Martin Wenner Flutes: Baroque and Renaissance Flutes

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Martin Wenner Flutes

Renaissance Flutes


G. A. Rottenburgh

C. Palanca

A. Grenser

J Hotteterre

M. Wenner Piccolo

Stanesby Jr.

J. J. Quantz

Classic & Romantic:

St. Cook

I. H. Rottenburgh

J.W. Oberlender






Holkham Estate, Wells-Next-the-Sea,

Norfolk, England

Martin Wenner Baroque and Renaissance Flutes
Wenner flutes at Conservatoire Bruxelles

Prices as of 10/1/2018

Wenner Renaissance flutes (as Consort or solo)
Video/Sound Files (mp4 format; copyright Martin Wenner)
Soprano in g or a, maple   910
Soprano in g or a, plum Jacotin (STB), in plum at A408 988
Soprano in g or a, boxwood Amarillis (A415 plum soprano in g) 1149
Tenor in d, maple Philov (SST), in plum at A408 1033
Tenor in d, plum Psalm 9 (SST), in plum at A408 1174
Tenor in d, boxwood Greensleeves (A415 plum tenor in d) 1535
Bass in g, two-piece, maple   1535
Bass in g, two-piece, plum O Slaep, o zoete Slaep (A415 plum bass in g) 1696

The cylindrically bored Renaissance flute was made from the beginning of the 16th century until approximately 1680, both as ensemble and solo instruments. The most common size here was the tenor in D, on which an experienced flautist can easily play  a range of three octaves. The originals are not do not usually have makers' marks and most are in northern Italian museums like the Academia Filarmonica or the Biblioteca Capitolare in Verona. The instrument and its playing characteristics are described in such Important sources as Martin Agricola 1529 and 1545, Jambe de Fer 1556, Martin Mersenne 1636 and others.

We build our Renaissance flutes based on originals and according to historical building principles either at A440 Hz or A415 Hz and most frequently in one-piece.  When desired, a two-piece Renaissance flute can be made, which is then more easily transportable.

We usually use plumwood, or on special request and at extra cost, European boxwood.

Normally a consort consists of three flutes in d’ and one bass flute in g, while the three d-flutes have different “roles”.The highest (superio) plays mainly the highest registers whereas the third flute plays the normal tenor register.  Therefore it is necessary to make these identically looking flutes in a different way and to tune all the instruments of the consort together.




Boxwood, pickled
Additional center pieces, No. 1-7, each

Stamitz Rondeau

Weideman Adagio


For many years, we have been building copies of a flute from Godfridus Adrianus Rottenburgh, who was active in Brussels in the mid 18th Century. Although several of his preserved flutes are extant, the one most often copied is owned by Barthold Kuijken, who has used it for many concerts and recordings. The original flute is made of boxwood which has been stained and treated with violin varnish. It has seven middle joints and is equipped with a cork screw and a register foot, in order to improve resulting tuning problems. Therefore, the length of the foot can be adjusted according to the middle joint. Fortunately, the flute can be played very well with middle joint No. 5 at a=415 Hz, making it possible to reproduce the original without alterations. Due to the round embouchure and its very balanced character, the Rottenburgh flute is a universally employable flute which can span the complete range of Baroque flute music in a very delicate style.

We build this instrument in European boxwood, with the original style cork adjustment screw. The surface is improved with a finish of violin lacquer which is an important component of the sound production.
The correct pitch is a=415 Hz.




Boxwood, pickled

Rio Palisander

Middle joint

Hand engraved key


Fritz Andante (boxwood)

Platti Arietta (ebony)




starting from 175


Carlo Palanca worked as a bassoonist and instrument maker in Turin, where he died at the ripe old age of 95 years in 1783. In contrast to many other Baroque flutes, his instruments possess an oval embouchure, that allows for a more powerful sound. In addition, the original is manufactured in ebony, which compresses the sound still more. Nevertheless, the Palanca flute is not a harsh instrument, but rather allows the most diverse tonal shades. The usually very muted cross-fingered notes such as F, G sharp or B are especially strong on this flute and have a very good core.  One can call the Palanca flute a universal instrument that covers a broad spectrum of the flute literature. It is particularly suitable for music of Locatelli, Platti, and Handel in addition to J. S. Bach.

