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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:41 pm 
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Just to note that Dave Copley offers a six-keyed delrin flute, without rings or metal tuning slide for, I think, 1700 dollars. The delrin tuning slide, which I have on my keyless, works very well.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:40 am 
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Conical bore wrote:
MadmanWithaWhistle wrote:
Ahh, F flutes are delightful! I would only get a synthetic keyed flute, if the time comes where I reliably need one.

Why only a synthetic for a keyed flute? Wouldn't your choices be much wider for keyed wooden flutes, both new and used? Is it mainly the zero maintenance factor? Just curious.

I'm one of those "I want my fingers to touch wood" players, maybe because I've played only wooden musical instruments of various types all my life. But I do appreciate some of the merits of synthetic materials.


My feelings about this are complicated. Tradition and innovation are both equally great! I do a lot of woodworking and the craft and lore of woodworking is wonderful. I've made several guitars out of local hardwoods and I really like the connection between the object and the place it comes from.

I just worry about the sustainability of tropical hardwoods. It's hard to get reliable information, and separate hype from reality, but wood is always being sold as "rare" or "hard to find," and if you go to luthier supply sites they are always offering you some new exotic alternative to ebony or rosewood, and you just think "how long before those other woods are gone too?" Flutemaking is obviously a tiny tiny part of global demand, but it's part of it.

Also maintenance. I've been spending a fair amount of time looking at the "irish flute" market, and on any old flute for sale you almost invariably see the phrase "repaired crack." Sooner or later, it seems, my expensive tropical hardwood flute is going to crack. I guess you could argue "so what? just fix it!" and that's a fair point. But there's a real pleasure in a flute that you just leave assembled and pick up and play and never worry about.

On the other hand I'm always wondering if the inexpensive delrin flute would be better if the maker spent more time an attention on the final adjustments and small details


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:47 am 
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PB+J wrote:
On the other hand I'm always wondering if the inexpensive delrin flute would be better if the maker spent more time an attention on the final adjustments and small details

I'm afraid they may be mutually exclusive:

If A, then Not B.

If B, then Not A.

Delrin flutes that are of especially high quality seem to sell for prices that still reflect the maker's full time and expertise. There might be some cost savings due to better utilization of materials (no lead time stabilizing wood; no losses from cracking; perhaps simpler engineering & strength of slides, tenons, sockets, rings {thus also heading off warranty repairs}.

It's certainly possible to build quality Delrin instruments. Some of the above factors will result in decent flutes at reasonable prices, and truly excellent, likely indistinguishable ones at the same price points as quality wood flutes.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:51 am 
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There might be some cost savings due to better utilization of materials (no lead time stabilizing wood; no losses from cracking; perhaps simpler engineering & strength of slides, tenons, sockets, rings {thus also heading off warranty repairs}.


Delrin is, on the other hand, very hard on the tools. And there an environmental cost to the fumes and left over shavings etc.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:12 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
.... And there [is] an environmental cost to the .... left over shavings etc.

Not long ago, I received a newly-made delrin flute packed by the maker in the shavings produced in the making (rather than bubble wrap or those expanded plastic pellets). I thought that was a nice way to get the shavings out of Ireland. An artist friend saw the shavings and now they are part of a local art installation. I guess it's true that the arts will save humanity.

Best wishes.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:06 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Delrin is, on the other hand, very hard on the tools.


I'm curious about this. I've used Delrin for a long time and I've found it to be very easy machining and I've never considered it as being hard on tools. I'm not saying that I'm right, merely that I've never made that connection. Can you elaborate on this?

Some woods I stopped using because of high silica content or other characteristics that make it really hard on tools (such as purpleheart wood), but I'd never heard anything negative about Delrin in this respect. My reluctance to use much Delrin is much more about the fumes and the waste by-products (shavings and dust) that I have to deal with.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:12 am 
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Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
Mr.Gumby wrote:
Delrin is, on the other hand, very hard on the tools.


