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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:25 pm 
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Back to this Flute. I don't know what Mr. Ellis did or did not do and I'm not experienced enough to say it's better than other flutes made with similar attention to detail. Let me repeat: not experienced enough or good enough to say it's better than, say Casey Burns' Folks flute. And "better" is subjective anyway.

It's just been really instructive to play--light, lively, loud, in tune, with a lovely sound and a lovely experience that makes me want to practice.


Last edited by PB+J on Fri Jun 28, 2019 3:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:40 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
The flute is amazing still. I get better on it every day. it's extremely powerful.
Leo fender of course did just fine with maple fretboards, and now you can 'roast" maple to make it very dark.


I've just recently gotten into using roasted maple and I love it. Highly stable without the use of resins. In addition to adding color, the roasting pretty much "pre-shrinks" the wood and practically eliminates mobility. Great stuff.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2019 3:31 am 
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Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
PB+J wrote:
The flute is amazing still. I get better on it every day. it's extremely powerful.
Leo fender of course did just fine with maple fretboards, and now you can 'roast" maple to make it very dark.


I've just recently gotten into using roasted maple and I love it. Highly stable without the use of resins. In addition to adding color, the roasting pretty much "pre-shrinks" the wood and practically eliminates mobility. Great stuff.



I don't like the way it smells. I always worry that something's burning


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2019 10:11 am 
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PB+J wrote:
Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
PB+J wrote:
The flute is amazing still. I get better on it every day. it's extremely powerful.
Leo fender of course did just fine with maple fretboards, and now you can 'roast" maple to make it very dark.


I've just recently gotten into using roasted maple and I love it. Highly stable without the use of resins. In addition to adding color, the roasting pretty much "pre-shrinks" the wood and practically eliminates mobility. Great stuff.



I don't like the way it smells. I always worry that something's burning


I get mine from a guy who has supplied my curly maple for years and he does all the roasting. I mean to roast a bit of my own and he did advise that I avoid putting the pieces to close together in the oven, otherwise they might scorch. I haven't smelled them cooking (first hand) yet, but I quite like the smell of the roasted maple when I work it later on. Almost like maple syrup :-)

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:27 pm 
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Terry McGee wrote:
Phenolic resins. Vacuum impregnations. Acrylics. Young people these days, I don't know....

Nah, good on youse. The 19th century was great, but we must be getting close to time to move on...


I apologize for the fact I've responded at tedious length, but this thread brought up a lot of thoughts I've been having about traditional ways of making instruments versus modern machinery. Apologies to PB+J, as this isn't a thread derailment so much as a thread apocalypse.

Like a lot of people my age I struggle to find a balance between digital/high tech stuff, and interpersonal/traditional stuff ("stuff" being a placeholder for anything from manufacturing techniques to correspondence). For me that means writing physical letters when thanking someone / acknowledging an event, trying not to be on my phone too much, and patronizing businesses in person wherever feasible, rather than ordering delivery or online.

This also extends to my instrument making with regard to preferring synthetic vs natural materials. I deeply respect and admire the techniques and skill that go into making an instrument out of wood, cane, or other natural materials like leather. Instruments made this way have an authenticity about them, and (if they sound good) carry with them the hand of a master craftsperson.

However, I would have to wait a long time to be able to do that. My formerly-sleepy hometown has rapidly become one of the most expensive cities in the US, and because of that, I live in a small apartment and work a demanding 9-5 to pay for it. My workshop size is limited to "whatever fits on my kitchen table." I don't really have access to a lot of the woodworking classes, equipment, or affordable places to use either. Perhaps it's my generation's ceaseless cry of "NOW!" or my growing suspicion that I will die of radiation poisoning rather than "buried in bagpipe avalanche at 91," but I don't want to wait to try out some of my designs. I'm really a player, more than a maker. I make things out of a desire to play more and better music.