We usually build the Palanca flute after the original in a Frankfurt private collection in grenadilla. This wood is less susceptible to splitting than ebony and possesses outstanding sound characteristics. When desired, we manufacture this flute in boxwood or ebony (at extra cost). The correct pitch is a=415 Hz.





Hotteterre Allemande (Eur. boxwood)



The three-joint Hotteterre flute is used mainly for performing early French baroque repertoire because of its deeptoned, warm and intimate sound. This three-joint, single-keyed instrument is said to have been invented by the Hotteterre family, who worked in France around 1700.

Our flute is based on an original from the Steiermärkischen Landesmuseum in Graz, Austria, made by Jean Hotteterre around 1700. The original is made out of ebony and survives in such marvellous condition that it still plays wonderfully. The instrument is perfectly balanced. We reconstruct this flute either in ebony, grenadilla or boxwood at a pitch of a=392.






Duett (A430; grenadilla)



one key 2214
three keys 3473
six keys (D-foot) 3988
eight keys (C-foot) 4639
additional center piece (a=440 or 415 Hz):  
- without keys 520
- with B and C-key 782
Middle and foot joints w/o keys 1129
Foot joint w/3 keys 1348
- C-foot, individually 1587

As a model for a classic flute, we have chosen a flute of August Grenser, the famous flute builder from Dresden.  This instrument was constructed circa 1790 and can be found in a private collection in North Germany. The original is made of ebony and has four interchangeable joints at the pitches of a=440 Hz to a=420 Hz. In addition, the original possesses a C foot joint and a D foot joint with a register. We use ebony or grenadilla.  We build these flutes in different versions.

We often build the single-keyed version as an instrument at the pitch of a=440 Hz or a=430 Hz; the other keyed versions are almost exclusively built at the pitch a=430 Hz. Most often we are asked for the full eight-keyed version with keys for D sharp, F, G sharp, B, low F, low C, and C foot (C, C sharp). With these additional keys, the weak-sounding semitones, which otherwise have to be cross-fingered, can be played in a similar character as the "normal" notes. Yet the other usual cross-fingered notes also function on this flute. The tonal character is brighter and richer in overtones than that of the baroque flute.


one key
four keys with f-jack, long
Surcharge for extra head joint
Hotteterre Pourquoy... (A392), Eur. boxwood

Couperin Air (A415), Eur. boxwood

Rimsky-Korsakov (A430), grenadilla


Despite much painstaking effort, we could not find any original piccolo suitable as a model for a well functioning instrument tuned at pitches of a=440 Hz to a=420 Hz, which are usual pitches currently used. For this reason, the piccolo we build is a unique three-piece model, although it corresponds to the preserved original as far as construction principles are concerned. The fact that our piccolo has made its way into many prominent orchestras fills us with pride.

We build the Piccolo alternatively in European boxwood or grenadilla with cork adjustment screw. We make the instrument in A=392, A=415 Hz or A=430 Hz.

The instrument shown here has a head for  a=430 Hz and a extra head for a=415 Hz.

This is a four keyed Piccolo in 430 Hz, which we built in grenadilla. This instrument is available also with an extra head and low f-key.




ebony or palisander

with silver decoration

King Ouverture (A415), grenadilla





Thomas Stanesby (1692–1754) was not just famous for his recorders. This flute, made around 1730, is kept in a private collection in Frankfurt and still plays very well at a pitch of just under a=415 Hz. We make this flute normally in grenadilla, ebony or palisander. Its open sound makes it the idea instrument for playing music by G. F. Handel or other English composers.







grenadilla or ebony A392

grenadilla or ebony A415
Additional middle joint

Quantz Caprice (A415), grenadilla




Johann Joachim Quantz (1697 – 1773) was probably the best- known flute player of the 18th Century. His fame is due not only to his compositions and his book "On playing the Flute" (published 1752) but also to the fact that he was flute teacher to Frederick the Great of Prussia from 1728. In 1739 Quantz began his own researches in to flute- making but he is still uncertain whether he produced the flutes himself or was just involved in the final tuning of them. The flutes attributed to Quantz are unsigned but show all the signs of having been built by the same maker: Of the eight complete flutes that survive, all from the collection of Frederick the Great, most have a tuning slide and a tuning cork in the headjoint, as well as two keys for E flat and D sharp. These two keys were Quantz´s invention and important for his idea of perfect intonation.




