Thursday, September 16, 2010

More flute / whistle creation

OK, so in the previous post I showed off some tin / cro-moly / pvc whistles I've been making.

This next one is a Low Bass in "A", made from 1" copper pipe. This pipe (about ten feet long) was salvaged from the previous location of the re-Cycles shop, as the old heating system was being torn out with lots of pipe up for grabs. I'd saved the longest pieces for future projects at the shop, though I was thinking more for railings or similar than for instruments.

Here I've attached the external windway and am filing out the fipple hole:
Yes, it be a long beastie. Roughly 31 inches! Note the amount of tarnish, and how nicely that polishes away with some fine steel wool and lots of elbow grease:
First hold drilled - it's in tune! More or less, of course. Always need to do some filing and fine tuning:
Et Voila! It will take a while to get it really polished up. There's some discolouration along the back that I may or may not fuss over, as I think it'd need some sort of power buffer to get rid of it:
The 2nd and 3rd whistles along with the new guy:
I knew that the holes would have to be fairly far apart. And while I have big hands it would still be almost impossible to play if the holes were kept inline. So some judicious angling was needed. As it is, I cannot easily reach the last hole with my third finger, though can do so with the pinky and it's just large enough to cover.

An alternative would be to learn the "piper's grip" used on bagpipes, where some holes are covered by the joints of the fingers. Otherwise I've hit the limit of how long I can make one of these things and still play it without adding keys:
The beak and windway:

I was already planning to put a tuning barrel on the thing, which would help reduce its size when being transported. Then I thought perhaps a bend would help with the reach, because part of my energy was going into just holding the thing out at an angle so I could play it properly. So the one thing purchased for this whistle was the 45 deg. coupling:
Yes, it might look a bit odd, sort of like those old oboes or clarinets from the 1700s. Aesthetically it would've looked nice with the bend nearer the beak, but then it would not have packed down as nicely. I guess I could add a barrel in the middle AND have the angle near the beak, but then I'd just be adding more weight to what is already a pretty hefty instrument (probably weighs twice as much as a normal flute, and those things even have keys and related mechanisms on them).
The big thing is how does it sound? Actually, really good! :)
I can so far play a full two octaves and they are all in tune. I'm actually rather amazed it came out as well as it did, but that's mainly because I'm not much of a diligent craftsman and tend to rush my projects.

But one thing I'd been pondering... would the sound change much if I used the traditional windway and fipple? With the above whistle being made in two pieces I could simply make another top piece and try it out. So I carved a windway into another piece of dowel, and hammered out a fipple...

I didn't have a dowel of sufficient diameter for the tube, so some masking tape was employed (and yes, of course I need to do some finishing work, like sanding!):

Everything I've read advises that this is the most critical area of the sound. Just a millimeter or two in terms of the fipple's width, length, or depth can make a noticeable change. So lots of room to fuss, and I'm not the most patient person with such things...

And how does it sound in comparison to the exofipple design? Well, so far it actually sounds more pure, more flute-like. But it's a whistle, not a flute, and so I actually prefer the tone of the exofipple head sounds, which sounds so nice right now. So I'm not in a hurry to experiment with this newest head, but will keep it around and play with it at a later date.

So Yay for a fabulous Bass Whistle in A, made for about $5 (not counting wear and tear in drill bits, etc.)!


-N- said...

These are pretty cool! You need to assemble a band to play them!

deltafour1212 said...

How did you figure out the the distance and the size the finger holes were to be for that size of pipe?

Mark said...

Those details are in another post, which is part of a series