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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:00 am 
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I just traded some e-mails with Kai Koopmanm of SEM in Germany. I was asking him about long term and short term care of ebonite. He confirmed what paddler and Terry posited and that is that you can keep the finish restored along the way. I do think it takes awhile to discolor, but the player can actually polish it with some regularity.

I asked Kai about waxes, polishes and cleaning methods. Here is his reply:

It could be cleaned with water and soap and also with any other products they have used for their head joints out of wood.
When you’ve finished the wet-sanding of your Ebonite head joints, we’re recommending two different polishing pastes and also two different polishing baffles, one set for pre polishing and one set for the finish.
We are working with a stationary working machine that runs with 2750 rpm.
We’ve tested a liquid polishing paste from the car industry but they were not as good as our polishing blocks.
It’s a complete different situation for your players, maybe a fine abrasive polishing paste like Menzerna Super finish 3500 would work because the Ebonite was already high polished before.


If the player occasionally gives the thing a rub with a superfine polish and soft cloth it will refresh the color (in theory). Kai also did emphasize the need to keep them out of UV light as much as possible. Obviously most players are not going to choose to sit in the dark to play their flute, but with ebonite it would be smart to make sure the instrument is in it's case when not being played.

I'm bummed about the Renaissance Wax! It has been my go-to wax for some years (and I just bought a new tub, curse it!). However, I don't want to poison myself or others so I might have to switch back to my previous favorite, Clapham's Beeswax Furniture Polish or their Salad Bowl Finish.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:18 am 
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I should add that for a maker who is restoring an ebonite flute's finish using a buffing wheel, they need to take care around the embouchure hole and finger holes. I found that a soft cloth buffing wheel, if used too aggressively (even with a superfine polishing medium) can actually blunt the blowing edge or chamfer the rim of finger holes, etc.. You have to be pretty careless, but I have been so on a couple of occasions. A good argument for educating players to take care of the material and to keep it refreshed gently (by hand) throughout the life of the flute.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:41 am 
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AaronFW wrote:
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Thirdly, an ebonite flute invariably improves by judicious use.


I think the flutes just have not been played judiciously enough.

(For the record, I thought Rockstro's other comments were useful. But this one gave me a laugh and had no explanation as to what he meant.)

Perhaps he meant "judicious use" as something along the line of this quote I found:
"Definition of a 'gentleman' - someone who knows how to play the bagpipes but doesn't," - Ronnie Corbett.

Google brought me to this page for that quote:
http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Bagpipes

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:09 pm 
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Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
I'm bummed about the Renaissance Wax! It has been my go-to wax for some years (and I just bought a new tub, curse it!). However, I don't want to poison myself or others so I might have to switch back to my previous favorite, Clapham's Beeswax Furniture Polish or their Salad Bowl Finish.
Off topic, but I just bought a tub of Renaissance wax. Purchase triggered by the need to protect polished steel but I was going to use it on my flute as well. The data sheet here: http://www.conservationsupportsystems.c ... ce_Wax.pdf says less "Benzene content less than than 0.1%" and I read that being intended as a reassurance rather than a hazard warning. How does it compare with other wax polishes? They all have volatiles of some sort. Maybe the benzene is in the white spirit.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:14 pm 
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david_h wrote:
Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
I'm bummed about the Renaissance Wax! It has been my go-to wax for some years (and I just bought a new tub, curse it!). However, I don't want to poison myself or others so I might have to switch back to my previous favorite, Clapham's Beeswax Furniture Polish or their Salad Bowl Finish.
Off topic, but I just bought a tub of Renaissance wax. Purchase triggered by the need to protect polished steel but I was going to use it on my flute as well. The data sheet here: http://www.conservationsupportsystems.c ... ce_Wax.pdf says less "Benzene content less than than 0.1%" and I read that being intended as a reassurance rather than a hazard warning. How does it compare with other wax polishes? They all have volatiles of some sort. Maybe the benzene is in the white spirit.


Yes, even the Clapham's Beeswax Furniture polish is cut with mineral spirits. It evaporates as it dries, but it's there nonetheless. Their salad bowl finish is merely olive oil and beeswax, but it also does not create a nice, shiny finish :-)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:49 pm 
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Is that level of benzene content of any significance to health - especially by minor skin contact? I honestly don't know, but I somehow doubt it. It's probably no more of a risk than the inimical to some natural oils in tropical hardwoods.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:04 pm 
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AaronFW wrote:
Um, Terry. I've got to point out the article is a little confusing. There is a big red "Caution! Since writing this, I've been advised that Brasso have changed their formulation and the new stuff will damage rather than repair your CD's. ... " but then there is a postscript that says
"It's now many years since I wrote and published this article. Seems like not much has changed however. A recent study of the various fancy products now available for fixing scratched CDs reveals that they found Brasso is still the best! "

It is hard to tell which statement is most recent. A time-stamp or the removal of one of the statements would help.


