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Re: Grenser Flute

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  • John Rush
    Greetings Rod! I have sent you an e-mail through another address but I have been having problems with it! So, if you have already seen this disregard! I have
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 1, 1999
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      Greetings Rod!

      I have sent you an e-mail through another address but I have been having
      problems with it! So, if you have already seen this disregard!

      I have sold my Palanca! I have a check ready to send to you for the price
      of the flute shipping and the case for a total of $1504.00 as stated on your
      previous e-mail to me! I was wondering about what oil you prefer out of the
      three recommended olive, almond or peanut! Also could you please recommend
      a lace on where to purchase these!


      John Rush
    • John Rush
      I am sorry for this being sent to the list! I clicked on the wrong address folder! John
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 1, 1999
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        I am sorry for this being sent to the list! I clicked on the wrong address

      • Rod Cameron
        Dear John. If I, by any chance, have given you two different prices for the Grenser flute, go with the lower one! Use almond oil. It does not harden and it
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 3, 1999
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          Dear John.

          If I, by any chance, have given you two different prices for the Grenser flute,
          go with the lower one!
          Use almond oil. It does not harden and it does not go rancid.
          Here are my flute care writings:


          Rod Cameron
          Please read this article, including instructions,
          before assembling and playing your new flute.

          Warning: Do not assemble or play your flute before reading this article. Your
          new flute is at its most vulnerable in its new dry condition, and overplaying
          in a new condition can seriously damage the instrument.

          This article is comprehensive, and I know that you will be impatient to try
          your new flute! Please do take the time to read the article before you play
          your instrument. Do not be unduly alarmed by frequent reference to the various
          ways that the instrument can be improperly handled. It is simply that the new
          flute, at its best, is a delicate thin walled wooden tube that is now beyond
          the reach of the maker, and as such the player must now be responsible for
          its care and handling. Almost all disappointments can be avoided by not
          assembling joints that are too tight, and by not playing a dry instrument too
          much, too soon. This is crucial, and is now the responsibility of the
          player...you! Be patient, and read on...

          This flute is made from natural materials which are affected by changes in
          humidity and temperature. If you follow a few simple rules, you can avoid
          risking permanent damage to your instrument, such as warping or cracking. We
          have many examples of fine-playing, original flutes from the eighteenth
          century, so it is clear that a properly cared for instrument will last many
          years. It makes good sense to read and adhere to the following instructions on
          care of your instrument:

          1) Lightly grease the thread wrappings on the tenons before each assembly.

          If you do not have woodwind 'cork grease', sold in music stores, use a little
          'Chapstick', or petroleum jelly. Assemble the joints using a half turn, as you
          push them together.

          2) Never assemble the flute if the joints feel too tight.

          It is quite easy for an inexperienced player to crack the sockets of any wood
          flute by simply forcing the socket and tenon together when the adjustment is
          too tight. The greased joints should feel firm and secure, without being too
          tight. One common mistake is to test the tenon of a wood flute and find it
          tight, and then add grease to the tenon so that it can be pushed into the tight
          fit resulting in the socket being cracked. On no account use joint grease to
          solve the problem of tight assembly. You must make sure that the thread
          wrappings are adjusted to give you a secure joint with a minimum of strain on
          the socket. Since wood changes shape depending upon temperature and humidity,
          the flute may have changed its shape a little on its journey to you. The tenons
          may be a bit too loose or too tight now, even when they were in proper
          adjustment before mailing. Instructions for adjusting follow later.

          3) Play the flute only for a short period.

          Hopefully, you will be anxious to play your flute right away, giving it a good
          test, and enjoying its character. Please keep in mind that the flute is new and
          it should be played in gradually. This will be explained later. You can now
          play the flute for no more than five minutes, then continue reading these


          Many players are already experienced with the baroque flute, however we will
          assume that the reader is unfamiliar with the instrument.

          To Play In your Flute.

          What will help with a new or dry instrument is to go slowly, playing ten
          minutes on the first day, morning and evening, and increasing this each day in
          the following rough sequence:-

          10, 20, 40, 60, 80 minutes, 2 hours, 2.5 hr, 3 hr, 4 hr, and 5 hr.

