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Re: Flute

Dana S Emery <emery@onyx.si.edu> writes,

> I would make a reproduction head joint in more suitable material for
> play, keeping the ivory for display.  Ivory is great for looks, but
> wasnt really very suitable for woodwinds, especially for something as
> wet as a flutes head joint.
> When used to "reinforce" joints it invariably both cracks and
> damages the joint by crushing the underlying wood, often to the point
> of distorting the bore.  If used for the main body it invariably
> cracks.  If it also goes oval the bore will need recutting before the
> instrument will function as intended (not recomended).

Ivory is no less suitable for making wind instruments than any wood and is 
probably much more suitable than most. I have compared a number of ivory 
Stanesby flutes and found remarkable consistency in their current dimensions, 
two and a half centuries after they were made. By contrast a boxwood flute by 
the same maker, presumably made to the same dimensions, has warped and gone 
oval to the extent that it is unplayable and impossible to measure.

If I understand correctly the flute in question has a headjoint lined in nickel-
silver. My experience and that of any number of other instrument makers and 
repairers is that the lining causes the problem: the wood or ivory shrinks 
while the lining does not, and the joint splits. Indeed it is quite common to 
find a flute with a lined headjoint that has split. If the flute has a lined 
tuning slide I would go so far as to say that it is rare to find the slide 

As to the supposed crushing and distorting effect of ivory ferrules I would 
say that having measured scores of instruments I have seen no evidence of this. 
It may be possible to argue that ivory ferrules do not prevent a joint from 
splitting (although one might then ask why virtually every maker used them). 
However, I cannot imagine how an ivory ferrule typically a couple of 
millimetres thick could exert sufficient force upon a wooden tube 5 millimetres 
thick as to cause it to distort or crack. 

Robert Bigio                        Robert@bigio.demon.co.uk
1, Doveridge Gardens                Telephone (0181) 882-2627
London N13 5BJ                      Fax (0181) 882-2728
England                             (International +44 181...)

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