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» Cylindrical Bore Shakuhachi, pros and cons

radhamohan   


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Post #1

Hi everyone!

I read all the material on Navaching site that gave me some optimism regarding building a shakuhachi froma a cylindrical wooden bore. I'm in no way a traditionalist and do not intend to play traditional shakuhachi music. I simply want to have a shakuhachi character in my sound palette.
In the past I made two bamboo root-end shakuhachis (hochiku's really), one 2.2 and one 2.4. One came out quite ok, but it had a wide bore and thus played one and a half octave. The other one had tons of tuning issues and while sounding powerful, the intonation was not what I would consider usable. I gave that one away and the guy was super happy, though smile.gif
Since finding the right piece of bamboo is difficult and tuning the bamboo shak is tedious I'm really into the idea of making it from wood. I'm pleased how my Mojave flute sounds when I push it a bit like a shakuhachi, so this is why I suspect a wooden cylindrical bore would work.

Here is a thin-walled, one segment bamboo shakuhachi that for my taste sounds terrific and I wouldn't mind mine sounding like that. Of course the player is very skilled, but I will learn those breathy bends, too wink.gif
Youtube video

Does anyone have experience with such cylindrical shakuhachis?

Thank you!


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Mike   


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Post #2

QUOTE(radhamohan @ Jun 7 2015, 03:51 AM) *
Hi everyone!

I read all the material on Navaching site that gave me some optimism regarding building a shakuhachi froma a cylindrical wooden bore. I'm in no way a traditionalist and do not intend to play traditional shakuhachi music. I simply want to have a shakuhachi character in my sound palette.
In the past I made two bamboo root-end shakuhachis (hochiku's really), one 2.2 and one 2.4. One came out quite ok, but it had a wide bore and thus played one and a half octave. The other one had tons of tuning issues and while sounding powerful, the intonation was not what I would consider usable. I gave that one away and the guy was super happy, though smile.gif
Since finding the right piece of bamboo is difficult and tuning the bamboo shak is tedious I'm really into the idea of making it from wood. I'm pleased how my Mojave flute sounds when I push it a bit like a shakuhachi, so this is why I suspect a wooden cylindrical bore would work.

Here is a thin-walled, one segment bamboo shakuhachi that for my taste sounds terrific and I wouldn't mind mine sounding like that. Of course the player is very skilled, but I will learn those breathy bends, too wink.gif
Youtube video

Does anyone have experience with such cylindrical shakuhachis?

Thank you!

I don't have any experience with shaks, but I am using some of the same principles in my rim flutes. I think you might find that the timbre is shaped by the bore shape, which may require experimenting with tapers. Here's a document that gives what appears to be a suitable taper:

http://mujitsu.com/howtomakeshakuhachi.pdf

Reaming is an issue, but if you are using soft enough wood (or have a lot of patience) you can shape a mandrill out of a tough hardwood, and then glue a long strip of coarse sandpaper to it in a spiral. You can get a 1-inch-wide belt (or something similar in mm) for a belt sander and cut it to make the long strip. 40 or 50 grit does pretty well on cedar. Just keep it clean with a brass brush so it doesn't clog-and a continuous vacuum to remove the dust as you make it helps a lot. Spin either the flute or the reamer in a drill press or lathe, and hold onto the other tightly, pushing a few mm at a time.

Of course, of you do a cylindrical bore first and like it, then your done...

Mike


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Geoffrey   


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Post #3

I made some 3/4" bore cylindrical shakuhachi early on, and they work very nicely. It all depends upon the player. Peter Phippen was hanging out in my workshop and found them on the rack and he loved them (he favors the Edo period, small bore shakuhachi anyway). He took a few home that I just had laying around and he makes them sound great. By contrast, I had some more traditional shakuhachi players try them and they hated them :-) It all depends upon player expectation.

The tapered bore versions that I make now have better tone and tuning accuracy, and they fit the expectations of players to a greater degree, but you can make some very nice versions without a taper.


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radhamohan   


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Post #4

QUOTE(Mike @ Jun 7 2015, 04:33 AM) *
I don't have any experience with shaks, but I am using some of the same principles in my rim flutes. I think you might find that the timbre is shaped by the bore shape, which may require experimenting with tapers. Here's a document that gives what appears to be a suitable taper:

http://mujitsu.com/howtomakeshakuhachi.pdf

Reaming is an issue, but if you are using soft enough wood (or have a lot of patience) you can shape a mandrill out of a tough hardwood, and then glue a long strip of coarse sandpaper to it in a spiral. You can get a 1-inch-wide belt (or something similar in mm) for a belt sander and cut it to make the long strip. 40 or 50 grit does pretty well on cedar. Just keep it clean with a brass brush so it doesn't clog-and a continuous vacuum to remove the dust as you make it helps a lot. Spin either the flute or the reamer in a drill press or lathe, and hold onto the other tightly, pushing a few mm at a time.

