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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:15 am 
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This may seem like a dumb question, but how does one manage upkeep for multiple flutes? That is, if you have more than one flute requiring occasional oiling, etc, how do you make sure the maintenance gets done to keep the flute in good working order?

I am interested in hearing from people who actively play more than one flute per week as well as those who have flutes that aren’t being played or are used less frequently.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:08 am 
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I never oil my flutes (except during the first few months when they're new), so that part's easy.

I keep them in a large Tupperware container and monitor the humidity level; I don't pay too close attention since experience has shown that if I play my flute, swab it out, and put it in the Tupperware with the cleaning swab (which is now moist) in the flute case, humidity will never get too low or high. This has worked for me for about 20 years now and I've never had a crack on any of my flutes (I own three -- one in D, one in C, and one in Bb; actually I now have a second Bb flute but am planning to sell it).

If you do oil, you could just set up a calendar reminder every few weeks or months, however often you like to oil your flute.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:35 am 
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bradhurley wrote:
I never oil my flutes (except during the first few months when they're new), so that part's easy.

Same. I also throw one of these in whatever case with them - ( https://www.humistat.com/products/ ) - #1 for flutes, #3 for guitars, hygrometer if there's room and I want to monitor. On a regular schedule, I refill the little humidifiers if required (often the case, since Southern California can't make up its mind whether it's heater or A/C weather).

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:43 am 
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I may be wrong, but what I have seen so far is that Europeans oil, and Americans humidify. If this is really justified by climate differences I don't know.

I tend to oil my flutes every month (not a lot for those that are already well broken-in). I like the sound of a freshly oiled flute. I oil them all at once. (It means three ancient flutes). I have never heard of a flute being ruined by over-oiling so I am not too concerned about that.

I never humidify them.

The only cracked flute I have was cracked long before I purchased it.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:22 am 
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Matt_Paris wrote:
I may be wrong, but what I have seen so far is that Europeans oil, and Americans humidify. .


Nope, I think you're just seeing an anomalous sample of two North Americans who don't oil their flutes. There may be a few more of us, but I'm pretty sure most wooden flute owners on this side of the pond oil their flutes regularly, and some both oil and humidify.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:42 am 
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Nope, I think you're just seeing an anomalous sample of two North Americans who don't oil their flutes. There may be a few more of us, but I'm pretty sure most wooden flute owners on this side of the pond oil their flutes regularly, and some both oil and humidify.


On another hand I have never met a european flute player who humidified. Except one bretton guy who did the "Guinness in the flute" trick when drunk. Again that's just my own limited experience...


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:50 am 
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I keep my flutes in their boxes. In each box I have a tiny bit of sponge cloth that I try to keep moist. This seems to do the trick, together with playing each one for a week or two. It get's dry here, Sweden, during the winter, central heating too. So I keep the flutes away from the radiators. I play a Rudall Carte from 1892 as my main flute, but even the two older R&R's. I don't play the modern flutes so much though these days. I seldom oil.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:06 pm 
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Not into oiling but definitely into humidifying.
Casey Burns once noted here that the wood really starts to
move around when the humidity drops to 35. I once got too
confident, let the humidity drop, and my (expensive) flute's headjoint
cracked then and there. So I feel pretty
strongly. I use a humidifier, which humidifies me too.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:14 pm 
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Location: Pacific Northwest USA
Another North American here (USA Pacific Northwest). It's a mild climate, and I'll run a large room humidifier during a winter cold snap, but mostly I don't worry about humidifiying.

I oil my flute twice a year, around each Equinox when the house begins the main seasonal shifts from wetter/cool in Winter to dry/warm in Summer. Makes it easy to remember. The flute maker (Windward) recommends oiling monthly, but I think every 6 months is okay in this climate. I'd oil it more frequently If I lived in Arizona.

