Looking for a C flute

Looking for a C flute

Hi there, I’m a long-time (35 years) flute player based in Dublin. I’m looking to get my hands on a keyed C-flute. I have no doubt someone will respond with "but why do you want one", so to preempt that: I want it because I like the sound, and having played one recently I enjoyed the experience. If anyone has advice on where one might acquire such an instrument I would be most grateful indeed. Thanks in advance for any information.

Re: Looking for a C flute

Can’t help you out at the moment, Treble 1999, not having a spare keyed C-flute on my person at this time. Shameful, I know.

But I did want to comment on your observation about the sound. It’s interesting that C is only 2 semitones below our usual D key, but it does make a striking difference. Perhaps it helps us to remember that a further 2 semitones down takes us to Bb, which we would definitely regard as a Low Flute.

And also an opportunity to make this comment. I’ve experimented with two ways to arrive at a C flute. Both have their own merits, both are perfectly logical and legitimate, and both result in very different flutes.

One (possibly the more obvious solution) is simply to scale down a typical D flute. The bore diameter is therefore similar to the D flute’s, giving it a fairly similar harmonic structure.

The second approach is to scale up a Bb flute. You’ll remember from above that C lies exactly halfway between D and Bb, and so this is no less a legitimate starting point. But the result is quite different - with its larger bore, it has much more that "Low Flute" sound.

And of course, there could be other approaches (perhaps other makers might chime in?). I guess the point I’m aiming to make is to think about what you want in your C flute, and to pick a making approach that is more likely to achieve that result.

See, I’ve managed to complicate things again, haven’t I…..

Re: Looking for a C flute

The C simply has a different sound - I like it as well. I like the Bb even better. My philosophy is that there are several keyed flutes that have interesting and unique color so, for me, it is less expensive to have several keyless’. I like keys but I have a difficult time with the technique with the key touch positioning having ‘grown up’ on a Boehm system. With the speed of trad (if that’s what you play) I simply can’t keep up most of the time when I have to start using the chromatic fingerings.

I can only tell you that I never remember seeing a used keyed C and I’m a person that scours all the regular sites pretty frequently. I think Paddy Ward could have one for you in about a year. I like his flute that he made for me but it’s a D (Rudall Carte). For most the other makers you’d have a long waiting list as you probably know but you might check with Gilles Lehart - I’m not familiar with his wait time. I’ve been thinking about a Bb from him. I don’t think Casey Burns has a very long wait list - you might try him as well. I do think if you have to have keys you will have to order from a maker.

I have a keyless C middle joint to go with my Olwell keyless D due to arrive today - it won’t but it will be soon.

Re: Looking for a C flute

@Tery McGee: Very interesting observations. How very dare you not have a C flute just when I require one…

Without asking you to give away "trade secrets", how would one go about scaling down or up from the relevant keys you mention? If we take the action of scaling down from D, would the length of the flute not have to increase somewhat?

@JWiseman: Thank you also for the comment. I play an Olwell keyed flute. I’ve asked him what the wait time will be for a keyless model, and whether it can be built in such a way as to have the keys retro-fitted at a later time. I hope you enjoy yours when it arrives.
All the very best.

Re: Looking for a C flute

I’m a little bashful about this next comment but I think it’s interesting in concept. Colin Goldie told me about this trick in a conversation when I told him I’d like to try learning flute making and that I thought I might start with a bamboo flute as he did. He told me the basics and said that I could get the tone hole placement with elastic material by marking another smaller sample and then stretching it out to your bamboo tube sounding length and marking the holes on the bamboo accordingly. There’s a video somewhere on Youtube of a guy that demonstrates this.

I am almost certain that Terry has a more scientific approach but still based on proportionality and then fine tuning with hole size and undercutting (frazing/voicing) which is a science in itself. I also believe that if Terry is reading this he may get a little chuckle at how little I know.

I hope that I might build in my retirement.