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 Post subject: Olwell Birthday Flute!
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:44 pm 
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Hi all, long time no type.

It’s Olwell birthday flute time, and this one’s a crackerjack...and made by Aaron! I may be biased because he’s my mate, but I’ve really been blown away by Aaron’s musical and artisanal development over the last few years. As he’s conquered yet another instrument, the clarinet, he has taken on board some serious lessons about key design, culminating in this incredible Pratten-style flute with post-mounted keys.

I’ve played on this foot joint, and it’s a real leap forward. It takes no effort whatsoever to get a solid C. If you’ve got the copper, you should definitely take a punt at this flute.

R

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Olwell-8-keyed-Pratten-Irish-flute/113077365252?hash=item1a53efaa04%3Ag%3A~g0AAOSwRNRbKDtE

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:47 pm 
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Vid here:

https://youtu.be/yYN2J7_gypo

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:25 am 
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Hmm, I don't like the look of this flute myself, the thick rings, and the bendy foot joint keys. I prefer the aesthetics of a 19th century Rudall simple system eight key with blocks, salt spoon and pewter plug keys. Listening to the video, it doesn't have the strong tone I'd associate with a Pratten bore either, and it sounds out of tune, but that could be the player. However I'm sure there are others that will like it and bid accordingly.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:50 am 
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I like the look and didn't notice the tuning being off. Somehow I missed the point of the second footjoint...did it go down to a B or something?

Post mounted keys allow for ideal ergonometry IMHO. However, I prefer a R&R level of finger spacing. Too many Prwtten style flutes have an uncomfortable stretch for me.

Eric


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:24 am 
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Yes, I do believe that the second footjoint goes down to B. You can see it separately on photo 11 of the Ebay listing. To my ears, the tuning sounds good to me in this recording , and it will be interesting to see the final outcome of the sale given the considerable stylistic departure from 19th Century norms. I feel this flute is a very exciting development, embracing the Boehm method of mounting footjoint keys on a plate, but doing it in a manner more exciting than is typical of an actual Boehm flute. Aaron is quite bravely taking a gamble on this one, as I see on this forum that some members have reservations about it.
In fairness the English 8 key footjoint needs quite a lot of maintenance and a nuanced approach in order for the low C notes to sound successfully. French simple system post mounted (Non Boehm) footjoints from the same period were much easier to operate and this may be guiding Aarons thinking.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:49 am 
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Maurice Reviol does some great post mounted keys as well. I think makers with modern woodwind repair training see the advantages (better ergonomics, ability to cut flute bodies without blocks so the body can become keyless or keyed without forethought, ability to retrofit).


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:13 am 
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Uni Flute wrote:
In fairness the English 8 key footjoint needs quite a lot of maintenance and a nuanced approach in order for the low C notes to sound successfully. French simple system post mounted (Non Boehm) footjoints from the same period were much easier to operate and this may be guiding Aarons thinking.


I wonder why you say that, I have two 8 keyed flutes that have worked spot on for more than 20 years without any maintenance whatsoever. Pewter plug does not move does not leak etc...


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:10 pm 
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Nicolas86 wrote:
Uni Flute wrote:
In fairness the English 8 key footjoint needs quite a lot of maintenance and a nuanced approach in order for the low C notes to sound successfully. French simple system post mounted (Non Boehm) footjoints from the same period were much easier to operate and this may be guiding Aarons thinking.


I wonder why you say that, I have two 8 keyed flutes that have worked spot on for more than 20 years without any maintenance whatsoever. Pewter plug does not move does not leak etc...


There are some pewter plug C footjoints that work very well, but there are quite a lot that need applications of light oil to keep them sealing. Additionally, the two parts of the pewter plug can become loose, and then can revolve in the loop of the key shank. Plugs which previously seated well in their original fixed orientation may become leaky now that they are on the move.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:23 pm 
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Steampacket wrote:
Hmm, I don't like the look of this flute myself, the thick rings, and the bendy foot joint keys. I prefer the aesthetics of a 19th century Rudall simple system eight key with blocks, salt spoon and pewter plug keys. Listening to the video, it doesn't have the strong tone I'd associate with a Pratten bore either, and it sounds out of tune, but that could be the player. However I'm sure there are others that will like it and bid accordingly.



