If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make a flute, this is the article for you. We’ll go over the basics of what you’ll need to get started, as well as some tips on how to make your flute sound great.
How To Make A Bamboo Flute
Getting Ready to Make the Flute
Step 1: Gather your materials.
You’ll need a drill, a rotary tool like a Dremel, and attachments to construct a bamboo flute. You’ll also need a box cutter or sharp knife, masking tape, a saw, a ruler or measuring tape, and a general-purpose hand-held sander. All of these items should be available at your local hardware shop.
Step 2: Go on a bamboo hunt.
Of course, you’ll need bamboo, but buying it’s not always necessary. Even though it isn’t a native plant to your area, you can sometimes find it growing along the road because these plants can take root and thrive virtually anyplace. If you can’t find bamboo in the wild, go to your local hardware shop and buy some.
Also, check the yellow pages in your area. Bamboo flooring that comes in bamboo rods is sometimes available in carpet retailers.
Step 3: Pick a high-quality bamboo.
Make sure the bamboo’s diameter is between 3/4 and 7/8 inch. The greatest sound comes from thin-walled bamboo with a wall thickness of roughly 1/8 inch or less. Also, search for a good, uncracked piece of seasoned bamboo. It shouldn’t be too flexible, and there shouldn’t be any noticeable cracks, tears, splinters, or holes.
Make sure the bamboo has at least one node, a notch on the interior that is solid rather than hollow like the rest of the bamboo. Circular ridges are commonly identified on the bamboo that resembles joints.
The “cork” will be formed by one of the nodes at the flute’s end. To ensure that the flute has a correct tone, the node should be smooth and without holes inside and outside.
Getting the Bamboo Ready
Step 1: Remove the bamboo’s branches. If necessary, use a hacksaw.
You should also sand down any notches left behind from where the bamboo was cut off. Use a hand sander if you have one; it’s faster and easier than sanding by hand.
The bamboo you choose may have many nodes.
If you’re working with a long piece of bamboo, select the area you’ll be working with and sand it down, so you don’t have to sand the entire bamboo stem.
Step 2: Using the key, cut the pipe to the desired length.
The key that its length determines the pipe plays. Cut a 14-inch length of pipe to build a flute that plays in the key of A. Cut it down to 18 inches for an F flute and 21 inches for a D flute. Choose a bamboo piece with joints little more than half as far apart as the instrument’s planned length.
For example, if you want a 14-inch flute, the nodes should be around 7 inches apart. Put another way, there should be about 7 inches of the tube between each node.
The goal is to trim it so that a node is at the end and another is in the middle. After you cut the flute to size, you want it to have a node at one end and another in the middle. At the very least, one should be present.
Wrap a piece of masking tape over the area you wish to cut, and then use the hacksaw to cut it out. The tape prevents the splintering of the bamboo.
Cut away from the node. It’s best not to cut into it.
Step 3: Choose the node that will serve as the cork.
To make your cork, choose a section of bamboo with a node towards the end. Then, measure 2 cm (0.78 inches) away from the node with a pencil. The cork of the flute will be the name of this section. The blow hole, properly known as the Embouchure, will be located next to it. This area should not be cut into.
Step 4: Look for holes in the node you chose to be your cork again. Because if it has holes in it, the tone of the flute may be affected.
Step 5: Remove all solid nodes.
The inner portion of the nodes, as previously stated, is solid rather than hollow like the remainder of the pipe. So, save for the one near the end that serves as your cork, you’ll have to knock out all of the nodes.
This can be done with a hammer and chisel. Place the chisel or sharp tool against the node inside the tube, then hammer the tool’s top. You’ll chisel it away gradually.
Another approach is to use a hot poker to burn out the nodes, but the safest alternative is to use a long drill bit to bore out the nodes.
Step 6: Wipe the inside of the flute clean.
Wrap sandpaper around a 20-inch long dowel rod and tape the sandpaper to it. Then, brush the sandpaper on the bamboo to smooth the inside of the tube. Also, sand the node locations as much as possible to make them as smooth as feasible.
Making The Flute
Step 1: Determine the thickness of the wall.
Now that the bamboo is open, you can see the thickness of the walls, which you’ll need to know to calculate the diameter of the Embouchure — the blow. Measure each one to the nearest millimeter with your ruler and record your findings. After then, put them aside for a later date.
