Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

Hello,
I have ordered a D flute with a standard C-foot (which is going to be ready in November 2019) and I am looking for a maker who can then make a keyed foot longer than the standard C-foot to extend the flute range.

At the moment I know about Steffen Gabriel from Germany who can make a B-foot. Is there any other maker who can make a B-foot or even an A-foot? (I’ve heard about an ancient flute with A-foot but I don’t know if there is anybody able to make it nowadays.)

I’ll be grateful for any advice :-)

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

Hi, I think I read on Thomas Aebis website that he can also make flutes with low b keys/feet.
He is a flute maker from siwtzerland. I once played one of his flutes (R&R style) on a workshop weekend. And it certainly was one of the finest instruments I have played so far.

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

Just out of interest: why are you looking for a b or a foot? Even when I played only classical music on a Boehm flute, I used the b foot extremely rarely. It is also really hard to play this notes nicely, especially when you play something fast.
Some Boehm flute players say, that the b foot helps with the exteemy high notes of the third or forth Octave.

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

I should imagine very few flute makers will offer the option of a B. Bb. or A. foot. As, Davidread explains, there is very little musical repertoire using these low notes on the flute. I don’t think there was that much use for them when they were first manufactured in England from the mid - late 19th. Century, and of all the makers during that time, it was only Rudall & Rose who made them in any significant numbers. To date there are only about 20 or so of these flutes by this illustrious company known to exist, making them something of a collector’s item rather than a useful addition to the instrument. If you find a willing maker ( possibly Chris Wilkes ) it may well come at a sizeable premium. If it’s the low deep sonorous tones you are after, maybe a low pitched flute ( Bb. for example ) would be a more useful, available and affordable option.

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

I love b foot!! I play the one by Thomas Aebi.
There are not so many tunes you can use b foot but it’s fun. I took a video of my flute just now.

https://youtu.be/_fwzzyT-wAI

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Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

@hatao
Do you think the b-foot influences the overall sound and responsiveness of the instrument notably?
Some "Irish" flute makers make short d feet for their flutes and they it allows a more agile or responsive playing


@Tootin’-Twangg
Many antique German flutes have a low b foot. At least, it is not extremely rare for them to have one. Also I don’t know why German flutes tend to have them more often. Maybe getting an antique German flute for a few bucks might be an option for OP?

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

As you mention Davidread, the antique German flutes feature the B. foot more frequently than their English counterparts, and I agree could well be a cheap option for the OP. The general build and sound quality of the German flutes ( especially later ones ) can be a bit below par, but this is reflected in their price. Nice playing hatao, and a lovely sounding flute you have there, but I imagine it would sound just as good overall with a D. or C. foot. I have heard the line of thought about the short D. foot being a better sonic/performance option from some Irish flute makers, but it begs the question why the majority of them still persist with the C. length foot……………?

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

Why would you want to play below C? Are playing a genre other than ITM?

In ITM I’m sufficiently happy with a C-foot, which does become useful for tunes in D-minor or D-myx. It is unusual to have a need for a low B or Bb. The "A" note comes up occasionally (Martin Wynnes, for example), but can be folded without disrupting the tune.

On a D flute, you will find the notes below D harder and harder to sound with good clarity.

If you really are playing that low, maybe you should look into a Bb flute. The flute will be sized appropriately for those notes. The finger reach is a bit of a stretch.

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

I had a German reform flute that was a good player and had a strong low B. It was not your typical German Meyer flute though.

You’ll find uses for the note if you have it.
Strayaway Child comes to mind but I’m sure there were a few other tunes I was playing with the low B at the time.

I also had a Low A flute at one time. It can sound brilliant playing D tunes that go below D. You just play the tune in G fingering (comes out in D on an A flute ) . Some tunes work perfectly like this.

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Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

I have seen an old German Flute with a low G(!) foot. It seemed to be a real bunch of grapes cluster of keys for the low notes and I am not sure how well it would have played. My immediate reaction on seeing it was OMG! Most of the keys were broken off their blocks, so it was obviously a physically vulnerable setup too. Still, if it had worked, it would have got you to the low note of a fiddle.

I have a B foot on my Boehm flute and when I need it, then I _need_ it… Music composed for the flute nowadays almost never uses this note because most flutes don’t have it, but if working on stuff arranged for other instruments or vocalists then it is surprisingly frequent. Mhairi ban Og in the key I play it starts with it for example. Other keys are harder to sing and/or not what the fiddlers play and wrapping the note up an octave or finding an alternative never really satisfies me. The extra weight of the longer foot does not disturb me personally, but I have heard it mentioned by others.

