Thursday, March 13, 2014

Flute in the Car?

Packing for a trip?  Don't leave these in the car!
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, realizing that you left your flute in the car?  If this has happened to you, you are probably not the only one.  In fact, we had this question come up recently.  We were asked, "What exactly could happen if I accidentally leave my flute in the car overnight on a very hot day or very cold day?"

Well, obviously, you don't want to intentionally leave your flute in the car.  We hate to think about flutes being stolen, but leaving it in the car raises that risk.  Meanwhile, there are certain complications that may arise due to temperature -- since exposing your flute to extreme temperatures for long periods time is never a good thing...

So, if you've left your flute in the car in very hot temperatures, any glue used on the flute can get "gooey" and shift.  This would be the case with glue used to hold adjustments and for the shellac used to seat pads that are "floated" (C1 and trill keys).  Also, the skin on pads has a bit of natural moisture, so in very high temperatures, this skin could dry out a bit and become brittle.  It's also be possible that the headjoint cork could dry out as well.

Extreme cold poses the greatest risk to wooden flutes, as we know.  In cold temperatures, there is usually a lack of humidity, so cracking is a major risk.  Just as high temperatures cause issues with pad shellac in terms of drying it out, cold temperatures may cause the shellac to become brittle.  In both instances, this would lead to pads falling out.  Powell's Repair Technician, Rachel Baker, tells us that many repair technicians see piccolos with pads falling out during marching band season, "because people are out marching in the cold."  We realize that not everyone will be marching in a cold climate, but if you are, there is definitely a risk for piccolo players -- because all their pads are held by shellac or some other type of pad glue.

We understand that situations happen, but in terms of leaving your flute out in the car, Rachel assures us that it won't "disassemble itself."  She said, "If the temperature is 400 degrees Fahrenheit, you will have problems, because any soft solder would melt -- but if you are in 400 degree heat, you have bigger problems..."  Finally, Rachel said that when you do pick up your flute after it's been left out, if it "just doesn't seem to be playing right," make sure to call your repair tech!

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