So I try to focus on what I do have. What I do have is an ex-Boeing facility "Makerspace" full of high-tech sh*t, and a negotiated trade-of-services with the manager so I can actually afford to use the machinery. I learned to use 3D modelling to keep track of my designs, and from there it's relatively easy to automate some of the more difficult bits of making the pieces. There are still things that must be hand-finished now and then, but it's confined to what I can do with a dremel and needle files at my kitchen table. It's thanks to 3D modeling I can realize some of my best ideas now, which would have remained in my head or on paper for years.

I see automating the consistency of the designs as a way of empowering the ideas themselves, not hindered by my lack of ability. This brings us back to synthetic materials. They're just more consistent than natural ones, and that consistency allows me to assess whether the idea itself is any good, not the execution of same. Looking to the future, we now have ways (often not used commercially, but ways exist) to produce most types of carbon compounds for resins and acrylics, or materials imitating their properties, through biochemical means or less toxic processes. It's not as cost-effective as a cracking column, but it requires no petroleum-based feedstock. If our civilization avoids collapse and begins prioritizing sustaining a habitable atmosphere, these resins or products like them are still going to be around due to their use in other areas. Suitable (or indeed, affordable) tonewood may not.

However, I can't shake the lingering feeling that all this is somehow "cheating," and that the instruments may "be of my head, but not of my hands," which I feel remains part of the tradition. Perhaps the first thing flute players do when meeting each other is talk about the origins of their flutes, who made them and when, and who owned them previously. There's a few players whom I greatly respect on my waiting list, and I wonder whether they'll think about my instrument as a neat trick, or a skillful piece.

3D modelling and automated manufacturing has certainly empowered people to collaborate from across the world (indeed - I have a copy of the Rostock chanter, the earliest pipe chanter ever discovered intact, sitting on my hard drive right now), share knowledge, and find solutions. I'd still rather be apprenticing to Mattis Branschke or Julian Goodacre, and hell, maybe I'll get that opportunity someday. But for now, 3D will have to do.

"tedious length" is now my stripper name


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:14 pm 
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MadmanWithaWhistle wrote:
Terry McGee wrote:
Phenolic resins. Vacuum impregnations. Acrylics. Young people these days, I don't know....

Nah, good on youse. The 19th century was great, but we must be getting close to time to move on...


I apologize for the fact I've responded at tedious length, but this thread brought up a lot of thoughts I've been having about traditional ways of making instruments versus modern machinery. Apologies to PB+J, as this isn't a thread derailment so much as a thread apocalypse.

Like a lot of people my age I struggle to find a balance between digital/high tech stuff, and interpersonal/traditional stuff ("stuff" being a placeholder for anything from manufacturing techniques to correspondence). For me that means writing physical letters when thanking someone / acknowledging an event, trying not to be on my phone too much, and patronizing businesses in person wherever feasible, rather than ordering delivery or online.

This also extends to my instrument making with regard to preferring synthetic vs natural materials. I deeply respect and admire the techniques and skill that go into making an instrument out of wood, cane, or other natural materials like leather. Instruments made this way have an authenticity about them, and (if they sound good) carry with them the hand of a master craftsperson.

However, I would have to wait a long time to be able to do that. My formerly-sleepy hometown has rapidly become one of the most expensive cities in the US, and because of that, I live in a small apartment and work a demanding 9-5 to pay for it. My workshop size is limited to "whatever fits on my kitchen table." I don't really have access to a lot of the woodworking classes, equipment, or affordable places to use either. Perhaps it's my generation's ceaseless cry of "NOW!" or my growing suspicion that I will die of radiation poisoning rather than "buried in bagpipe avalanche at 91," but I don't want to wait to try out some of my designs. I'm really a player, more than a maker. I make things out of a desire to play more and better music.

So I try to focus on what I do have. What I do have is an ex-Boeing facility "Makerspace" full of high-tech sh*t, and a negotiated trade-of-services with the manager so I can actually afford to use the machinery. I learned to use 3D modelling to keep track of my designs, and from there it's relatively easy to automate some of the more difficult bits of making the pieces. There are still things that must be hand-finished now and then, but it's confined to what I can do with a dremel and needle files at my kitchen table. It's thanks to 3D modeling I can realize some of my best ideas now, which would have remained in my head or on paper for years.