I agree. I suspect the bit in red is unnecessary, but I thought it wise to caution people just in case. I've certainly continued to use Brasso to fix scratched and scuffed CDs and haven't noticed any side-effects. Haven't had to deal with any ebonite flutes recently!



AaronFW wrote:
Paddler (the following is a joke on Rockstro and not intended to be particularly helpful), I'm not sure if you saw the article with the quote by Rockstro, but I think Rockstro's 3rd point may address the issue. http://hammy-flutemaker.blogspot.co.uk/ ... e.html?m=1

Quote:
Thirdly, an ebonite flute invariably improves by judicious use.


I think the flutes just have not been played judiciously enough.

(For the record, I thought Rockstro's other comments were useful. But this one gave me a laugh and had no explanation as to what he meant.)


I think the thing you have to always keep at the front of your mind with Rockstro is that he is entirely unreliable. He speaks total rubbish on a lot of topics, and outright lies on others, which is a great shame, as he was so well placed to do the job he set out to do well. We shouldn't and can't ignore him, as we don't have too many other writers in the period, but we have to take everything he writes with a grain of salt until we prove it ourselves, or find a corroborating period witness. Harsh words, I know, but the evidence of his unreliability is too great to ignore.

One of the projects Adrian Duncan (Vancouver player and researcher) and I had talked about was going through Rockstro with a fine-toothed comb, testing every assertion and publishing our findings. I suspect it might be a job for a couple of 30 year olds rather than us!

I think what Rockstro is talking about is the myth back in his time that time spent with a good player will improve a flute's tuning, power, response, etc, while a bad player will diminish its capabilities. Yeah, right.

I think we've probably all noticed that flutes seem to get better with time (unless they have become too worn at the embouchure edge). But I'd suggest this is due to a large number of factors, some to do with the flute, some the player. It would be a good research topic for you younger folk to have a shot at!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:44 pm 
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I will second Terry on this. Indeed, Rockstro is the 'crazy uncle' to all us poor flute players. He was a very opinionared man writing during a very polarized, and opinionated period in flute history. I often suspect the modern practice of flaming and flame wars on the 'inter-webs' was pioneered in the various musical and flute periodicals published in his lifetime.

Bob

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:29 am 
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Terry McGee wrote:
AaronFW wrote:

[...]
It is hard to tell which statement is most recent. [...]


I agree. I suspect the bit in red is unnecessary, but I thought it wise to caution people just in case. I've certainly continued to use Brasso to fix scratched and scuffed CDs and haven't noticed any side-effects. Haven't had to deal with any ebonite flutes recently!



AaronFW wrote:
Paddler (the following is a joke on Rockstro and not intended to be particularly helpful), I'm not sure if you saw the article with the quote by Rockstro, but I think Rockstro's 3rd point may address the issue. http://hammy-flutemaker.blogspot.co.uk/ ... e.html?m=1

Quote:
Thirdly, an ebonite flute invariably improves by judicious use.


I think the flutes just have not been played judiciously enough.

(For the record, I thought Rockstro's other comments were useful. But this one gave me a laugh and had no explanation as to what he meant.)


I think the thing you have to always keep at the front of your mind with Rockstro is that he is entirely unreliable. He speaks total rubbish on a lot of topics, and outright lies on others, which is a great shame, as he was so well placed to do the job he set out to do well. We shouldn't and can't ignore him, as we don't have too many other writers in the period, but we have to take everything he writes with a grain of salt until we prove it ourselves, or find a corroborating period witness. Harsh words, I know, but the evidence of his unreliability is too great to ignore.

One of the projects Adrian Duncan (Vancouver player and researcher) and I had talked about was going through Rockstro with a fine-toothed comb, testing every assertion and publishing our findings. I suspect it might be a job for a couple of 30 year olds rather than us!

I think what Rockstro is talking about is the myth back in his time that time spent with a good player will improve a flute's tuning, power, response, etc, while a bad player will diminish its capabilities. Yeah, right.

I think we've probably all noticed that flutes seem to get better with time (unless they have become too worn at the embouchure edge). But I'd suggest this is due to a large number of factors, some to do with the flute, some the player. It would be a good research topic for you younger folk to have a shot at!


Thanks for clarifying the article and explaining what Rockstro may have meant.

an seanduine wrote:
I will second Terry on this. Indeed, Rockstro is the 'crazy uncle' to all us poor flute players. He was a very opinionared man writing during a very polarized, and opinionated period in flute history. I often suspect the modern practice of flaming and flame wars on the 'inter-webs' was pioneered in the various musical and flute periodicals published in his lifetime.

Bob


Regarding Rockstro, if I've learned anything from life/studies/research/grad-school, it is that no one does anything that seems unreasonable to themselves. Therefore we are all someone else's crazy uncle (or aunt). We all have thoughts and actions that make sense to us based on our thoughts/worldview/society but very well may not make sense to others.

