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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 1:26 pm 
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I couldn't grab the image but there's one showing just the mouthpiece of a flute in close up in dark material, and near the head stop there are a set of holes.
This one:

Soloist models with Ruthenium Platinum electroplating

Model "H.N.9 RC" Flute Pure Silver Ruthenium Platinum - € 9.220,- incl. 20% VAT

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 2:05 pm 
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https://www.musik-neureiter.at/fileadmin/user_upload/daten/fotos/floeten/c-floeten-kopfstueck-1.jpg

Same as the Ebonite one (see Geoffrey's post). But truly hideous how they stick out like warts!

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 2:25 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
https://www.musik-neureiter.at/fileadmin/user_upload/daten/fotos/floeten/c-floeten-kopfstueck-1.jpg

Same as the Ebonite one (see Geoffrey's post). But truly hideous how they stick out like warts!

Yes thats the one. Very strange!

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 7:31 pm 
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I must have one!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:03 pm 
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Thought I'd follow up on the ebonite discussion...

I did end up getting a bunch of ebonite from SEM in Germany. Great stuff! I finally got around to using it for it's intended purpose and here are the fruits of that in the form of Boehm headjoints! I've done a group shot and some individual shots to show the colors (some of which are a bit out of focus in the "artsy" group photo). The colors in the group photo are (from front to back): classic black, briar, cumberland, sand and honey. They had a dizzying array of choices, but many of them were just a bit too busy or bright for my tastes. I actually favor the classic black and the briar, but they are all very handsome in their own way.

Working with ebonite is a bit different than wood :-) It actually drills, reams and machines quite nicely, though it does indeed smell like burning tires when hot! It has to be wet sanded to get that finish, going from 150 grit up to 2000 grit and then finishing on a buffing wheel with superfine abrasive paste.

It sounds amazing, acoustically speaking. I'm totally sold on the stuff--it sounds as good as any wood and better than most. As has already been discussed, it is expensive. The black is the least expensive and if I buy in bulk (about $1300 worth of the black rod stock) I can get the price down to where it only runs about $30 for enough material to make a headjoint. I'm guessing a full sized flute would (like a Pratten) would run to about $70, which is not bad. The colored stuff is going to be about twice that. But cost aside, it is also stable and waterproof, which is a glorious thing for a material that is not plastic and which is so very "woody" in it's character. Finishing and polishing does make a bit of a mess, since the sanding residue is turned into a thin, sulfurous slurry by the water and then flung all over the place (I sand on the lathe at about 3000RMP and I get a pretty liberal splattering of this fine cologne as I work).

But the funny thing is that I actually have grown to like the smell! It does smell like hot rubber, but my brain has now associated the smell with something that is great sounding and beautiful, so I'm a bit like one of Pavlov's dogs in that respect :-)

The only down side is that you can't use it with sterling silver! The sulfur content of the hard rubber tarnishes the silver very, very quickly. So I was obliged to use nickel silver for the rings, which does not react to it. Looks just like sterling, of course, but not as friendly to work with.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:07 pm 
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Those look stunning, Geoffrey. Great result all round! Thanks for reporting back.

Those material costs might be high versus wood, but the wastage should be much less and, as I think we said before, as a raw material cost in proportion to the sale price range of the end product, it's hardly a problem or major economic disincentive.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:17 pm 
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Thanks, Jem!

I solved the material cost issue by simply charging more for ebonite :-) It's worth it to the player as well, I think. The stability is an attractive feature--it is not as susceptible to environmental factors as wood is and I think that is a big deal. I have a customer who was trying to decide between a blackwood headjoint (I don't actually make these any more but he was checking out one of the few that I made) and ebonite. I told him all about ebonite and said, "But it costs $100 more". That didn't phase him at all. For a Boehm flute player (who has a flute that he probably spent $10,000 on) the price difference was barely considered. The other advantages of the material were far more important to him.

But as mentioned before, I do tend to handle it very carefully. Having an accident with it is more costly than with wood, but I manged to make about ten of the things without having to chuck any, so my nervousness must make me cautious :-)

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:30 am 
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Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
For a Boehm flute player (who has a flute that he probably spent $10,000 on) the price difference was barely considered.

If he has a silver flute, isn't that sulfur/sulphur content of an ebonite headjoint going to tarnish it more quickly?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:52 am 
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kkrell wrote:
Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
For a Boehm flute player (who has a flute that he probably spent $10,000 on) the price difference was barely considered.

If he has a silver flute, isn't that sulfur/sulphur content of an ebonite headjoint going to tarnish it more quickly?

Only if kept in the same case!