Step 2: Determine the precise location of the embouchure.
The Embouchure should be one diameter larger than the cork — the node you chose at the bamboo’s end. For example, if the bamboo is 8 centimeters (3.1 inches) wide or in diameter, you will measure 8 centimeters (3.1 inches) up from the cork. Then mark it, which will be the location of the blow hole’s center.
The diameter of a circle equals its circumference.
Step 3: Determine the embouchure’s diameter.
Now you must determine how large the blow hole should be, as the size of the hole affects the sound of the flute. To compute the measurements, use a flute calculator like Flutomat.
Input your inner diameter and wall thickness measurements for the flute.
Then select the key in which you want the flute to play. You can skip this step if you cut your flute to a specified length for a specific note. In the seven-note Western scale, the application will determine the diameter of the Embouchure and other holes. Make a list of the dimensions of each hole.
For example, if the blow hole diameter is 10mm (0.393 inches), the diameters of the following finger holes 1-7 may be 8.0 mm (0.3149 inches), 8.5 mm (0.335), 9 mm (0.354 inches), 7 mm (0.275 inches), 9.5mm (0.374 inches), 10mm (0.393), 5.5mm (0.393). (0.217 inches).
Step 4: Measure the distance between the finger openings.
Use the flute calculator, which also estimates the distance between each hole’s edge and the flute’s open end. It provides measurements based on the distance between each hole and the Embouchure.
So, please note where each hole should go on your pole to ensure that they will fit. You’re ready to drill once all your dimensions appear perfect, and everything appears to fit on the bamboo.
Step 5: Secure the bamboo with a clamp and begin drilling the Embouchure.
Clamp it down with wood clamps. Then, with the Embouchure facing up, start drilling where you marked the first hole with the 2mm (0.078 inches) drill bit. Increase to a more significant drill bit, such as 8 mm (0.315 inches), once you’ve drilled a small hole with the drill bit.
Gradually raise the drill bit size until it’s large enough to make the holes you want. If your Embouchure is 10 mm, gradually increase your drill bits until you reach a 10 mm drill bit to create a hole that size.
When drilling, hold the drill bit perpendicular to the bamboo with a steady hand. You risk drilling the bamboo incorrectly or splintering, cracking, or ripping it if you have the drill at an angle or are shaky when drilling. Drilling should be deliberate but cautious.
Step 6: Fill the hole with sandpaper.
To make the hole nice and smooth, use a Dremel or a comparable rotary tool. Use a rotary tool with a sanding attachment. One of the attachments with medium-grit sandpaper should be used. (Check by feeling the paper.)
The more coarse the sandpaper, the rougher it is.) Sand the hole gently with medium-grit sandpaper and then smoother sandpaper, being cautious not to modify the hole’s form or size.
Step 7: Blow into the embouchure.
By testing it, you receive a familiar, mellow, “flute-like” tone. If you need to make corrections and the outside edge of the Embouchure on a downward slant with a sanding file, but only if you think it’s necessary—things best to play it safe and make no changes if it sounds nice to you.
Step 8: Double-check the markings on your finger holes.
Make sure they’re positioned correctly about the blowhole. The space between each hold from the end of one hole to the end of the next hole is calculated using the Flutomat calculator. As a result, you don’t get the hole’s center.
You’ll need to make your hole one radius larger than the hole’s diameter. This is where you’ll drill and the hole’s center. After that, drill in the same way you drilled the blowhole.
Make sure you’ve marked your holes in a straight line.
Start with the smaller parts to build a beginning hole, then go to the more significant bits. Then gradually go to larger bits until you reach the right size drill bit.
Some sections of the bamboo, such as where a branch was growing, were thinner than others. So keep this in mind when you’re drilling.
This area will be thicker than other sections if you have to drill a hole over a node. Drill slowly and take your time.
Step 9: Ensure that the insides of the holes are clean.
Sand the hole’s edges to make them smooth with your rotary tool. Use the sanding file if you’re afraid of making mistakes or sanding too much. They’re also excellent for filling tiny gaps. You’re ready to play once you’ve cleaned up the drill holes.
How To Make A Pan Flute
Making from straws or PVC pipes
Pan pipes are simple to make at home because the method is straightforward. The pan flute’s ability to make melodic sounds is a key part of what gives it a level of sophistication that its manufacturer lacks.
