Flute Care & Maintenance

Playing in

Playing in is an extremely important part of the process to ensure the flute’s longevity and can’t be emphasised enough. If it isn’t done correctly the flute can be seriously damaged and never recover from the problems that overplaying have brought about. Too much playing too early in the life of the flute can result in serious swelling around the flute joints, almost certainly changing the dimensions of the bore and altering the flute’s playing characteristics for ever. The timber the flute is made from is dried in a special dehumidified room to optimum moisture content although this won’t be the final moisture content of the flute. This is dependent on the amount of playing that the flute gets and the climatic conditions it is kept and played in and therefore it is vital that the acclimatisation process is a gradual one. Although your flute has had quite a lot of playing during its making, it still should be played in carefully. It will take up an hour a day for the first week and then you can increase the playing time by ten minutes per day until it reaches your maximum playing time. There can be a slight variation to these times eg an extra ten or fifteen minutes occasionally won’t hurt the flute, but done consecutively day after day it has the ability to harm the instrument irreparably. It’s very tempting when you first receive your flute to sit down and play it for a couple of hours, but this is the worst possible thing you can do for the instrument. Long playing sessions early in the life of the flute are likely to cause serious harm, resulting in problems with swelling and cracking. A little care and patience at first will ensure your flute serves you well for many years. Overplaying can be detected easily by Michael as a maker and this will void any guarantees on the instrument.


Oiling the instrument should be done three to four times during the first month, and once a month after that However, if the bore or the ends of the tenons look dry then don’t hesitate to oil the flute on a more regular basis. Different climatic conditions and even the fact that some players have more acidic hands than others can dictate how often oiling needs to be done. My preferred oil is flaxseed oil (obtainable from most health food shops) but if you find it difficult to source then almond oil or linseed oil is fine. With flaxseed and linseed oil you need to make sure that you wipe out the bore really well because it is a drying oil and will build up in the instrument.

To oil the flute. Firstly, pull the flute to pieces. It is not necessary to oil the inside of the head joint. Use a piece of kitchen towel wrapped around a thin dowel or a flute cleaner, dip it in the oil and thoroughly coat the bore with the oily towel. Repeat with each joint, pushing the towel into the bore to cover it with oil. After you have oiled each joint it is best to stand each piece upright (make sure it is not liable to fall over) so that the oil soaks in evenly and the excess can drain out.. After three to four hours (or overnight is fine), wipe any excess oil from all the joints with a clean dry towel. Wipe the outside of the instrument with the oily towel, taking care not to get too much oil on the key work and the slots that they run in. Finally, polish the outside with dry towel to give the instrument a lovely sheen.

Silver Keys

The keys and rings on the flute are made from sterling silver. These can be kept polished by simply rubbing with a silver cloth as necessary.


Make sure you protect the instrument from violent temperature changes. Try to store the flute in a situation where the air is not too dry or humid (i.e. 40-60% humidity which is the average range for a normal household). Don’t leave the instrument exposed in hot, humid conditions, and especially don’t leave it near a heater or air conditioner. And of course, don’t leave it in a vehicle in hot weather.

Joint Tension

The most important detail to attend to in caring for your flute is keeping the joint tensions correct. Because the tenons on the flute are very fine, they expand and contract at greatly varying rates, depending on the amount of playing you do, weather conditions, humidity, etc. The joints should be firm without rocking in the sockets. If they’re too loose, the flute will not sound properly due to leakage of air.

Because climatic conditions vary from place to place, the joints may tighten too much or not enough. Not enough is when they rock in the sockets. If they tighten too much, don’t hesitate to remove an amount of thread until the appropriate tension is achieved. If you need to tighten them, you may use ordinary cotton waxed with a little cork grease. A good way to get the correct tension is to make sure that the joints are firm, but not overly tight when the flute is dry (i.e. after a 24 hour rest from playing).

Most of the cracking in flutes is directly due to people not paying enough attention to the joint tension and is generally avoidable with proper care. If the flute has had a long playing session, make sure that all the joints are taken apart and the instrument is dried out properly before being put together again.

If you do all this, the instrument should develop in tone and character, become more flexible and warm and would settle in to your playing needs. Sometimes changes do occur that are less than desirable, and if you have any problems whatsoever do not hesitate to get in touch. All instruments are guaranteed against faults in workmanship and materials to the original owner.