e-book Airs Through a Broken Flute

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There were also some truly awful ones. And, of course, a good flute can have been damaged beyond reasonable repair. Age is no guarantee of quality, value or usefulness. But you can be very lucky! These flutes were beautifully designed and made, and usually bear the name and address of the maker, often on every joint. The timber is usually cocus wood often stained very dark but not quite black , although occasionally a good boxwood lemon when new but aging to a distinguished honey brown flute can be found. Keys are often solid silver and are usually deliciously formed.

Rings are usually silver, sometimes very simple, sometimes beautifully engraved. Another group of London makers from a slightly earlier period, including Potter, Monzani, and Goulding-Wood, made flutes which are nice but not so useful.


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They tend to have small holes and consequently a small tone, rather more reminiscent of their predecessor, the baroque flute. The timbers tend to be ebony and box, with silver keys and silver or ivory rings.

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Considerably less attractive again are the German factory made instruments, usually in ebony and often with an ivory head. The holes are small, the tuning poor and the tone weak. These instruments usually have their keys mounted on pins, rather than wooden blocks. Keys and rings are of nickel German silver and are mass produced and clumsy. The instruments are rarely named.

There were some excellent handcrafted German instruments made, but these don't seem to turn up. More recently, small-hole American flutes have become more popular, because of the example set by US player and teacher Grey Larsen. Although not as loud as the big London flutes, they offer ease of playing with great agility. Some flutes, of any manufacture, featured an inlay of metal usually nickel silver but sometimes the real thing around the embouchure hole. This was probably done to protect against or repair wear, or to protect players with timber induced allergies, but the impact on tone can be quite significant harsh and metallic.

One other thing to watch out for is flutes which cannot tune down to modern pitch. Some mid to late 19th century cylinder flutes were made at a time when the prevailing pitch rose to around Hz. Finally, be very careful buying flutes on Ebay. You should be fine if you stick with vendors who have many transactions and an almost perfect satisfaction rating.

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But some of the others have simply rerun images and descriptions from an Ebay sale from 6 months previous, and don't even have a flute to sell! Repairs for Old Flutes Most old flutes will require at least some repair - some repairs are easier than others. Pads present no problems, but many instrument repairers will not be familiar with these old woodwinds. Find a repairer who is! One problem often unnoticed is damage or wear to the seat where the pad rests. Sometimes these need to be recut before a new pad will seal properly.

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Many repairers will not have the facilities for this. Splits, cracks, broken and missing bits are the real challenges. The headjoints and barrels of most old flutes are cracked - and for good reason. These joints were both lined with brass to provide a tuning slide. As wood ages, it shrinks. If the flute joint is lined with metal, the shrinkage can only be accommodated by the wood splitting open.

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