Troubleshooting - High Spirits Flutes


If Your Flute Sounds Breathy

First make sure the fetish (bird carving) is centered on the rectangular hole in front of it. The hole should not be covered by any part of the bird. The bird should be just at the edge of the hole or back a bit (1/32"). Be certain that the bird is tied down snugly. Hold the flute up to a light and see if you see any light between the bird bottom and the flute.

The longer the bore is on a flute, the more challenging it is to play. The reason is that the air has to travel farther and it starts to diminish its power. So the natural reaction is to blow harder which in turn creates an over blow on the sound hole causing it get breathy. In fact, the longer bore flutes do need to be played more subtly.

We make our flutes a little bit differently from other flute makers allowing more air to be blown into the instrument without the bottom note breaking to the high octave. The down side of that is that it can sound breathy when blown too hard.

This is typically resolved through experimentation, by varying the breath and backing off a bit.

How to Reduce Moisture Buildup

Moisture buildup in your flute occurs when your breath condenses inside the flute and clogs the air passage. This is very common, especially if the ambient air temperature is cool or cold, or if you are out of practice. After playing a while the muscles in your mouth adapt, and the amount of moisture going into the flute decreases.

When the flute starts to sound "off," place a finger part way over the sound hole (the rectangular hole in front of the fetish) and blow hard into the mouth piece. Then hold the flute by the bottom end (opposite of the mouthpiece) and shake out any moisture that may have collected inside. This clears out the moisture and you will be able to play for awhile longer.

It also helps to create an embouchure when you are playing the flute. This is described in the instruction booklet on page 7 under "Techniques." The natural tendency is to place the mouth end of the flute into our mouth and blow. Unfortunately that creates excess moisture in the instrument and it limits the techniques one can use to play. Instead, close the lips, then place the flute against them. Allow the upper lip to close a portion of the air hole (half or more) and place the lower lip just slightly underneath the flute. In this way a smaller air hole is created and the air passage from the mouth is reduced as well. This greatly reduces moisture build up and allows for better tonguing and effects control.

Even with better mouth and breath control, moisture is an ongoing challenge and we are continually working on it.

What Are "Check Lines"? 

What looks like a check line may actually be a natural grain line in the wood, particularly in the soft wood of the Spanish Cedar. Spanish Cedar has naturally occurring, dark lines in the grain which are often mistaken for cracks. If your flute is crafted out of Spanish cedar, please watch this video to help you distinguish between check lines and wood grain.

Every once in awhile a check line will develop around the mouth of a flute. Moisture from your breath condenses in the mouth piece expanding the wood from the inside, putting pressure on the outside grain. Sometimes the wood gives and creates a check line.

From our experience the check line closes back after it dries up on the inside. When playing again it will open up again but will not open up more than it did the first time. It does not continue to open any larger.

Helpful Tips to Optimize Your Flute's Voice


Fetish Position

Fingering Techniques

Breath Techniques