          Slower Schedules are also fine! This allows the moisture entering the wood to
          be limited in quantity, and to have time to permeate evenly throughout the
          total cross-section of the wood flute, slowly building up to an equilibrium
          saturation level, allowing the instrument to be played continuously. The
          process should be stretched out over about ten days. Keeping the flute and its
          case in a plastic bag while not in use helps retain the moisture in the wood
          so that playing-in is not required if the flute is idle for a week or two.
          When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Remember that a flute which has
          remained un-played and allowed to dry out needs to be played in again just
          like a new flute. Players with a scientific mind will weigh their flute when
          dry, and graph out its increased weight against time as it is played in.
          Using this graph as a reference, the player will know how dry the flute is at
          any time simply by re-weighing it, See the paragraph on the effect of moisture
          in woodwinds for further information.

          After playing your flute. Cleaning and Oiling.

          Swab the flute out after each playing session, and polish the outside with a
          clean, lint free cloth, especially around the mouth hole. I recommend using a
          little natural carnuba wax thinned with vasoline 50/50 as a good polish for the
          outside of the flute. Never leave your flute near a central heating duct. With
          a new wood flute, it is a good idea to oil it a few hours after playing, each
          day, until it appears that the wood will not absorb any more oil. The flute
          will sound best a few hours after oiling. It is very important that you do not
          use linseed oil inside the bore of the flute. This is because linseed oil is a
          hardening oil, and it will leave the bore sticky, and often contributes to
          gluing the silver key shut. Instead, use a non-hardening oil such as peanut,
          almond, or olive oil. One good way to oil the bore (the inside hole down
          through the body of the flute) is to use a chop stick with a pipe cleaner
          wrapped around the end of it in the form of a tight spiral about three
          centimeters long. Dip this into the oil and wipe partially dry, then use as a
          paintbrush in a spiral screw thread motion down through the bore of each joint.
          When oiling the bore of the foot joint, slip a piece of stiff paper under the
          key pad to keep the pad from becoming oiled and sticky. Sometimes the key pad
          will be made from a foam rubber which seals very well. In the event of any
          stickiness, use a little talcum powder on the pad and seat to prevent this.
          After letting the oil sit inside the bore of the flute for about half an hour,
          wipe out any excess with a paper towel rolled round a wood stick, such as a
          chop-stick. You may be tempted to leave your flute assembled when not in use,
          perhaps even leaving it out to be seen on a bookshelf or table. This is not a
          good idea, especially if you live in a dry climate or centrally heated house.
          It is safer to place your flute in its case, and place the case in a plastic
          bag with a slightly damp cloth. Don't forget to close the plastic bag to keep
          moisture from escaping. Obviously those living in humid areas will not need
          the plastic bag.


          Description of the Baroque Flute.

          Another name for the baroque flute is the traverso. This shorter name will be
          used from now on. The traverso was made in three sections early in the Baroque
          Period, and was called the French Flute. About 1720 it was made in four
          sections: the head joint, the middle joint, the lower
          joint, and the foot joint. This is by far the most common design re-created
          today. The French flutes were pitched quite low, near to A392, and today we
          rationalize a standard mid -baroque pitch to be A415.

          The Head joint, as its name implies, is the top joint of the flute and contains
          the blow hole. Notice that the blow hole of the traverso is much smaller than
          on the silver flute. This, plus the conical bore, gives the traverso its dark
          tone color, and also allows for rapid correction of pitch. The top of the head
          joint bore is stopped off by a well fitted cork located about one bore
          diameter's length from the center of the blow hole. The exact position of the
          cork is crucial to the tuning of the flute. This is described in a following
          page on the Screw Cap.

          Many of the originals of the period were equipped with up to seven
          interchangeable middle joints. This allowed the flute to be played at any pitch
          over a range of about one semitone (there was no standard pitch in the
          eighteenth century). Our modern pitch standard of A440 is not a very warm sound
          for the traverso, yet many players today require an A440 joint to allow them
          to play with friends who may not be equipped at the A415 baroque pitch. If your
          flute has
          A415 and A440 middle joints, these would be the equivalent of numbers 1 and 7
          of a typical set of seven. This means that A415 and A440 demand that the flute
          play over the widest practical jump of pitch (one semitone). You will find
          that the traverso manages remarkably well at both
          pitches, considering that only one part of it is replaced. A415 is usually
          the most centered pitch, and you will be drawn to it quite naturally.

          The foot joint of your flute may be equipped with a Foot Register. This is the
          name for the sliding extension at the end of the foot joint, usually
          including the lowest imitation ivory ring of the flute. The foot register and
          its use are described fully in a later page.

          Care of the Eb Key.

