Good Old Bamboo Flutes

As a flute player, I am always looking for a better flute. I would come across one once in a while. But still, it may not have been the right size for me, or in the key that I needed. Worse of all, most bamboo flutes are not pitched at A=440. Out of necessity and curiosity, I started experimenting in making my own side blown flutes.

My side blowns flutes come in all different sizes:

The smallest ones are around 10"-11", in the keys of C, D and E. They have a nice brilliant tone. The low register is particularly warm for such a tiny flute due to the slight bit larger bore. It can play many styles of music. It is also suitable for children with small hands.

The middle flutes are around 16"-17", in the keys of E, F, G and A. Flutes this size are very common and do not require large hands to play. These flutes are in tune and easy to play. The sound is sweet and can be heard from far away. Many different tone colors can be produced with just one flute.

The bass flutes are my favorite. They are between 20" and 26". The bigger flutes have the lowest note of B below middle C. The keys are B, C and D. The low tones are resonant and soft. It's great for meditation. The upper register is rich and colorful. Larger hands are required to reach all the finger holes.

I also make extra large bass flutes with 1+" bore size. These flutes are from 26" and up to 36+" from the key of B down. Because of the great length, the really big ones have only 4 finger holes.

Most of my side blown bamboo flutes have six finger holes and one blow hole. With cross-fingering and half-hole technique, a full chromatic scale of two octaves can be played. I also make flutes with only four finger holes. These flutes are tuned to different modal scales. They are simple and beautiful.

The finger holes of my flutes are placed off-set according to the length of each finger. On larger flutes, the ring finger of the right hand is only used as a support and the little finger is used instead to operate the last finger hole.

The finger holes are also quite large. The large holes give a flute greater dynamics, volume and a fuller tone. With practice, it is not difficult to get comfortable on a large hole flute.

Binding is a must. It is the best method to prevent a flute from cracking. Binding can limit the bamboo from too much expansion and contraction, the main cause of bamboo cracking.

I also make a new bamboo flute that is tunable; the design is based on Boehm’s 1847 invention.

Please check here for a price list.

For more information please e-mail david at sideblown dot com