flageolets & recorders

Maintenance tips for flageolets

remplacing the thread joint on a flageolet


(or an old one that has not been played for a long time)

Wood needs to become accustomed to warmth & dampness caused by playing. You must therefore play in your instrument progressively, not exceeding the following time limits :

during the

1st week....
2nd week....
3rd week....
4th week....
you can play for

....10 minutes per day
....15 minutes per day
....20 minutes per day
....30 minutes per day

After this period you can increase the time by reasonable steps.
From the beginning you can play all the notes, paying attention to tone quality and intonation.



Do not expose the flageolet to excessive heat or cold, or to sudden temperature changes. Therefore never leave it near or on a radiator, in direct sunlight, in a parked car... etc.

If it is cold, warm it in your hands before playing to limit condensation.
To reduce the risk of fungus in the windway it is good practise to brush one's teeth whenever possible before playing.

After playing

Carefully wipe out the bore with a cloth or piece of chamois leather. Remove the windcap and do the same. To remove moisture from the windway suck dry air into the windway through the window from the top of the head, while closing the bottom end with one hand, and exhale it outside the recorder. Do this several times. The top of the windcap usually gets very damp while playing. If it cannot be wiped suck as much moisture out as possible. Then let the instrument dry out completely (especially the windway) before closing its case. It is a good idea to use a stand for this, so that the pieces are held vertically.

how to dry the bore of the flageolet

If the different parts become impossible to separate after a long playing session because the joints have become damp do not attempt to force them apart since this could cause damage. Just wipe the inside as shown above and let them dry out completely. This can take several hours, or even a day or two. The instrument will be easy to take apart once it is dry. To avoid this happening again take off a little thread or grease the joint.


Oil the recorder every 3 months with linseed oil or every month with almond oil. The best tool for this is a bottle brush of the right diameter which will put a thin layer of oil over the whole bore surface, but you can also use a mop, a piece of cloth fixed to a rod with a slit in the end, or even a large feather to to do the job. You can also oil the labium sparingly with a cotton bud or small paintbrush but NEVER the block and windway. Do not overoil. The windcap can be oiled, but be careful not to leave any residue in the narrow upper part. Keys must be protected by placing a piece of paper under each pad. Never oil an instrument that is not completely dry. Let the oil penetrate for a few hours then wipe away all the excess that has not been absorbed by the wood. This is very important because any residue could have a negative effect on the tuning.

how to oil the bore of the flageolet with a small bottle brush

If the windway becomes clogged with moisture

Since the instrument has been oiled during making, condensation may form in the windway after a few weeks. This can easily be removed with detergent (water and washing-up liquid in equal parts + a little alcohol). Use a dropper to let a small quantity flow into the windway via the window while closing the entrance with one finger. Wait for a few moments, then blow the liquid out backwards from the window through the top end while blocking the bottom end of the head joint.

how to use anti-condens in the flageolet's windway

Flageolets are less affected by this problem because the windcap retains some of the moisture.

Thread joints

You can repair or adjust thread joints yourself. If they become too loose it is often sufficient to add a little thread. If they are too tight you can take some off. For this you can use buttonhole silk or polyester which you wax with beeswax. Simply pull the thread across the wax. It should then stick to the joint. Be careful not to put on too much thread or there could be a risk of splitting the instrument. Check this by carefully trying to assemble the recorder as you go along. After much use it can become necessary to change the joint completely. Cut away the old thread without touching the wood, and wind on some new waxed thread (cf drawing below). Begin by laying a loop lengthwise along the tenon, continue wrapping the thread around it, keeping the layer as regular as possible. As before, be careful not to put on too much. To secure the joint just pass the end through the loop and pull it back under the joint as shown in the following pictures.

  How to repair the flageolet's thread joints     How to fix the flageolet's thread joints

Thread joints that have been correctly fixed as shown above can be greased with vaseline or with a mixture of equal parts of vaseline and beeswax melted together in a jar heated in boiling water. Unfixed thread will unwind if greased.