Cleaning Head Joint

To disassemble, unscrew tuning slide button and cap and remove. Then with metal swab or wood stick, push the tuning slide cork out. Since some flute head joints are tapered, with the upper end smaller than the lower end, it is a safe rule always to enter the swab or stick at the upper end and push the cork out the lower end. This will avoid excessive compression of the cork.

Wash head joint and tuning slide parts in warm water and castile soap. Rinse in clean water and replace. Be sure to grease the cork with grease or tallow. Usually the head joint slide is not greased or oiled. This goes for both the joint slides. If they are kept clean and are not bent or dented, they will work freely without lubrication. Some players use a little paraffin on these slides.

To reassemble the head joint, first insert the tuning slide cork through the lower end of the head joint and push with swab or stick into proper place. Usually the swab furnished with the flute has a mark 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch from the end. Push the cork until this mark comes to the center of the embouchure hole. If you do not have a swab so marked, you can make a wood stick which will serve the purpose. Measure the exact diameter of the tuning slide nut (distance “A”). Then make a mark on the stick which is exactly distance “A” from the end of the stick. In other words, distance B on the stick from end to mark should be exactly equal to the diameter of the tuning slide nut, or distance A. Use this stick so marked to push the tuning slide cork through the lower end until the mark on the stick comes to the center of the embouchure hole. Finally, screw on the tuning slide button and cap. Screw it down until the shoulder on the cap hits the end of the flute tubing.

The tuning button can be used to tune the flute or piccolo but it is seldom touched. Most players do more damage than good in trying to use it. Some bandmasters have the button soldered fast so it cannot be moved. The safest rule to follow is: When in doubt, don’t!