Of course, of you do a cylindrical bore first and like it, then your done...

Mike


Mike, thank you. I think tapering could be done, but it sure would be tedious. I don't do the bores myself. My father makes them for me when he has some free time. Basically I have to wait for one or two for quite some time. So I won't bother him with tapers for now smile.gif


QUOTE(Geoffrey @ Jun 7 2015, 06:23 AM) *
I made some 3/4" bore cylindrical shakuhachi early on, and they work very nicely. It all depends upon the player. Peter Phippen was hanging out in my workshop and found them on the rack and he loved them (he favors the Edo period, small bore shakuhachi anyway). He took a few home that I just had laying around and he makes them sound great. By contrast, I had some more traditional shakuhachi players try them and they hated them :-) It all depends upon player expectation.

The tapered bore versions that I make now have better tone and tuning accuracy, and they fit the expectations of players to a greater degree, but you can make some very nice versions without a taper.


Geoffrey, I'm glad to hear from you that the cylindrical shakuhachi can work. As I'm not an experienced shakuhachi player by any means I will probably do just fine with a straight bore and it will save me lots of trouble.
What is your experience with the wall thickness? I must say I'm really into thin walled flutes lately. I love the lightness of the tone and a nice response in the 2nd register. I use flutes more or less as tools for my recordings and I have found that thin walled flutes tend to record better and need less equalization.
On the Navaching site he writes that thin walls work better.




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Geoffrey   


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Post #5

QUOTE(radhamohan @ Jun 7 2015, 07:53 AM) *
Mike, thank you. I think tapering could be done, but it sure would be tedious. I don't do the bores myself. My father makes them for me when he has some free time. Basically I have to wait for one or two for quite some time. So I won't bother him with tapers for now smile.gif
Geoffrey, I'm glad to hear from you that the cylindrical shakuhachi can work. As I'm not an experienced shakuhachi player by any means I will probably do just fine with a straight bore and it will save me lots of trouble.
What is your experience with the wall thickness? I must say I'm really into thin walled flutes lately. I love the lightness of the tone and a nice response in the 2nd register. I use flutes more or less as tools for my recordings and I have found that thin walled flutes tend to record better and need less equalization.
On the Navaching site he writes that thin walls work better.


I think with a cylindrical bore flute, thin walls are great. There are advantages and disadvantages. Thicker walls allow for directional undercutting during the tuning process. This is especially nice for the second octave if you want better tuning balance. On the other hand, if you make really thin walls and use bigger holes (like on a bansuri) you tend to get better second octave tuning naturally without undercutting. It all depends upon how thin you want to go and how large of finger holes you are comfortable with. Irish low whistles have thin walls, big finger holes and a cylindrical bore, and they play two octaves quite accurately.


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Mile high flute ...   


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Post #6

Hello, I'll drop in my limited two cents... Try this tool http://jeremy.org/music/shakutool.html. In the past few months I've made a couple using the measurements generated and both flutes were almost perfectly in tune. The only draw back was all the conversion to metric I had to do. Lol.


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radhamohan   


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Post #7

QUOTE(Mile high flute maker @ Jan 21 2016, 02:32 PM) *
Hello, I'll drop in my limited two cents... Try this tool http://jeremy.org/music/shakutool.html. In the past few months I've made a couple using the measurements generated and both flutes were almost perfectly in tune. The only draw back was all the conversion to metric I had to do. Lol.


Thank you for this. I'll try it out.


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radhamohan   


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Post #8

QUOTE(Mike @ Jun 7 2015, 04:33 AM) *
I don't have any experience with shaks, but I am using some of the same principles in my rim flutes. I think you might find that the timbre is shaped by the bore shape, which may require experimenting with tapers. Here's a document that gives what appears to be a suitable taper:

http://mujitsu.com/howtomakeshakuhachi.pdf

Reaming is an issue, but if you are using soft enough wood (or have a lot of patience) you can shape a mandrill out of a tough hardwood, and then glue a long strip of coarse sandpaper to it in a spiral. You can get a 1-inch-wide belt (or something similar in mm) for a belt sander and cut it to make the long strip. 40 or 50 grit does pretty well on cedar. Just keep it clean with a brass brush so it doesn't clog-and a continuous vacuum to remove the dust as you make it helps a lot. Spin either the flute or the reamer in a drill press or lathe, and hold onto the other tightly, pushing a few mm at a time.

Of course, of you do a cylindrical bore first and like it, then your done...

