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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:43 am 
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Weird title but here is my reason for asking. When I first got into whistles I read all the arguments of cylinderical vs tapered bores and metal/composite heads with blocks vs plastic fipples. Soooo I bout a classic Clarke, a Meg and a Walton D. I found that the Clarke, although it played in tune, and fairly easily for me actually played stronger and clearer after about a half hour or so or playing. Being used to wooden recorders and the effects of moisture on the block I experimented and took the Clarke into the shower. It played better within five minute.

Thus my question: Is the effect I'm hearing related to the block swelling and better filling the windway or is it because when moisture is added to the equation the block, temporarily, becomes denser?

BTW, my trial of three whistles led me to buy my first Hoover brass whistle shortly thereafter.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:25 am 
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cutterpup wrote:
Is the effect I'm hearing related to the block swelling and better filling the windway or is it because when moisture is added to the equation the block, temporarily, becomes denser?


No two pieces of wood are the same. When wood becomes wet/damp the surface changes shape. When the shape of a whistle wind way changes the whistle either plays better or worse. Changing Clark whistles with wood blocks is a common subject here.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:36 am 
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Tommy wrote:
No two pieces of wood are the same. When wood becomes wet/damp the surface changes shape. When the shape of a whistle wind way changes the whistle either plays better or worse. Changing Clark whistles with wood blocks is a common subject here.

I did quite an extensive search on the subject and did not find the answer to the density vs shape question. All clarke tweaks spoke of reshaping the metal and occasionally of trying to keep as small a gap as possible between the metal and the block.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:23 am 
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Not a direct answer to your question, but note that a Clarke whistle block is a roughly-hewn piece of junk compared to the finely-crafted cedar you'll find in a good wood recorder.

To quote Alec Loretto's second block making article from Early Music (Vol.1 No.3, July 1973):
Quote:
MATERIALS USED FOR BLOCKS
All woods swell when wet, some more than others. Woods of the cedar family show above average stability under various conditions, particularly close-grained Florida Pencil Cedar.

Might just add (straying off-topic for a moment, but some here might be interested to know!) that there's a two page article by Raoul J. Fajardo in the same issue on New types of flute embouchure sections (by which he means head joints) describing some of his early experiments with materials and design.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:55 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Not a direct answer to your question, but note that a Clarke whistle block is a roughly-hewn piece of junk compared to the finely-crafted cedar you'll find in a good wood recorder.

To quote Alec Loretto's second block making article from Early Music (Vol.1 No.3, July 1973):
Quote:
MATERIALS USED FOR BLOCKS
All woods swell when wet, some more than others. Woods of the cedar family show above average stability under various conditions, particularly close-grained Florida Pencil Cedar.


That leads me to feel that the answer lies in density rather than shape. Which also gives food for thought in future whistle purchases. Not to avoid wooden blocks but to pay attention to what they are made of and how they are crafted.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:05 am 
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I'm not sure if density is the more important influencing factor. Not sure if it isn't, either, but I'm more inclined to go with shape. Cedar isn't very dense at all, but it works very well in recorders fipples. Higher density in wood usually correlates with INCREASED shrinkage or swelling in dry or wet conditions. This will vary depending on the wood, but in general, hardwoods (denser) are less dimensionally stable than softwoods (less dense).

Best wishes,
Jerry

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:13 am 
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cutterpup wrote:
That leads me to feel that the answer lies in density rather than shape.

Think (moisture-affected) shape actually has significant implications...

So cedar's stable, doesn't swell to split your wooden head joints and is also pretty resistant to the grain-raising effects of moisture on less suitable woods. Whereas the kind of rough 'sawmill offcut' used in Clarkes (mine anyway!) is going to both swell and roughen up further when wet, and likely stay rough on drying out again.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:34 am 
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When discussing the airway what is actually being discussed is a "jet" or in other words a controlled airflow mechanism. So when a wood block swells it reduces the airflow, increases the pressure (back pressure) and makes the tone sound more focused which generally results in a louder sound. So that's why most high end makers use a material for the block which does not absorb moisture, such as Delrin, remains stable and keeps the airway the same size. The density of the material used is only a concern in so far as it resists absorbing moisture and swelling the airway.

The warming of an instrument is done so as to eliminate fogging or condensation of moisture in the airway which reduces the airflow and increases back pressure which is the same as when a wood block swells. So IMHO I suggest using an instrument that has a stable (non-absorbent) block and warm the whistle BEFORE blowing any air into the airway which greatly decreases fogging.

I hope this helps in understanding the dynamics of airway construction.
Ronaldo


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:08 pm 
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I went to the effort of immersing the fipple-end of my Clarke's Original in "not-quite-boiling" candle wax, left it there for a few seconds (sufficient to get the metal hot) then took it out and gave it a good shake. The fact that the metal was still hot meant almost all of the surplus wax shook off, but the wood had been immersed long enough to absorb some. The result was a whistle with stable characteristics, but a subtly changed tone.

