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It's complicated choosing a flute
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Author:  davidbruce [ Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:33 pm ]
Post subject:  It's complicated choosing a flute

It is a real education, and so many variables
I have a Shannon (delrin, Walt Sweet) and it's a great flute. The only difficulties I am having are the stretch between holes, and that the holes are a bit too big. Great flute....but small hands. Lesson one for me has been that a flute has to be a good fit. There are several flute makers who make flutes with smaller holes and a bit tighter spacing, so that narrows it down.

I went through the wood-or-delrin dilemma. The best information I have is that delrin is almost worry free and maintenance free, and, in a lot of peoples' opinion, it produces a sound almost indistinguishable from blackwood...but I love's probably more emotion than reason.

Blackwood is great, but complicated. I live in Canada. CITES seems to have changed since I bought my first set of pipes. I called the Canadian Border Services Agency. The person I spoke to did not seem to know a great deal about the implications of bringing a blackwood instrument into Canada. I made a few more calls and finally spoke with an enforcement officer who deals with Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations. He was very helpful. He spent about 45 minutes explaining in great detail the potential pitfalls one might encounter bringing in blackwood...with some emphasis on the consequences. Casey Burns has posted some very informative material...should be required reading.

I learned that there are some very good alternatives to blackwood. Boxwood, Olivewood, Mopane come to mind. My favourite, for aesthetic reasons, is Mopane (or is it Mopani).

There seems to be plenty of pre-owned flutes in blackwood and delrin. I have not seen any in Mopane. That said, the price for a new one can be fairly reasonable.

My point is that this forum has been a great source of information, opinions, cautions. Most mornings I take a look at what has been posted here and invariably I learn something new.

Thanks to all.

Author:  birdman [ Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: It's complicated choosing a flute

Windward flutes in Shelburne NS make beautiful (sounding and looking) flutes in Mopane as well as other woods. Here's a recent post by someone who 'got one'. ... ture=share. No international borders to cross. I have two of their flutes (D mopane, E flat Tulipwood) and have always found Yola and Forbes a delight. They have just posted pics of a bunch of keyless flutes that are available (several woods) on their facebook page. Check them out.

Author:  busterbill [ Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: It's complicated choosing a flute

I am always interested in people who say they have hands too small to play the flute. I have normalish hands for a woman and when I wear men's gloves (they are usually warmer) I buy a men's small. Since you play the pipes you know the pipers grip so I won't bore you with that one. But I am wondering if the issue with many of us is working on stretching. Most of our activities with our hands require in and out moves, picking up, grasping and dropping things. But unless we've been trying to palm basketballs, play piano, guitar, violin we haven't really worked to open up our hands. Every day, unconsciously by now. I do a series of stretches aimed at increasing my lateral reach. Just a thought.

I do agree that you have to be very careful buying a blackwood flute if it has to cross international borders. Even used ones have to have been made before for a certain time and have documentation to prove that fact and permits. Casey Burns may have more details on that one.

Good luck on the mopane search. I have heard some very good flutes in mopane and boxwood, and my all time favorite is cocus. But some people are more sensitive to cocus so know your sensitivities.

Author:  Steampacket [ Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: It's complicated choosing a flute

As regards borders it seems that there is no problem travelling from one EU country to another EU country with a cocuswood or African blackwood flute. I'd never entertain the idea of travelling to the Syria, USA, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Somalia or other mad places though

Author:  Casey Burns [ Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: It's complicated choosing a flute

I want to emphasize that there is no problem for anyone with a blackwood flute as far as International borders are concerned.

Selling a flute to someone in another country does require permits. For makers it is more involved in the permit getting since we must show the details of our wood buying. For individuals selling and sending the instruments requires a single use permit. These are not difficult to obtain.

Import permits are required for the EU countries, but nowhere else it seems. Canada does not have this requirement.

Everyone is allowed to carry a flute made out of Blackwood, common Rosewoods and other CITES II protected species across a border as a personal possession - no permit required.

CITES I species such as Brazilian Rosewood and Ivory require permits. So if your flute has Ivory trimmings - its best to leave it at home.

CITES rules are set by International Treaty every 2 years. There is a possibility that the recent inclusion of Blackwood may be removed, due to the feedback from the large Clarinet and Oboe manufacturers. Or not. But players of such instruments who must purchase or travel across the border are reporting no major problems. The rules are unlikely to be changed quickly and cannot be changed by local authorities. One may encounter border agents who are unaware of the rules. With a little bit of facts, this is easy to overcome. If its a personal possession that you intend to return home with, you don't need to declare it even. If your baggage gets searched, they may ask about it. Just remind them that it is CITES II listed and allowed as a personal possession. If they disagree, demand to speak to their supervisor and it could be a teaching moment.

Author:  p51baby [ Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: It's complicated choosing a flute

As someone with smallish hands, I play with pipers grip and most flutes I can play decently. Also own a keyless Windward flute and its a great instrument for beginners and pros alike, plus you get that nice bottom D from their Pratten models.

But if you’d like to get a states side blackwood flute without the permits/second hand, would makers be able to ship it to a US shipping service? In Vancouver, most people would cross the border to Blaine or Point Roberts to grab packages. And I would believe you could still get the blackwood flute through customs as you are bringing it in yourself, you just have to pay taxes an all.



Author:  Casey Burns [ Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: It's complicated choosing a flute

Fortunately its the sender's responsibility to get the necessary permit. So when I sell a flute to a Canadian I deal with the permitting. The Canadian doesn't have to do anything except sometimes pay taxes which they shouldn't as handmade flutes are exempt under NAFTA rules.

They also have the option of collecting it here and bringing it up as a personal possession.

Selling it to someone in the States would require a single use permit from Ottawa. More info at

But one could also hand carry it across and declare it as a personal possession, and then send it from a US post office to the recipient I suppose. This is not a good option for us makers due to the frequency and quantity of flutes we send out.

I'd just as soon everyone behave and follow the rules, as this will help avoid the rules becoming more strict and harder for those of us who do this for our livelihoods. Also, you can usually sell a flute in Canada to someone else in Canada, and same here for US citizens selling to another US citizen. Many makers are simply choosing to forgo the entire situation by only selling domestically. Buying locally has other advantages.

Author:  p51baby [ Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: It's complicated choosing a flute

Thanks for that informative post Casey. Had no idea that Flutes were tax exempt under NAFTA (well, so long as a certain someone doesn’t threaten to dismantle it!) and that will help me in my future decision on US flute buying. Does this extend to Delrin handmade flutes too?



Author:  Casey Burns [ Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: It's complicated choosing a flute

The Harmonized Tariff Code (9205.90.40.60 ) refers simply to Flutes except for ones made from Bamboo. Canada to US and vice versa are exempt from any tariffs.

Author:  dcopley [ Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: It's complicated choosing a flute

Because of NAFTA there should not be any import tariffs for a flute sent from the US to Canada but I believe there will still be the Canadian Federal and Provincial sales taxes (GST and HST) to pay. Same as would be paid on something made in Canada. Similarly an EU country will usually collect VAT. Not an import tariff but I'm sure it doesn't hurt any less.

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