The Quantz flute built by us is manufactured after an instrument in the possession of the descendants of Friedrich II; this original is today on Loch Hohenzollern about 50 km from our workshop. 1996 we restored this flute so that it could be played on the occasion of a ceremony to mark the 200th anniversary of the day of death of Friedrich II on Loch Hohenzollern.


We make our reproduction from grenadilla or ebony with head excerpt, cork adjustment screw and two foot keys. The instrument plays perfectly at A = 415 Hz; extra center joints can be manufactured when desired. The sound of the flute is grundtoenig due to the far drilling. In addition, the high range is present and plays easily, so that the flute is well-suited to the music of Quantz, C. P. E. Bach, Benda, Fr. Bach, etc..



grenadilla or ebony

w/o case

Schubert Andante (A440)



The Viennese family Cook probably ranks among the most outstanding wind instrument makers in the first half of the 19th Century. Many excellent examples of oboes, clarinets and flutes have been preserved, probably the most famous of which are their flutes. They were recommended by numerous contemporary flautists such as Fuerstenau. Our flute is a replica of an 1835 model and it is typical for flutes of that period: besides the usual keys for B, G-sharp, C, F, D-sharp and C-sharp, this instrument also offers a long key for low B, as well as a B-flat lever key for the right index finger. The head joint is adjustable, for changing the overall pitch of the instrument. A striking feature is the finely crafted silver shell-shaped keys, a specialty of Viennese flute-making.

We build our "Cook flute" from grenadilla or ebony with silver keys and silver rings. The pitch is A = 442 Hz (optimal), but can be varied by adjusting the head joint between A=450 Hz and a=430 Hz. The flute is delivered in a handmade solid wood case, which offers outstanding protection for the flute.





extra joint

Hotteterre Sarabande (A392), grenadilla






Joannes Hyacinthus Rottenburgh worked at the beginning of the 18th century in Brussels, where he manufactured transverse flutes in addition to recorders, oboes and other woodwind instruments. Together with his son (Godfridus Adrianus), he achieved an excellent reputation in the first half of the 18th century. His instruments are kept in numerous museums; one of his recorders was the basis for one of the most successful recorder series in the 20th century. This flute is an early four-joint flute, as evidenced by its design (very long head joint), which is still based on the style of three-joint instruments. The original is in ebony and has a small round blowhole.



We build our I.H. Rottenburgh flute after an instrument in the Musee Instrumental du Conservatoire in Brussels, Belgium. As is the case for the original we use ebony, when desired in addition, grenadilla. The pitch is a=392 Hz.


J. W. Oberlander

Boxwood, without ornament rings
Boxwood or ebony, with ornament rings

Telemann Andante (A415), Eur. boxwood

Telemann Allegro (A415), Eur. boxwood



Johann Wilhelm Oberlender lived and worked between 1681 and 1745 in Nuremburg. Just like J. Denner he was one of the most famous German flute makers of this period, proof of which are the many preserved original instruments in museums all around the world. One fine and unique example is to be found at the Museo Civico in Modena, Italy. This instrument is made from boxwood and is nicely decorated with baroque-style horn rings and engraved silver rings. Unfortunately the original is not playable, however the position of the finger holes and embouchure as well as the length tells us that it played at a pitch of a=415 Hz, which was very rare for German flutes of that time. The Oberlender flute is an ideal instrument for the playing German flute music composed around 1730.

We reconstruct this flute model either from boxwood or ebony with artificial ivory or horn rings. The Oberlender flute is also available without any decoration.




a= 405 Hz or a = 415 Hz


School Flutes

Maracaibo boxwood, inline   988
Maracaibo boxwood, offset   988
plum, inline   988
plum, offset   988
pearwood, inline   988
pearwood, offset   988

Equipment/Scope of delivery:

We use only the best aged woods and select materials for the construction of these flutes.  For the protection of the flute, it is delivered in a stylish, handmade cloth case, including a swab.  If desired, we can provide your flute with a handmade wooden case, at extra cost.


