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 Post subject: For the mopane flautists
PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 11:15 am 
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Location: Milan, Italy
would you recommend this wood instead of the african blackwood? I'm thinking to order a 4-keyed Solen Leseouf flute in mopane because last year I had to apply a silver lip plate on my McNeela African Blackwood flute due to a rash under the lower lip. As you probably know there's a long waiting list for a Solen flute (32 months for a fully keyed flute), and I'd just wanted to be sure that mopane is a good choice as well as african. Maybe it's only a matter of personal taste.

In parallel, I'm asking to Solen if the silver lip plate can be eventually applied later in case I choose the African Balckwood flute.
THANKS


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 11:45 am 
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Location: St. Catharines, Ontario, Can
Hey there..I've played a Mopane keyless D (from Windward flutes) for about 10y, as my daily player. It is a great flute with good tone and weight. It is hard to separate it's qualities as coming from the maker or a characteristic of the wood, though. It has been stable in my somewhat variable climate of southern Canada (near Toronto) - cold winters that vary from dry to damp, hot humid summers. I do keep it in a plastic sealed box in the winter, with humidifier. The bore is incredibly polished in the foot section (left a little grainier in the body) so it can be finished quite smoothly. The outside has stayed smooth with no wear areas, so quite hard (it has a tung oil finish). I have 'dinged' it occasionally on a table edge and it shows no damage. It is a beautiful wood, which has darkened slightly in it's life. The grain is subtle but visible, although I have seen some highly figured mopane. I would not hesitate to get one in mopane - just be prepared for inevitable questions regarding a brown wood flute. It can be a good conversation starter!

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 1:06 pm 
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I had a Solen Lesouef mopane flute. I liked the brown color, and I also liked the ease of playing for that flute.

I found that Mopane does soak up either moisture or oil. I would recommend oiling it well and playing it minimally at first so that the oil fills the pores. I used almond oil, but perhaps an oil that polymerizes (hardens) would be appropriate. Just use it minimally.

Also, the wood swells slightly (like most woods). Playing frequently is insufficient by itself to keep the flute humidified. The flute rings became loose in my dry Winter climate. A plastic tub with guitar sponge fixed that problem.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 1:11 pm 
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I have a LeSoeuf 6-key mopane flute. It's a lovely instrument with a very nice sound. As mentioned previously, it's difficult to say whether there's any difference in sound between mopane and Blackwood or whether any differences are due to the design and construction of the individual flute.

Mopane had a brief surge in popularity during the period that there were limitations on the shipment of Blackwood—but it seems that those limitations have been resolved.

So, that would seem to come down to 1) whether you have an allergy to Blackwood or there was just something about the McNeela flute (something in the finish perhaps?) 2) whether you have any real reason not to get a mopane instrument, or 3) whether you could get a Blackwood flute retrofit in case you do have an allergy.

For what it's worth, I've seen lip plates/protection ranging from silver plates to a layer of super glue (don't know what that's called where you live). John Skelton has a cocus allergy and has a simple layer of this glue around the embouchure of his cocus flute and it seems to work for him. Cheaper than silver, but without the panache.

From my perspective, you wouldn't go wrong with either wood on a LeSoeuf flute—that it may come down to a personal, subjective choice as to flavor of wood.

Best wishes,

Steve

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 2:26 pm 
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Location: split,croatia,europe
Marish, first to ask you did you already speak with Solen about ordering 4 keyed flute?
Because, when I spoke with her ( 2 years ago) she only accept order for keyless and full keyed flute, nothing beetween. She took orders for 1 up to 6 keys in the past and then she decided to stop with such orders.
About mopane, i have 3 Solen flutes, 2 of them are made of blackwood ( keyless C and E flat) and one made of mopane ( 3 keyed E flat, I bought it as secondhand ).
I like all of them, look of mopane flute is great, but maybe i able to achieve overtones with mopane flute more easily.
Anyway, whatever You order You will not regret.
From my point of view, more tonal difference will be if You order flute with lined of unlined head.
Regards, Marin


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 2:41 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:57 am
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Location: Milan, Italy
Thanks for all the responses!

I live in Milan, Italy: with its humid climate I think I should not have problems :-?

No, to be honest I have still not discussed with Solen about the number of the keys. Thanks so much for having informed me in advance. At this point, I think that the keyless flute will be my choice :)

Thanks also for the advice about the lip plate. I'm not completely sure that it was allergy against the wood. Maybe the flute's finish...who knows. So maybe it wpuld be better try it wihout the lip plate amd then finding a solution in case...