Mike


I'm not getting any peace of mind because of this smile.gif My friend just made two cylindrical shakuhachis and while the play fine in the 1st register they are progressively flat in the 2nd as it was expected.
I think I'll try with the sandpaper spiral. I was thinking about doing it with sandpaper, but I'd simply glue a whole piece on the wood and yes, that would create too much clogging and it wouldn't work smoothly. Thanx for the spiral idea.
Do you think it could work with maple or walnut?



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Mike   


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Post #9

QUOTE(radhamohan @ Feb 4 2016, 06:15 AM) *
I'm not getting any peace of mind because of this smile.gif My friend just made two cylindrical shakuhachis and while the play fine in the 1st register they are progressively flat in the 2nd as it was expected.
I think I'll try with the sandpaper spiral. I was thinking about doing it with sandpaper, but I'd simply glue a whole piece on the wood and yes, that would create too much clogging and it wouldn't work smoothly. Thanx for the spiral idea.
Do you think it could work with maple or walnut?

I used maple on my reamer (not the flute) if that is what you are asking, and I expect walnut would work too. I have used it on western redcedar and norther white cedar flues, both of which are quite soft. I imagine it will work with hardwood flutes, but it could take a while. You could quicken the process by pre-drilling in steps.

I first turned tapers on the maple spindles to the size I wanted the bore, leaving an inch at the narrow end to fit inside the cylindrical, pre-drilled bore to act as a pilot guide. Then I removed enough additional material where the sandpaper was to be attached to accommodate the thickness of the sandpaper (the coarse stuff can be quite thick). I then glued the strip in the spiral pattern (it will have gaps in places, but that's okay).

Coarser paper is quicker, and you might consider having something like 40 grit (or coarser) for the first reaming, and follow up with a second at 60 grit or so. It will leave a surface much smoother than you expect if you work it slowly. Be patient, use a vacuum to create air flow through the bore to blow/suck out the dust as you ream in "pulses," and clean the paper with a brass brush often.

If you pre-drill the taper in steps before reaming, you could use a series of spade bits if you could fashion a suitable pilot bearing to attach to the end of the bits. For instance, if you have a 15-mm cylindrical bore and want to taper it up to 20 mm, you could make a steel pilot bearing that is a piece of 15-mm steel rod with a slot for the spade bit at one end, and a couple of tapped holes for set screws to hold the bearing on the end of the bits. Attach a 20-mm bit and drill to where the bore will begin to taper to less than 20 mm, then switch to a 19-mm bit until the 19-mm mark, then 18, 17 and 16... If you are so inclined, you might even want to grind the spade bits with a taper, and have a series of mini tapered "reamers." I've used this method for step-drilling for mortises, and getting things centered is finicky, but doable.

Mike


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radhamohan   


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Post #10

QUOTE(Mike @ Feb 4 2016, 03:28 PM) *
I used maple on my reamer (not the flute) if that is what you are asking, and I expect walnut would work too. I have used it on western redcedar and norther white cedar flues, both of which are quite soft. I imagine it will work with hardwood flutes, but it could take a while. You could quicken the process by pre-drilling in steps.

I first turned tapers on the maple spindles to the size I wanted the bore, leaving an inch at the narrow end to fit inside the cylindrical, pre-drilled bore to act as a pilot guide. Then I removed enough additional material where the sandpaper was to be attached to accommodate the thickness of the sandpaper (the coarse stuff can be quite thick). I then glued the strip in the spiral pattern (it will have gaps in places, but that's okay).

Coarser paper is quicker, and you might consider having something like 40 grit (or coarser) for the first reaming, and follow up with a second at 60 grit or so. It will leave a surface much smoother than you expect if you work it slowly. Be patient, use a vacuum to create air flow through the bore to blow/suck out the dust as you ream in "pulses," and clean the paper with a brass brush often.

If you pre-drill the taper in steps before reaming, you could use a series of spade bits if you could fashion a suitable pilot bearing to attach to the end of the bits. For instance, if you have a 15-mm cylindrical bore and want to taper it up to 20 mm, you could make a steel pilot bearing that is a piece of 15-mm steel rod with a slot for the spade bit at one end, and a couple of tapped holes for set screws to hold the bearing on the end of the bits. Attach a 20-mm bit and drill to where the bore will begin to taper to less than 20 mm, then switch to a 19-mm bit until the 19-mm mark, then 18, 17 and 16... If you are so inclined, you might even want to grind the spade bits with a taper, and have a series of mini tapered "reamers." I've used this method for step-drilling for mortises, and getting things centered is finicky, but doable.

Mike


Whoa, Mike, you're full of ideas. Thank you. I will consider all of this.


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Geoffrey   


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Post #11

In Trevor Robinson's book The Amateur Wind Instrument Maker, he shows how to make a reamer using a hardwood taper with piece of old bandsaw blade ground into reaming blades. Pretty cool and low tech. It may have been discussed in another thread somewhere along the line...


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