Hitting the B reliably takes practice but is perfectly possible with good technique - it doesn’t really reward the tightish Irish style embouchure that you would typically use for low D and you will not get a tone comparable to a mighty low D out of it (Maybe the overtones don’t fit this tone so well?). But it will still produce a good strong note.

I would probably lean towards not wanting a low A foot - the extra weight, probably weaker tone etc. would make me prefer to use a straight low A flute (usually with a correspondingly bigger bore…) instead.

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

dunnp:
"I also had a Low A flute at one time. It can sound brilliant playing D tunes that go below D. You just play the tune in G fingering (comes out in D on an A flute ) . Some tunes work perfectly like this."

I’ve been wondering about that. I play some tunes on mandolin with notes on the G string that I can’t reach on my D flute. A few Irish tunes, mainly some Cape Breton stuff. My flute has a foot with C and C# keys, but either they don’t work well enough, or my embouchure isn’t good enough for consistent strong tone on those notes (probably both). A few tunes hit even lower notes down to A, and some of these are important notes in the tune that can’t just be folded. So I just play those tunes on mandolin, but it would be nice to have a flute option for those tunes.

I don’t think I’d want a flute with a B or A foot due to the mechanical complexity and shift in the balance. Plus, the difficulty of finding one in good shape, or paying a fortune for a new one. I might also have the same problem reaching those notes that I’m already having with C and C# keys, if it’s more a question of weak embouchure than mechanics.

I’ve thought of picking up a Bb flute, based on hearing some great flute recordings by Matt Molloy, Kevin Crawford, Sylvain Barou and others on Bb flutes. But that does seem to be more of a solo instrument, because it puts you in odd keys if you use normal D flute fingering.

How is the finger stretch on a low A flute? I’m 6’2" tall with corresponding hand size, but I wonder how something like a cross-fingered Cnat fingering (on a D flute) would work on something that big, if it was keyless? I guess that would be a G note? Would you need a long G key (equivalent to long C on a D flute) to hit that at speed?

Also, if I have this right, reaching the high B note in an Irish tune on a low A flute would require the same fingering as reaching the high E above the B on a D flute. I guess that’s do-able, with practice. Or I could stick to pipe tunes that never go higher than A. :)

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

It’s interesting to think about third register on a low flute. I guess your success with it would depend on the design.

On a D flute the high C, C# and D are pretty straightforward, but might not be optimized by the flute maker. On my antique flute they are great, and Eb & E are pretty easy, but the E’s take advantage of F-nat and G# keys.

Personally, I’m happy with the C-foot as it benefits some F-major, D-minor, G-dor and G-minor tunes that I like: Porthole of the Kelp, Lad O’Beirnes. Paddy Fahey #1, Neckbelly,

Most flute players are satisfied with nothing more than the Eb key on the foot.

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

I used to play an Alto flute for those low tunes!

It went down to G, just like the fiddle.

Think about it: a keyed Alto flute has the exact range of the fiddle played in First Position: the open G string up to high B on the E string. (Of course both the Alto flute and the fiddle can go higher than B.)

But I gave up that whole notion and decided to stick to normal Irish instruments.

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

Wow. Thank you, folks, I didn’t expect so many reactions. I posted the same question on Chiff and Fipple forum with no reaction at all so I have’nt check this discussion until now.

I need the B/A foot for other music (swing etc) and since I want to play lot of songs in C, low B is quite useful. I guess I’ll use it for B minor tunes as well. I don’t like the Boehm flute (because I need to feel the holes directly under my fingers) so irish flute is the best option. The irish sound is also better. I normally play ITM but not only.

I’ll probably write more after I read through all the reactions.

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

The main reason why i want B/A foot is to extend the range of the flute. So an alto flute is not a solution. I often need more than two octaves. Low B is good for C major and B minor tunes and low A would be very useful for A minor and some D major tunes (not irish).

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

Have you checked ebay or Facebook market?

Re: Long (B or A) foot for a D flute - looking for makers

One more note: I’m afraid a C flute would be too long for my hands. So I guess an alto flute would be impossible to play for me. Another reason for a D flute with extended foot.