Barrel length and tonehone placement

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cflutist
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Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by cflutist »

Does anyone know why different flutemakers have different barrel lengths?
The barrel of my relatively new Brannen is noticeably shorter than my Haynes or my Gemmy.

I also noticed that the toneholes are in different positions although I do know that an A-440 flute should be longer than an A-442. I would have guessed that the Gemmy and Brannen would have toneholes in the same positions since they are both A=442, however I don't know what scale Gemmy uses.

Here is a picture of my three flutes that were all lined up exactly on the line:

Top - Haynes A=440 pre-Deveau scale (1972)
Middle - Gemmy A=442 unknown scale (1999), my camping flute
Bottom - Brannen A=442 Cooper scale (2010)

Image

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Zevang
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by Zevang »

The difference in barrel length is more about looking than functionality. The important thing here is to garantee the proper fit between headjoint and body. Maybe also is a function of a space where they can fit the markings of the brand.

Now, the position of the tone holes is really a complex discussion. Why is that? Because many flute builders claim that their "scale" are the best, and they argument that corrections were made based on some well known consultant flutists experiments. They usually state this in a misterious way, so we never really now what were those "modifications" made to a chosen scale (mostly Cooper or Bennet), but are very prolix in describing the "better sounding" and "comfortably played" instruments they make.

What shows that a flute is 440 or 442 is the whole length of the instrument. The positioning of tone holes depends on the pitch chosen. It's logical to think that the distances between tone holes on a 440 flute are longer than on a 442. That is what we know now, but it was not always like this. For many years makers believed that you had only to shorten the headjoint of a flute to change the pitch to a higher one (or making a bigger head to lower the pitch instead).

The important matter here is that even before the discovery of those well known and for many years needed corrections to the flute scale, flutists around the world played in tune, although they always had a Herculean work to do.

Nowadays it seems more like a personal preference, mostly based on experience, that dictates what type of scale suits someone more than others. Nevertheless flutists continue having to do a less uncomfortable work in tuning the flute playing (not the flute itself...), but of course it's far easier than those days.

Concerning scales, it seems that there is another trick from the manufacturers that says "buy my newer product because it comes with the most modern scale, therefore plays better".

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jmdewey60
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by jmdewey60 »

I measured the barrels of 5 flutes in my house right now and each had
a slightly different size but there was only about a one and a half mm.
difference between the smallest and the largest. It might have to do with
the style of the raised bead on the edges. The lengths, to me, would not
matter because there is a stop when the end of the headjoint hits the
main body.

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JButky
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by JButky »

cflutist wrote:Does anyone know why different flutemakers have different barrel lengths?
The barrel of my relatively new Brannen is noticeably shorter than my Haynes or my Gemmy.

I also noticed that the toneholes are in different positions although I do know that an A-440 flute should be longer than an A-442. I would have guessed that the Gemmy and Brannen would have toneholes in the same positions since they are both A=442, however I don't know what scale Gemmy uses.
When you measure and compare lengths you do it from the other end. Foot joint ends line up and then you can compare tone hole locations to a degree. The pitch is determined by placement, size of the tone hole, and height of the chimney. While most makers use the similar tone hole sizes and heights there is some variation. Older Gemmy were also low pitched instruments, they should be similar to the old Haynes.

The pre Deveau Haynes is a different scaling (lower pitched A, meaning greater inter-tone hole spacing) and the tone hole positions should show variation compared to a 442 flute.
Barrel length is pretty irrelevant compared to overall resultant length or sounding length.

This is how they should look. Relax..
Joe B

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cflutist
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by cflutist »

Thanks for the explanation Joe.

Hmmm, maybe I should line all 3 flutes up from the bottom end just to see where the tone holes are?

When you say "older Gemmiy", do you mean a flute that was made in 1999? My camping flute was made then, and I would think it should be A=442 and be closer to my Brannen (also A=442), versus my old 1972 Haynes (A=440)? Do you know what scale that Gemmy uses?

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JButky
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by JButky »

cflutist wrote:Thanks for the explanation Joe.

Hmmm, maybe I should line all 3 flutes up from the bottom end just to see where the tone holes are?

When you say "older Gemmiy", do you mean a flute that was made in 1999? My camping flute was made then, and I would think it should be A=442 and be closer to my Brannen (also A=442), versus my old 1972 Haynes (A=440)? Do you know what scale that Gemmy uses?
I'm not exactly sure when Gemeinhardt changed over but 1999 might still be long scaled. I think the change came when they moved production to another factory. I seem to recall that being in the early 2000's but it might be as early as 1999. If it's closer to the haynes it's the longer scale, If it's closer to the brannen it's the modern scale..

