Tim Adams - Irish Flute Maker

Flute design and construction

A Tim Adams Irish flute is lightweight (280 grams), well tuned and easy to play. The inside bore is conical to enable you to move easily between octaves and the tone holes are placed to suit normal sized and smaller hands.

Affordable design

The wood is high quality and the workmanship is accurate. I follow my own design and process to create a very good flute that is affordable to buy because it doesn’t take too many hours to make. The lines are straight, the surfaces are sanded by hand and much care is taken to make the flute enjoyable to play.

Five pieces. One flute

A Tim Adams Irish Flute is 5 pieces including cork and end cap. The headpiece has a cylindrical standard 19 mm reamed bore and about 20 mm north of the embouchure the cork is placed for best tonality. The embouchure is formed as an ellipse. At the north end of the headpiece is the end cap. The main (middle) piece is tapered (conical) outside and inside. The inside reamed taper has three sections - fast, slow, fast. Then comes the foot. This has a cylindrical 13 mm reamed bore and two tone holes - the low D.

Engineering

The experience of playing a wooden traverse flute is quite magical and the moods you can create are endless. But making a good flute is very much about engineering. Making sure the internal tapered bore has the correct form and surface, every time. Getting the tone holes in a straight line. Being consistent in embouchure shape and surface. Fitting the tenon joint and allowing for future deviation in dimension.

Tools to cut and shape

Like most flute makers I make my own reamers and other tools and fixtures. A set of tapered reamers is used to create the tapered internal bore where the music happens. Stepped drills are used to incrementally increase the diameter of tone holes (by 0.25 mm per step) when tuning the flute. The turning is done on a small metalworking lathe and I use a precision milling machine to form the embouchure and drill the tone holes.

Wood and brass

African Blackwood (Grenadillo) is used for the flute pieces and the rings are made from brass. I buy the wood from Espen in Germany. They are FSC certified and I trust their reputation. The 1.0 mm thin sheets of cork for the tenon joints, cork and cap are sourced from Wind Plus LTD in the UK.

My mark. Your number

Each flute is marked with my T.A. mark and logo. This is burnt into the headpiece using a small heated metal wedge. The individual flute number is stamped into the (tuning) cork and the first two digits represent the year in which it was made.

Accessories

My wife makes an excellent stiff cloth case with compartments for three flute pieces. The case is designed to protect your flute from damage and two wooden strips are sewn in to the flanks to keep it straight and stable. A tuning/cleaning rod is in two pieces. Also included in the kit are a stick of cork grease, a cleaning cloth and an Adams F Plug.

The Adams F plug

This is my own innovation – the Scale Changer. It is a plug that fits precisely into the F# tone hole. The hole in the plug is half the diameter of the F# hole which sinks the tone by a semi-tone to give you an F. ‘Who wants an F?’ you might say, I do. It’s a useful note to have if you want to explore some eastern or southern European music or Scandinavian music, without having to spend a relative small fortune on a flute with keys.

Things happen

If you take good care of this wooden flute you will enjoy it for a lifetime. If anything happens that makes it less playable or unplayable, let me know and we’ll make it right. If the tenon joint gets tight or a brass ring loosens due to shrinkage, I’ll tell you what to do or do it for you. These things don’t happen but they can. Remember, your flute was once the branch of a tree, and then it was cut and stored for years before I gently shaped it inside and out, and now you bring it everywhere and make it sing again.

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