When to change pads on flute? Plus additional questions.

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings

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When to change pads on flute? Plus additional questions.

Post by FluttiTutti » Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:52 pm


I've had my flute for about 5 years now, bought it used. I'm not sure if they changed the pads when they sold it to me, but I haven't changed them since I got them. I started marching band using the same flute.

Is it time to replace the pads? If it is, I have some questions....

1. About how much will it cost to change all the pads at a local music store?
2. Will changing the pads my flute more in/out of tune? Now it seems like I'm almost always in tune!
3. Will it be easier to play my flute after a pad change? (My low notes seem weak, and my high notes forced. Maybe it's just me!)

Off topic:
1. Any way I can get my high notes to sound less forced? They seem like they are not warm at all, how can I get them to sound warmer? I guess I could say that they sound very shrill :?

Thanks! :D

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Post by fluttiegurl » Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:16 pm

I have always been told to have pads changed every five years, depending on how frequently the flute is used. I also have mine checked out by a tech every 8 months or so. Changing the pads should not have anything to do with intonation, but may have a great deal to do with tone quality. If the pad job is done well, you should notice a difference.

How much should it cost? That depends on where you take it and what area you are in. The tech I take mine to charges $400 for a complete overhaul on my handmade flutes. He will do my students flutes for $250. A complete overhaul should include cleaning, buffing (if needed), replacing any loose or weak springs, new cork, and pads. Some places will do a standard pad job for less. Find a good tech. Before taking it to the local band repair guy, try to get some feedback on work he/she has done. I had a band tech mess my flute up during a pad job. I now only deal with flute specialists.

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Post by flutepicc06 » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:01 pm

Fluttiegirl is right. Pads, depending on use, geographical location, pollutants in the air, quality of the tops of toneholes, etc. should be able to last for 5+ years. A good flute tech can tell you for sure if you need to get them replaced, but my guess would be that it is about time. The pads will not affect intonation, as the part of that that is related to the instrument rather than the player is mostly determined by the scale (size and placement of the toneholes) and the headjoint cork. However, the tone should improve markedly if you have leaks now, and you may also notice a large improvement in your technique, because you will not need to press as hard as you have been to get the pads to seal properly.

Fluttiegirl is also quite right about cost. It varies hugely. The cheapest overhaul I have ever dared to get cost $250, but I pay $600 for my most expensive instruments now. It is a very involved process, and should be handled by a flute specialist, not the local music store guy (unless they happen to have a flute specialist).

To get your high range to sound less forced....Do not force them. Many players tense up and try to force the notes out, but a very accurate and focused airstream will yield better results than pushing tons of air through the flute. Try to relax and open up, aim the air downward more for increased darkness and resonance (which should also help bring pitch down), and try to hear what you want to sound like (full and rich) before you play. Listening to professional flutists should help you figure out what kind of a sound you are going after.

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Post by MeLizzard » Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:40 am

It's always a good idea to have your flute checked out at least once a year (especially if you're using it in marching band!?!). The other posters gave good advice. Unless you have a super-expensive, handmade flute, and assuming you've checked the person's reputation in advance, your local repairperson should probably be able to do pretty good student flute repads. This sort of repad will usually include staightening out the keys and adjusting them, if necessary.
How to tell whether to seek a repad? Sounds like your flute may be long overdue for attention. A good repair tech will generally examine your instrument and give an estimate for free, explaining which repairs are truly necessary. Also, look at your pads. Are the pads unevenly seated or visibly worn (is the skin torn)? Torn pads cause leaks, which will seriously affect your flute's response and tone quality. New pads may help the response of your low adn high notes. The previous comment regarding technique improvement is noteworthy, also. Sometimes, students don't even notice that their flutes are too hard to play, and that they need repairs which would make life much easier & more pleasant! Pressing the keys too hard regularly can also cause overuse and tension injuries.
"There is no 'Try'; there is only 'Do'."--Yoda

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Post by FluttiTutti » Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:40 pm

Thanks for all the replies everyone :) I think I'm gonna change them sometime this month during spring break or something...

(and yes, I only have one flute which I use for marching and concert band)

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Re: When to change pads on flute? Plus additional questions.

Post by Tirnel » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:00 am

My high b flat has been sounding wonky on some songs lately. Is it the pads, or just needing an overhaul..which I'm sure it needs desperately...

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