Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Testing Flutes

One part of the manufacturing process that is extremely critical is the final testing.  Here at Powell, this is done by Rebecca Eckles, our Director of Quality and Service.  Rebecca wears many hats and is a professional flutist as well.  After the flutes are completed by the finishers, they are sent to Rebecca for testing.  She tests all the flutes and Signature piccolos.  When she receives them, they still have the protective blue film covering the body, headjoint, and keys.  Rebecca begins by checking the complete mechanism from bottom to top.  She presses each key, making sure the mechanism is smooth with no drag, no binding keys, and proper spring tension.  She also checks for lost motion and any sharp edges.  After this manual test of the mechanism, she completes a "visual check" in which she looks at key heights and padding, making sure everything is even and at the proper height.  She also inspects the corks to make sure they are well shaped and free of imperfections.

Rebecca then begins a play test.  This time, she starts from the top down to check for any leaks.  She then takes the feeler gauge to each pad as an additional measure to identify any leaking pads.  When her evaluation is complete, she submits her recommendations.  If there is anything that needs to be corrected, it goes back to the finishers.  The flute then rests for a few days, and she retests it.  Rebecca also works with the repair technician, and when everyone is in agreement that the flute is ready, it is shipped to the customer.  Regardless of the model (Signature, Conservatory, or Custom), Rebecca believes that they must all look and sound like custom flutes.  She also stresses that the finishers are master craftsmen -- their work is what makes everything work well by the time it arrives at her office.

Manually checking the mechanism
Checking for proper headjoint fit
Checking for leaks with the feeler gauge
Visual Inspection
Play testing

1 comment:

  1. What is the blue film? When is it put on? When/how is it taken off?


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