During the twice-yearly oiling, I also remove the end-cap and cork, to inspect the cork and give the interior of the headjoint a good cleaning and oiling. Then re-grease the cork, re-insert and adjust for correct spacing. This is also recommended in the maker's maintenance FAQ. I've read enough 'Net posts to know that this may be somewhat unusual, but at least I know the cork isn't falling apart and the headjoint cap seal is good.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:23 pm 
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Also Pacific north wet. Humidity is pretty much a constant hereabouts. Winters here are the opposite of cold and dry, even with central heating. While summers can be drier, it ain't Tuscon. The ocean is never more than a few blocks away. I've never seen a need to humidify any of my instruments, and so far, I've been right.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:18 pm 
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No question that there's no need to humidify when the humidity
inside where you live is, like, up to 50 regularly. I never humidify
during the summer in St. Louis, for that reason. But central heating
plus truly cold weather can drop the humidity quite a lot. Dangerously.
I mean you can lose lots of money--at least that has been my experience
and is the testimony of makers I respect. Also
summers in some places can be very dry.

As I'm sure we are aware,
nobody is suggesting we must humidify no matter what.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 3:28 pm 
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jim stone wrote:
... up to 50 regularly...
Up to 50 :o Here in the English West Midlands it rarely gets down to 50. I make a point of leaving the case open overnight after a session so that I don’t find the flute still damp when I come back to it.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:27 pm 
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In a lot of high desert areas of the US, the outdoor humidity in the afternoon and evening is often only in the 20s! In winter, these areas get very cold, and central heating makes indoor humidities even lower. Indoor humidity can get down into the teens, or less, even with some effort to humidify your house. This can be a deadly environment for wooden flutes. Some localized humidifying is important, and oiling alone won't solve the problem. Its a very different climate to somewhere like Ireland.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:30 pm 
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I think all of the flute makers would recommend keeping your flute in a stable environment with humidity in the 50s +/-.

There are a lot of variables that may be fortunate or unfortunate: The wood variety, your particular block of wood, flute design (fully lined or not), supporting rings or carbon-fiber reinforcement, etc. I read somewhere that most black-wood oboes crack; then you fix it, and it doesn't happen again.

I live in a very dry climate in the Western US aside from some extra humidity in the Springtime, so I keep my flutes at 60% using a guitar humidifier in a tupperware container.

I have an antique cocus flute with a fully-lined head without a crack, that I brought in from the mid-west USA. I assume it was a particularly well-designed or stable piece of wood to last so long without a problem, but I'm not going to take chances.

My other flute is mopane with a partially-lined head. I notice that playing it frequently in my climate is insufficient to keep the flute humidified. This was obvious as the silver rings would start slipping off, and the rings are an important structural support. Maybe mopane shrinks more than other woods, I don't know. But, storing the flute at 60% avoids that problem.

I think mopane might be more porous than other woods. I notice that almond oil (non-polymerizing) tends to absorb in the wood, and if not oiled, then humidity seems to seep through the flute. I think Cocus is less porous, as the oil doesn't seem to do much more than shine up the surface. In either case, I wouldn't trust oil to "solve" the problem of cracks. I think the goal is to slow down humidity shocks.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:46 pm 
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I have a small cupboard with my flutes, a humidistat and and a humidifier in my living room. As well, I keep a clean sponge in a glass of water in there during the heating season. I have no idea if that helps or if the humidity in the room is good enough, but I'm usually between 50 and 60%. In order to keep the sponge from getting moldy I change it with a completely dry one every week or so and start with a fresh glass of water. It does evaporate over the week so I assume it is adding something in there. I am in the mid-western US so we vary wildly from very high humidity in the summer to extremely dry in the winter. I try to make sure I play everybody every couple of days or I retire a flute and let it rest during the heating season. I'm not as concerned about pulling out a flute I only plan to play once in a while in the non heating months. I do try to oil my modern flutes once a season after they have been with me for a while. When they were new it was more regularly. I have an antique Rudall Carte I never oil, but it seems very stable though it is played less often.


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