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Even though we encourage members to share their experience in this section, ideally we'd like to keep an "amateur" flavor to it.

If you are a novice flute maker (for example) and are looking for feedback on your first creations, or if you are an experienced professional who is assisting a new maker, that is great.

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» Opposite Blowing Edge

Sunbow   


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Post #1

I got one of the Earth Tone shakuhachi and really like it. I have several shakuhachi and was trying to see what I like and do not like - what makes one good for me personally. I have found that the opening shape opposite the blowing edge (the top of teh flute mouth edge) is a huge factor. Some fit my chin and others do not. Since making a seal is essential to getting the sound, this makes sense. I like the back edge rounder than some are.

Anyone have knowledge about this? Are there traditions related to the design?


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Prairie Wolf   


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Post #2

I will not have a lot to offer in the way of advice here. Personally, for me, I cannot hold any end blown flute square in the middle of my mouth and chin. I must angle them to the side a bit to get a good sound out of them. I have a terrible overbite, perhaps that is the reason. I have watched many You Tube videos of professional shakuhachi players and there are some who do as I do, and hold the flute off to the side a bit. I just had my 2 Yuus' enhanced and I love them. I really enjoyed them before the enhancement, but even more so now! I don't have the money to buy a really nice bamboo shakuhachi. I am very satisfied with these. I hope someone else in the forum here will be able to better answer your question. I have always wondered how the Earth Tone shakuhachi's are - thanks for sharing about yours! Perhaps one day, I shall be able to get one... wink.gif

QUOTE(Sunbow @ Oct 11 2017, 04:16 PM) *
I got one of the Earth Tone shakuhachi and really like it. I have several shakuhachi and was trying to see what I like and do not like - what makes one good for me personally. I have found that the opening shape opposite the blowing edge (the top of teh flute mouth edge) is a huge factor. Some fit my chin and others do not. Since making a seal is essential to getting the sound, this makes sense. I like the back edge rounder than some are.

Anyone have knowledge about this? Are there traditions related to the design?


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Rick McDaniel   


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Post #3

Like all flutes, shakuhachi vary by maker, in the details of how they are made. Even within the same maker. Finding just the right flute, is often a process of attending an event where you can shop different makers, and different flutes, from those makers, to try and find just the right flute for you.

Most of mine had to be acquired the other way, by simply ordering on line, and adapting to the flute received. Some that I have, are quite comfortable for me, while others are not. So, if I need to play one that is less comfortable, I have to practice with that flute for some time, before actually using it, to play. Others, I can pick up and play, at any time.

I do agree, that the chin rest is one of the most important aspects of a flute, in using it comfortably. That's especially true for me, as I have a beard, which comes into play, in that.

I really can't say if there are any specific traditions, in regard to the chin rest. Those known to me, are more about the utaguchi, than the chin rest.


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Prairie Wolf   


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Post #4

Thanks, Rick! smile.gif I agree with what you have shared. I have only been to the Yosemite Flute Festival and that was discontinued a while back, sadly. There are no other events nearby that I could go to. Due to medical and physical restrictions, I am unable to travel too far from home, so the other festivals and events are not a possibility for me.

I was lucky enough to be able to purchase some instruments the two times I attended the Yosemite Flute Festival, but every other instrument I've acquired has been from online purchases. Like you said, depending on how well an instrument suits me, is going to reflect on how well I am able to play it. I find some makers' fingering is a pretty far reach for me and - considering my carpal tunnel syndrome compounded with arthritis - it really reflects on how useful an instrument will be if the holes are too far apart, or too far down the flute, for my reach.

Likewise, different flute makers also put their own spin on the chin rest and on the utaguchi, (as they do with the other end/rim blown instruments) and just as with the position of the finger holes - how the chin rest, utaguchi or end/rim of a flute is designed will reflect on how well I can adjust to the instrument. So, buying online is a risky predicament and I just have to try to learn on the, for me, more challenging designs - or orphan the instrument away in my collection in preference for one that works for me.

For those of you who live in the areas where there are festivals/events, how I envy you! If you are able and have the chance to attend one of more - GO! The experience is like no other and the fellowship is so special. And it is such a treat getting to walk around and visit all the booths, see the wonderful merchandise, commune with other flute lovers, go to the concerts, and play flutes and other instruments in small groups with other attendees is so delightful! You can usually find some really fantastic deals on instruments, meet some wonderful people (sellers, entertainers, fellow festival attendees) - and often the events are held in such gorgeous surroundings... You simply cannot lose and you make wonderful memories in the deal. biggrin.gif

QUOTE(Rick McDaniel @ Oct 12 2017, 06:36 AM) *
Like all flutes, shakuhachi vary by maker, in the details of how they are made. Even within the same maker. Finding just the right flute, is often a process of attending an event where you can shop different makers, and different flutes, from those makers, to try and find just the right flute for you.

Most of mine had to be acquired the other way, by simply ordering on line, and adapting to the flute received. Some that I have, are quite comfortable for me, while others are not. So, if I need to play one that is less comfortable, I have to practice with that flute for some time, before actually using it, to play. Others, I can pick up and play, at any time.

I do agree, that the chin rest is one of the most important aspects of a flute, in using it comfortably. That's especially true for me, as I have a beard, which comes into play, in that.

I really can't say if there are any specific traditions, in regard to the chin rest. Those known to me, are more about the utaguchi, than the chin rest.