NB: Hot wax will spontaneously combust. If you must heat it on a flame (as opposed to an electric element) take suitable precautions. A wet towel to hand to put over any fire is probably adequate. Gloves and eye protection should be considered.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:10 pm 
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The wood block in a clark can be replaced with delrin that requires someone to shape the delrin then reshape the wind way exit and blade.

The Clark wood block can also be used after removing and treating. Remove the wood block and wet it. In a few moments it will swell and raise not smooth. To hasten things along dry the wood with a hair dryer. Then rub the wood surface that is to be the windway floor with no less than 400 grit abrasive paper. Lay the paper flat and move the wood block across it. It will not need very much. Repeat this procedure not less than three times. By the third time the wood will not raise much at all. Then coat the wind way surface with something that you will not mind next to your mouth. I use super glue and of course be sure to let it dry before putting back in the whistle. I have found it good to put a small screw through the metal into the wood to hold it stable when adjusting the wind way exit and blade. To adjust the wind way exit first at the same space across the opening- Cut a strip of spousal credit card the width of the wind way and insert into the wind way. It is just the right thickness than mash the wind way exit only leaving the blowing end more open. This makes a nice tapered wind way. Close eyes and discard the remains of the spousal credit card and be prepared to say you don't know where it is. Keeping the strip used is optional.
Now set to adjusting the blade.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:22 pm 
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Kypfer wrote:
I went to the effort of immersing the fipple-end of my Clarke's Original in "not-quite-boiling" candle wax, left it there for a few seconds (sufficient to get the metal hot) then took it out and gave it a good shake. The fact that the metal was still hot meant almost all of the surplus wax shook off, but the wood had been immersed long enough to absorb some. The result was a whistle with stable characteristics, but a subtly changed tone.

NB: Hot wax will spontaneously combust. If you must heat it on a flame (as opposed to an electric element) take suitable precautions. A wet towel to hand to put over any fire is probably adequate. Gloves and eye protection should be considered.

Using a 'waterbath' should reduce the risk. Boiling water is hot enough to melt the wax, but not hot enough to get anywhere near the danger zone. Best done on a flame-free heater (electric cooker is better than gas, for example).

Have fun

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:24 pm 
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Reyburnwhistles wrote:
So when a wood block swells it reduces the airflow, increases the pressure (back pressure) and makes the tone sound more focused which generally results in a louder sound.

Quote:
The warming of an instrument is done so as to eliminate fogging or condensation of moisture in the airway which reduces the airflow and increases back pressure which is the same as when a wood block swells.

While I acknowledge that you're making whistles and I'm not (although I've made and fitted a number of recorder blocks), I'm not convinced that this 'generally results in a louder sound' when a more constricted windway and/or change in the relationship between windway floor and ramp can just as easily result in a more muffled sound and even (in extreme cases) no sound at all.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:45 pm 
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I have a different theory.

When you start playing a cold recorder, moisture condenses on the top surface of the block. Far too much condensation develops to be absorbed by the block, so it has to flow away. It will generally flow under air pressure to the exit chamfer which, since it isn't directly in the stream of moist air, will take a while to moisten sufficiently to allow the moisture on the top of the block to flow over the edge and down. This is why if you play for a couple of minutes and then look down the windway, you'll see a moisture build up at the windway exit. The textbook way to deal with this is to warm up the recorder before playing so that less condensation develops; another way, which I sometimes use and which works very well, is to wet the block and windway thoroughly before starting playing. Either breathe slowly for a while into the labium slot or simply pour water through the windway, allow the wooden surfaces to get properly wetted (the cedar will darken), then blow or suck the moisture out of the windway. Any further moisture produced by condensation will now easily flow over the lip of the chamfer and away.

This advice goes against accepted wisdom about keeping the windway dry, but it really does work, especially on very tightly voiced recorders. I don't know how the Clark whistle's block is shaped, but this might explain why taking the instrument into an extremely humid environment (the shower) solved the problem.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:03 pm 
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The best way I have found to keep condensate from a music instrument is to install a thermostatic steam trap. In front of the mouth piece.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:39 pm 
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Peter, my comment is in reference to the airway of a Clark which is fairly open and produces a full, less focused tone. When the airway is less open the result is a more focused tone which may not be louder but is perceived as being louder as the tone has a greater ability to cut thru other sounds in a session. Granted if it's too closed it can disturb the relationship between the airstream and the ramp which could cause a problem. I find that a very subtle decrease in the windway height, and I'm talkin about .001" or .002" makes a big difference in the focus of the tone and can strengthen the bottom end of the instrument and sweeten the upper end.

Of course a lot of this strengthening comes from the increase in back pressure achieved by the reduction of the airway. This is analogous to a hotter flame on your stove burners by having a smaller orifice on the jet.


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