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 Post subject: Ellis Essential Flute
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:28 pm 
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Location: Hood River, Oregon, USA
I just noticed that Blayne Chastain has released a video demo/review of the full series of "Essential Flutes" made by
Geoffrey Ellis.

Ellis Essential Flute Demo/Review

Over the past few years I have been a "test pilot" for Geoffrey on these and other flutes, so I have played a lot of them
(dozens!). I have been meaning to post a review of them, but Blayne has beaten me to the punch,
which is a good thing because it saves me a lot of work, plus Blayne is a better player than I am and has a nicer
recording setup. I think Blayne's review covers much of what I was going to say, so I'll just add a few additional
comments below and let Blayne's demo say the rest.

Just for background, these flutes are unusual in that they have a cylindrical body bore, but the head is reamed with
a parabolic (Boehm) taper to allow the tuning and octave balance to be spot on.

The embouchure cut and tone hole layout feel familiar for those of us used to playing conical bore flutes, but I think the
back pressure is just slightly different to play due to the cylindrical body bore. So it takes a small adjustment to get the
best out of them, but overall, I think they offer a pretty easy adaptation for an ITM player. I think they would make sense
for someone wanting a relatively inexpensive, but great sounding, flute in a different key, for example. With their middle
ground characteristics, they would probably also work well for someone transitioning from a Boehm flute background.

They come in a variety of different woods, including some woods that would not traditionally be considered possible
for flute making. Geoffrey has experimented with a range of techniques, including vacuum resin infusion, to produce
incredibly resonant flutes from some very unlikely woods. For an example of this, pay attention to the D flute in Blayne's video.
That one is made from douglas fir, for goodness sake. :boggle: To my ear at least, it certainly doesn't sound like a douglas fir
flute, but then that is the effect of the preprocessing and bore treatment etc. The great benefit of this approach is that it opens
up some lovely new visual aesthetic options while allowing for a very low maintenance, lightweight, highly resonant, wooden flute.

In terms of playability these flutes are a little different to play than a conical bore flute, but are an easy
adaptation from conical bore flutes. I would say that in playing characteristics they are most similar to the Olwell bamboo
flutes I have, but with a bit more volume and resonance (due to the highly finished bore) and more easily reproducible
tuning (due to the precision reamed bore profile). In Blayne's video he also briefly play's Geoffrey's conical bore Pratten flute,
so you can judge the difference in sound for yourself. The difference is subtle, but I think you can hear it as well as feel
it as a player.

Anyhow, I think these are very much worth considering. The flutes in the demo are not tunable, but I believe Geoffrey may be
working on tunable versions of some of them ... or at least open to persuasion if there is sufficient interest. :poke:

Oh, and here is the link to the video Blayne made where he plays the Essential Flute in C on the backing track:

Short video about Geoffrey Ellis


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 2:32 am 
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Thanks that was interesting.

I'm trying to think of the tune that starts at 3.20 can anyone identify it?


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:16 am 
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Yes Interesting. How about us oven in England? Shipping would be quite expensive I guess?

I would like to get a flute or two in 'other' keys that are not too pricey.

Might have to get a trade deal for ITM flutes, or wait for sterling to recover! :lol:

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 3:05 am 
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It looks interesting but are there any advantages compared to a conical flute?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:59 am 
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gorjuswrex wrote:
Yes Interesting. How about us oven in England? Shipping would be quite expensive I guess?

I would like to get a flute or two in 'other' keys that are not too pricey.

Might have to get a trade deal for ITM flutes, or wait for sterling to recover! :lol:


Shipping can be a bit spendy for international stuff. I don't know about the Irish Flute Store, but I ship through USPS Priority Mail, and that typically runs about $55 to the U.K..

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:13 pm 
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I have one and like it very much The contrast between the apparent simplicity of walnut tube and the complexity and range of sounds you can get out of it is magical. It can do the "hard" sound with a bit more effort than I've found on some other flutes. it's very loud and very "free blowing." I find it slightly harder to cover the D and Eb holes than on a conical bore flute, including my ellis pratten flute


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:12 pm 
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Quote:
It looks interesting but are there any advantages compared to a conical flute?

