(The Folk Flute)
|A Note on the Woods|
Casey Burns flutes are offered in African Blackwood, Boxwood, and Mopane. The choice of wood is a personal one, influenced by the inherent characteristics of a particular wood. The same flute model will sound different in different woods, just as each wood will sound qualitatively different when employed for different flute models. Please read these descriptions and feel free to consult with Casey to determine your combination of wood and flute model.
Boxwood, commonly associated with topiary, takes several decades and sometimes centuries to grow to any significant size. Thus the prevailing practice for some makers, including Casey Burns, is to utilize as much of this precious resource as possible, treating minor flaws such as small checks, pores and knots as features. Recently, Casey came upon a source of european boxwood with outstanding tonal qualities. Though this batch will not last, we hope to replace it soon with more of the same quality.
African Blackwood, a rosewood from the savanna regions of eastern Africa (the majority comes from Tanzania) can be seen as a declining resource. The tree is hardly endangered - just the larger sized trees that yield highest quality instrument wood - the bulk of which heads to the big clarinet manufacturers. Some instrument makers of clarinets and wooden Boehm flutes, will refer to African Blackwood as Grenadilla.
In testing less expensive alternatives to African Blackwood, Mopane, a tree widely distributed in Africa, was found to be an excellent substitute. This wood has only begun to be recognized for its similar properties to Blackwood and more makers are using it. Folk Flutes may have sapwood inclusions. Mopane sapwood can be quite light in color, providing a striking and beautiful contrast to the dark colored heartwood. In no way do sapwood inclusions affect tonal qualities or durability of the instrument. Through utilization of Mopane pieces with sapwood inclusions we improve our stewardship of this resource while providing beautiful, affordable flutes. We currently use wood cut in South Africa.
Unfortunately, Mopane was discovered as a good wood for all sorts of industrial and commercial purposes such as flooring, etc. In recent years this has resulted in overharvesting and now, ironically, Mopane is harder to get than blackwood in sizes suitable for flute making, although what remains on the market is still less expensive than blackwood. The tree is similar to our Black Locust and is in no danger of extinction fortunately. Its just that the larger trees are now all gone suddenly. As long as I can locate some cut for woodwinds and purchase it, I will continue to use it.