I'm curious about this. I've used Delrin for a long time and I've found it to be very easy machining and I've never considered it as being hard on tools. I'm not saying that I'm right, merely that I've never made that connection. Can you elaborate on this?

Some woods I stopped using because of high silica content or other characteristics that make it really hard on tools (such as purpleheart wood), but I'd never heard anything negative about Delrin in this respect. My reluctance to use much Delrin is much more about the fumes and the waste by-products (shavings and dust) that I have to deal with.



I've seen other people complain about the shavings and fumes as well. Is delrin recyclable? I'm guessing not


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:18 am 
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PB+J wrote:
Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
Mr.Gumby wrote:
Delrin is, on the other hand, very hard on the tools.


I'm curious about this. I've used Delrin for a long time and I've found it to be very easy machining and I've never considered it as being hard on tools. I'm not saying that I'm right, merely that I've never made that connection. Can you elaborate on this?

Some woods I stopped using because of high silica content or other characteristics that make it really hard on tools (such as purpleheart wood), but I'd never heard anything negative about Delrin in this respect. My reluctance to use much Delrin is much more about the fumes and the waste by-products (shavings and dust) that I have to deal with.



I've seen other people complain about the shavings and fumes as well. Is delrin recyclable? I'm guessing not


Good question...I sort of doubt it. I'm told that most of the "recycled" plastic ends up in the landfill anyway. Not to be too cynical, but a great deal of recycling seems to be making consumers feel okay about continuing to use things like single-use plastics, when in fact only a tiny percentage of it gets reused in any form. Once upon a time China used to take a lot of it off our hands but I gather that is not happening as much. Mind you, I'm just repeating what I've recently read, but since I got it off the internet I assume it's totally accurate :-)

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:49 am 
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Conical bore wrote:
MadmanWithaWhistle wrote:
Ahh, F flutes are delightful! I would only get a synthetic keyed flute, if the time comes where I reliably need one.

Why only a synthetic for a keyed flute? Wouldn't your choices be much wider for keyed wooden flutes, both new and used? Is it mainly the zero maintenance factor? Just curious.

I'm one of those "I want my fingers to touch wood" players, maybe because I've played only wooden musical instruments of various types all my life. But I do appreciate some of the merits of synthetic materials.


A keyed flute is just so much more finely balanced than a keyless, and therefore has a smaller ability to accept problems. You're working against more holes creating turbulence, and more chances for the air to find its way out of a leaking pad somewhere. If the wood warps, even slightly, it can throw off the whole thing, and pretty much every keyed flute I've played has felt a little less nimble than my keyless. Just for my own peace of mind, and for easier care, I'd prefer some kind of synthetic material (not delrin).

Plus, I prefer very slim, pin-mounted keywork, which I gather is more difficult to permanently attach to a wooden flute than traditional block keys.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:15 am 
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@MadmanWithaWhistle
That's interesting, I hadn't considered the "precision" factor with wood vs. synthetic and keys. Blackwood or Cocus allows very smooth and precisely drilled keyholes and pad seating if done well, and I don't think those woods are especially known for warping. Cracking if not cared for, yes. I take your point on pin-mounted keywork being easier to install, and maybe maintain, on a synthetic body.

Aside from just an emotional/aesthetic preference for wood, what would make me think twice about a synthetic keyed flute is the weight. I can manage the noticeable weight difference since moving from a keyless Blackwood to my current 8-keyed Cocus flute, but I sure wouldn't want it to be even heavier.

Are there synthetic flutes at the same or lighter weight than a Blackwood flute? I know the barrel could be thinner without compromising the structure, but for acoustic reasons they tend to copy the traditional wooden wall thickness (as per the recent discussion here on thin wall flutes). How does ebonite compare for weight? I know Delrin is often said to be a little heavier than the equivalent hardwood flute.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:30 am 
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Conical bore wrote:
@MadmanWithaWhistle
That's interesting, I hadn't considered the "precision" factor with wood vs. synthetic and keys. Blackwood or Cocus allows very smooth and precisely drilled keyholes and pad seating if done well, and I don't think those woods are especially known for warping. Cracking if not cared for, yes. I take your point on pin-mounted keywork being easier to install, and maybe maintain, on a synthetic body.