PVC pipes and straws are two of the most frequent materials for making a handmade pan flute. Although the straws are more convenient, the PVC pipes would generate a significantly superior sound. Both are extremely popular, owing to a global trend toward recycling old plastic materials that would otherwise be discarded.
If you’re buying materials solely for pipe fabrication, keep the following suggestions in mind.
The better the sound, the thicker the material. As a result, normal straws are the poorest kind of material to utilize.
12-inch PVC schedule 40 pipes is the best PVC pipes for building the nicest flutes at home.
Once the materials are ready, they must be cut; scissors may enough for a straw pipe, but a sharper tool is required for harder materials. Because calculating the notes of pipes might be challenging, the following lengths (in this sequence) can be utilized to create a diatonic scale:
Alternatively, you can blow over the pipe and keep cutting until you get the sound you want. The best pan flute in the world would be able to produce flawless sounds.
To make sound, the pipes’ bottoms would have to be sealed, and apertures similar to those found on a flute’s foot joint would have to be created. This can be accomplished by stamping a straw through a clay filler at the bottom of the pipe, then twisting and elevating the straw to create an evenly upward-opening through the clay.
Tape can be used to fix this holed clay stopper at the bottom of the pipes. The same procedure should be followed for all pipes.
Making A Pan Flute From Bamboo Pipes
Bamboo stalks can also be used to make pan flutes. Such flutes are more appealing and sonorous than straw flutes, yet any benefit they would have over PVC flutes would be dependent on the maker’s expertise.
The stalks can be harvested outside or in local shops if the local climate enables bamboo growth. If the climate isn’t conducive to bamboo growth and the stalks aren’t available locally, you may always order them online in whatever quantity you need. However, the diameter of the stalks to be used should be roughly 5/8 inch in diameter. To guarantee that the sound produced by the pipes blends effectively, the inside diameters of all the used pipes should be equal.
It’s also essential to utilizing dried, brown bamboo rather than green bamboo. These bamboo pipes should then be trimmed to the desired lengths directly before the nodes. The bottoms of the cuts might be sanded to smooth them out and make them more appealing. All of the pipes should be cut in this manner and sanded if desired.
It would help if you also utilized the length dimensions of the PVC or straw pipe flutes here to achieve a sound system similar to that of the PVC or straw pipe flutes.
The bottom of the pipes would be closed due to the bamboo nodes being naturally covered. A steel rod with a diameter of 3/8 inch can be poked through the nodes to create the aperture required for sound production. The rod can also be used to scrape the inside of the stalks to ensure that they have the same diameter inside as the remainder of the stalk.
The pipes should be ready to assemble after cutting to size; however, if you need to alter the notes produced by the pipes, you can do so by cutting till you have the desired notes.
The pipes can be arranged side by side from longest to shortest if the notes have already been established and the pipes have reached their ultimate lengths. The plugged ends must be on the same side in this order, albeit they will be spaced diagonally to allow all the top stops to be on the same line. The pipes should be reinforced after this setup.
Reinforcement of the pipe could be done with glue, tape, twine, a mixture of the two, or all three. To be carried and handled, all of the pipes must be connected.
Straw pipe flutes can be taped independently, but keeping the pipes together during taping is essential. Using a chopstick or stick to strengthen the pipes along their middles during the taping procedure can prevent this pressing together.
To keep PVC and bamboo pipes together, tougher materials are required than tape. The tape, on the other hand, can be used in conjunction with twine. A wooden rod can be placed across the pipe in addition to rope to offer additional support. To strengthen the connection, crisscross the twine across each pipe and the wooden rod.
How To Improve Flute Tone Quality
The cornerstone of flute playing is appropriate flute posture. How you hold yourself and the instrument affects the quality of your tone, the fluidity of your technique, and the ease with which you can breathe. Sit or stand with your back straight and your head up and forward.
Hold your flute as near to the floor as you can comfortably (at no more than a 20-degree angle). When standing, ensure one foot is slightly in front of the other and that your weight is evenly distributed between both feet. Position yourself at an angle to the music while sitting and maintaining both feet on the floor.
Air Assist Tension in the air leads to tension in the sound.
Remember how your band and orchestra director yelled, “AIR SUPPORT!” to the woodwind section during rehearsal? Taking a deep breath and supporting your tone with a steady air stream will help center your tone and give it depth.
