Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Pin Pals" - Part I

Pin Basics

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.

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