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 Post subject: Flute design questions
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:20 am 
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Good morning, all

This is a followup to a previous question I posted a little while ago.

I have been playing flute for only one year, having played pipes for a couple of decades and whistle for a lesser time. I am presently playing a Shannon my Walt Sweet, which, in my limited experience is a very good flute.

I really like wood...working with it, the feel, the beautiful intricacies. I have been searching for a wooden flute with small holes and a narrow bore. My hands are average size, but my fingers are 68 years old.

I have received a lot of really helpful advice on this forum, and I am thankful for the time people have spent helping me with my research.

Talking to a number of the flute makers that have been recommended, I get the impression that it is a far more complicated question than I had imagined. Size of holes, bore, hole spacing are all factors that create a bit of a dance. Change one, and you need to adjust, tweak, redesign the others.

Are small holes and narrow bore mutually exclusive? I am not worried about volume..my wife would say, the quieter, the better. The Grey Larson Preferred seems like a good option. Casey Burns makes a small hand flute with some ergonomic adjustments, but I don't know about the bore size.

I am eager to hear what kind of observations and opinions are out there.

Thanks go all

DavidBruce


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:24 am 
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Certainly small holes are compatible with a narrow bore. The early Rudalls
often combined both. Larger holes and wider bore were significantly
an effort to make orchestral flutes louder. There was an interesting 'battle'
that went on between simple system flutes and the new Boehm flute. The latter
began to appear in I believe the late 1840s, and the Boehm ultimately replaced simple system
in symphony orchestras. The designers of simple system flutes
tried to make them louder and more in tune so as to compete.
If you like small holes and a narrow bore, there are plenty of options.
And some extraordinarily good flooters play them, too.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:56 am 
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davidbruce wrote:
Are small holes and narrow bore mutually exclusive?

Absolutely not. They more typically go together.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:43 am 
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Thanks. What makers would you recommend?

I know there have been some very positive things said about CaseyBurns Folk Flutes, and Terry McGee GLP. What about Tony Millyard? All have small hole options. Maybe I just need to contact the makers and ask specifically about bore dimensions.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:57 am 
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I'm not sure if you are seeking a narrow bore, or a narrow outer profile of the flute (perhaps for hand comfort). Wall thickness, not just the bore, is an additional factor. There are some flutes with very thin walls while the bore is pretty standard. And of course, some flutes are lighter than others, not only due to the materials, but the profile the maker uses.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:04 pm 
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Unless there is something the matter with your hands, e.g. arthritis or whatever,
age needn't make much difference. I'm about to be 76 and I'm playing Prattens. Mike
Rafferty was playing Prattens in his late 70s. It's easy to be overly impressed by age.
At the same time, there is nothing the matter with small holed flutes and narrow bores,
especially given the purposes you mention.

We are (wisely) prohibited from evaluating flutes we haven't played.
With that in mind, if it were me I would seriously consider the Grey Larsen
preferred. And I think lots of people would think well of that choice for a small
holed flute.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:48 am 
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You ask about Tony Millyard. I've recently bought one from him and love it. A fine maker (he also makes baroque reed instruments) he produces beautiful flutes at a very competitive price. One thing to be aware of with Tony is that he threads the joints - though he will fit cork later, after you've played the flute for a while and it's had a chance to settle down.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:01 pm 
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I'm sure a flute maker can correct me if I'm off on this...

Isn't the bore-size more-or-less the same on all flutes of the same key. The note is based on the volume of the air in the tube, up to the vent hole. If so, then a large-BORE flute would need to have holes closer together than a small bore flute. I'm not clear on how hole size factors in.

Even if I'm wrong, some flutes do have wider spread between the fingers, and that can cause more discomfort than other issues. So, you do need to try the flute in person.

My preference is for a medium-sized hole flute, rather than large, Pratten style, although I know someone with very small hands who does fine with huge holes.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:37 pm 
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tstermitz wrote:
I'm sure a flute maker can correct me if I'm off on this...

Isn't the bore-size more-or-less the same on all flutes of the same key. The note is based on the volume of the air in the tube, up to the vent hole.

I'm not a flute maker, but you are wrong. The note is based on the length (not volume) of the air column.

Flute acoustics: an introduction to how a flute works
http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/fluteacoustics.html

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:35 am 
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Heh heh, I think the truth probably lies somewhere between the statements made by kkrell and tstermitz....

The length of the vibrating air column is definitely the first-order determinant of pitch. But the bore diameter (and if you like therefore the volume) does have a second-order effect, and is definitely not to be ignored.

This becomes interesting and relevant to this discussion in this way. Small holed flutes (like my Grey Larsen Preferred or Rudall Refined models) need a larger spacing between holes than a large-holed flute like the Prattens. So it's helpful to separate out the issues that might drive you one way or the other.

If you have short, thickish fingers, the large holed flute might be more comfortable.

But if you have longer, thinner fingers, you might be better off with a smaller-holed flute.

But of course there are other issues to take into account. The bigger holed and bored flutes have more body to the tone, the smaller bored and holed flutes are more agile.

Wherever possible, do whatever you can to experience a flute you are thinking of buying first. Nobody can tell you (yet) what is going to suit you.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:49 am 
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As has been mentioned age doesn't have to be an issue. If possible try different types of flute, and see what appeals, and suits you. I'm older than you David, and play a modern Olwell Pratten style flute, a medium holed Rudall & Rose, A heavy (patent head silver keys) Rudall & Rose flute, a small holed Wilkes Rudall model, all without any problems. I have small hands, thin fingers. I can quickly adapt to whatever flute I pick up, although my favourite is the PH Rudall. It's like driving an old Alvis or Bentley.

I think, especially if you are an older gentleman or lady, if you keep yourself in trim, walk fast at least 30-40 minutes every day, maybe jog a little, cycle, stop eating meat, Use light weights for the muscles in your arms and shoulders, wrist joints etc., it all helps to keep you in good physical condition to keep playing the flute. Also think about your posture and how you position your hands when playing in order to avoid neck and wrist problems.

As regards flute design I think practicing regularly, if only a little every day, on the flute you have is a bigger priority than design, bores, hole size etc. Eventually you'll find a flute, or flutes that suit you. Rock on


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:49 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
davidbruce wrote:
Are small holes and narrow bore mutually exclusive?

Absolutely not. They more typically go together.
They pretty much have to go together, both physically--you can't put a huge tonehole in a small bore--and acoustically--a small tonehole doesn't "terminate" a large bore very well. As the flute gets longer and lower pitched, you generally want a larger bore to maintain the flutey sound. For a flute of a given pitch (low D, presumably), with a larger bore you will need larger toneholes to balance the tuning over the full two octaves and still keep the holes within a hand span.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:06 am 
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Tunborough wrote:
They pretty much have to go together

I know. I was just being careful in case someone picked me up on exceptions to the rule.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:12 pm 
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'I think, especially if you are an older gentleman or lady, if you keep yourself in trim, walk fast at least 30-40 minutes every day, maybe jog a little, cycle, stop eating meat, Use light weights for the muscles in your arms and shoulders, wrist joints etc., it all helps to keep you in good physical condition to keep playing the flute. Also think about your posture and how you position your hands when playing in order to avoid neck and wrist problems.'

Boy is this good advice. Flute playing is an athletic activity, and, if you want to be good at it, there is much to be said for training. Sit-ups make a significant difference to breath control, too. Also if you just want to be healthy and vital, this sort of program can make a big difference, especially in old age.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:20 am 
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Steampacket wrote:
stop eating meat,


Seriously???

Since when did flute playing become a vegan/vegetarian endeavor??? How about “stop indulging in bad eating habits” instead?

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