Aperture is the third element. The aperture is the gap between your lips that forms the entryway for your air stream. The airy tone created by a bigger aperture is challenging to regulate. Practice lengthy tones in the mirror to help you create a smaller aperture. A stronger, clearer sound will be produced by faster, more concentrated air.
Take a video of yourself
The tone you hear up close isn’t always the same as that from afar. Regrettably, your hearing can be deceiving! Recording yourself and critically listening to your tone may reveal habits you weren’t aware of.
Use your smartphone to make simple recordings, or invest in a handheld Zoom recorder like the Zoom ZH1 H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder (Black) for superior sound quality. Keep in mind that recordings are like mirrors for your ears.
This is one of those “duh” moments. Each day, set aside time to practice a specific range (low, middle, high) and pay attention to the quality of sound produced on each note. Is the sound different from one note to the next? Try to use the same tone throughout the instrument’s range on all notes.
Trevor Wye’s Practice Book for the Flute on Tone (Available on Amazon: Trevor Wye Practice Book for the Flute: Volume 1 – Tone Book Only) is an excellent resource for practicing long tones, with a variety of exercises in each octave range.
Practicing extended tones for 15-20 minutes daily will improve your sound gradually but dramatically over time. It’s been said that even James Galway practices long tones for at least an hour daily. Can you keep up for at least one week?
Align the Embouchure Align the flute on your lower lip so that the tone hole’s edge coincides with the lower lip’s edge. Most flutists hold the flute higher on their lips than necessary. This tip was scribbled across numerous pages of my flute lesson notebook in my youth, and I still have to remind myself to lower my flute from time to time.
Adjust the angle of your Airstream
Because only roughly a third of the air we utilize enters into the flute, and the rest is blown over the tone hole, the angle of the air entering the instrument impacts the tone quality produced. I was trained several years ago to direct my air across the room to the point where the farthest wall meets the ceiling.
This prevented my pitch from sagging and my tone from becoming flat. When you’re nervous, it’s hard to remember to do this; nevertheless, an arrow pointing in the direction of the location noted on your score serves as a handy visual reminder to properly aim your air.
Remember that what works for one individual might not work for someone else. Experiment with slightly higher (toward the ceiling) and lower (toward the floor) air angles until you discover your optimal sound.
Coverage of Tone Holes
While researching for this article, I had an AHA moment when I remembered that the lips should only cover about 1/3 of the tone hole. The tone will be light if too much of the hole is left uncovered.
After attending a masterclass where I was told that most flutists align their headjoints too much to the right, I’ve been playing with the placement of my headjoint for several years, setting the tone hole more to the left of typical alignment (or closer to the body).
On the other hand, my childhood flute teacher was continually trying to persuade me to look at the amount of lip covering the tone hole rather than the location of the head joint! To correct a previous “poor” habit, I shall begin playing extended tones in front of a mirror today!
If you cover too much of the tone hole, on the other hand, your sound will be pinched and flat. To check and fix coverage, use a mirror. Your tone will improve inexplicably.
Harmonics (number 9) Harmonics practice is similar to working on the foundations of sound production. Play a low C and, using the same fingering for a low C, sound a low C, middle C, middle G, high C, high E, high G, and even a high Bb by moving your mouth slightly forward with each new pitch and increasing air speed between notes.
When you return to the lower register, you’ll notice a larger, more rounded, and substantially more colorful sound.
What Are The Ingredients That Go Into Making A Flute?
Copper-nickel, silver, gold, and grenadilla are some materials used to make flutes (a type of wood). Each of these materials has a distinct acoustic signature. The sound quality and timbre of flutes manufactured of the same material vary depending on the thickness of the material.
Is It Possible To Have A Flute Made Of Wood Or Metal?
Flutes nowadays are mostly composed of silver or silverplated nickel. They were, however, originally fashioned of wood. The sound of a wooden flute differs significantly from that of a metal flute. The cellulose’s natural plant fibers give it a “reedy” sound, similar to that of a recorder.
How To Make A Wooden Flute?
What Kind Of Wood Is Used To Make The Flute?
Granadilla, boxwood, mopani, cocobolo, and couswood were the most frequent woods used to make flutes. Today’s wooden flutes are about the same weight as a solid silver flute, and the flute’s tube is composed of wood with silver or gold keys and gears.
That’s all about how to create a flute and make it sound great. Fidlar hope you found this article beneficial, and please let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below.