Good question, and not very easy to answer.

From a player's perspective I'd say that there are some differences which could be considered advantages or disadvantages depending on
what you prefer. Personally, I prefer to play a traditional conical bore design, however, I will admit that the resonance, volume and power of
the bell note on these cylindrical bore flutes is impressive, and sufficiently so for some people to consider it an advantage. This is really not
so surprising since a large cylindrical body bore with a parabolic head was one of the design improvements that Boehm claimed to be
instrumental in making his more powerful flute. Other design improvements included larger and more uniform tone hole sizes, which
Geoffrey's Essential flutes do not have, of course. I italicized the word improvements because while these differences tend to be measurable
and noticeable, whether they constitute advantages really depends on personal preferences. The difference in bore profile changes the sound
and feedback that the player gets in subtle ways that could be considered positive or negative depending on your preferences.

From a maker's perspective the design has the advantage that it takes much less reaming to make a parabolic head with a cylindrical
body than it does to make a cylindrical head with a conical body. Producing the cylindrical body section is relatively quick and easy, since that can
be drilled in a single pass. So, given that easier to make also means cheaper to make, the consumer can see a lower purchase price than an
equivalent conical bore flute, all other aspects being equal. This could be considered an advantage.

These flutes also tend to be very light in the hand, which I like, but I'm not sure this is inherent to the bore design or just a side effect of
the simplicity of the single piece design with no tuning slide.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:36 pm 
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This reminds me - I will be marketing soon a new flute model called the "Burns Non-Essential Flute". This flute will have tuning slides for both the head joint and foot joint and elsewhere, several keys for notes that don't exist or haven't been invented yet, additional silver rings that can be repurposed as napkin rings as necessary, a set of decorator end caps to suit every mood and most importantly, a cleaning rod. Boehm Crutches can be added for the hands or the arms or other body parts as necessary. I've been working with a colleague Salvador D. Boehm who is developing these useful accessories.

A Bore can be added for you at extra cost. I know several.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:13 pm 
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Casey Burns wrote:
additional silver rings that can be repurposed as napkin rings as necessary,


You don't know how long I have been thinking to myself, "If only I had a napkin-ring flute. Keeping track of the *#%^& napkin rings would be a thing of the past*... *dreamy sigh*" Need to get on the waiting list! :)

*Even if my flute would be boring whenever company came over. Worth it. Sometimes you must make sacrifices for the social niceties.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:23 pm 
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Casey Burns wrote:
A Bore can be added for you at extra cost. I know several.

Now waitaminnit Casey, there's no reason to cast aspersion on us bores. We serve a purpose, making the rest of 'ya'll look good.

(grinning) :P


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:53 am 
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paddler wrote:
Good question, and not very easy to answer.

[...]

These flutes also tend to be very light in the hand, which I like, but I'm not sure this is inherent to the bore design or just a side effect of
the simplicity of the single piece design with no tuning slide.


Thanks for your detailed answer, much appreciated :)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:20 am 
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@casey - LOL your "non-essential" model reply.

I have one of the Ellis (somewhat) essential flutes in F. Love it. Little terrier of a flute and really nicely in tune both octaves. It is an awfully solid flute for the price - plays wonderfully. So much that an ebonite D is on my 2020 wish list. Love the way the wood is cured/finished - low maintenance simple instrument that does exactly what it says on the tin with minimum of fuss. Like the light weight, lack of fuss and the selection of woods are really wonderful (mine is Bocote). No problem in recommending. I bought it from Irish Flue Store and had it delivered to USA address where it was brought to Ireland on a subsequent trip home.

Because these are single piece instruments - the inability to break it down does mean that it might be a little inconvenient for transporting. I suppose that perhaps lack of a tuning slide might be a downside if you are joining an "out of tune" group and wanting to tune up or down to them :-)


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