Flutes can produce beautiful music in the right hands. Unfortunately, they can quickly become unplayable when they don't receive regular care. If you must put your flute into long-term storage, though, you need to take special precautions to ensure the instrument stays in tiptop shape. Here are two tips for storing a flute long-term.
Cleaning is Key
The most important part of prepping your flute for long-term storage is thoroughly cleaning it. Moisture left inside the instrument can cause it to rust over time. Additionally, dirt, oils from your fingertips, and spit can damage the keys' pads, resulting in them degrading faster than normal. It's paramount, therefore, to clean the instrument inside and out before packing it away in your storage unit.
First, wrap a soft cloth about a thin rod, such as a tuning rod. Make sure it's completely covered by the cloth to prevent the rod from accidentally scratching your flute. Microfiber cloths are best because they clean better than regular ones. However, you can purchase specialty cleaning sticks from a local music store. Gently swab the inside of the instrument to remove any moisture that may be hanging around from when you last played.
Next, using a clean piece of thin cigarette paper (or similar item), clean the key pads by opening the key, placing the paper inside, and gently closing the key on top of it. Let it sit for a few seconds, then lift the key and remove the paper. This will help eliminate any moisture on the key pads that you couldn't get with the cloth.
Lastly, use a cloth to clean the flute's exterior. Pay special attention to the mouthpiece and the spaces between the keys. Use a Q-tip dipped in alcohol to get stubborn spots between the keys. Make sure to wipe off your fingerprints as the oil can damage the metal and handle the instrument using a cloth afterwards to avoid contaminating it.
It's a good idea to take the flute to a music shop and have the springs and rods oiled. The special oil used will prevent them from drying out and breaking. However, you can also purchase flute oil and do it yourself.
Opt for a Temperature-Controlled Unit
The flute should be stored alone in its case. Do not put anything in the case that could attract or retain moisture, as the moisture will inevitably spread to the flute and damage it.
Additionally, it's best to put the flute in a temperature-controlled unit. These special units are designed to remain at the same temperature and humidity levels. Humidity levels above 55 percent can cause the instrument to sweat in its case and the key pads to swell in unnatural ways. Extreme swings in temperatures can also cause condensation to form and may lead to the key pads alternating between drying out and being overly moist. A temperature-controlled unit can prevent these problems.
For more information about storing a flute or other instruments, contact local professionals like All American Mini Storage.