Aside from just an emotional/aesthetic preference for wood, what would make me think twice about a synthetic keyed flute is the weight. I can manage the noticeable weight difference since moving from a keyless Blackwood to my current 8-keyed Cocus flute, but I sure wouldn't want it to be even heavier.

Are there synthetic flutes at the same or lighter weight than a Blackwood flute? I know the barrel could be thinner without compromising the structure, but for acoustic reasons they tend to copy the traditional wooden wall thickness (as per the recent discussion here on thin wall flutes). How does ebonite compare for weight? I know Delrin is often said to be a little heavier than the equivalent hardwood flute.


There are all kinds of materials one could use that are lighter than wood. Carbon fiber composites, resin-stabilized woods, and phenolic laminates are all quality potential wood alternatives. If I were to order a keyed flute, I would likely just send my own material of choice as rod stock, as long as I can confirm it turns and polishes more or less like wood.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:48 pm 
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Conical bore wrote:
How does ebonite compare for weight? I know Delrin is often said to be a little heavier than the equivalent hardwood flute.


Ebonite is quite a bit lighter than either Delrin or blackwood. It surprises people when they pick it up. Neither is it as strong or robust as Delrin or blackwood. Richard Rockstro toyed with the truth a bit when he described it as being virtually indestructible--it most emphatically isn't. It can and will break or chip under the right conditions, such as being dropped on a concrete floor. But I think I know what he meant. Under normal playing conditions, and if treated properly, nothing will happen to it over the course of time such as cracking, shrinking, etc..

If there is an "indestructible" flute material it is probably Delrin. That stuff is very tough, very flexible. I made a long, rim-blown flute (like a large-bored ney) from Delrin, giving it pretty thick walls. I gave it to a friend in Texas who carries it with him when he jogs at night. He was stopped by some cops at one point who thought it was some type of club. He played them a tune and they were amazed. Even more amazed when they held it because it was, in fact, a serious club! They compared it to their own night sticks and were impressed by it's self-defense potential.

If you hit someone with an ebonite flute, you might break it in half unless it has very thick walls.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 6:08 pm 
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Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
PB+J wrote:


I've seen other people complain about the shavings and fumes as well. Is delrin recyclable? I'm guessing not


Good question...I sort of doubt it. I'm told that most of the "recycled" plastic ends up in the landfill anyway. Not to be too cynical, but a great deal of recycling seems to be making consumers feel okay about continuing to use things like single-use plastics, when in fact only a tiny percentage of it gets reused in any form. Once upon a time China used to take a lot of it off our hands but I gather that is not happening as much. Mind you, I'm just repeating what I've recently read, but since I got it off the internet I assume it's totally accurate :-)


I'm with you. US plastic recycling has been almost exclusively done in China. That involves transporting our plastic waste across the Pacific, and that has a large carbon footprint. And the reason all our plastic goes to China to be recycled is only partly the lower labor costs. It's mostly because the process is so polluting that we couldn't do it here. (I got this from a couple of polymer chemists/ChemEngs who went to China to observe this first hand.)

Given the transportation, many calculations of the environmental impact indicate that it's actually better to send plastic to a landfill than to recycle it.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 6:11 pm 
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MadmanWithaWhistle wrote:
There are all kinds of materials one could use that are lighter than wood. Carbon fiber composites, resin-stabilized woods, and phenolic laminates are all quality potential wood alternatives. If I were to order a keyed flute, I would likely just send my own material of choice as rod stock, as long as I can confirm it turns and polishes more or less like wood.


I agree that these are viable alternatives to wood, but they're not lighter, assuming you mean lower density. Carbon fiber is around 2, phenolic around 1.4; the resin always adds to the density of whatever wood it's stabilizing.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 6:43 pm 
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Grenaditte is light stuff. It needs virtually no care. And it sounds woody.
There are Boehm flutes made of it and maybe before long we'll see
more simple system flutes too (with keys, perhaps).


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