Caring for our transverse flutes


When you play your new instrument, changes may occur in the wood due to the moisture of your breath and frequent changes between damp and dry conditions. The sound and the response of the instrument may also be affected by these changes. Therefore begin caring for your new instrument by playing it in slowly and continuously, with a maximum daily playing session of approximately 20 minutes for the first week and then the time can be increased gradually.


Protect the wood of your flute from changes caused by humidity by oiling it about every three to four months both inside and out (for varnished instruments, please only oil the bore). Oiling also improves the response of your instrument. Please use our special oil mixture *) or almond oil. Please do not use linseed oil since it hardens and gums up the bore and tone holes. When oiling, use a swab stick with a paper towel (discard it after use). You can use a cotton wool bud or Q-tip for the finger holes and the embouchure hole. Make sure that you use only enough oil to moisten the interior bore and the surface of your instrument. Therefore make sure you protect the key pads from getting oil on them--wrap them in plastic wrap. After an absorption period of approximately 8 hours, you can remove the surplus oil with a dry cloth. Make sure that your flute is dry before oiling it. Do not play it for at least one day before you oil it.

The question, "How often should a flute be oiled?" cannot be answered generally. This depends on many different factors such as the type of wood, frequency of playing, storage conditions, etc. If all the oil is absorbed by the wood after the 8-hour absorption period, then more frequent oiling is needed.

Care & storage

You should wipe your instrument dry after each playing session and before storage. After playing and wiping the instrument out, do not put it immediately into an air-tight case but just let it dry in the air first. If you use our supplied cloth bags, this is not necessary. Never store your flute in a very dry environment (be careful with central heating in the winter!) or let it sit in a hot car in the summer. A draft is likewise poison for your instrument. If the air is too dry, the danger of cracking increases!

Threaded joints

Our instruments are supplied with thread-covered rather than corked joints. We use thread because the oscillation transmission between the individual parts of the instrument is better with thread than with the strongly damping cork. In addition, threaded joints are easily maintained and adjusted by the player. Since wood changes dimensions under different conditions of temperature and humidity, the joints can become too tight or too loose. In this case you must add or remove thread in order to avoid damage by having a too loose or too tight joint. Please pay particular attention to the uppermost joint (connected to the head piece), since the biggest changes can occur there. This is particularly important with new instruments.

Adding thread: First tie a loop of thread around the tenon and then add windings. Then put the end of the wound thread under the loop, with the help of a needle, if needed, to prevent it from unwinding. For thread, we recommend polyester yarn, since it does not unravel like cotton or silk.


If you have taken care of your flute and have played it in correctly but it does not play to your liking, we can readjust it. Please do not hesitate to contact us about difficulties with response, intonation or other problems.

With proper care of the flute--oiling inside around four/six times a year and taking care of the tenons (see above care instructions)--the flute should remain stable and not need to be rereamed.  If the intonation worsens (b Octaves VERY small, low register not sounding, D3 much too sharp) it might be necessary to control the bore and to reream it. As boxwood is a softwood, especially if it is wet, please don’t put too much thread around the tenons! Tenons that are too tight may crack.


Care and feeding of your new flute

By Rod Cameron

Please read this article, including instructions, before assembling and playing your new flute.

Warning: Do not assemble or play your flute before reading this article. Your new flute is at its most vulnerable in its new dry condition, and overplaying in a new condition can seriously damage the instrument.

This article is comprehensive, and I know that you will be impatient to try your new flute! Please do take the time to read the article before you play your instrument. Do not be unduly alarmed by frequent reference to the various ways that the instrument can be improperly handled. It is simply that the new flute, at its best, is a delicate thin walled wooden tube that is now beyond the reach of the maker, and as such the player must now be responsible for its care and handling. Almost all disappointments can be avoided by not assembling joints that are too tight, and by not playing a dry instrument too much, too soon. This is crucial, and is now the responsibility of the! Be patient, and read on...

This flute is made from natural materials which are affected by changes in humidity and temperature. If you follow a few simple rules, you can avoid risking permanent damage to your instrument, such as warping or cracking. We have many examples of fine-playing, original flutes from the eighteenth century, so it is clear that a properly cared for instrument will last many years. It makes good sense to read and adhere to the following instructions on care of your instrument:

  1. Lightly grease the thread wrappings on the tenons before each assembly.
    If you do not have woodwind 'cork grease', sold in music stores, use a little 'Chapstick', or petroleum jelly. Assemble the joints using a half turn, as you push them together.

