Thursday, June 27, 2013

The COA Process

Many of you have sent your flutes in for a COA, and we certainly see our repair technician, Rachel, busy with these each day.  Have you ever wondered what happens exactly when your flute arrives?  We spoke with Rachel to find out what the process is from start to finish.

Once Rachel receives the flute, does a play test or “playing evaluation.”  She wants to see what shape the flute is in so she’ll get a sense of what needs to be done.  Then, she does a visual inspection of the flute, looking at the body, pads, and mechanism.  This aides in her assessment of what particular adjustments may need to be made, and each flute is different!

Then, Rachel takes everything apart – the keys come off, any pinned sections come unpinned, and the headjoint cork comes out.  She checks the keys to make sure they are straight.  If the keys are pinned, she oils them.  Then, any pinned sections are reassembled and placed in an organizing tray while Rachel takes the body, footjoint, and headjoint to the ultrasonic cleaner to be cleaned.  During the cleaning process, there are still no keys on the body and no cork in the headjoint.

After cleaning, Rachel checks the condition of soldered elements.  On soldered tone hole flutes, she will check the tone holes to make sure they are not leaking.  On all flutes, she will check additional areas that have been soldered (ribs, posts).  At this point in the process, she would resolder areas as needed.  She also checks to make sure the springs are secure.  She then “light polishes” the body with rouge.

The next step is one that Rachel says definitely takes the most time.  She starts putting sections on and replaces items as needed.  She would replace torn pads, missing adjustments, and felt for key heights.  After everything is back together, she does a play test for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Then, she lets the flute sit for a day or two.  She checks the flute once again and makes any minor adjustments that are necessary.  After this, she does a second play test and then lets the flute sit for an additional day or two.  She checks the flute again – although she says that at this point the flute should be “good to go.”  This final check and play test is quick, because the process has been completed.  The adjustments have been made, and the flute has rested and gone through play tests to make sure that everything has settled -- other words, the flute has fully adjusted to being adjusted!

Rachel certainly does not want to send back a flute from a COA in an ill-fitting case, so before she sends it back, she will fit the case as needed.  After this, the flute is put in the case and shipped back to its owner.  As we can see, the COA is a process with many steps – some of which include letting the flute acclimate to any changes.  Needless to say, it takes time to complete a COA -- certainly not a one-day endeavor for the repair technician!  We all know that regular maintenance on your flute keeps it happy and healthy, so it is well worth the time.  If you would like to send your flute to Powell for a COA (or other repair work), you can schedule this online at

Taking everything apart.
Keys in the key tray.
Off to the ultrasonic cleaner.
A light polish with rouge.
Putting everything back together.  A series of play tests and checks follow.
Fitting a case.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.