Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"The A"

The A!
We've all heard about B-foot and C-foot flutes, but something very unique came through the repair shop this week...  What was it?  An "A" flute.  This was not just "a flute," but rather a flute with a range extending down to a low A.  We took a closer look with our repair technician, Rachel Baker, who pointed out some of the differences between this and traditional flutes.

This flute was a special order that was requested by a customer in Europe.  It was made by Powell around 2000.  Because of the extended range, there were two left hand pinky keys next to each other -- one for Bb and one for A.  Oddly enough, the flute did not have a foot joint.  It was a one-piece body with soldered tone holes.  Seems simple enough to overhaul, right?  Well, not exactly...  Rachel told us that because of the extended range, there are extra mechanisms and extra adjustments to be made.  In fact, what would be considered the "foot joint" on this particular flute would be "twice as much work" as a regular B foot because of two extra tone holes (for Bb and A) and two extra bridge mechanisms.  The one piece body does seem convenient, but it is actually more challenging to overhaul a flute that does not "come apart" like a traditional two-piece flute.  With the one piece body, the mechanisms for the Bb and A have extremely long rods as well, which are prone to falling out of adjustment.

However, Rachel was up for the challenge, and she was thrilled to finally see an A flute cross her workbench.  We know that it will come out of the shop in tip-top shape, and perhaps we will be able to have the owner send us some sound clips when it's back in his hands...

Left hand pinky keys for Bb and A
The "foot joint" with two extra tone holes.

Rachel fingering a low A.
One-piece body
Extra mechanisms for the low Bb and A.
Extra bridges
The A in its case.


  1. This should only be repaired by the most experts on this kind of wind instrument. I know of someone who can really play and repair such instruments. He uses the finest hand tools in australia specifically made for instrument repairs.

  2. We agree, Benjamin. It should only be repaired by something with expertise.


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