The Flute Maker

Having worked on the tube and cut it to length it is marked out for tone hole positions. I need hardly add that this is a crucial procedure, the accuracv of which determines the relative pitch of every note. All my flutes have silver soldered tone holes. This is a term found in many a flute catalogue that warrants some explanation. It means that the tone hole is formed from a separate little piece of tubing which is then fixed to the body using solder. As far as I know, most manufacturers use a low melting point 'soft' solder, often containing lead. This produces a satisfactory joint, although a weak one, very prone to metallurgical decay. The dull colour is concealed by subsequent electroplating. A much more permanent joint is achieved using silver solder, whose melting point is close to that of the silver itself. I prefer this method, despite the difficulties, because it results in a more homogenous construction - heating the whole tube to this extent also removes locked-in stresses which arise during manufacture. Given a batch of finished flutes, these stresses, if not relieved, would occur arbitrarily in different places and would affect the way the tubes vibrate - an uncertainty I would rather be without. I use the same solder to attach the mouldings (rings) and footjoint socket; only the headjoint socket and keywork strapping are soft soldered, and then only with a tin/silver alloy. I do not electroplate as there is no need.

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Photo of Pan Magazine article, fifth page

all my flutes have silver soldered tone holes