a woman playing the flute

How to Repad or Replace Your Flute Pads

To re-pad or replace your flute pads, start with the following:

  1. Remove the flute key
  2. Detach the flute pads
  3. Measure the new flute pads to make sure they’re the right size
  4. Install your new flute pads to their corresponding flute key
  5. Dampen the front of the flute pads and let them sit overnight

Flute repads might be an easy or DIY task, but it properly requires some expertise and tools to ease the process. If you are not aware of tools and new in the field, it is highly recommended to get the repadding done by a professional flute technician. Below is a basic guide to replacing your flute pads. Please note that we shoulder no accountability or cost for any damage you might cause to any instrument, including your flute.

Working your way through the flute pad replacement process is not difficult. You need to have the right tools to facilitate and fasten your work.  Before you begin with the flute pads replacement, spare some time and get the access to the repair tools you will need for the complete process of removing and installing the flute pads.

Tools You Need

Following are the tools you should have:

  • Replacement flute pads
  • Needle or Pad prick
  • Flat nose pliers
  • Screwdriver

If the flute pads require adhesive you will also need:

  • Adhesive
  • Fire safety equipment

The optional tools are:

  • Nylon pad plier
  • Spring hook tool

Process of Replacing Flute Pads

Now that you have gathered the tools, let’s learn flute re-padding. The process of replacing flute pads has necessary steps that include removing the flute key and pads, installing the new pads, and then placing the keys back in. But all of this is not simple. Let’s start with the first step and make sure that things go the right way without damaging the flute while completing the task at hand.

1. Removal of keys

removing the screws from a flute

Trill keys are the first you will be removing. Here is the important thing to consider: you have to get the keys and screws back in the right place to ensure that you must place all the keys on a clean, soft towel or pad in the same order as you remove them. Many beginners film themselves if you feel the need while removing the keys to help them in the reinstalling process. Another way to be safe is to insert the screws back in place to avoid confusion later.

Besides all of these precautionary steps, sometimes it is also recommended to replace one flute pad at a time. This helps in rightly adjusting the key besides removing the where-this-screw-belong confusion completely. Go the way you find it easy and compatible.

2. Detach the flute pads

Now when you have removed all the keys, you get easy access to the pads. Remove the keypads. If the flute pads are bonded in, then you will have to heat the flute to remove the pads and the fire safety equipment. Lucky enough, many of the flutes have flute pads placed in with screws, so there is a good chance you can avoid this melting part.

3. Measure the new flute pads

After removing all the flute pads, compare and measure them with the new ones. Also, test them by fitting in the pad cup, and if the flute pad is not fitting in comfortable or you need to apply force, then you need to get a small pad or in the other case, if the pad is loose, then you have to get the one with a bigger diameter.

Another thing is the width of the flute pad; if the pad is too thin, you can make use of flute pad shims, and if the pad is too thick, you would have to get the new one, that is, the right size. You would have to measure each flute pad individually, and hence this work requires a good amount of patience.

4. Installing new flute pads to the keys

Before you repad your flute, use the needle or pad prick to puncture the flute pads from the sides, which will help the moisture release during replacement.  You would have to heat the flute pad cups to remove any adhesive left in them and then install the new flute pads.

This part of the replacement is the most precarious one if you are using adhesive. When the pad cup is tidy, add 1-3 adhesive pellets in the pad cup. Heat it thoroughly. Make sure you have fire safety equipment ready. Heat the pellets till they melt completely but refrain from boiling them. Implant the flute pad and allow it to cool. You are now ready to repad your flute.

Place the key back on the flute and apply a little adhesive to the flute pad cup. Allow the replaced pad to level on the respective tone hole. Check for seeps with a leak light or feeler gauge and if you catch one, then heat and make the adjustments till you resolve the issue.

Work with each key, install all the keys with new flute pads to the flute, check for leaks, and make adjustments. Be very patient while working on keys one by one till you get done with all. The slower you go, the longer the pads will last. You’ll also be less likely to incur additional costs. Remember that having your flute pads installed by someone else can cost anywhere from $165-$580.

5. Final Touch

Fix flute keys, Flute maintenance

Only carry this step if all the keys are perfectly leveled with no leaks. Dampen the front of the flute pad with a little water and pad slick. Use key wedges to shut the keys as you leave them to dry overnight fully. Work gently so you don’t damage any part of your flute, the cork, or bend the flute keys. If you have completed the steps correctly, a ring is supposed to foster on the flute pad. Allow the wedges to shut for a good 24 hours or so.

Conclusion

Flute pads typically last 3-6 years, depending on how often you do the maintenance. Make sure to keep your flute clean and dirt-free, and don’t forget to do yearly maintenance to improve the life of your flute pads and flute. This will save you future costs on repadding your flute.

References

  1. How to Replace Flute Pads – Instrument Clinic
  2. How to Replace Your Flute Pads – The Vault at Music & Arts

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