I see automating the consistency of the designs as a way of empowering the ideas themselves, not hindered by my lack of ability. This brings us back to synthetic materials. They're just more consistent than natural ones, and that consistency allows me to assess whether the idea itself is any good, not the execution of same. Looking to the future, we now have ways (often not used commercially, but ways exist) to produce most types of carbon compounds for resins and acrylics, or materials imitating their properties, through biochemical means or less toxic processes. It's not as cost-effective as a cracking column, but it requires no petroleum-based feedstock. If our civilization avoids collapse and begins prioritizing sustaining a habitable atmosphere, these resins or products like them are still going to be around due to their use in other areas. Suitable (or indeed, affordable) tonewood may not.

However, I can't shake the lingering feeling that all this is somehow "cheating," and that the instruments may "be of my head, but not of my hands," which I feel remains part of the tradition. Perhaps the first thing flute players do when meeting each other is talk about the origins of their flutes, who made them and when, and who owned them previously. There's a few players whom I greatly respect on my waiting list, and I wonder whether they'll think about my instrument as a neat trick, or a skillful piece.

3D modelling and automated manufacturing has certainly empowered people to collaborate from across the world (indeed - I have a copy of the Rostock chanter, the earliest pipe chanter ever discovered intact, sitting on my hard drive right now), share knowledge, and find solutions. I'd still rather be apprenticing to Mattis Branschke or Julian Goodacre, and hell, maybe I'll get that opportunity someday. But for now, 3D will have to do.

"tedious length" is now my stripper name


I can see no reason NOT to use CNC machines or synthetic materials. There's nothing "natural" about a music instrument--they don't exist in nature. I'm not sure why a cast metal flute key gets to be understood as more natural than a rod of Delrin stock. If I had access to a facility like that I'd be teaching myself CAD software

I know that I like working with my hands and having to solve problems in 3d in real time. And it's a good thing, because I cause myself a lot of problems. I more or less invented my own electric guitar design after many experiments. If I wanted to produce it for sale, I'd be all over the CNC machinery. The hard part was building prototypes that worked the right way.

I imagine with flutes--be they wood or synthetic--it's all about the last mile of production, similar to the way with a guitar, it's all about the setup


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:32 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
I imagine with flutes--be they wood or synthetic--it's all about the last mile of production, similar to the way with a guitar, it's all about the setup


Ugh, isn't this the damn truth! :lol: My first product is a pennywhistle, but flutes and pipes are not far behind. After four and a half years of working on this project, I'm finally almost ready to release them "into the wild." But that last 5% of the way, man, it's the hardest. Perfect is the enemy of done, but mediocrity is the enemy of success. I won't get a chance to make a second first impression, and I know of some makers with great products that are not as popular as they perhaps deserve because they rushed an instrument line to market.

For production, I think I'm going to be able to pressure-cast these in two pieces, polish out any flashing, and do the final voicing by hand if needed. I'm planning to have a whole variety of fun embellishments for the body tubes, like soldered rings, etching, and patina-ing for those who like that sort of thing. One-off art projects, really, offered in addition to my standard plain tubes.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:52 am 
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PB+J wrote:
Back to this Flute. I don't know what Mr. Ellis did or did not do and I'm not experienced enough to say it's better than other flutes made with similar attention to detail... And "better" is subjective anyway.


In most ways, the Essential Flutes can't really be compared to conical bore flutes in an apples-to-apples way because they are simply a different thing. They blow differently and have different characteristics. So far the feedback I've gotten from players of all skill levels is that while it might take some getting used to (if you have only played conical bore instruments), they are an enjoyable alternative. They are very powerful and free-blowing and so might take different air-management technique, but the intonation is every bit as good as a conical bore flute and that was really important to me. Hats off to Theobald Boehm :-) He was a clever fellow.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 9:02 am 
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PB+J wrote:
I can see no reason NOT to use CNC machines or synthetic materials. There's nothing "natural" about a music instrument--they don't exist in nature. I'm not sure why a cast metal flute key gets to be understood as more natural than a rod of Delrin stock.


