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Flute/Piccolo Maintenance

Armed Forces School of Music

Equipment Needed:

(1) Soft, clean, 100% cotton cloth
(1) Small piece of cheese cloth
Cotton swabs
Pipe cleaners
Key brush (or soft bristle brush)
Flute/Piccolo cleaning rod
Woodwind key oil (sewing machine oil can also be used)
Organic bore oil and bore oil swab (mineral oil)

Maintenance Procedure:

  1. Disassemble the instrument
    (a) Remove head joint
    (b) Remove the foot joint
  2. Carefully swab the inside of the instrument with a cloth covered cleaning rod (See figure 1).
  3. Clean the Flute/Piccolo embouchure hole with cotton swabs or pipe cleaners.
  4. Gently clean the keys, posts and tone holes with a key brush, cotton swab or bent pipe cleaners. Be certain not to catch and bend/break springs.
  5. Clean the pads, by placing clean cheesecloth or coffee filter paper between each pad and its tone hole. While gently holding the key closed draw the cloth out from under the key. Repeat as necessary to remove dirt and residue.
  6. Lightly oil the bore of wooden piccolos when the wood looks dry (whitish or chocolate brown in color). Using a piccolo bore oil swab apply a thin even coat of mineral oil to the bore, being careful to keep all oils from the pads. Do not oil outside of instrument.
  7. Oil keys using a needle oil bottle containing key oil*.
    (a) Apply a small drop of key oil to each key (See figure 2).
    (b) After oiling all keys go back and remove any excess key oil with a cotton swab or pipe cleaner.
    * A pin or sewing needle may also be used. Dip the needle into oil and place bead of oil onto mechanism.
  8. Wipe the entire instrument with a clean, soft, 100% cotton cloth.
  9. Do not use any polish to polish instrument. Badly tarnished keys should be brought to a professional repair shop.
  10. Apply a small amount of cork grease to piccolo head joint tenon cork.
  11. Clean and/or vacuum instrument case.
  12. Store instrument securely in its case.
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