Irish Flutes - About My Flutes



6-key Pratten's Perfected in cocuswood


My flutes are made very much in the traditional style but using a combination of old and new techniques to bring the finest possible results.  Each flute is made as an individual craft object, using the finest materials I can find.  

The flute blanks are reamed three times over the making period to ensure the most accurate and stable bore.  Sockets are slightly tapered to ease assembly and the tenons lapped in real cork for the firmest fit.  Under the cork, the tenons are "combed" to accept thread lapping if preferred.  Rings are made from artificial ivory or sterling silver and tightly fitted to support the thin wood of the sockets.  The stopper (the cork that fits inside the head just above the embouchure hole) has a sturdy screw cap mechanism for convenience when cleaning.

Finger, key and embouchure holes are cut with specially made drills using a precision milling machine modified for the task.  The holes are then finished by hand under the microscope to bring out the most powerful, focused and clean tone.  

Rather than bulk or batch manufacture, I prefer to make each instrument individually.  This permits me to develop each instrument as a whole, rather than a collection of bits.  I also spend quite some time playing the completed instrument, often returning to make fine adjustments to embouchure or key-work, and not releasing the instrument until I am satisfied I cannot improve it further.  I then review the design to see if any changes should be carried on to later instruments.  I believe the combination of my research studies, scientific understanding, craft ability and this process of "organic redevelopment" is responsible for the superb results.


Nineteenth century flutes were not designed to work at the modern standard pitch,  A440.  Pitch changed substantially during the century and, for a substantial amount of that time, two pitches (called low and high) were in simultaneous operation.  Accordingly instruments at the time might have been designed to play anywhere from 425 to 455Hz.  This explains many of the tuning anomalies encountered with old flutes and is not something we wish to duplicate in new instruments.   Each of my models has been re-scaled from the pitch it was designed to play at to modern pitch, A440, and further trimmed to get the tuning as close to accurate as possible.

The old makers also expected the player to open the Eb key for most notes, the F key for F# and the c key for c# notes.  This is simply not practical at the speed of Irish music, so, unless requested otherwise, I tune for the straightforward "whistle" fingering.

I happily admit to being a tuning fetishist.  I've always been at the forefront of development and use in tuners - it's been my argument that the maker needs to be 10 times fussier than the average player.  When you play my flutes, I want you to be able to concentrate on all the other aspects of musicality - rhythm, style, ornamentation, articulation, etc, not to have to struggle to keep your flute in tune.

We made a major breakthrough in March 2008 with development of the first practical Reel-Time-Tuning-Analysis system (pun intended) which now enables us to check the tuning of flutes while we play, rather than as we sit playing note by note in front of the tuner.  Now all my flute models undergo rigorous RTTA.   (See Reel Time Tuning Analysis for further details about this development and why it is a great step forward for flute making and playing.)


I have not found flutes available anywhere in the world which equal the performance of my instruments, measured in terms of responsiveness, intonation, tone, comfort, volume or quality of manufacture.

They substantially surpass the performance of the originals in all respects. I am happy to provide testimonials from satisfied players, or to put prospective purchasers in contact with previous customers.

Each flute comes with advice on flute care, and a range of useful accessories is available.

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