Cleaning the embouchure hole.

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Tarandros
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Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:32 pm
Location: Brighton, England.

Cleaning the embouchure hole.

Post by Tarandros »

It's taken me all my life to realise this, so sorry to those to whom this is already obvious, but regularly cleaning the embouchure hole to remove tarnish really does improve the flute's tone and makes it play like new. I use a little piece of silver wadding (liquid silver polish is too aggresseive) and work it round the inside of the hole with a cotten ear bud or a cocktail stick and then polish it round with another cotton ear bud. I suppose it's obvious that a build up of tarnish in the hole will affect the tone marginally over time - but as I say, it's taken me this long to realise it! (Also, on my wooden flute, oiling the embouchure hole every now and again has the same effect). Kind regards, T.

caitlin i
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Post by caitlin i »

I do not know what kind of flute you play on but I was told by Brannen Brothers never to use any kind of silver/jewelry polish (cloth or liquid) on a flute.

Also: oiling wood instruments is a controversial topic. Some people swear by it others have never heard of it or refuse to do it.

Tarandros
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Post by Tarandros »

caitlin i wrote:I do not know what kind of flute you play on but I was told by Brannen Brothers never to use any kind of silver/jewelry polish (cloth or liquid) on a flute.

Also: oiling wood instruments is a controversial topic. Some people swear by it others have never heard of it or refuse to do it.
The silver one is an Armstrong 90 and I have a vintage wooden one, made around 1900. I suppose Brannen Bros know what they are talking about, and I certainly wouldn't use a liquid silver polish but the wadding is very gentle and just removes tarnish without any collateral damage. If you took your flute into Brannen Bros for a service, or an overhaul, would it come back covered in tarnish, or would they polish it? For sure, on silver plated instruments, it's inadvisable to use silver polish except perhaps once a year at most with a silver cloth, as the plating can be worn through by the polish. On the subject of oiling wooden flutes, I wouldn't regard the subject as controversial. A few have questioned the need for it, but most players agree that at the very least, the bore of a wooden flute must be oiled very regularly to start with, about once a week, and played no more than 20 minutes a day to break it in. The only real disagreement is the type of oil to be used, but again the consensus is that almond oil is the best. Then after a couple of months or so, the frequency of oiling can be reduced to once a month and after a year or two, even less. With any other approach, you risk the flute cracking, usually at the tenons or around the embouchure hole, so it's particularly important to oil the embouchure hole for this reason as well as for the tonal qualities. Under stable, humid conditions, a wooden flute won't need oiling so often but under dry conditions, more so. If you have a wooden flute in a very dry climate or keep it at home in a centrally heated room all the time which is very dry because of the central heating and you don't oil it, it's pretty much an odds on certainty that it will crack sooner or later. Regards, T.

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JButky
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Post by JButky »

caitlin i wrote:I do not know what kind of flute you play on but I was told by Brannen Brothers never to use any kind of silver/jewelry polish (cloth or liquid) on a flute.

Also: oiling wood instruments is a controversial topic. Some people swear by it others have never heard of it or refuse to do it.
Most players should not silver polish on the body because you risk getting it on the pads or into the mechanism. The headjoint is fine, there are no mechanical parts or pads.

Polishing the embouchure hole is one of those simple things that is overlooked. I've had many a person think I performed a 30 second miracle on their flute by polishing the embouchure hole.

As with most things, there is so much mis-information out there that people freak out when told things. Oiling is one of these things. You do it for a specific reason and need, and use the right type of oil for the job.

When professional Techs "clean" flutes, they will apply tarnish shield in liquid form to the flute body with the key work off. Keywork can also be done when completely disassembled and pads not installed. Most people are not going to take the keywork off their flutes to do at least the body. (especially on brannens). The only reason to tell you not to do this is so that you won't inadvertently get polish on your pads and gum up your mechanism.

But we techs do use silver polish..We just do it the correct way.
Joe B

Tarandros
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Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:32 pm
Location: Brighton, England.

Post by Tarandros »

JButky wrote:
Most players should not silver polish on the body because you risk getting it on the pads or into the mechanism. The headjoint is fine, there are no mechanical parts or pads.

Polishing the embouchure hole is one of those simple things that is overlooked. I've had many a person think I performed a 30 second miracle on their flute by polishing the embouchure hole.

As with most things, there is so much mis-information out there that people freak out when told things. Oiling is one of these things. You do it for a specific reason and need, and use the right type of oil for the job.
.
Joe: I must admit, I've been reckless and cleaned the body of the flute as well! But only with the impregnated silver cleaning cloth supplied when I bought the Armstrong 90 secondhand from a specialist flute shop. I was very careful on the keys. On the wooden flute, I did actually use the wadding on the keys as they were very tarnished. I was very careful just to polish the tops of the keys very gently and avoid the sides to minimise contact with the pads.

On oiling wooden flutes, one thing I forgot to mention is that of course, if you are going to do this, you need to protect the pads before oiling. I do this by wrapping cling film around all the open keys and placing small pieces of it under the closed keys. Very informative to read your guidance from your experience as a tech. Kind regards, T.

fluteguy18
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Post by fluteguy18 »

Just be careful not to use an abrasive polish if it is a plated instrument. Those polishing cloths that darken when you use them for example, are abrasive. Otherwise, non abrasive polishes, anti-tarnish products (as said by Joe) if used correctly will not do any harm to your instrument.

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