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How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Flute History and Instrument Purchase

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azgoth
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How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Postby azgoth » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:27 pm

Hello

I've bought some flute pads to replace buzzing pads on my flute. I have no problem with closed keys (I just have to remove the screw), but for the open keys there is no screw. I think it's a round piece of metal that retains the pad, but I think I cannot take it off without destroying the old pad...

It looks like the plastic thing on this picture:
Image
But on my flute it's made of metal ! (It's a Pearl flute)

Could someone give me advice to properly change the pad ?

Sorry for my approximative english :wink:

fluttiegurl
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Re: How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Postby fluttiegurl » Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:49 pm

Changing your own pads may seem like a simple task, but if you do not know what you are doing, you will regret it. It could even cost you a great deal. For one thing, the pads have to be leveled once they are on. This takes time, patience and proper tools. If the pads are not leveled properly, they will leak. And that is just one step of many that has to be done. Also, if you accidentally bend a key, even the tiniest bit, your flute will not play properly. I would strongly suggest taking it to a tech. If you do not know the proper technique for removing the pad, I would say that is a pretty good indicator that you need help from a pro.

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pied_piper
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Re: How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Postby pied_piper » Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:14 pm

On open hole keys, the pads are held in place with a grommet. The grommets can be either metal or delrin (plastic). The procedure to remove the grommet is the same regardless of whether it is metal or delrin. The photo in your post shows a tool from J.L. Smith that is designed to allow you to gently pry up the grommet while minimizing the likelihood of damaging the pad, but it still requires great care. The rings in the photo are used to help protect the pads while you pry off the grommet. To properly fit the pads in place, you may have to remove the grommet multiple times to add or remove paper shims under the pad to get it to seat properly. Metal grommets can be easily bent while removing or reinstalling them. If that happens, you may not be able to reinstall the pad or the grommet may become too loose to hold the pad in place. Since the flute keys must be removed and replaced many times to get each pad to seal properly, this increases the possibility of damaging a metal grommet. Each time you reinstall the pad and key, you must check for proper seating of the pad by using a feeler to check that each pad seals 360 degrees around the tone hole.

Did you purchase pads that are the same thickness as the ones currently in the flute? If not, it will make the job more difficult or perhaps even impossible. If the new pads are thinner, you will need to add more paper shims. If the new pads are thicker, you will have to remove shims. If the pads are too thick, they may be unusable because the pad will contact the back of the tone hole before it touches the front of the tone hole. A difference in thickness of even a few thousandths of an inch will result in leaks and make the flute unplayable.

After all of the pads are individually sealing properly, you must check the key regulation which controls the interactions between keys that close together. Some flutes have adjustment screws but some (especially professional flutes) do not and the adjustments must be made using thin pieces of cork, felt, or other materials.

That is why flute repads can cost hundreds of dollars: it is a very labor intensive process requiring a lot of skill and patience. If you are unfamiliar with these techniques, you have a daunting task to get your flute working properly. As fluttigurl suggested you may want to have a flute technician do the work for you. If not, you should consider getting a book that provides detailed instructions on how to maintain a flute. This is a good book for a novice that explains all of these procedures in great detail.

http://www.jlsmithco.com/BOOKS/SERVICIN ... JEFF-SMITH
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

azgoth
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Re: How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Postby azgoth » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:43 am

Thank you for your answers !
Finally after adjusting a screw I managed to stop the buzzing noise (it makes noise only if I press the key very lightly), so I will not replace any pad until it's not too annoying.
The strange thing is the pads I bought are flat (all pad I've seen for sale are flat..) but the Pearl pads are thinner at the center and thicker at the border.

When it'll be time to check my flute, of course I will give it to a professional if I think I cannot do the job without risk, but I like repairing everything (TV, computers, cables, speakers...) I don't know how much I had spent if I had to call a repairer or buy new each time I had a problem...
I love the "DIY" (Do It Yourself) concept :mrgreen:

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pied_piper
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Re: How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Postby pied_piper » Sun Sep 25, 2011 5:39 pm

Was this a pivot screw at the end of one of the key hinges? If one of those gets a bit loose, it can cause a buzzing sound. If it was an adjusting screw on or under a key, you may have lost a silencer that keeps the interconnected keys from clicking when the key is pressed. That can buzz too. Also, a loose crown is a notorious source of buzzing sounds. Or a torn pad skin can buzz... It takes a bit of analysis to figure out the culprit. :)
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

azgoth
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Re: How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Postby azgoth » Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:52 am

I think it's a pad skin that buzzes when it's not pushed with enough strenght against the hole... I noticed every pad of my flute have a loosy skin. Maybe Pearl are not good at making pads... (my flute is only 6 months old :o )

