Flute Q&A #53: The flute foot joint is stuck!Nov 27, 2023
When a flute foot joint is stuck!
Welcome to Flute Q&A Number 53. My name is Jane and I'm going to answer this question from Audrey:
Hi Jane. I didn't put my flute away for about a month, just left it on the flute stand and when I went to disassemble it, the flute joint put up the fight of the century to come off. How can I fix it?
How to remove a flute foot join
So what Audrey's talking about is that she couldn't get her foot joint off the flute. I have a solution for you, Audrey. She also adds, also must I swab out my flute if I leave it out. So I picked this question, Audrey of yours, to answer for a few reasons.
One, it's going to be extremely helpful to lots of people, so thank you for asking such a good question.
Two, I love the way you worded this, that your foot joint put up the fight of the century to come off. That just made me laugh. And then the third reason is because I just got my flute serviced and it's super shiny and if you remember what my flute looked like in the past, it was a lot more tarnished.
So all of this shiny-ness up here was pretty much black. So that was because I left my flute out on my flute stand, which is this, for about two years. For about two years during Covid. So I left my flute down on this and it went black.
Cleaning your flute
So I'll answer the second part of your question first Audrey, do you need to swab it out if you leave it on the flute stand, the short answer is No because it's going to air dry. It's really when you notice that when you play the flute and it's all moist inside, you need to swab it out before you put it in the case because you don't wanna put it into an enclosed space in your case, wet. So there you go. I just let mine air dry. It did tarnish though over the last two years.
Getting a clearer flute sound
Alright, my name is Jane. I teach the flute. You probably guessed that I love teaching people proper technique on the flute. So I teach, specifically I teach people, flute players, amateur flute players all around the world online, how to make little tweaks of proper technique in the flute academy where I teach people.
If you'd like a little taste of what it's like to learn some tweaks of proper technique to instantly improve your playing, join me at flute.school and do the tiny course there and you'll see the three tweaks that instantly get you a stronger sound.
Fixing your flute
Okay, Audrey, if this is stuck, the most important thing that you do when you're trying to take off a joint of your flute and it's very stiff. The most important thing is that you don't grab it around these keys or around these keys because if you grab it around there and you twist hard, you are going to either break these keys. More likely you'll just slightly bend them over time if you do this more than once.
If your flute joint is really stuck, you really could break it. I've never tried. But there is a good chance you could break something on your flute, which is bad and more to the point, expensive to fix.
Be careful when fixing your flute
So grab your flute where there's no keys. So here and here and twist it off. If you can't get that off, you might be able to, if you can get a better grip where there's no keys like that.
You might remember, I recorded a video about how to put your flute together without breaking it, which teaches you a similar concept of avoiding the keys.
The underlying issue, Audrey, is that probably your flute was a little bit sort of just general dirty on the joint and then over time when you left it out it just got stuck. Sometimes temperature affects this as well. If you want to put your flute in the fridge for about a minute you can take this bit off if that's not stuck.
Put it in the fridge for a minute or two, not too long because there is moisture in the fridge and it will shrink the joints and it will shrink it so that it's easier to come off.
Now I know that might not make sense that if you shrink it makes it easier to come off. It shrinks the walls of the tube so the walls of the tube around here get thinner and it creates more space in the joint and you can sometimes get it off like that. Now once you've got that off Audrey, will you want to prevent that from happening again?
Making flute joints smoother
I have a magic tool for you. This magic tool is a tea light candle that I picked up about five years ago from a bar in Sydney. I asked them if I could have or actually said can I buy it off you? And she said, don't be ridiculous, you can have it. I didn't explain why I wanted it because she would've probably thought I was a total fruit loop. This is a tea light candle that I've been using for about five years to fix these joints.
I didn't wanna buy a pack of 48 or 96 of them, so I just got one and this is going to last me probably another 10 years.
First step to cleaning flute joints
Alright, your first step to cleaning a joint so that this doesn't happen again Audrey, is clean this and notice where I'm holding the flute away from the keys and then also clean this. I'm just gonna grab it like that. It's a better grip and I'm not twisting too hard. So no big deal. You might get some black come off. When I said it's dirty. I didn't mean that you've gotten it dirty, it just sort of accumulates, you know, stuff from the air.
Okay, you might find that that already is easier to put on. If it's not, we are going to use the magic tea light candle. Put a stripe of wax around this joint here. So I'll just put one stripe, then we're going to put the joint on and it is going to be very tight, so be sure to hold it away from the keys. Very tight. Smoosh it on. If you can't get it all the way on, it doesn't matter because now you're going to take off the wax off both joints and you'll find that after this it's really easy to put on. Woo, it's nice and smooth.
Now you can do that a couple of times if you couldn't get the joint all the way on because it was too tight, do it a couple of times like this and then we'll, oh, that's pretty tight on my flute.
So you can do it in stages. If you can't actually get it all the way on. It's really important to get all of the wax off because the wax does not act as a lubricant. It actually sticks to all the grime and then it helps you pull it all off. Hey, that's very nice. So thank you Audrey, because now I've cleaned my own foot joint and I won't need to do that again for probably a year, six months, a year, depending on how tight your joints are on your flute.
More flute videos
So that's is Audrey. Did I call you Audra? If I did. Sorry. It's Audrey. Good luck with fixing your flute and hopefully that resolves any issues you have in the future. Just be very careful of your keys, like I mentioned. And hold it away from the keys so you don't break it.
By the way - you're not the first person to ask your question Audrey - back in 2016 I recorded a video on how to fix stuck flute joints, so have a look at that one too.
And if you have the opposite problem - too loose a foot joint or head joint, watch this video on how to fix a loose flute joint!
Fixing your flute embouchure
Don't forget anyone watching this. If you'd like to instantly get a stronger sound on your flute, join me at flute.school and sign up for the tiny course, which is free to register there. And I'll show you how to instantly get a stronger sound. Three tweaks. I'll see you there!