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How Is A Flute Made?

How is a flute made

Flutes are intricate instruments, where everything has to match up perfectly to play beautifully. Between where the holes are, the level of the tone holes, where posts are placed, how the pads seal, and more. In this blog post, we're going to learn how a modern-day flute is made - to perfection.

Selecting The Flute Material:

Choosing the flute material is the first process of making the flute. Most western concert flutes are made from materials like wood, nickel, silver, gold, and even platinum. Each of the materials provides unique tonal qualities and different levels of durability reflecting the flute sound and feel.

Shaping The Tubes

The metal tube must be checked for certain things, such as straightness, quality, and surface finish. Flute makers have to polish and size and taper the metal tube. Depending on the flute, if handmade or factory-made, it may be checked and sized manually or done by machine.

Placing Tone Holes:

Whether working on the foot joint or body, the tone holes need to be created and placed. There are two ways the tone holes are made, soldered and drawn.

  • Soldered Tone Holes: Tone Holes are created from a different piece of metal and are carefully shaped to fit the body. A certain washer is inserted into the newly created hole. This washer is called a spider. It helps position the tone holes. The actual tone hole is placed around the spider, securing the tone hole in place. Next, the flute maker solders the tone hole onto the metal tube. Once soldered into place, the spider is removed. The tone hole is now shaped, flattened, and leveled.

  • Drawn Tone Holes: A machine is used to bend the metal upward, so the tone holes are made from the same metal as the tube. How does the machine work? A device called a drawing ball is placed inside the drilled hole. The machine grabs the ball, pulling the metal tube upward. The tone holes must be even, so they are now raised, flattened, and leveled.

Ribs And Posts

Next, the ribs and posts must be placed onto the metal tube. The ribs are what hold the posts and the posts is what hold the key rods in place.

flute labling

Small holes are drilled into the ribs, then posts are aligned and soldered onto the ribs. The ribs are then strapped to the body and now soldered onto the flute tubing. The excess solder is removed. The flute maker now needs to make sure the rods fit into the posts without any bending or force.

Barrel Joint

Next, the barrel joint on the body is placed onto the tube and soldered. The barrel joint helps with the flute's balance.

See how the body is made:

Making The Keys

Next, the keys are all made. Using rubber molds, all the keys are parts are able to be made in the correct shapes and sizes. The keys are also made out of melted metal. Once cooled, the keys are then sanded and holes are properly drilled into place. The keys are then soldered onto the rods. This process can be long and tedious.

Making The Head Joint

The head joint consists of more parts than it appears - tubing, the riser, the lip plate, the crown, the cork, and the cork assembly. Just like the body, the head joint tube needs to be tapered and polished. The riser is soldered onto the lip plate first. The riser and lip plate are then fluxed. Next, the head joint is slowly heated to soldering temperature. This is due to the inconsistencies in the thickness of metals between the lip plate, riser, and tubing. Once this becomes one piece, the embouchure hole is filed and shaped. Lastly, the cork is placed on the assembly and now placed properly into the head joint.

Finishing The Flute:

The body, head joint, and keys are now polished, so the silver shines beautifully.

Adding Springs:

The springs must be added before putting the flute together. The springs are cut to length, shaped, and inserted in their proper place on the posts.

Assembling The Flute:

Now the maker is ready to assemble the flute, placing pads, felts, and corks on. Then put the flute together, making sure everything fits perfectly. Everything must match up. If one thing is off, the flute won't play as well as it should (if at all). The maker must make sure that the keys function properly and are adjusted and regulated, meaning the certain keys come up together, and down together in perfect time.

Testing And Fine Tuning:

Lastly, the flute must be tested. If there is anything that needs fixing, it must be fixed before heading off to the market.

How Is A Flute Made?

A flute is a thing of beauty and an example of human ingenuity, coupled with the dexterity of the hands that fashion it. There is a unique piece of artwork in each flute, standing for the skill and labor the maker put into it. Crafted out of wood or metal, these flutes promise beautiful music: to enchant the listeners and give joy to the musicians. The long way from raw material to a ready flute for being used is pretty unique. It is a very peculiar and exciting mixture of tradition, technology, and art that finally enables producing an instrument that can perform one of the most impressive sounds in the entire musical world. Knowing how a flute was made will lead to a much broader appreciation of an old-fashioned tool if one is a starting flutist or a fan of good music.

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