Progress is often frightening.

As a professional band instrument repair tech, I can tell you with certainty, that post mounting is superior in every technical way imaginable. The block mounts look nice but are a nightmare for the longevity of the instrument. And, as the Olwells are the Stradivari family of the simple system flute, it will be important for their instruments to have the best chance of surviving multiple centuries. I applaud the moves Aaron is making. I had a chance to see one of Aaron’s c foot joints at a session with Isaac Alderson- it’s a true work of art.

As for the tone and tuning, there are no flutes made that play with as much consistent excellence as Olwells- full stop. If one doesn’t prefer the sound Aaron makes with his flutes, one only need listen to Seamus Egan, Matt Molloy, Shannon Heaton, Isaac Alderson, Conal O’Grada, etc..etc..

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:49 pm 
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Conal O'Grada plays Hamilton flutes. HwaF...your argument needs more data, and less opinion. Olwells are great flutes, but there are other flutes, too.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:49 am 
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i]"Progress is often frightening." hwaf.[/i]

I'm all for progress in the right direction.

"As a professional band instrument repair tech, I can tell you with certainty, that post mounting is superior in every technical way imaginable. The block mounts look nice but are a nightmare for the longevity of the instrument." hwaf

No, I don't think that post mounting on a wooden simple system flute is superior to block mounts. A different system, but not superior technically, or aesthetically. I have two block mounted flutes with salt spoon and pewter keys that are over 170 years old, and they are functioning just fine. The only maintenance needed so far are new pads, a couple of key pivot pins, and two new key springs.

The Olwells are just one of a number of contemporary flute makers producing fine flutes.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:59 am 
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Steampacket wrote:
i]"Progress is often frightening." hwaf.[/i]

I'm all for progress in the right direction

No, I don't think that post mounting on a wooden simple system flute is superior to block mounts. A different system, but not superior technically, or aesthetically. I have two block mounted flutes with salt spoon and pewter keys that are over 170 years old, and they are functioning just fine. The only maintenance needed so far are new pads, a couple of key pivot pins, and two new key springs.

The Olwells are just one of a number of contemporary flute makers producing fine flutes.



Block mounts are beautiful- but by definition, they are not progressive. The entire flute making industry moved away from block mounts OVER 100 YEARS AGO! It only takes basic science to understand the disadvantages of any mechanism that pits metal against wood. The metal always wins, and the wood gives way. The pivot points in block mounting are tiny bits of metal that put pressure on softer material. The pivot points in post mounting are threaded rods that put no pressure on the wooden body. To adjust the key way in a block mount requires adding or taking away material on the body of the flute. On post mounted keys, you simply elongate or shorten the rod tube of the key- no work on the flute body. If a key post breaks, you are replacing a small piece of metal (in the case of body mounted) or soldering a piece of metal to a removable flange- again, no work on the flute body.

This isn’t even arguable from a technical standpoint. Aesthetics being in the eye of the beholder, I will grant you that block mounts are visually pleasing.

The evidence that your two 170-year-old flutes constitute proof that there are no issues with block mount longevity is purely anecdotal. I have one 160-year-old-flute that works as well. The total original block mounted flutes owned by the readers of this forum is probably a massive number. The real question is how many block mount flutes from the 19th century DIDN’T survive, or are not reliable because of the issues with the basic physics of the design. Obviously, enough to move the entire wooden instrument industry to post mounting (which, incidentally, they still produce today since they work better). You would need to prove that the block mounted flutes of the late 18th and early to mid 19th century have outlasted the post mounted flutes, clarinets, bassoons and oboes of the time and are easier to repair.

Ours is an anachronistic hobby. There’s nothing wrong with preferring the original to the progressive. But we shouldn’t confuse our preferences and opinions with facts. If one calls into question the artisanal merit of Aaron and Pat Olwell, its my opinion that they should have something other than anecdotes and (dare I say it) historical snobbery as evidence.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 11:04 am 
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"Block mounts are beautiful- but by definition, they are not progressive. The entire flute making industry moved away from block mounts OVER 100 YEARS AGO!" hwaf.