          Looking at the foot joint, notice that it has one silver key covering the
          seventh tone hole. Since the lowest note is D, we can say that the keyed hole
          is the E flat note. The key is sprung, and when depressed it stops just short
          of touching the lower joint. The silver key is easily bent if pressed hard, and
          too heavy a hand will alter its setting, causing it to touch the lower joint.
          Try to resist leaving your finger on the E flat key. The key is padded with
          leather, or foam rubber and it should hinge squarely onto the top of the tone
          hole. A little talcum powder applied to the key pad helps to prevent the pad
          from becoming sticky from bore oil. A dry winter might sometimes shrink the
          foot joint slightly so that the slot for the key narrows and stiffens the
          action of the key, rendering it unworkable. The key needs to be removed and a
          small amount of filing on the width of the stem will allow it to loosen up and
          work properly. It is always okay to return the flute to be re-adjusted in this
          fashion, but if time and distance are a consideration, and there are no
          convenient woodwind repair shops, your local friendly jeweler should be able to
          do the job in about five minutes. If the key is very firmly stuck, place the
          foot joint in a plastic bag with a damp cloth for a few hours or a few days,
          and this should loosen it. The key can be removed by first pushing out the
          silver hinge pin. The end of a paper clip is just the right size for this job.
          Do it carefully, and do not scratch the wood.

          Care of the Tenons.

          The end of the thread wrapping on the tenons is not tucked in. It is held
          neatly against the windings by a little cork grease, and it can be located by
          scratching across the windings with your fingernail until the end shows. The
          thread is pure silk impregnated with beeswax. If at any time the end of the
          thread starts to unwind, this indicates that the joint should be greased with
          cork grease (use commercial cork grease from a music store, make your own from
          beeswax and Vaseline mixed together hot about 50/50, or use 'Chapstick').
          Provided that the joints have been well greased with cork grease, it is a good
          habit to lightly coat the joints with Vaseline only before each assembly. My
          experience is that the average player tends to neglect this, and threaded
          tenons are often forced dry into the sockets resulting in unraveling the
          thread, and sometimes in cracking the sockets. If the threads do become untidy,
          it is a simple matter to locate the end of the thread, unwind as much as
          necessary, then rewind the tenon neatly, before greasing.

          If necessary, use the extra thread supplied to adjust the fit of the tenons You
          will be tempted to use the socket to help squeeze a new layer of the thread
          into shape. Don't do this. It might result in a cracked socket. Instead, add a
          few turns at a time, grease, smooth down the windings with the fingers, then
          carefully fit the socket. Do not cut off the thread until you are satisfied
          that you have a good fit. The joints need only feel secure, not tight.

          Flute Pitch and Intonation.

          If the same traverso is handed to a dozen good players, it will be played at a
          dozen different pitches. This is because each player tends to develop the
          embouchure that works best for their sense of the sound they wish to develop.
          Each of us will have a favorite sound to reach for, or be influenced by the
          playing of our teachers, and it is probably true that the situation was the
          same in eighteenth century Europe. Ideally, it would be good to allow the flute
          to play at, say A415, for every style of player. The head joint can be pulled
          out by a small amount ( about 3mm) without much affect, but more than that
          begins to interfere with the overall response. Notice the difference in the
          thick wall of the tenon, compared with a modern silver flute, which has a wall
          thickness of half a millimeter. You will appreciate that pulling out the head
          joint of the traverso begins to make a large swelling in the bore at the head
          of the socket, whereas the modern flute may be pulled out quite a bit, allowing
          a large change in pitch without interfering with response.

          Until such times as players adhere to a relatively uniform style of playing
          (hopefully, they will not!) it is best to let the flute maker know your style
          of playing beforehand. As a generalization, American players play the same
          flute sharper than Continentals, and the British play lower still. Your flute
          has been made with a definite sound center at the correct pitch, but it may not
          necessarily work there for you. If this is the case, try living with the
          instrument for a few weeks to see if you find that center. After that time, if
          you wish to have the overall pitch or intonation adjusted, please contact the
          maker. Ideally, the flute should work for you at the correct pitch, with the
          head pulled out about 1 mm when it is warmed up, and in a playing room which is
          at a comfortable temperature (68 degrees F.) The pulled out head allows you
          some latitude for colder rooms. Remember the flute's pitch is a function of air
          temperature, humidity, and your playing style. The pitch of a flute rises with
          temperature. Try to avoid testing your flute by blowing at a 'Korg' tuner, or
          some other meter. It is 99% certain that you will play sharper into a test
          meter than you will in a musical context, and A is not the best note to test.
          Middle d is more stable. This is true in my experience, even for very
          experienced professional players. It takes a lot of practice to avoid regarding
          the sound meter

