Friday, July 24, 2015

Changing Key Heights

We had a customer in the repair shop this week who was interested in changing the key heights on her flute. Specifically, she wanted to lower the height of the French open hole keys.  We can understand how this could be an advantage from the perspective of the player's technique, but unfortunately, there was one reason it was not possible to lower the key heights.  What was it?  Venting.

Powell's Repair Technician, Rachel Baker, explained that keys have to open a specific amount in order to have the correct venting.  If she were to lower the keys, the flute would sound "stuffy," and there would be intonation issues because the keys would not have the proper venting.  Also, if one were to request having the key height increased, the result would be intonation issues as well since the keys would be too open. The venting and intonation problems that come from changing key heights beyond the proper measurement are not only for the keys that remain open on the flute. Rachel mentioned that in the past, she had a request to change the height of the G# key -- specifically, to change its height so that it would move less (of a distance) when pressed. The corresponding key cup (which is on the back of the flute) remains closed when the key is not in use.  However, once again, changing the key height would cause the key cup to not open enough when the key is pressed. So, the result would be venting and intonation problems.

There is one slight change that can be made, though.  Rachel said that for spatula keys, it is normally possible to change the angle slightly so that they are easier to reach.  Aside from this, key height is something that should stay in tact.  The heights are set to specific measurements so as to allow for proper venting and intonation.  With everything set properly, both you and your flute should be very happy!

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