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 Post subject: Drilling some thumbholes
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2020 6:04 am 
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Hi all,

This might spark hatred but nevertheless I will be brave.

I was recently playing Music of the Night from the Phantom of the Opera
and it sounds sooooo good on my Susato C# Low whistle ( Head Susato, Body CPVC Pipe Home Made)

Then during the bridge it modulated to a key that needs a flattened 7th and a flattened 3rd.

I was having a struggle to play the flattened 3rd in half holes due to reach mobility issues.

Do anyone of you know how to calculate the exact hole position for flattened 7th and 3rd as a humbhole?

Im planning to create a home made body with 2 thumbholes.


Regards,

Angel Shadowsong

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2020 8:50 am 
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Hi Angel,

Funny you mention this, because I was just discussing something similar on a different thread a week or so ago. Lately I've been using http://iotic.com/flutomat/ to calculate hole placement. It doesn't specifically have support for thumbholes (that is, holes that you only open for that note, and they don't stay open for notes higher up on the instrument). However, you can trick it into giving you the information you need by first calculating the 6 open holes for the D major scale, and then calculating the thumb holes separately: switch the top hole from 1100 cents (for C#) to 1000 cents (for Cnat).

A couple other things I've noticed from experimentation: the thumbhole for Cnat needs to be quite small, usually the smallest on the instrument, otherwise the second octave Cnat will be sharp.

Also, I've found that a thumbhole for Fnat is quite uncomfortable to try to cover, because it forces your thumb to rest too far down the instrument. A more ergonomic solution is to reassign your lower hand fingers a little: the bottom hole for E is now covered by the little finger, the Fnat "thumb"hole is covered by the ring finger, and the middle and index fingers cover the same holes as before. Four holes, all on the top of the instrument, for the four fingers. This also allows the bottom hole to be larger and placed lower on the tube, which is acoustically preferable anyway, and allows for a better half-holed Eb/D#. (Special bonus, if you're wanting more notes: this frees up your lower hand thumb for a G# thumbhole!)

Hopefully this gives you some ideas to mull over. Let us know how you end up working it out!


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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2020 9:52 am 
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Hi Stanton,

I didnt want to go far away from the Irish Traditional Fingering.
It will confuse the wiring of my brain.

But I kinda foreseen that coming. If I want to put the flattened third on the opposite side, the theory is it should be aligned with the B2 whole but smaller.
The B2 hole is already far to each with the middle finger.

I wanted to put some keys.... but I dont have that much considering it was just a whim.

The other alternative is to use double holes on B2 so it is much easier to half hole. Much like a recorder. But I do not know the dimensions.


This could give much accurate intonation.

Regards,

Angel

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2020 12:55 pm 
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The thumb holes need to go where your thumbs are. I doubt that having them more than 2-3 mm away from where your thumbs are now would be comfortable.

I'd suggest marking where your thumbs are and drilling small holes, then gradually increasing the diameter till you have in tune Fnat and Cnat.

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2020 4:45 pm 
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stanton135 wrote:
I've noticed from experimentation: the thumbhole for Cnat needs to be quite small, usually the smallest on the instrument, otherwise the second octave Cnat will be sharp.

That's exactly what Boehm found out, through experimentation rather than theory, for his C# hole.

stanton135 wrote:
a thumbhole for Fnat is quite uncomfortable to try to cover, because it forces your thumb to rest too far down the instrument.

As I've probably mentioned, my first instrument was the Highland pipes, and I was taught to have my lower thumb in the middle of that hand, in between the middle and ring fingers, and that's been my lower thumb position all these years on whatever I pick up.

When I happened to pick up a set of Scottish Smallpipes with a hole drilled on the back of the chanter for the minor 3rd my thumb naturally rested right on it.

stanton135 wrote:
A more ergonomic solution is to reassign your lower hand fingers a little: the bottom hole for E is now covered by the little finger, the Fnat "thumb"hole is covered by the ring finger, and the middle and index fingers cover the same holes as before. Four holes, all on the top of the instrument, for the four fingers.

As I've mentioned this is familiar to me because it's the way the Bulgarian Kaval is made: four equally-sized and equally-spaced holes for the lower hand, giving E F F# G.

Super ergonomic, and (partly) chromatic.

Except they reassign the fingers for the upper hand too! Lifting the upper-hand ring finger gives G#, lifting the middle finger A, index finger Bb, thumb B natural. (I think in an earlier post I gave the upper-hand notes incorrectly.)

Where's C and C# you ask? They're in the next register, because it overblows at the 12th.

x xxx xxxx D
x xxx xxxo E
x xxx xxoo F
x xxx xooo F#
x xxx oooo G
x xxo oooo G#
x xoo oooo A
x ooo oooo Bb
x xxx xxxo B
x xxx xxoo C
x xxx xooo C#
x xxx oooo D etc.

You're normally playing in the 2nd and 3rd registers. The low register requires a special form of blowing, is quite difficult, and down there you're missing C and C#. They have newfangled Kavals with C and C# keys very much like the same keys on the footjoint of an Irish flute.

It's brilliant because you have a chromatic instrument with no keys and using the same fingers you do on the diatonic Highland chanter. The lower-hand thumb and upper-hand little finger aren't needed.

Here, when he gets to the Kaval in "re" or D, the same size of an Irish flute in D, or a Low D whistle, notice how high he's normally playing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj-PgWVKFic&t=130s

I have a narrow-bore Low E whistle (the tubing usually used for mezzo F whistles) and I just now tried it and I can play in the 2nd and 3rd registers pretty much like a Kaval does. I'll bet a super-narrow-bore Low D whistle could be made that uses Kaval fingering. But you would have a fairly unusable low octave, if it's narrow enough to favour the 3rd register.

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Last edited by pancelticpiper on Mon May 11, 2020 5:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2020 4:59 pm 
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FWIW, Carbony does thumbholes. I have an alto Ab with both thumbholes and they are in good positions. This is my only Carbony so I have nothing to compare against, but so far I haven't noticed any downside to the extra holes.


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2020 12:35 am 
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In my chats with Phil Bleazey I learned that (in his experience) Fnat holes need to be placed in a way that is awkward to cover. He offered to do one for free, but also recommended against it.

IIRC (and it is a long time since I used it) TWJCalc allows the specification of a normally-closed hole. Might be worth a look. If I remember I will track down the code and have a look tonight.

EDIT: Remember though that the tool is an approximator, not really a calculator. Also, since you are making new bodies you may be able to move some of the other holes around to balance the grip/tone of the new ones. You may even have bodies specific to one tune in the end......
Good luck.

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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 4:56 pm 
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chas wrote:
The thumb holes need to go where your thumbs are. I doubt that having them more than 2-3 mm away from where your thumbs are now would be comfortable.

I'd suggest marking where your thumbs are and drilling small holes, then gradually increasing the diameter till you have in tune Fnat and Cnat.

somehow this make complete sense :shock: personally i would not drill any holes

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PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2020 8:22 am 
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While, I have no useful information on the location of your thumb-hole, I think that it's a great idea. You made the whistle tube and are still brainstorming solutions to a very complex problem. In a perfect world, the thumb hole would be where the thumb naturally rests. Happy Tinkering!


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