Your 1972 Haynes is also long scale but with a shortened headjoint. They simply shortened the headjoint until A played at 440 without rescaling the whole instrument. Haynes did not change over until the Deveau scale in 1980..
Joe B

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cflutist
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by cflutist »

So that explains why the Haynes is flat in the low register while the Brannen is not.
If they just kept shortening the HJ without moving the tone holes, then wouldn't the scale be off?

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JButky
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by JButky »

cflutist wrote:So that explains why the Haynes is flat in the low register while the Brannen is not.
If they just kept shortening the HJ without moving the tone holes, then wouldn't the scale be off?
Yes that is the biggest problem at the higher pitch standard.

If you try to play it at 442 you'll have lots of embouchure gymnastics to perform. If you play it at low pitch it's perfectly in tune with itself. Of course that is what it was designed for. If you play with an electronic keyboard you can set it's master tuning to A=438 or slightly lower. Pull out farther and tune and you'll be able to match pitch without any problems.

At higher pitch, the third register is most likely sharper than you want it to be too. The left hand tone holes with a short headjoint are to far north on the tube. Since these are the vent for the third register, it gets progressively sharper as those tone hole open to create those notes. The fundamental long tube is very difficult to adjust with embouchure. So if it's flat there's is very little you can do about it.
Joe B

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by MissyHPhoenix »

That is fascinating!

:mrgreen:
Missy

Why Be Normal????

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cflutist
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by cflutist »

Well Joe got me curious so I took a picture of my three flutes from the footjoint up.

Top - Haynes A=440 pre-Deveau scale (1972)
Middle - Gemmy A=442 unknown scale (1999), my camping flute
Bottom - Brannen A=442 Cooper scale (2010)

It looks like the Gemmy and Brannen have very similar tone hole placement, and as expected the Haynes is a bit longer due to the A=440 versus A=442 for two newer flutes.

Image

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JButky
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by JButky »

cflutist wrote:Well Joe got me curious so I took a picture of my three flutes from the footjoint up.

Top - Haynes A=440 pre-Deveau scale (1972)
Middle - Gemmy A=442 unknown scale (1999), my camping flute
Bottom - Brannen A=442 Cooper scale (2010)

It looks like the Gemmy and Brannen have very similar tone hole placement, and as expected the Haynes is a bit longer due to the A=440 versus A=442 for two newer flutes.
It's hard to tell from the picture perspective, but the low pitch Haynes should look stretched from the middle. Meaning the tone holes about mid point are in line and start to move by greater amounts to the left and right as you move away from them. If you want measure the distance from the center of the low C tone hole to the center of the upper C tone hole. This is the measurement ALL flute design begin with. It's called the octave or scaling length and determines where all the other tone holes need to be placed.

I named tone holes too, not keys. The Low C tone hole is under the low B key. The upper C tone hole is under the thumb key. In many cases, depending on the scaling used, add a couple millimeters to get the actually octave length. For a lot of historical design/development reasons the foot joint is moved up.

This does result in a very sharp middle D. There are some GREAT players out there that ignore this and as a result, if you listen for it on recordings, their Middle D's are really sharp. (drives me crazy...)
Joe B

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by MissyHPhoenix »

Is THAT what is going on???? I thought it was me! The middle D drives me nuts! I can manage to keep all of the other notes around in tune, and then hit middle D and just wince! Yay, it's not just me! Thanks for the info!

:mrgreen:
Missy

Why Be Normal????

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JButky
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by JButky »

MissyHPhoenix wrote:Is THAT what is going on???? I thought it was me! The middle D drives me nuts! I can manage to keep all of the other notes around in tune, and then hit middle D and just wince! Yay, it's not just me! Thanks for the info!

:mrgreen:
Yah, pull the foot joint out a bit. about 2-3mm should do it. And make sure it's not too loose and in danger of falling off.
Joe B

Arlee
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Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by Arlee »

JButky wrote: I'm not exactly sure when Gemeinhardt changed over but 1999 might still be long scaled. I think the change came when they moved production to another factory. I seem to recall that being in the early 2000's but it might be as early as 1999. If it's closer to the haynes it's the longer scale, If it's closer to the brannen it's the modern scale..
If I recall correctly this changed happened in 2003. I went looking into what happened to Gemeinhardt awhile back after I got my flute and 2003 stands out in my head.

Thanks to you both on this thread though... very interesting and instructive tidbits here :)

vitani

Re: Barrel length and tonehone placement

Post by vitani »

The Gemeinhardt posted here is a 3KSB. Which was built in the late 90's and was built on a different scale from other Gemeinhardt models. I've contacted them several times over the years to get information on my 3KSB, however they have lost a lot of records.

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