selections?

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