          as a test of strength and support. The best way to test if the flute is
          centered at the correct pitch is to test it in a musical context, preferably
          with a fixed pitch instrument, such as a harpsichord. The flute should be
          warmed up, the harpsichord must be stable and its pitch measured by a meter,
          and the room should be at a temperature which is characteristic of your normal
          playing environment. Now play a few sonatas. If under these conditions you feel
          you have to press hard, or hold back, then an adjustment should be made.
          Remember that your playing style is another variable. A beginner would do well
          to question their style as part of the test. A good teacher is an asset here.
          The beginner is usually puzzled by the apparent flat F# and sharp F natural,
          until they get used to the meantone tuning, and the technique of rolling in and
          rolling out. Again, a good teacher should be sought where possible.

          Woodwind Bores.

          Players who are new to wood flutes need to know that these instruments react to
          moisture and temperature in a more delicate way than do metal flutes. There is
          an excellent probability that your wood flute can last for centuries with
          proper care, and without that care it may be harmed in just a short time.
          Cracks can and do occur, but the incidence is low. Of the seven thousand
          wooden flute joints ( four joints make up one flute) that I have made, about
          forty have cracked, and mostly because of the way they have been treated. Most
          players would like to believe the fault lies in the material.

          Existing original renaissance and baroque woodwinds are not sealed against
          moisture in the bore. They require conscious care in order to prevent cracking,
          both while playing, and while in storage. The same applies to present day
          woodwinds which have a bore treated only with natural oils. Quite simply, if
          you wish to have a flute modeled as closely as possible on an original, the
          bore must not be too smooth, and it must be soaked in a non-hardening cold
          pressed vegetable oil, such as peanut oil. Such a flute can give many years of
          trouble free service when treated with care, yet it could possibly be damaged
          in thirty minutes no matter what its age if it is subjected too quickly to
          changes of temperature and humidity. Some priceless originals have been cracked
          by too much playing too soon by eager musicians in the process of
          re-discovering their fine qualities. It is best to bear in mind always that a
          flute is a delicate thin-walled wooden tube which has to be continuously
          subjected to big changes in temperature and humidity, factors which result in
          very definite changes in its physical geometry. There is a limit to what the
          flute maker can do in preparing the instrument for such an environment, and
          proper care for the flute by its owner over the whole life of the instrument is
          to be encouraged. I have met many players who have good care habits, but my
          experience has been that the average player's treatment of his or her
          instrument tends to be a little forgetful. Here is a good test for the
          experienced player: When did you last oil your flute, and what condition are
          the winding in? When where the tenons last greased?

          A further complication exists for players who live in conditions where the air
          gets much dryer than was experienced by those who lived and played in Europe
          two hundred and fifty years ago. This is the case in much of the interior of
          North America, and in the East Coast of the US. where in winter the humidity
          drops very low, and wood dries out fast. Remember also when traveling by air,
          cabin pressure is equivalent to standing at the top of a very high mountain,
          and the air pressure surrounding you and your flute is quite low. This sucks
          moisture out of the flute in a rapid drying process. The prudent flute player
          will always carry the instrument in a plastic bag to seal the moisture in. In
          areas of dry winter months, keep your flute in a plastic bag when not in use.


          You will have noticed by now that the subject of 'too much playing too soon'
          and its danger to woodwinds has been repeated often in this text. This is being
          done with purpose, not to be alarmist, but so that the subject becomes second
          nature to you as you enjoy your new flute. This way, your flute will last a
          lifetime. Here is some more information about wood and water:

          The Effect of Moisture in Woodwinds.