Regarding flaming and flame wars, I don't think Rockstro would be to blame. I'm not familiar with what you were are referencing in that regard, but flaming and flame wars is a very normal human phenomenon. Not to get too far into it, but the norm is that people identify with their beliefs and therefore protect their beliefs strongly if their beliefs are questioned or threatened.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:31 am 
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Regarding the topic of the post:

Terry, do you keep records of the specifications and materials of the flutes that you make? Would you happen to have stats on the materials you've been making flutes out of? (I'm just curious what materials are trending for you.)


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:06 pm 
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Quote:
I think we've probably all noticed that flutes seem to get better with time (unless they have become too worn at the embouchure edge). But I'd suggest this is due to a large number of factors, some to do with the flute, some the player. It would be a good research topic for you younger folk to have a shot at!


Kevin Crawford once showed me his Grinter flute (that he plays constantly) and pointed out how worn it had become at the embouchure edge. Just from that constant jet of air (much like the relentless wind shaping a boulder :-)). Obviously he sounded amazing on it and was very familiar with it, but I did wonder at what point (if ever) it was going to start changing for the worse simply from erosion! The edge was quite blunt, really.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:27 am 
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It would be interesting to know how long he's had it, and how long before he feels he has to do something about it. And how many hours per day he averages playing. It would give the rest of us an idea of how long our flutes should last before needing refurbishment.

Something that has always puzzled me is how much better old flutes usually sound with a new head, even if the old head doesn't appear particularly worn. Hmmmm.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:33 am 
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AaronFW wrote:
Regarding the topic of the post:

Terry, do you keep records of the specifications and materials of the flutes that you make? Would you happen to have stats on the materials you've been making flutes out of? (I'm just curious what materials are trending for you.)


Can't easily put it in stats form but I'd guess that over 90% of my flutes were (and continue to be) made in african blackwood. The rest would be scattered between gidgee (an Australian acacia), ironbark (in the early days - an Australian eucalypt), Cooktown Ironwood, boxwood, Lancewood and Red Lancewood(Australian acacias), mopane and a few rarities like snakewood and cocus.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:13 am 
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AaronFW wrote:
Regarding flaming and flame wars, I don't think Rockstro would be to blame. I'm not familiar with what you were are referencing in that regard, but flaming and flame wars is a very normal human phenomenon. Not to get too far into it, but the norm is that people identify with their beliefs and therefore protect their beliefs strongly if their beliefs are questioned or threatened.


Unfortunately, when you look into it, it's hard to conclude that Rockstro can be found blameless. He absolutely savages Boehm, Clinton and Siccama, all of whom were conveniently dead by his time of publication. Andra Bohnet, Adrian Duncan and I have very carefully examined all the evidence available to us and cannot find any support for any of his allegations, and every evidence to the contrary. Christopher Welch comes to the same conclusions as we, in a scathing rebuttal of Rockstro's allegations particularly against Boehm published just 3 years later. All we can conclude is that Rockstro thought he could enhance his reputation by running down those of his predecessors. Unfortunately, mud sticks, and Rockstro's evil mouthings continue to taint flute books even today - from modern authors too lazy to enquire further.

We get another clue from Rockstro's treatment of the important flute inventor Radcliff. Radcliff was very much alive and popular at the time, so Rockstro wouldn't dare disparage him in print. Rockstro solves that dilemma by giving him not a single mention in the book!

Rockstro's own flute design was nothing to write home about - it was pretty much just a Boehm flute with oversized holes. Boehm had gone for equal sized holes, which made the low notes seem weak, especially to the English, used to big holes on the conical. Clinton had scaled them up increasingly as you went down the flute, dramatically opening up the tone, which won him a prize at the Great Exposition. But it did complicate manufacture. Rockstro scathingly ridiculed Clinton's "graduated holes", and went for large holes throughout, which didn't make theoretical or practical sense. Later and current practice has settled on a more gently graduated approach but tiered (to simplify manufacture). So history is on Clinton's side.

Interestingly, Rockstro wasn't born Rockstro, but with the much less fashionable name of Rackstraw. Carte was born Cart. I think they were a pair.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:22 am 
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Terry McGee wrote:
Something that has always puzzled me is how much better old flutes usually sound with a new head, even if the old head doesn't appear particularly worn. Hmmmm.

Aside from the new embouchure cut, which I'm sure does have a noticeably effect, two other factors that I think help are:
(1) New heads are often made to a length that requires the tuning slide to be open less for the flute to play at the same pitch (i.e., the new head is made longer than the old, so the slide can be closed more). This reduces the length of the cavity in the bore between the point where the inner slide (head lining) ends and the body (which has the same initial bore diameter) begins. The section between these points has a bore diameter equal to the ID of the outer part of the slide, which is much larger (approaching 1mm in some cases). This is a large disturbance in the bore, and reducing the size of this cavity seems to have a significant, positive effect on how flutes play, in my experience.
(2) Often new heads are made with a 19mm head bore, whereas a lot of old flutes tend to have a slightly smaller (non-metric) bore in the head. Opening up the head bore slightly (and we're talking maybe less than .2 mm) often seems to help an old flute play better.


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