A not so leaky flute!

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LarryS
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A not so leaky flute!

Post by LarryS »

Well a while ago I put my flute away because I was frustrated by not being able to play the foot notes. I wasn't sure if it was me or if those bottom pads were actually leaking. I convinced myself it was the latter and I put the flute away, possibly permanently. But having recently tested my clarinet for leaks by closing all the holes in each section, plugging the end and blowing, I decided to try that on the flute. I did the foot first, then the main body. No leaks from the low C and D pads, but a little air escaped from the Eb, the key I'd had trouble with previously. Now I'm wondering if that leaky pad is the reason I can't get past low E. I had to blow quite hard to get air to leak out but nonetheless, air did escape.
The flute is a plateau flute by Fortissimo that I was given, and is otherwise playable, at least to G, cleanly (I need a lot of practice!)
I don't have money for a flute tech at the moment, but I was wondering if it would be easier just to replace the foot joint. Are foot joints of a standard diameter, or would I only be only able to use one made by Fortissimo? (That could prove difficult)
And is there a YouTube video explaining how to fix it myself?

Oh and the clarinet passed the leak test too!
You can make beautiful music on an ugly flute

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pied_piper
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Re: A not so leaky flute!

Post by pied_piper »

Well, simply plugging the end of a flute or clarinet and blowing air into it is not a particularly accurate way of determining if there is a leak or finding it. The Eb/D# key is sprung closed and it actually does not take a lot of air to blow it open. So, that may have happened (and probably did happen) during your blow test. You'd probably be surprised how a very, very small leak anywhere on the flute can cause the low C and C# to be unplayable.

As far as swapping foot joints, no. It is not advisable to swap foot joints. It may not fit at all and even if it does it could be too tight or too loose. That's just opening a whole new can of works.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

frugal flutist
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Re: A not so leaky flute!

Post by frugal flutist »

You should be able to play E flat, if the problem is bad pads in the foot joint!

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LarryS
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Re: A not so leaky flute!

Post by LarryS »

frugal flutist wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:35 am
You should be able to play E flat, if the problem is bad pads in the foot joint!
I need to do a light test. I think the pads are fine though
You can make beautiful music on an ugly flute

frugal flutist
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Re: A not so leaky flute!

Post by frugal flutist »

When you do that test if you can get an E flat but you don't get a D C#, or C. Try wrapping the foot tenon two times with PTFE tape, then twist the foot joint on in the same direction of the wrap. The teflon tape should help seal any leaks in the foot joint connection to the body.

If you get a good G, but F# is weak or bad, try sliding your right hand up so your index finger closes the F# key and your little finger closes the D key. Now try closing them and keep them closed one after the other. How far down do you get with a strong sound? All of your problems could be caused by bad timing adjustment of the F# key. These adjustment are made by turning the small screws by the right hand keys. The F, E, and D keys should all close the f# key when pressed separately. Look closely at how this these keys work together. If these screws are not tight enough, the F# key does not close, this leak will spoil all the lower notes. If these screws are to tight they will keep the pad you press down from closing.
Be careful, and sure, before before turning those screws. If you do it, only turn an 1/8 of a turn at a time. Be careful.
Good Luck.

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LarryS
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Re: A not so leaky flute!

Post by LarryS »

Well I did a light test, using my phone's torch in a dark room, all holes closed, no leaks! I could see the pads glowing but no light was escaping. I'm convinced its me. The other option I thought of is the headjoint. Its a cheap flute and the embouchure hole might not be as thin or shaped the same as a more expensive flute. Without a high end flute to compare I can't judge its quality, but surely the emb. hole makes a big difference to playability.
You can make beautiful music on an ugly flute

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pied_piper
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Re: A not so leaky flute!

Post by pied_piper »

On flutes and clarinets, testing with a leak light may point out bad leaks, but using the light on a phone will certainly not be reliable. Because the pad skins are translucent, light dissipates through and small leaks may not be visible, especially if the leaks are at the back of the pad. The only reliable leak test is to use a feeler to test for leaks on each pad one at a time and test each one all around the pad circumference. That is the only way to know for sure that a pad is or is not leaking. There are several reasons for leaks and not all of them are caused by a bad pad: the pad may not be shimmed properly, the tone hole may not be level 360° around, a key may not be level, or there can be adjustment problems in the mechanism.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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LarryS
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Re: A not so leaky flute!

Post by LarryS »

Thanks piper. It needs to see a tech
You can make beautiful music on an ugly flute

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