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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:25 pm 
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I'd like to try my hand at restoring a flute, in part to get more in tune with how the instrument works physically so that, should I need to fix my own, I can. Also, it'd be nice to be able to

I've been trolling eBay looking at flutes to restore, and while I know some basics, I don't yet have a sense of what is and isn't hard to do. For example, I know that a crack through the embouchure isn't great, but I recently saw a flute with a crack through one of the fingerholes. is that worse, easier, about the same? Or if it's missing a key, is there a place I could buy new ones, or would I have to either scrounge one off another flute or make my own?

I'm guessing that what I'm looking for is an old French or German flute, maybe in the $100 range, without a major crack or one through the embouchure, and with all the major parts still intact (end cap, keys, etc.). That way, the flute's not valuable enough that I would be scared to ruin it, and I can focus on re-padding, cleaning, and other more simple repairs.

Any advice as to what I should look out for or avoid when it comes to finding a good project flute?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:51 pm 
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I have a keyless Pakistani flute I could sell you. A friend already had a go at redoing the embouchure. It might he good to practice filling and reboring holes to adjust intonation, or even to take apart and look at the inner workings of the tuning slide or whatever.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:31 pm 
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Thanks for the offer, I'm more looking for keyed flutes in part because, while I love my Lehart keyless, it'd be nice to have something with keys lying around the place.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:42 pm 
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No worries. I’ll keep it reserved for my eventual lamp project. :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:48 pm 
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There are many details to consider including the fact that not every antique flute out there will play in a=440. Many of us have a few flutes lying about that we bought with a similar idea in mind only to have them end up in a drawer. I don't want to discourage you, but you will also likely find anything worth repairing (with the idea you will be able to play it at a=440) might set you back twice as much as you've mentioned. Then again I might be completely wrong. We've got some folks on the forum here who have become experts at restoring and repairing and had to start somewhere.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:44 pm 
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I think you're probably in the best place to decide, because it depends on your resources available.

For example, it's pretty likely that you wouldn't be able to get a key from anywhere to replace a missing key, so unless you're happy with plugging the hole and doing without the key, avoid anything with missing keys. Indeed if you are not equipped for metal work, avoid anything with missing or broken metal parts. If you don't have access to a lathe, I'd avoid flutes with broken blocks. (I guess you could carve a block replacement, but it wouldn't be my favoured starting point.)

So, I'd look at potential flutes, list the problems you expect to face, and make sure you have directions forward on each of them.

The good news is that around here, you'll have lots of people looking over your shoulder and offering you advice!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:58 pm 
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busterbill wrote:
We've got some folks on the forum here who have become experts at restoring and repairing and had to start somewhere.
I'd suggest you aim to start where I did when I restored my grandfather's violin: with a mentor to guide you through the process. With direction from him, I completed the work I could, and I paid him to do a couple of tasks I wasn't comfortable with tackling.

One day, I was dropping off a bow for re-hairing. His new apprentice was removing the back from a violin and the back split in half in her hands. He said, calmly and patiently, "That's ok. That happens sometimes," and explained how they would put it back together.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 7:50 am 
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I have a mid-nineteenth century English 8 key cocos flute, with metal lip plate and wide ferrule rings. It should fix up fine with some work and play in tune. I picked it up for similar purpose but never got around to it. There’s the usual type of crack through head and barrel, one of the key pins is missing, pads probably need replacing. Otherwise seems OK.

...but it is maybe more of a ‘major crack’ and above the $100 mark

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:04 pm 
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Thanks for the offer, I actually had quite a few people messaging me with various flutes. Settled on a standard 8 key Nach Meyer in bad but not terrible shape, which should arrive in the mail tomorrow. I'll keep you guys posted as to how it shapes up.

Eventually, I'd love to fix up an older English flute of some value, but I certainly need more experience before I attempt anything like that!


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:54 pm 
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So, I have the flute, and spent a couple hours today taking the keys off (with the help of some penetrating oil and lots of patience) and putting blu tac in the holes to see how it played. The answer is OK, although notes get considerably fuzzier as you go down the scale. Intonation has some of the usual quirks (eg flat F#), but for not replacing/adjusting the headcork at all, I was a bit surprised at how OK it was.

Here are some pictures from when I just received it, and a recording of me going up the scale and playing 2 jigs. For the one in D especially, it was very hard to get any kind of decent 1st octave sound at all out of the bottom E and D.

https://app.box.com/s/pn96s0m6rkf50hoaslbpd5c6dast5xyo

As you might see in the pictures, there are two long cracks, one down the length of the headjoint and one down the length of the barrel. The headjoint passes the suck test, and the crack is far enough away from the embouchure that I'm not going to bother with it for now at least. The barrel, however, does not pass the suck test, and it seems to be because the crack goes from tenon to tenon, creating a little valley for air to leak out.

The cork on the tenons is fairly loose as well, so I'm thinking that the loose cork plus the crack in the barrel might be the culprit for the fuzzy low notes. The cork is a bit easier to replace, so I'll probably do that first, but any further suggestion would be much appreciated! I'll have to adjust the cork in the head for intonation as well, but right now I just want every note to actually sound first!

Also, ideas about the wood? I'm thinking cocus, but I don't really know much about the ins and out of wood grain and color.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:01 am 
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Beautiful flute.
As far as the wood is concerned, difficult tu judge from the pictures, but I would say grenadilla.

Hans


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:16 pm 
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A couple of things: this flute may be grenadilla (otherwise known as African Blackwood). I think it may be not too old, as early German flutes were often Madagascar rosewood. Also it doesn’t have the relatively common silver end and foot caps.

You could try taping over the barrel crack with scotch tape, and seeing if that improves the bottom end. If the cracks are not too wide, you might try filling them with medium viscosity super glue. Otherwise, a major reaming of the head joint and barrel may be in order.

As for pads, you can order them online. Same with cork. J L Smith and Ferree’s Tools are good sources.

Good luck,
John


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:28 pm 
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I forgot to mention that plumber’s Teflon tape is good for temporarily tightening up loose cork joints and even tightening the cork in the head joint. But you probably knew that already.

John


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:53 pm 
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I have restored a couple of flutes quite similar in appearance. A very close examination of the tuning barrel with a bright (LED) light and a magnifying glass may reveal a faint embossing. Particularly side light. All my flutes showed 'Dealer Marks' rather than maker marks, which on research proved to be Music Shops in New York City. Close examination of the wood may show it is not granadillo or 'Blackwood'. Mine are apparently cocus, extremely dark with red highlights, revealed under very bright lighting. You may also find evidence of a 'French Polish' having been applied. All or any of the above may cast some doubt on the flute's German origin.

Bob

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:55 pm 
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Dark wood with red highlights could be Cocus. However the English makers had a lock on cocus, coming from English colonies, shipped to England. The Germans made do with a similar looking wood that they called Madagascar rosewood. Initially, I had been tricked by a flute I am currently restoring - unmistakably German with wood that looked like cocus. Upon further research it turned out to be mad. rosewood.

Also French polish is not really French. It is a mixture of shellac, alcohol and olive oil applied with a tampon. It is not stable in the presence of water and would be a poor choice for polishing a flute. The finish (if any) would most likely be a wax.

Just to give you food for thought...

John


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