Over the past 25 years “pinless” flute mechanisms have become popular. Today we will try to clarify what pins do in a flute mechanism and what’s different about a pinless mechanism.
A flute has some complex mechanical features. When you press a key at one end of the flute, something is supposed to happen at the other end of the flute. Sometimes a key works all by itself, and at other times certain keys have to work together.
The “steels” for a flute mechanism are the axles on which multiple keys rotate so that tone holes can be opened and closed. If, for example, there are 4 distinct keys on the right hand of the flute, we don’t want all these keys going up and down at the same time, yet it would be impractical to have 4 separate steels, one for each key. To allow for different movement of multiple keys on one steel we have several ways of creating independent motion. These methods include:
· Letting the key run free or rotate on the steel
· Securing the key to the steel by:
o Soldering the key to the steel
o Driving a pin through the key tubing and through the steel (i.e., “pinning”). You’ve likely had a flute with pins in the right hand or trill section and maybe have even caught your sweater on one of the pin heads.
o Bridging the key to link it to another key by soldering a bridge to the keys you are trying to connect. Your foot joint is a classic example of a bridged or “pinless” key mechanism.