I've encountered this interesting phenomena in the world of the silver flute: most players don't like plastic. They are fine with metal and they like wood, but the majority don't go for plastic. There are plenty enough exceptions to make this a loose generality, because Guo flutes have a following, and his stuff is 100% plastic. Metal flutes are pretty "processed", but players love them. Maybe because ore is considered a "natural" substance? Not sure.

My own modest efforts to educate silver flute players about ebonite (I use it a lot for headjoints) has proven a challenge at times because players conflate ebonite and plastic. They see the shiny finish (which takes a ton of effort to achieve) and the cool colors and they quite understandably think it's some synthetic material. And I may have mentioned this before, but the funny thing is that whereas classical flute players tend to question the ebonite, jazz players seem to love it. Funny, eh?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:47 am 
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Heh heh, the jazz players loving ebonite. Perhaps remembering when they had that day-job fixing tyres before they made it on the jazz circuit?

But, jokes apart, let's scotch any suggestion that any materials or any processes are less "authentic" than others. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you can find a better, easier, faster, safer way to make a good flute, go for it. It not only makes sense, it's your responsibility!

Looking at this image of Rudall Carte (Berners St) in 1922, we can see that lathes should be pedal-driven. I trust you are all using pedal-driven lathes out there! (Confession time, I'm not.)

Image

(More of these workshop images at http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/RC_Wshop1922.htm)


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:32 am 
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Treadle-driven CNC machines and 3D Printers, Terry.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:53 am 
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If we don't deal with climate change soon, we may be forced down that path, Casey. The grid will have melted.

I see Europe's current heatwave is starting to impact on the US too. Here in Australia we suffered our hottest summer on record last year. We're now enjoying a wonderfully mild winter. But given that and the powerful heat waves in the northern hemisphere, we can only wonder what our next summer will bring.

Make flutes fast. The End of Days is upon us.....


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:35 am 
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Terry McGee wrote:
But, jokes apart, let's scotch any suggestion that any materials or any processes are less "authentic" than others.


Amen. Authenticity is only a valid concept in a very narrow window of time. Same with "tradition" as a concept. There are cultural traditions that can be tracked through short bits of human history, but if you pull far enough back for the "big picture" view, they reveal themselves to be the product of various cultural "mash-ups" (human migrations, conquests, assimilation, trading, sharing, etc.). No culture or tradition is static over time, so choosing a narrow window and declaring that it frames some sort of authenticity it not accurate. It is common practice among humans to do just that, but I also suspect it is a failing of imagination. The "big picture" is not easy for many people to see, and in my experience most people don't try beyond a certain very limited frontier. Maybe it's too scary? Not sure.

Forgive the philosophical digression, but this is something I've run into a lot in my flute-making journey, and these days "cultural appropriation" is really on people's minds, and it does get applied to flutes. I have a friend who is a performer on world flutes and he was asked to do a gig recently, but the person hiring him was very concerned about cultural appropriation in regard to his playing flutes from various cultures. Because he was not a native to Japan, Ireland, Peru, etc. they weren't sure it was okay for him to play flutes from these countries! He had to explain a bit about the origins of these various flutes and traditions, illustrating how they evolved and how different groups came to play them. In the end, they let it pass and hired him, but he did have to engage in a couple of frustrating conversations to justify his art.

But it harks back a bit to the thread that was running here a while back on the origin of the "Irish" flute and what that really is.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:00 am 
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I'm probably the odd one out on this forum, but I actually prefer non wood flutes & whistles. :o

I started my whistle collection with brass, bought a couple of 'plastics', & now tend to favour aluminium.

Meanwhile, I started out on a metal Boehm, but have come to prefer delrin type materials for my simple system folk flutes.

(Again, I'm the odd one out, as I don't regard them to be 'Irish'. :P )

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:10 pm 
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fatmac wrote:
Again, I'm the odd one out, as I don't regard them to be 'Irish'.

Nothing odd about that. Lots of us don't because in most cases they're not.

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