          Many old woodwinds have survived from the eighteenth century, both in museums
          and in private collections. The bores appear to have no sealer to prevent
          moisture from the player's breath from permeating the wall material of the
          instrument (wood or ivory). Various oils were used as a partial barrier,
          probably natural vegetable oil. Oiling the bore of a woodwind appears to both
          improve the sound if the instrument is dry, and also to act as a barrier to
          droplets of water condensed from the player's breath. Oil is very useful as an
          acoustical seal to improve tone, and it does help repel moisture in liquid
          form. It does not stop moisture in gaseous form from penetrating into the wood
          or ivory of the flute. (The oil in its molecular structure can be thought of as
          a large lattice fishnet trying to stop very small water molecules from passing
          through...without success). An oil-soaked flute will absorb moisture from the
          player breath just as quickly as a dry flute. It is important to remember
          this: Oiling the bore of a flute does not allow you to play it for longer
          period, In the case of a new instrument or an old one that has been in
          storage, playing floods the flute with moisture from the player's breath. We
          are used to thinking of moisture as drops of liquid, or the cloud of vapor
          coming from our breath on a cold day. This is moisture which is not in
          solution, but air absorbs and carries moisture in the form of an invisible gas,
          and it is this form which quickly penetrates the inside wall of the flute,
          expanding the innermost layers of wood while the outside remains dry and
          stable. The idea of 'playing in' your flute is to allow enough time for this
          moisture to permeate evenly throughout the wood. Too much playing, too soon
          results in the inner layers of wood swelling to impose a 'hoop' stress which
          can strain the instrument unnecessarily. This is why it makes good sense to
          adhere to the 'playing in' schedule referred to earlier. Swabbing with a cloth
          helps a little by preventing further absorption, and it should always be done
          as it also improves the tone. Remember most of the moisture enters the flute as
          a gas in the player's breath. This cannot be swabbed. Note: These paragraphs
          are included to offer the player a fuller understanding of how wood and water
          interact. Use this information to increase your enjoyment in playing, and do
          not feel that you have to be overly cautious. Your flute will often survive
          lapses in care and attention, but not always. It will give of its best by
          following the few simple rules given earlier.

          Wood as an Instrument Material.

          Wood and ivory are very beautiful materials in both sound and appearance when
          used in woodwind construction. As building materials, they would not be first
          choice in terms of maintaining their correct shape, and resisting being
          stressed. Wood is an excellent material for its original purpose: to pump water
          efficiently from ground to leaf, and to resist moderate strain while in a
          supple green state (waterlogged) as a living tree trunk. It is sometimes
          agreeable to think of a wooden instrument as a 'living' thing, compared with,
          say, a plastic instrument. The fact is, both the wood and the plastic are quite
          dead, and the dead wood readily soaks up water and changes its shape in doing
          so, much in the same way as a dead sponge soaking up water in the bathtub. This
          change of shape occurs unevenly, as a drying log will shrink more around its
          circumference than in a radial' direction. This is why woodwinds which have not
          been stabilized by seasoning usually warp into oval cross-sections.


          Preparation of Wood, Seasoning.

          Freshly cut wood is usually at least 50% water by weight, and is called
          'green'. Before use, it must be dried to around 6%-9% moisture content, a
          typical measure of equilibrium for wood used in string and wind instruments.
          The drying or seasoning of wood is not necessarily irreversible. Serious study
          has not revealed any particular merit in, say, slowly air drying for twenty
          years, compared with kiln drying in a few days. Wood dried for many years
          before manufacture of a woodwind may be saturated up to its green state in a
          relatively short playing session. The use of wood in woodwinds can present
          special problems of stability compared with, say, stringed instruments. The
          reason, again, is that the wood in woodwind instruments shrinks and swells
          unevenly when subjected to moisture. Part of my rigorous stabilizing process is
          to soak the wood after drying, pretending to the wood that it is being played,
          then allowing it to dry once more. Ideally, we want an oiled bore, like the
          originals, yet we do not want to have warping and cracking when the instrument
          is flooded with moisture from the player's breath.

          The question is sometimes asked, whether early instrument makers had a
          particular way of treating wood, now forgotten or lost, which allowed a
          woodwind to resist damage from moisture. 'Burying boxwood in a pile of manure
          for twenty years', is often quoted in this respect, from Bate's book on the
          flute. This in fact was a good way to store the wood without cracking.
          Variations of this storage are still used in Georgia. It may be that there were
          effective ways of dealing with moisture in wood, however serious investigation
          has not uncovered them. The behavior evidenced by surviving originals shows
          susceptibility to moisture and damage. Opinions and positions abound on this
          topic, and there is always the tendency to inject some magic into the
          mysterious process of producing the definitive instrument. Magic is a wonderful
          ingredient to include in instrument making. It is best added after the details
          have been handled.

          This article covers more than is strictly needed for the enjoyment of your
          flute, and it is offered here mostly for your interest. Please let me know if
          you can improve my understanding on all of the above.

          Roderick Cameron

          John Rush wrote:

          > From: "John Rush" <jrtraverso@...>
          > Greetings Rod!
          > I have sent you an e-mail through another address but I have been having
          > problems with it! So, if you have already seen this disregard!
          > I have sold my Palanca! I have a check ready to send to you for the price
          > of the flute shipping and the case for a total of $1504.00 as stated on your
          > previous e-mail to me! I was wondering about what oil you prefer out of the
          > three recommended olive, almond or peanut! Also could you please recommend
          > a lace on where to purchase these!
          > THanks!
          > John Rush
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