Back to Flat

Posted on May 01, 2015 by Odell Borg

May 1, 2015  … cont. from Part 1, “On the Move”

Turns out my neighbor was not only a gun enthusiast but had previous experience in the machining industry. He explained how gun and rifle bores were created and offered to help build a setup that would potentially duplicate the same process. After several attempts, we built a machine that was relatively consistent in creating a straight bore in wood blanks.

My hope was that this process would not only replace the two piece construction which was causing the seams to split from moisture, but that it would also be time saving. Unfortunately, the process was not as automatic as I had envisioned. Unlike the consistency of metal, each piece of wood had different variations in density and grain patterns. These inconsistencies had a tendency to push the boring bit in directions other than straight. Once it changes course, it does not correct itself. Adjustments had to continually be made. It was not time saving, but it revolutionized my overall flute construction.The uni-body construction did a great job reducing moisture damage. An added benefit was the consistent round bore (not an oval variation) provided by the bit, created regularity in the tonal quality of each flute.

It was reasonable to be able to make one great sounding flute, but to be able to make several flutes that had that quality accuracy was challenging. The precision required for such repeatability is measured in 1000th of an inch. The new boring process added greatly to the success of flute making.

Up to now, I had kept the flute body completely cylindrical. I adapted the fetish to have a round base. At the same time, I was looking to improve the amplitude (volume) of the voice. This led me to experiment with the technique of using a flat top on the body of the flute. In turn, I made the fetishes with a flat bottom, which created a better seal. I found that the flat top not only provided more amplitude, but more reliability in the tonal quality, especially on the high notes. As mentioned earlier, the key to making flutes is consistency. Using the flat top method added to this goal. Each step of the way it became increasingly important to me to create specific methods so that all flutes had a voice and tonal quality that was not only warm and clear but could easily be played to create heartfelt songs.

The warmth and fullness of deep toned flutes are naturally appealing to most everyone. In the 90s most customers were not interested in higher pitched instruments. But I have always enjoyed diversity and have had the luxury of being able to make and own high pitch to very deep-toned flutes. The first journey into crafting a higher-toned flute was the creation of the Merlin flute in the key of “C” minor. Up until then, the highest key I made was the mid-range “A” minor flute.

Being surrounded by mountains, Nature’s bounty and lots of hiking trials, the initial goal was to create a flute that was smaller for hiking/traveling. Once I started making the Merlin, I saw that it also provided a good alternative for first time players.

For existing players it became an added benefit in that it provided another key to be able to play in. At that time most of the flutes available were in the keys of “A”, “G” and “F#”.

From the beginning, I made the decision to make the Merlin flute in birch. It is a good tonal hard wood, which provides the clarity required for a higher pitched flute. The durability makes it ideal for outdoor use and I have always preferred using domestic species.

The creative process involved in making new flute designs, keys and styles is at the heart of all instrument makers. It motivates High Spirits to continue creating the perfect flute for players to express their feelings and emotions in their songs. Reaching the hearts of all those who play and experience the flute is one of the most satisfying rewards for an instrument maker.