How To Put A Flute Together & Take It Apart (Step-By-Step)

Flutes may look complicated to handle, let alone assemble and disassemble, from the point of view of a beginner. For experts, on the other hand, it's “business as usual”. Still, there's always the danger of being too confident with the instrument, overlooking the most basic precautions, or taking them for granted.

In short, let's outline how to put a flute together and take it apart:

  • To put the flute together, attach the head joint to the body while holding the body by the side that has no keys. Align the keys with the embouchure, and gently attach the foot joint.
  • To disassemble, twist the head joint while holding the body firmly. Apply the same procedure with the foot joint.

In this article, we'll discuss, in detail, the procedures for putting a flute together and taking it apart, with some additional information you may want to jot down. Notwithstanding, before we move onwards, let's also take a closer look at the flute's structure.

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What Are The Different Parts Of The Flute?

Before even considering taking a flute apart or putting it together, it's always advisable to review its anatomy.

In the past, many flutes were simple hollow pieces with holes pierced in strategic spots. With time, those primitive flutes developed into today's recorders. At that point, they still had no keywork but did acquire the modular design that would be carried over to modern flutes.

For the record: Theobald Boehm, a Bavarian court musician, would devise a system of keys and pads for flutes aimed at streamlining fingering patterns. This system (known as the Boehm system) was updated in 1847 to what we know now as the flute's staple keywork mechanism. We won't be delving too much into the subject of keys for the purposes of this writing, though this bears pointing out.

Related article: How Many Holes Does A Flute Have? (Different Flute Types)

In any case, if we had to divide the flute into major parts for the purposes of assembly, we would be the following:

  • The head joint: Where the embouchure hole lies.
  • The body: The main hub for the keys.
  • The foot joint: An extension of the body (its tail end), with additional keys and holes.

These sections can be separated from each other and treated in isolation. In turn, they're also comprised of various other parts.

Let's elaborate on each of them:

The Head Joint

Head joints are the metal tubes where you'll find the instrument's main air entry: the embouchure hole.

They have a similar function to the mouthpiece in the case of some reeded woodwind instruments. The differences lie in the obvious absence of a reed and the fact that the head joint is not introduced inside the mouth. Rather, we blow air into the embouchure hole at a certain angle so that the air column can form inside the tube of the flute.

The head joint's build largely defines the flute's sound, depending on the type and quality of the metal utilized. Furthermore, head joints can come in straight or curved form factors to accommodate playing styles and sizes. Bass flutes are made with curved head joints, while ordinary concert flutes mostly retain straight head joints.

The head joint is comprised of the following parts:

  • The crown: The cap found at the end of the head joint, attached to a cork, and with a metal plate on the opposite side. The crown prevents air from leaking and, in conjunction with the cork underneath, it reorients air so that it travels across the keys.
  • Lip plate: The small metal plate where the embouchure hole is located. It functions as a support zone and reference point for our lower lip as we play.
  • Embouchure hole: The hole at the center of the lip plate, wherein air is introduced. The air stream splits as we blow air at an angle, and the resulting air column vibrates within the tube to produce audible notes.

The Body

The body is the section of the flute that houses most of the keys. It requires the most care when assembling or disassembling the instrument. The body consists of the following:

  • The barrel: The portion that connects the body to the head joint.
  • Rods: The metal bars where the keys are mounted. They make up a significant part of the Boehm mechanism mentioned above. They connect keys together to make fingerings more straightforward.
  • Keys: The pieces of the mechanism that we operate directly with our fingers, sometimes activating distant pads via the rods.
  • Tone holes: These are holes pierced throughout the body and covered by the pads below the key cups. As we seal or uncover these holes, we affect the pitch and tone of the instrument.

The Foot Joint

The foot joint includes additional keys and rods. They can likewise sport the following pieces:

  • Low B (or “B foot”): An additional key that lowers the pitch one semitone below the bottom C note in concert flutes.
  • Gizmo key: A small lever that aids in producing a fourth octave C.

Why Would I Want To Assemble A Flute Or Take It Apart?

Now that we have a working understanding of flute anatomy, let's consider the reason why we'd want to assemble or disassemble a flute.

Some tasks are best performed when the flute is taken apart. This is particularly true of maintenance tasks. For example, if you want to clean the head joint thoroughly, you can rinse it without the risk of wetting the pads. Furthermore, you may swab your flute's body with far more ease, as you should be capable of swinging the swab or cleaning rod from one end to the other.

If you have to do any repair jobs, dealing with sections separately is easier so that one section is not affected while you perform repairs on another.

Of course, I should not neglect to mention that you'd probably want to store your flute in a case for better preservation. In this case, knowledge about how the different parts are put together or taken apart is imperative.

On a related note, it's not recommended to leave the flute resting on a flat surface such as a table or a chair. These instruments can roll off and fall quite easily, and the ensuing reparation jobs can be very costly.

How To Assemble A Flute

We've already discussed how the process works in a general sense. However, there are some additional measures you'd want to take along the way and mistakes you may want to avoid.

Let's go through these steps so that the procedure goes smoothly:

  1. Grab the head joint with your left hand.
  2. With the right hand, hold the body firmly but carefully by the side opposite the keys. Make sure not to press on the keys to avoid damage to the mechanism.
  3. Insert the head joint (with the open hole end facing the instrument's body) into the barrel. Twist back and forth until the head joint is firmly connected to the body. Avoid pushing it too hard, ensuring that the sections can be rotated after assembly.
  4. Adjust the alignment. The embouchure hole should align with the keys on the flute's body.
  5. Connect the foot joint, ensuring that the “B foot” key is next to the body's ring key. The rod should be aligned with the row of keys on the body and the embouchure on the head joint for better control.

How To Disassemble The Flute

Although, technically, the process of disassembling the flute is more straightforward, this procedure should not be deemed complete by simply disconnecting the different sections. If you are disassembling your flute after use in order to store it, some extra steps are absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you risk damaging the pads and other components.

Keep in mind that the pads are made with sensitive material that can sustain damage under damp conditions. The cork is also susceptible to damage from exposure to moisture and climate changes. For this reason, we'll be including some cleaning tips in the instructions below.

Related article: Is It Possible To Soften Flute Pads?

These are, in a nutshell, the steps you ought to take to take apart the flute:

  1. Detach the head joint from the body by gently twisting and pulling it out. The body should be firmly grabbed without pressing on the keys. Remember to hold the side that has no keys.
  2. After separating the head joint, make sure to clean its inside with a cleaning swab and/or bore brush.
  3. Do the same with the body, swabbing gently and ensuring the tube is completely dry. Optionally, you may use pad cleaning sheets to rid the pads of excess moisture. Note: You could theoretically do this before detaching the body from the foot joint or afterward, cleaning the foot joint separately in that latter case
  4. Grab both the body and foot joint. Then, twist them and pull them apart, just as how you detached the head joint. Be careful not to press the foot joint keys in the interim.
  5. Place the different sections in the corresponding slots inside the storage case and seal the latter properly.
  6. Place the case in a safe and dry storage room.

The cleaning tips appended to these instructions are beneficial even in the event that the flute is not utilized, most notably if you live in areas with high relative humidity or sea spray.

This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.


Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and the author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement ( or producing music. For more info, please check out his YouTube channel and his music.

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