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Copley & Boegli - About our Flutes
Our instruments are tapered bore "simple system" flutes based on originals made in England during the 1800's, with the greatest influence being the flutes made by Hawkes and Son of London. The design has been adapted to give the characteristics sought after by players Irish Traditional Music. Our flutes achieve a balance of tone, volume, and flexibility throughout the 2 1/2 octave range. The standard flute is pitched in the key of D and tuned to concert pitch (A440) with a tuning slide to adjust the tuning to compensate for weather conditions or playing style. The keyless D flute design is suitable for the great majority of Irish traditional music, as you can play in the keys of D, G, and the related minor keys. We also offer flutes in the keys of C, E flat, F and G. The F flute uses the design of an 8-key Hawkes and Son flute made in Ebonite around the very early 1900's.
Pair of F Flutes in Pink Ivory and Boxwood
Our material of choice for wooden flutes is African Blackwood because of its hardness, moisture resistance, and excellent sound quality. Also it is currently readily available at a reasonable price. We have a very small amount of Cocus wood available, but that wood is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. We may also be able to make your flute in mopane, boxwood, or pink ivory, but please check with us as as our stock can be variable.
We have recently begun making flutes in Delrin (Polyacetal) polymer, produced by Dupont. Delrin makes an excellent low maintenance flute, and it is not subject to cracks due to dryness or stress at the joints. We make the Delrin flutes to sound and play as closely as possible to a good wooden flute. A hand-sanded finish is used for aesthetic appeal and to eliminate the slippery feel which is a drawback of machined or polished Delrin surfaces.
Joints on our wooden flutes are lined with natural cork. Delrin flutes have unlined joints, but cork lining can be provided as an option.
The main purpose of rings on a wooden flute is to reinforce the joints and prevent cracking, with decoration being a secondary purpose. Our standard rings are hand-made from sterling silver. We also offer rings as an option on Delrin flutes, but in this case the function is solely to enhance the appearance. Rings from faux ivory are also available and make a nice contrast on dark wood or Delrin.
We currently have two standard cuts of embouchure hole. The traditional elliptical style is favored for our wooden flutes and provides a wide range of tonal flexibility. A slightly more squared ellipse is standard on the Delrin flutes, giving a marginally louder response and being a little more forgiving of embouchure variation.
The standard design of wood flute has a fully metal lined head joint and barrel joint. The head joint tube slides inside the barrel joint tube to form the tuning slide. The barrel joint lining is sterling silver and the head joint lining can be sterling silver or nickel-silver. The nickel-silver is a lower-cost option and does not affect the playability, though it needs a little more work to maintain its appearance. We can also provide a partially lined head joint as an option, with the tube extending about 2 inches into the head joint.
With our three-piece flutes the tuning is adjusted by pulling out the top tenon joint. This gives a more limited tuning range than a metal tuning slide but is perfectly adequate if you are playing at A440 pitch and do not naturally tend to blow very sharp or flat. This arrangement works particularly well with Delrin as the top tenon is made thinner and produces less disturbance of the bore profile when it is extended.
Our flutes with tuning slides have a separate foot joint with two holes. This is derived from the traditional eight key flute, where the two foot joint holes are closed by keys to give the C sharp and C natural notes. We have retained the basic design because it very nicely balances the weight of the metal tuning slide, to give a very comfortable flute. For flutes without tuning slides (wood and Delrin) the additional weight is not needed at the foot so we use a combined lower body and foot without the additional two holes.
Keys are mounted on integral wooden blocks, following traditional design. All keys are made from sterling silver and are usually cast, though we sometimes make custom keys by hand forging. The cast keys are hardened by a solution treat and age hardening process, which leaves them comparable to a forged key in both strength and hardness. Foot keys (C# and C natural on a D flute) are the traditional articulated design, with the key and block locations positioned to give a quick response and a very positive seal.
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