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pfred   


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Post #5

Sunbow, you can always remove material from the chinrest if it's the wrong shape or too large. It's a common alteration, as is adding a very slight concavity to that area, where you rest the chin. A bit of sandpaper and you can slowly reshape it to your liking. Obviously, if you have an extremely expensive flute, you will probably experience some trepidation. But in any case, if you go too far, it can always be repaired. Don't ask me how I know that...

If it were a pair of shoes that didn't fit, you would either get them altered to fit properly, or replace them, right? I don't see musical instruments as being too much different, except that maybe it's easier to alter flutes than shoes.

One thing I have discovered over the few years I have been studying shakuhachi, I now perceive that "fit" in a different way. I started off being concerned with the placement on the chin and the comfort there, and feeling like I had to maintain that position and connection at the chin. Now I am much more aware of my embouchure's relationship with the blowing edge. I am less concerned about placement on the chin, and maintain my connection more at the blowing edge, if that makes sense. So, I feel like I'm much more tolerant of variations at the chin these days. But it still makes a difference!

This post has been edited by pfred: Oct 12 2017, 12:44 PM


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Sunbow   


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Post #6

I noticed that the Earth Tone flute worked very well for me and when I held it next to a Jinashi which was not real expensive, I could see a big difference. The Jinashi was hard to play. A bit of filing and sanding and it is much better. Being able to get a seal without puffing out my lower lip is a huge help. I really think the chin rest plays a huge part in what flutes work for me, as my chin protrudes a bit. The Earth Tone is still better for many pieces, but the Jinashi is an older flute, not designed for Chu-Ru-Tsu-Ru runs and has the slightly sharp Chi which was tradition. It depends on what one wants to play and how western they want it to sound.

I have been studying with Cikuzen for many years now and can play some advanced pieces, so I do not advise altering flutes unless you have one that really works well for you to compare the other one to. I am taking the modification road very, very slowly. many factors are involved.

This post has been edited by Sunbow: Oct 12 2017, 05:05 PM


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Prairie Wolf   


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Post #7

Thank you Sunbow, for your post! More specifically about your Earth Tone shakuhachi. I am more and more seriously considering getting one, when they become available again. I also appreciate your description of the different flutes, how they play and why you prefer one over another for certain purposes. At this point, I don't think I'd have the chutzpah to alter any flute I have unless it was a very inexpensive one and it didn't suit me and might not benefit from some alteration.

QUOTE(Sunbow @ Oct 12 2017, 05:04 PM) *
I noticed that the Earth Tone flute worked very well for me and when I held it next to a Jinashi which was not real expensive, I could see a big difference. The Jinashi was hard to play. A bit of filing and sanding and it is much better. Being able to get a seal without puffing out my lower lip is a huge help. I really think the chin rest plays a huge part in what flutes work for me, as my chin protrudes a bit. The Earth Tone is still better for many pieces, but the Jinashi is an older flute, not designed for Chu-Ru-Tsu-Ru runs and has the slightly sharp Chi which was tradition. It depends on what one wants to play and how western they want it to sound.

I have been studying with Cikuzen for many years now and can play some advanced pieces, so I do not advise altering flutes unless you have one that really works well for you to compare the other one to. I am taking the modification road very, very slowly. many factors are involved.


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pfred   


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Post #8

I think it's the case that modifications are common amongst the pros, and this is regardless of the instrument, be it shakuhachi, clarinet, guitar, or trombone. For longer shakuhachi, a lot of effort goes into improving the ergonomics, by adding leather wraps or pads, etc, to get a better hand position. Katsuya Yokoyama was reportedly always tinkering with his instruments, looking to improve something. He added a bassoon-style hand rest to one of his flutes looking for a better hand position.


My teacher relates a story from Riley Lee, when he was studying with Yokoyama. Yokoyama was tinkering with the bore on a flute to improve sound or pitch or something. He would wet small pieces of paper and place them in the bore at specific locations, which subtly changes the profile in that spot, and will have an effect on the sound. Riley was in Yokoyama's studio one day and thought he would help the sensei out and ran a cleaning cloth through the bore, and was surprised when dozens of little paper bits came showering out of end of the flute with the cloth. He had just undone weeks of Yokoyama's experimentation.

This post has been edited by pfred: Oct 13 2017, 04:36 PM


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Sunbow   


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Post #9

I'll admit I have spent a good deal of money on some flutes and they do not play as well as the Earth Tone. I also have a 2.0 that is an old bamboo flute which I love and is fantastic. My 1.8 Shakuhachi are mostly Jiari, but none suit me at this point. Since I have gotten the Earth Tone I have been using it at my lessons. Unless you are spending many times the amount of the Earth Tone, you will not get get something that plays so well. That being said, the key is still playing and studying - no shakuhachi is easy to play, but once you get the hang of shakuhachi it is such an expressive instrument it is worth the time and energy.

There is a consistency in wood flutes that does not exist in bamboo. Every bamboo flute is very different. While I have only one Earth Tone, I would believe that they are all similar. The wood used might make a slight difference in tone, but it is mostly the playing. Bamboo, especially jinashi, can sometimes get a warm resonance that is very special.


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Rick McDaniel   


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Post #10

There are noticeable differences, even in the wooden shakuhachi. While all of my wooden ones are Japanese flutes, my favorite among them, is a 2.0 in bubinga wood, which is a delight to play. The maple ones, are not as wonderful. I still haven't had the opportunity to try any from Australia, or the U.S. in wood.

My favorite in bamboo, is an old one, from Japan, that is a little softer voiced, but has excellent nuances, that make it my favorite, although I have paid a good deal more for others.

Others I like are from a Plano, TX maker, who does a very nice job, with basic shakuhachi, that are very affordable.


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