TBH, though, I don't notice the silver on my antique Rudall Carte Ebonite flutes tarnishing much worse/faster than that on the wooden ones, and one might presume that the chemistry of the modern material is better understood and more stable.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:18 am 
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kkrell wrote:
Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
For a Boehm flute player (who has a flute that he probably spent $10,000 on) the price difference was barely considered.

If he has a silver flute, isn't that sulfur/sulphur content of an ebonite headjoint going to tarnish it more quickly?


Proximity does seem to be a factor. The silver rings that I put on an ebonite head joint definitely tarnished quite quickly. I cleaned them up and they tarnished again in the space of a week or two. BUT...

The headjoint was not just fitted with silver rings but was also sitting in a box full of ebonite!

I don't think that using the headjoint on a silver flute will have the slightest effect on the flute itself, but I can't say what the long term effect would be if they were kept in the same case. I haven't done any sort of experiments along those lines. I noticed the phenomena, did a bit of research and found out that the sulfur was the causative factor.

My reason for switching to nickel silver was also to protect the finish on the ebonite. If a player was moved to keep the rings nice and shiny, they might opt to clean the silver with a substance or abrasive material that would dull the finish on the ebonite itself (it's very tricky to buff the metal rings without accidentally rubbing the ebonite). So I decided to dodge the entire problem :-)

But as I say, nickel silver is a bit more difficult to work simply because it is so hard compared to sterling. I'm relatively new to silver smithing and the like and there may be a way for me to soften up the nickel silver before I work it.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:29 pm 
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Windward flutes are using Canadian Maple, I had a chance to check them out, very nice! http://www.windwardflutes.com/

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:51 am 
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Geoffrey, I don't recall, have you worked with Delrin? If you have, how would you compare working with Delrin to working with Ebonite and do you perceive a difference in quality in the end product (i.e., the flute's sound quality, etc)?

...

It seems worth mentioning that Hammy Hamilton uses some ebonite for low D whistles: http://hamiltonflutes.com/Low_Whistle_Images.html#1

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:33 am 
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AaronFW wrote:
Geoffrey, I don't recall, have you worked with Delrin? If you have, how would you compare working with Delrin to working with Ebonite and do you perceive a difference in quality in the end product (i.e., the flute's sound quality, etc)?


I definitely use a fair bit of Delrin. I occasionally make flutes out of it, but I also utilize it for flute parts like mouthpieces, bore rings, socket lining material, etc..

I would characterize ebonite as having a similar feel to wood. I believe it has much more in common with wood than it does with plastic. Mind you, describing the differences in tone between materials is (as we all know from many previous discussion threads) a highly subjective and nuanced business! I would say the ebonite vibrates more like wood. Whether a listener would be able to partake of this difference I don't know (my guess is that they wouldn't) but for the player I think the ebonite is going to feel and have a similar resonance to wood.

This is important, and it is one of the reasons I love making really thin-walled head joints. The wall thickness on these headjoints is about 2mm, and this means that the player can really feel the resonance in their face when they play. Not really important for the audience (who cannot share this experience) but really awesome for the player. That feedback coming from the instrument really enhances the players connection with the instrument. The ebonite feels nearly identical to the boxwood versions that I make (photo attached).
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:38 am 
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Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
AaronFW wrote:
Geoffrey, I don't recall, have you worked with Delrin? If you have, how would you compare working with Delrin to working with Ebonite and do you perceive a difference in quality in the end product (i.e., the flute's sound quality, etc)?


I definitely use a fair bit of Delrin. I occasionally make flutes out of it, but I also utilize it for flute parts like mouthpieces, bore rings, socket lining material, etc..

I would characterize ebonite as having a similar feel to wood. I believe it has much more in common with wood than it does with plastic. Mind you, describing the differences in tone between materials is (as we all know from many previous discussion threads) a highly subjective and nuanced business! I would say the ebonite vibrates more like wood. Whether a listener would be able to partake of this difference I don't know (my guess is that they wouldn't) but for the player I think the ebonite is going to feel and have a similar resonance to wood.

This is important, and it is one of the reasons I love making really thin-walled head joints. The wall thickness on these headjoints is about 2mm, and this means that the player can really feel the resonance in their face when they play. Not really important for the audience (who cannot share this experience) but really awesome for the player. That feedback coming from the instrument really enhances the players connection with the instrument. The ebonite feels nearly identical to the boxwood versions that I make.


Thank you, this is all good information.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:06 pm 
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I think it has been posted on C&F before, but my original impulse to get into ebonite came on the heels of reading this article by clarinet maker Tom Ridenour. I think required reading for anyone who has been traveling in the world of blackwood instruments.

http://www.ridenourclarinetproducts.com/the-grenadilla-myth.html

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