Helpful Tips on Flute Repair

As You’re Preparing for the New School Year, Here Are Some Tips for Getting Your School’s Flutes Up to Par.

Working With the Pad Adjustment Screws on a Standard Concert Flute

Here’s another essential skill that falls into the “things they never taught you as part of your music education undergraduate degree” category.

A standard concert flute, from student models on up, have small screws on the right hand pad keys that adjust the height of each individual key above its respective tone hole. I na ver really understood why these adjustment screws were present – no other woodwind instrument has them. However, through typical use (and misuse) of a flute over time, the height of the pads above the keys can change. This will cause the flute to play normally on pitches above the affected key, but cause tonal and pitch problems at or below the affected key.

Small flat-head screwdriver is required to adjust these screws properly (an eyeglass screwdriver from your local department store works well). If you look at the body of the flute from the side as you tighten and loosen the screw, you will notice that the height of the key you are adjusting will change from making contact with the raised rim of the tone hole to floating above the hole and vice versa. When you adjust the screw, be sure to look at the left-hand keys of the flute as well. As you adjust a right-hand key height, you also affect one of the keys on the left-hand. There is a “perfect height” that you must adjust the right-hand key to create closure for that key without causing the left-hand key to open. Generally speaking, if you make an adjustment to one right-hand key, you typically have to adjust all of them.

If you have adjusted all of the screws and still are not getting improved pitch and tone, it is possible that one or more of the pads needs to be replaced, or a key has become bent and is not laying parallel to the body of the flute. Both of these situations are minor repairs that can be done on your own.

To read more, check out Thomas J. West Music’s blog: Working With The Pad Adjustment Screws On A Standard Concert Flute (

Thanks goes to Thomas J. West Music for letting us use his blog!

Thomas J. West is an active music educator, composer, adjudicator, clinician, and award-winning blogger.

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