Protect Your Flute
From Moisture & Weather By Oiling It



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Jerry and Lisa Fretwell

Jerry and Lisa Fretwell
of Fretwell Flutes

Flute Care
For 5 Hole Native American Flutes and 6 Hole Native AmericanFlutes


Remove the Moisture

Removing the moisture from your Native American Flute periodically while you are playing and when you stop playing is VERY important to the continued health of your flute.

Finished Playing or Flute is "Wetted Out"
Don't let your flute remain soggy on the inside. A flute that cracks or splits apart at the seams happens because humidity-induced stresses in the wood occur when the inside of your flute is wet and the outside is dry. Never play a flute continuously longer than 15-20 minutes. Always take breaks, wipe out the flue area and fling the moisture out of your flute. If your flue gets soggy, stop playing your flute and let it dry. Remove the block and let the flute air dry.

Moisture Problem Symptoms
After continuously playing for about 15 minutes, you will notice your flute will raise in pitch, be harder to blow, and loose some of it's clarity. This is because you have filled up the flue area with moisture from your breath. You need to wipe off your flue area and fling out the moisture.

Wipe Out the Flue
Loosen the ties on your flute, and slide back the block or remove it. Use a piece of non-lint cotton to wipe off the flue area

Fling Out the Moisture
How Often? Everytime You Play

How to Fling the Moisture Out
1. Remove the block.
2. Fling the moisture out. Hold your flute by the bottom and make a swinging motion from up to down quickly. This will fling the moisture out of the air chambers. Do this several times. Then, replace the block.

Oil Your Flute

Why to Oil

1. Helps Prevent Cracking
When you oil the interior of your flute it acts as a partial barrier to help prevent your saliva from penetrating the wood.

2. Helps Air Flow
When wood is dry it adds a resistance to the air flow.

What Type of Oil
We use mineral oil. Mineral Oil can be bought in any pharmacy section or drug store. You will find it in the laxative section. We do not use tung oil or vegetable oil so we can not recommend it.

When and How to Oil
BEFORE you oil, make sure that the wood is dry and your flute has not been played for a few hours. We recommend that you rub a few drops of oil into the flue area, on the cutting edge and around the finger holes every 3rd or 4th time that you play. Oiling frequency depends on how dry your flute is. Oiling the finger holes will help you form a seal on them with the pads of your fingers. It's a great help to beginner players.

Oil the Air Chambers
How Often? Every 2-4 Weeks.

To Prevent Cracking
We recommend that if you plan on playing 15 minutes or more at a time, coat the inside of the Air Chambers with oil. This will minimize the absorption of your saliva by the wood inside the chambers. Take the block off of your flute. Pour the oil directly into the hole until you see it run out of the mouth piece. Rotate your flute in a circle to make sure that the oil coats the entire inside of the air chambers. Wipe off any excess oil with a cloth. Replace your block. Blow several quick hard breaths into your flute. This will push out any loose oil. Slide the block back and wipe away the loose oil from your flue area. How often you oil the air chambers depends on how often you play your flute. You don't have to do this very often. Every 2-4 weeks should be sufficient.

Oil Entire Flute
How Often? Once a Year.

Give your flute a thorough oiling once a year. If you live in a very dry climate you may need to do this more often. Your flute will begin to sound breathy and hissy when it is dry.

Once a year or so, flip your flute around and pour oil in the other hole. Rotating the flute around in a circle to ensure that the entire inside of the flute gets a good coating of oil. Wipe oil all over the outside of your flute with a cloth. Stand your flute up in the sink and let the oil drain out for several hours.

Weather Cautions

Climate Changes
Do not expose your flute to sudden extreme temperature or climate changes (heat,cold,wet,dry). Wood is very sensitive to the elements. Under normal use, your flute will not crack. However, do not to subject the wood to quick temperature and climate changes. Always warm your flute before playing. A cold instrument will condense your warm breath faster than a warm one. A cold instrument being warmed by playing will also be unstable in pitch while warming. Warm the instrument slowly by holding it in your hands or under your arm. Playing a wood instrument outdoors on a cold day is not recommended. The hot breath passing through the wood will make too drastic a change in temperature in too short of a time resulting in sudden contraction of the wood - instant crack!

Avoid Storing Flute in Drafts
The moving air originating from an open window, electric fan, or air-conditioner will quickly dry out your flute and increase the risk of cracking.

Avoid Storing Flute in Direct Sunlight
A flute stored so that the direct rays of the sun hit it runs the risk of cracking.

Do not let lipstick or ink come into contact with your flute. Wood is very absorbent. A permanent stain will result if your flute is used by a player wearing lipstick. Ink from a fountain pen or ball-point pen will also leave permanent marks on your flute.

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