PVC Flute In G4
Designed By Dan Bruner

(danbruner@suscom.net)

I should first explain that this flute is entirely experimental. Most flutes are capable of achieving more than one octave by over blowing. My flutes tend to cover about 1 and octaves. The reason for this is that I am breaking the rules of length to bore ratios which are usually 30:1. There could be other reasons for this problem, but regardless, I have been very satisfied with my flutes even though they are not technically perfect. If one were to follow the "rules" it would imply that you could only use diameter PVC for one flute in a particular key, or diameter PVC for one flute in a particular key. After that you get into diameters that are unreasonably large for flutes.

I provided the finger hole diameters and length for those of you without the means to tune, but almost anyone can tune the finger holes close enough once the embouchure and tuning cork is done. If you can sing this familiar line: Do, Re, Me, Fa, So, La, Te, Do, then you know the diatonic scale and can tune this flute. Start by drilling 1/8 inch diameter pilot holes in the locations of the finger holes. Cover them all up and blow through the flute, this gives you the first and lowest note "Do". Now lift off the first finger and blow, it is out of tune, it should sound like "Re" but you haven't tuned it yet. Enlarge the hole in small steps and keep testing it until you get to what sounds like "Re". Now you can move on to the next hole up. At this point all finger holes are covered up except the last two. Start to enlarge the 2nd finger hole until your reach "Me". Repeat this process on the rest of the finger holes (working from the bottom to the top, of course). Blowing at a low level should give you the lower octave "Do though Te". The last "Do" is the first note of the second octave and is achieved by covering all the finger holes and blowing twice as hard (over-blowing)

If you have a tuning device then start with covering all the finger holes and sounding a note. This should be C5, the lowest note achievable. If you have over-cut the length of your pipe you can shorten the length to bring it into tune. Once the length is tuned just start working your way up from the bottom to the top, enlarging each hole until it is in tune.

Some final notes. I like to chamfer the finger holes for comfort and looks. This becomes difficult for large finger holes unless you have a 45 degree chamfering bit. Don’t chamfer too deep and keep in mind that your fingers must perfectly seal off each hole. Don’t chamfer the embouchure, it must remain sharp edged in order to work properly. If you’ve gone to this much trouble, you may as well remove the manufacturer’s ink markings. Acetone works well for this, it may take some time, but it works. Sanding the instrument is not a good idea. I sanded an earlier flute an it lost it’s clean exterior look. Not to mention that the dust produced when sanding PVC is absolutely not good for you! A fellow instrument builder out here on the net suggest sanding PVC under water to keep particles out of the air (a great idea, if you must sand).

PVC Flute in G4

Drawing

Drawing

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