Continuing with our "repair or replace" series, we met with repair technician, Rachel Baker, to talk about springs. Is a spring something you would repair -- or replace? Once again, the answer is both. Springs can be "repaired" or replaced. When they are repaired, they are really adjusted. Springs allow keys to open and close, so proper spring tension is critical. Spring tension can be adjusted, and this is the most common spring "repair." If a key is too weak, you can create a bit more tension. If there is too much tension, you can adjust it so that there is less. Rachel tells us that spring tension can be adjusted at any time. She uses a spring hook to adjust tension. She can make this adjustment whether the spring is on the key or simply on the body. She tells us that often times it is hard to get to the spring when it's on the key, so you take the key off to make the adjustment.
So, when are springs replaced? Rachel says, "Springs don't ever leave the flute once they are attached -- unless they break." The installation of the spring keeps it in place because there is a tapered fit. The end of the spring in the spring hole is "flared" to hold it in place. If a spring is broken, it must be replaced. If a spring is severely bent, it would also need to be replaced. In general, springs can become "oddly" or severely bent after several repairs over time, or if something happens to the flute (i.e. -- an accident) that would bend the springs.
Should springs be replaced if they don't "match" -- like pads? Well, the answer is yes! Springs on the flute should all be the same material. Different materials have different strengths and tension. So, you want consistency and evenness of tension. If there are a few springs that don't "match," they will have to be replaced.
Aside the the tension adjustments and replacement scenarios above, there's not much else to it! Rachel says, "Springs have a job -- they do it. You replace them when they stop doing it." That surely seems to sum it up for us!