I'm very happy to hear that who has a Solen Leseouf flute is so satisfied! :party:


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 4:46 pm 
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If you think you are allergic you might want to just go with the lip plate from the start. Otherwise you will find you fall in love with the flute only to send it back for who knows how long to get the lip plate installed. Odds are if you had a problem with one wooden flute it will be the same with another.

On the other hand you could contact McNeela and ask them what finish they use in the wood. I had one in my hands a year ago and it seemed like oil to me. If they use a petroleum based oil rather than a food grade oil that could be a problem for some. Also, ask the forum here if anyone else had that issue with a McNeela flute. If you find it is uncommon it might be safe to assume it is an allergy.

I have a friend with a good flute that decided to have a delrin headjoint made since blackwood was causing an allergic reaction.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 5:39 pm 
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I hesitate to post this because of the possibility of exceptions, but wood-database.com (which I consider to be reasonably reliable) says: "Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Mopane."

https://www.wood-database.com/mopane/

It would appear, then, that if you've played only mopane, you're probably in for comparatively risk-free fluting. However, I'm not going to speculate on the likelihood of Dalbergia sensitization (which tends to be across the board) carrying over to mopane (which is of a different genus and not closely related), because after I developed my own blackwood allergy I didn't think to try mopane with the aim of finding out.

Has anyone with blackwood allergy tried mopane and gotten a reaction? It would be good to know.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2020 2:30 am 
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I have a mopane folk flute from Casey as my camping flute. I can't say anything to the allergenic qualities of the wood, but as a flute wood, it performs great. It also looks great in a different way to blackwood. I like minimalistic looks and the two part flute looks like a beautiful stick of wood - no rings or anything like that. I've never had issues with moisture control despite irregular playing (not much usually, then quite a lot on a trip, then nothing for a while). But Germany and Scotland aren't usually major causes of humidity problems.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:01 am 
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I too developed a pretty bad contact allergy to Blackwood. It is unlikely to improve or go away.

I've ordered a replacement head from Hammy Hamilton with silver lip plate - in the meantime I'm playing an ebonite (inert, man-made material) from Hammy. I would strongly recommend getting the flute with the silver lip plate from the outset if you suffer from this allergy. Otherwise you will face a long wait and additional cost in getting this done. Even after a 6-month break from using the hardwood headpiece - I still develop the nasty rash and reddening with as little as 15 minutes playing a bare wood head.

Didn't realise Solen Lesouef waiting list had gone to almost three years. In March 2018 her waiting time for a fully keyed flute was 16 months or 6 for a keyless.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:05 am 
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Also I know from my woodworking experience that wood allergies worsen with contact. Years ago i was working with Cocobolo, a kind of rosewood, and scoffing about allergic reactions. Within six months I was getting really quite violently ill from the dust, including not just itching/runny nose but nausea and fatigue and flu like symptoms. I don't ever use that stuff any more.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2020 2:50 pm 
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Just to add that a strip of scotch tape, or even packing tape, placed beneath the blow hole where the lip goes, the top of the strip just creasing the bottom of the hole, looks good and works fine to protect the lips from allergies. It lasts indefinitely. You can fix such a problem yourself in 30 seconds for free.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2020 12:09 pm 
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I had a wonderful Casey Burns in Mopane. Beautiful red-brown with interesting grain. To my ear, there is almost no difference between the sound of my Blackwood flute and the Mopane flute. I just ordered a new flute in Mopane from Jay Ham--can't wait.

It think, for most of us, its a matter of preference.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2020 2:28 pm 
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I've made a few whistles from mopane, and it checks all the boxes. It's heavy and tight-grained. As far as I can tell, it's pretty moisture-resistant. Equally important, it finishes beautifully. Minimal effort to get a glassy surface.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:52 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:57 am
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Location: Milan, Italy
Thanks to all for the responses!
Decided: I've ordered a Solen Leseouf keyless flute in mopane. Solen has confirmed me to have never heard cases of allergy to mopane among her customers. I'll risk... No sense to add the silver lip plate already now. I've caught an old reply of Terry McGee to one of my posts about this topic (lip plate or not) and he wrote that from his experience, the lip plate changes a little bit the sound.
I've been playing from approximately six months and I have only one flute with the lip plate (due to my allergy to the African Blackwood)...so no comparison with a "normal" flute...apart from the billions videos online, where it's not me who is playing! :D :D
Can't wait to have my Solen :love:


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