Bamboo Flute Maintenance Guide

Bamboo is a natural material. A short break in period is necessary for a new bamboo headjoint or bamboo flute. John Solum's book, The Early Flute, offers excellent instruction on breaking in new and antique instruments. Under normal use, it will not crack. However, pay attention not to subject the bamboo to quick temperature and climate changes such as going in an air conditioned room from the outside on a hot sunny afternoon. If such is the case, leave the instrument in its protective environment for 5 to 10 minutes before taking it out to play.

Playing a bamboo instrument outdoor on a cold day is not recommended. The hot breath passing through the bamboo will make too drastic a drop in temperature in too short of a time resulting in sudden contraction of the bamboo - instant crack!

The condensation inside the instrument should be wiped dry after playing. The inside bore, the embouchure wall, the finger holes and the end grains should be oiled every few months depends on frequency of use and climate. I use walnut oil which can be purchased at most fine grocery stores. Any other eatable nut oil can be used as well. The outer skin is naturally very durable, so no maintenance is needed.

On headjoints, the stopper cork is set at its optimal location. It is difficult to make fine adjustments because it is not on a screw like on the silver headjoint. I do not recommend moving it.

The binding is designed to prevent the bamboo from expanding and contracting too much, which is the main reason for cracking. It should not be removed and it won't come loose with normal use. The binding material, waxed nylon strings, will deteriorate over time. When oiling your flute, care must be taken not to let any oil get on the binding.

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