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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:05 am 
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Terry McGee wrote:
Bamboo is interesting, as it is a grass, not a wood. Unfortunately, it's not easy to convince it to grow in exactly the right taper for Irish flutes (hmmm, any experts in genetic modification looking for a challenge?).


I imagine that you could likely force it to grow at the right taper. Sort of like the square watermelons, you could force it into a container that would help achieve the right container and diameter. However, I also imagine you would need to ream the bamboo still in order to achieve the correct taper. I've worked with making bamboo flutes, and if I had the tools to ream bamboo, I would probably just make wooden flutes instead.

In my days of examining different types of bamboo, I have found some that taper similar to Irish flutes. Bamboo from Florida tends to grow in longer sections and tapers some. However, I think the inside would still need reamed to meet the desired specifications. So I think if someone had a very high preference for the tone that bamboo has, it could be feasible to just switch to working with bamboo, but use all the same regular flute making tools...

Barna Gabos (he is a flutemaker in Hungary) apparently made a multi-piece bamboo Pratten at some point, though he doesn't regularly make them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwOCo2CIJ64 It seems like it worked well, but it also looks like it required all the same tooling a wooden flute does and I'm not completely sure how to feel about the tone myself. :-?

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:02 am 
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Kade1301 wrote:
Couldn't flutes be made from the wood of fruit trees? Cherry and plum have a rather good reputation for recorders, pear is a question of taste (as a player I love it, but I've seen a recorder maker sneer - he considered it not worth his time...) And don't they grow olives somewhere in the U.S.? Even if the trees can live pretty much forever - somebody somewhere must cut one every now and then because there's recorders made from them (they are exceptionally pretty with a good sound if well made).


The basic answer to your first question is yes! Baroque flute makers frequently used pear and plum, and depending
on the specific specimen chosen, and how it is treated, you can make a nice flute from it. We talk a lot about different
species of wood, but the environment in which a tree grows also makes a big difference to the suitability of the wood
for flute making. Terry makes a good point about this above. Trees that grow in desert areas and at high altitude where
there is a short growing season and a scarcity of water, often have finer grained, denser wood than the same species
grown in a warm, moist, lowland area.

There are several species of tree that grow in North America that can make really nice flutes. I've been experimenting
with this a little, harvesting, milling and seasoning my own wood, and making flutes from it. I've had some surprisingly
good results recently with English hawthorn wood, which is considered a weed tree here. The right specimen can produce
a flute that has very similar characteristics (playing and visual) to boxwood. My friend Geoffrey Ellis has also been
experimenting with using resin infusion techniques to improve the properties of various domestic woods, and has had
some impressive results.

I have a nice selection of mountain mahogany wood that I am excited about too. I collected this in remote river canyons in eastern
Oregon and Idaho almost a decade ago. It came from trees that had been dead for an unknown amount of time before that, so
the moisture content was already extremely low. These trees grow at altitudes between 4500 and 5500 feet in desert mountain
areas on sun-baked rocky hillsides where virtually nothing else will grown. The wood is denser than water and the grain
size is so fine that it turns and polishes to a glass-like finish. Its not a wood that will ever become commercially viable, though,
because its really difficult to season, but for that one-off special instrument, I have a feeling that it will be perfect.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:57 pm 
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I've had good luck making whistles from Osage orange, dogwood, cherry, and pear/plum wood (I can't tell the difference between the trees). I generally seal all those except the Osage. I buy the Osage, but the others have been wood I've cut myself from trees that have come down in storms.

I hope to make my first flute in the not-too-distant future from my last four pieces of plum/pear.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:03 am 
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I just ran into something else - a foreign client chatting up Mopane over Blackwood for my Folk Flutes, claiming that he prefers it for aesthetic reasons etc.

Then I discover elsewhere that the real reason for his Mopane choice is due to his fears and misunderstandings over how CITES II works. I really wish that people were honest with me from the start, especially when they are asking for a special favor that goes beyond my comfort level and current policies. I hope he takes his business elsewhere as I have no time for this sort of nonsense.

Casey

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:45 am 
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I may have said this before, but thank you Casey for your many posts on CITES over the last few years. I read enough threads to see that you have to repeat yourself frequently, but I myself find it really useful and am glad to read and re-read the advice. Thank you.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:38 pm 
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paddler wrote:
... I've had some surprisingly
good results recently with English hawthorn wood, which is considered a weed tree here. The right specimen can produce
a flute that has very similar characteristics (playing and visual) to boxwood. ...


I suppose the difficulty lies in finding the right specimen. But as a general rule I feel that finding local woods that will do the job is the way to go. Ecology and regulations aside, I'm allergic to my grandfather's "Palisander" (German) recorder, so I stay away from all rosewood varieties and am wary of all dark tropical woods.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:03 pm 
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It would be nice to use up the large pile of Blackwood that I have accumulated. Same for the other makers.

The Clarinet and Oboe industries aren't freaking out about this - neither are some of the bagpipe makers such as Seivane.es who makes some of the greatest Galician Gaitas. I play one of their late father's. Irish flute makers on this list should get their heads out of these online forums and join the rest of the world occasionally.

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