Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dented Headjoint

Have you ever accidentally hit your headjoint against, say, the corner of a music stand?  Seems like no big deal, but then you check to see what the damage is, and yes -- it's dented.  No need to worry, though, because it really is quite simple to repair.  We recently stopped into Powell's repair shop to our find repair technician, Rachel Baker, about to repair the dented headjoint in the photo below.

The headjoint was dented in, so it needed to be corrected by bringing the dented metal up and smoothing it out.  Cleaning everything first is very important, so Rachel began the process by running the headjoint through the ultrasonic cleaner.  She then used alcohol to clean the inside of the headjoint and the outside of the repair mandrel.  The cleaning process is very important, because any dirt particles could cause separate bumps when you are burnishing the metal against the mandrel.  Once everything was clean, Rachel placed the headjoint on the mandrel.  She then pressed the headjoint against the mandrel and pulled it toward the mandrel's edge, using the mandrel's edge to push the dented metal back up.  This step was repeated a few times to really "iron out" the dent.  She then took a burnishing tool and burnished the metal back down against the mandrel to smooth out any high spots.  Finally, she polished it, and that was it!  Done and good as new.  The whole process was complete in a matter of minutes.  So, remember, a small dent is not the end of the world -- it can be corrected!

The dented headjoint
Cleaning the inside of the headjoint.
Visual inspection -- making sure it's clean.
Placing headjoint on mandrel.
Pressing headjoint against mandrel and pulling toward edge.
Mandrel's edge helps bring up the dented metal.
Burnishing to smooth it out.
Last step -- polishing.
Good as new!

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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Warranty Terms

Powell has a warranty on all of its new flutes and piccolos.  When you purchase a new Powell, you'll find a "Powell Owner's Manual" inside.  This manual provides some basic care tips and detailed information about the warranty.  The warranty is quoted below:

All Powell instruments feature a lifetime warranty on any solder joint.  In addition, Powell warrants that your instrument will be free of manufacturing defects for the initial 12 months from the date of purchase.  This warranty does not cover damage to your instrument caused by normal use and wear and tear, or resulting from misuse, improper care, accidents, or unauthorized repair or service.  In addition, this warranty does not cover adjustments such as shimming of key pads, adjustment of keys, adjustment of key motion (including binding), and adjustment of headjoint fits.  The warranty is restricted to the original owner.

If you purchased a wooden Powell instrument, Powell warrants that it will be free of manufacturing defects, including cracks, for the first 12 months from the date of purchase.  Nearly all cracks are repairable.  Powell shall, at its option, repair the crack or replace the defective part at no cost.

One very important part to note is that of "damage caused by unauthorized repair or service," because this would void the warranty.  But what does this mean?  Well, the question came up recently, so we thought we would check in with our repair department to clarify.  The nice thing about Powell is that the company has a good relationship with its authorized dealers, and the repair technicians at our dealers' shops are authorized to work on Powell instruments.  Dealers who carry Powell are familiar with the parts used on Powell flutes and the general mechanics and design of the instrument.  If you were to take your Powell to a repair shop that does not carry Powell, the repair department may not be familiar with the parts and may not have them.  In that particular case, something could be damaged in the repair process, and then the warranty would be voided.

So, it is important to stick with your authorized Powell dealer (and their authorized repair techs) if you have a question or need service.  If you purchased your Powell directly from the company in Massachusetts, make sure to call the company to schedule repair.  Authorized Powell technicians will be familiar with your flute and will be able to repair it with the care and expertise your flute deserves! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wooden Flute Maintenance

If you have a wooden flute, you might be wondering how often you should send it in for repair.  A wooden body certainly is different from a metal one and requires different care.  So, how exactly should you care for the wooden flute -- and what measures should you leave to a repair tech?  Well, the wooden body requires special care in regard to both temperature and humidity.  Water can dry out the wood, and we all know that the water you find in your flute after playing comes from all that air running through the flute ultimately condensing.  Regular swabbing should do the trick to keep the flute in top shape, but take a look at the bore every now and then.  Does the bore look dry or "fuzzy?"  If you think it might look dry, it's time to send it to the repair tech to have the wood oiled.  It's best to leave this measure to a repair technician to avoid getting any type of oil on the pads or around the tenon cork.  Our Powell technician suggests you send in the flute to have the bore oiled every other year, although this can vary depending on several factors including the geographic region where you live, how much playing you do, and how many temperature/humidity changes the flute endures.  For instance, if you are an active performer traveling all across the country, your flute will be exposed to many (sometimes drastic) changes in temperature and humidity.  For example, a tour from Washington to Texas to Chicago and beyond can present many climate changes, so people who do a lot of traveling may need to send in their flute more frequently.

The headjoint on your wooden flute can definitely accumulate lots of water from the condensed air, so it is okay to oil the bore on your headjoint.  Our repair technician recommends sweet almond oil for this.  Take your swabstick and add a very little bit of the oil to the swab.  Run it around the inside of the headjoint.  Then, take a clean cloth to the swabstick and run that around the inside of the headjoint to remove any excess oil.  In the case of oiling the bore, always remember, "less is more," and make sure to contact your repair technician if you have any questions.