I would like to know, with your flute, can you have a good sound (perfect pad sealing) with a very very light touch, very light pressure/strenght on the fingers ? I realized that I cannot do this, but since it was the same with my previous flute, I wonder if it's normal. (the pressure I have to put is about the pressure required to play an acoustic piano, so nothing really strong or tiring for the fingers)

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pied_piper
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Re: How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Postby pied_piper » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:30 pm

The flute pad skins are not stretched as tight as a drum head, but they should not be real loose either. If the pads are in good shape and at only 6 months old, yours should be good, you should be able to play with a light touch. If you are having pad issues as you describe, it may still be under warranty. Pearl flutes have a very good reputation for quality, so what you are experiencing is not the norm. Joe Butkevicious (jbutky) is a Pearl flute representative and he posts here sometimes, so maybe he'll chime in and advise you.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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JButky
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Re: How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Postby JButky » Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:49 am

azgoth wrote:I think it's a pad skin that buzzes when it's not pushed with enough strenght against the hole... I noticed every pad of my flute have a loosy skin. Maybe Pearl are not good at making pads... (my flute is only 6 months old :o )

I would like to know, with your flute, can you have a good sound (perfect pad sealing) with a very very light touch, very light pressure/strenght on the fingers ? I realized that I cannot do this, but since it was the same with my previous flute, I wonder if it's normal. (the pressure I have to put is about the pressure required to play an acoustic piano, so nothing really strong or tiring for the fingers)


Pearl doesn't make pads, We buy them from Pisoni just as about everyone else does. The impression in the center is from the pad washer being screwed down on the pad to hold it in place. All felt pads will do this. It's a result of installing them..

If you turned a screw and the buzzing stops then the issue is likely not with the pad. It sounds like a regulation had slipped a little and the screw tip was vibrating against the tab just enough so you could hear it. (even with the silencer on the tab).

Pad skins can buzz every once in a while. If you've got a pad that happens to have a deep impression on it, the skin can buzz while playing. Changing that pad should solve the problem. This is most likely to occur on a closed pad, like G#, or D#.

Defining "light touch" is subjective as people play with all sorts of different touches. The ultimate in light touch for fast response requires repadding like you would a pro instrument where time is taken to control all the necessary parameters to allow that to happen, some of these items include, surfacing and thinning (dressing) tone hole rims, controlling exposure / compression and adjusting mechanical geometry if necessary, etc.

Student and intermediate flutes (in general from all manufacturers) are not given this treatment because it is time consuming and expensive as it adds a lot of time and labor and cannot be automated. So to achieve that touch, you most likely need to get a pro model flute. OR you can make a student or intermediate level flute to do this, but you'll have to get a pro repair person to do all those steps and re-set up and/or repad to those higher tolerances.

Also, There are not pivot bearings on Pearls. They are all of the pilot variety.

6 Months is a good time for a service call on any new flute. In my previous gig as a retailer, I offered this adjustment as a free service to all my flute buying customers. (if you didn't buy the flute from me, it cost you $125!) It is necessary within the time frame of 6 months to a year for most people's playing habits. After that, without a necessary adjustment, you run the risk of substantially shortening your pad life. (of course, that effect is highly dependent on any player which is why it is important to establish that relationship with your friendly local flute technician :D )
Joe B

azgoth
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Re: How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Postby azgoth » Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:48 pm

Oh great an answer from a Pearl guy :D :wink:

Pearl doesn't make pads, We buy them from Pisoni just as about everyone else does. The impression in the center is from the pad washer being screwed down on the pad to hold it in place. All felt pads will do this. It's a result of installing them..

Interesting, the pads I have have "Pearl" written on the bottom. They certainly buy them then write their company's name...

6 Months is a good time for a service call on any new flute. In my previous gig as a retailer, I offered this adjustment as a free service to all my flute buying customers. (if you didn't buy the flute from me, it cost you $125!) It is necessary within the time frame of 6 months to a year for most people's playing habits. After that, without a necessary adjustment, you run the risk of substantially shortening your pad life. (of course, that effect is highly dependent on any player which is why it is important to establish that relationship with your friendly local flute technician )


Ok I will look for a flute specialist (when I have enough money hehe)! Thank you

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JButky
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Re: How to change pads on an open-holed flute ?

Postby JButky » Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:42 pm

azgoth wrote:Interesting, the pads I have have "Pearl" written on the bottom. They certainly buy them then write their company's name...


Pisoni has our logo so when they make pads for us, he prints the logo on the stock cardboard sheet and then cuts them.. Same as for any company that orders a ton of pads and wants their name on them. Pisoni is the largest supplier and maker of pads in the world. He can make just about anything we ask for specs wise.
Joe B


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