Block mounts, salt spoon keys, pewter plugs are classic on wooden simple system flutes, and they do the job. So less is more. Irish traditional flute players play mostly in the keys of D, G and A and their relative minor keys, so the fact that the mainstream flute making industry chose to go post mounted keys and Boehm foot joints is, I suspect, of little concern of Irish traditional flute players. Block mounts are remarkably robust, and can be repaired if broken also the keys in a block mount are, in my experience, very stable, and seldom if ever need adjusting.

"Post mounting enthusiasts often claim that blocks are prone to breaking, but I'd have to say I've seen more broken keys than broken blocks on 19th century instruments. And I've definitely seen more splits caused by post mounting than by block mounting, and had to deal with more split or splayed hinge tubes and loose posts than broken blocks. I'd go with whatever pleases you visually on this one." Australian flute maker, Terry McGee.

"The evidence that your two 170-year-old flutes constitute proof that there are no issues with block mount longevity is purely anecdotal. I have one 160-year-old-flute that works as well. The total original block mounted flutes owned by the readers of this forum is probably a massive number. The real question is how many block mount flutes from the 19th century DIDN’T survive, or are not reliable because of the issues with the basic physics of the design. Obviously, enough to move the entire wooden instrument industry to post mounting (which, incidentally, they still produce today since they work better). You would need to prove that the block mounted flutes of the late 18th and early to mid 19th century have outlasted the post mounted flutes, clarinets, bassoons and oboes of the time and are easier to repair." hwaf.

That my and other peoples block mounted Rudalls have no issues is a fact and not an anecdote. Rudall simple system flutes, for example, are thought to be around 7200 in number. We don't know how many of them have survived, and uncatalogued examples still keep turning up. We know that broken block mounts are not the reason that classical flute players turned to the pin mounted Boehm system.

"Ours is an anachronistic hobby. There’s nothing wrong with preferring the original to the progressive. But we shouldn’t confuse our preferences and opinions with facts. If one calls into question the artisanal merit of Aaron and Pat Olwell, its my opinion that they should have something other than anecdotes and (dare I say it) historical snobbery as evidence. hwaf.

No, it's not an anachronistic hobby any more than playing a violin is. I play Irish trad on a flute made in 1842. I learn new tunes that I play on this flute. Chris Wilkes, Hammy Hamilton, Michael Grinter are just three modern flute makers that make eight key flutes using a Rudall & Rose flute as a bench mark, but with A=440 tuning in mind. The Olwells make fine flutes. I also play a Pat Olwell Pratten flute without pin or block mounts that I like. I just don't like the aesthetics of the 2018 birthday flute, or how it sounds in the video. Others, such as yourself, hwaf, are allowed to have a different opinion, I don't mind


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:14 pm 
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Personally, I think it’s horse cool that Aaron has seen fit to become conversant in the language of pin-mounted keys. It opens up a realm of possibilities, which could include (and I’m not saying the Os have plans to offer this) keying up a beloved non-keyed flute, or unconventional layouts that a block-mounted flute wouldn’t support.

And while the floral foot joints may not appeal to the hidebound traditionalist, they offer a certain kind of functionality that no block-mounted foot can offer, and I say that as someone who owns, if I may be so bold, some of the nicest antique foot joints you’re likely to see, with both plugs and pads. Simply put, if you haven’t played one of these, and frankly few have had the chance yet, you have no idea what you’re missing.

Meanwhile, Aaron has done a second video exploring the tone of the birthday flute:

https://youtu.be/Cd7DdHraW94

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:46 pm 
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I think the tone and intonation of the birthday flute is fine in this second video. I listened through the video a couple of times and it sounded good. Aaron's pin mounted key work is not for me, but I wish him luck in his endeavours. I'm fine with my old-fashioned keys mounted on wooden blocks, but there is obviously an interest in what Aaron is doing so I'm sure this birthday flute will find a buyer.


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