  2. Never assemble the flute if the joints feel too tight.
    It is quite easy for an inexperienced player to crack the sockets of any wood flute by simply forcing the socket and tenon together when the adjustment is too tight. The greased joints should feel firm and secure, without being too tight. One common mistake is to test the tenon of a wood flute and find it tight, and then add grease to the tenon so that it can be pushed into the tight fit resulting in the socket being cracked. On no account use joint grease to solve the problem of tight assembly. You must make sure that the thread wrappings are adjusted to give you a secure joint with a minimum of strain on the socket. Since wood changes shape depending upon temperature and humidity, the flute may have changed its shape a little on its journey to you. The tenons may be a bit too loose or too tight now, even when they were in proper adjustment before mailing. Instructions for adjusting follow later.

  3. Play the flute only for a short period.
    Hopefully, you will be anxious to play your flute right away, giving it a good test, and enjoying its character. Please keep in mind that the flute is new and it should be played in gradually. This will be explained later. You can now play the flute for no more than five minutes, then continue reading these instructions.

Many players are already experienced with the baroque flute, however we will assume that the reader is unfamiliar with the instrument.

To Play In your Flute.

What will help with a new or dry instrument is to go slowly, playing ten minutes on the first day, morning and evening, and increasing this each day in the following rough sequence:-

10, 20, 40, 60, 80 minutes, 2 hours, 2.5 hr, 3 hr, 4 hr, and 5 hr.

Slower Schedules are also fine! This allows the moisture entering the wood to be limited in quantity, and to have time to permeate evenly throughout the total cross-section of the wood flute, slowly building up to an equilibrium saturation level, allowing the instrument to be played continuously. The process should be stretched out over about ten days. Keeping the flute and its case in a plastic bag while not in use helps retain the moisture in the wood so that playing-in is not required if the flute is idle for a week or two. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Remember that a flute which has remained un-played and allowed to dry out needs to be played in again just like a new flute. Players with a scientific mind will weigh their flute when dry, and graph out its increased weight against time as it is played in. Using this graph as a reference, the player will know how dry the flute is at any time simply by re-weighing it, See the paragraph on the effect of moisture in woodwinds for further information.

After playing your flute. Cleaning and Oiling.

Swab the flute out after each playing session, and polish the outside with a clean, lint free cloth, especially around the mouth hole. I recommend using a little natural carnuba wax thinned with vasoline 50/50 as a good polish for the outside of the flute. Never leave your flute near a central heating duct. With a new wood flute, it is a good idea to oil it a few hours after playing, each day, until it appears that the wood will not absorb any more oil. The flute will sound best a few hours after oiling. It is very important that you do not use linseed oil inside the bore of the flute. This is because linseed oil is a hardening oil, and it will leave the bore sticky, and often contributes to gluing the silver key shut. Instead, use a non-hardening oil such as peanut, almond, or olive oil. One good way to oil the bore (the inside hole down through the body of the flute) is to use a chop stick with a pipe cleaner wrapped around the end of it in the form of a tight spiral about three centimeters long. Dip this into the oil and wipe partially dry, then use as a paintbrush in a spiral screw thread motion down through the bore of each joint. When oiling the bore of the foot joint, slip a piece of stiff paper under the key pad to keep the pad from becoming oiled and sticky. Sometimes the key pad will be made from a foam rubber which seals very well. In the event of any stickiness, use a little talcum powder on the pad and seat to prevent this. After letting the oil sit inside the bore of the flute for about half an hour, wipe out any excess with a paper towel rolled round a wood stick, such as a chop-stick. You may be tempted to leave your flute assembled when not in use, perhaps even leaving it out to be seen on a bookshelf or table. This is not a good idea, especially if you live in a dry climate or centrally heated house. It is safer to place your flute in its case, and place the case in a plastic bag with a slightly damp cloth. Don't forget to close the plastic bag to keep moisture from escaping. Obviously those living in humid areas will not need the plastic bag.

Description of the Baroque Flute.

Another name for the baroque flute is the traverso. This shorter name will be used from now on. The traverso was made in three sections early in the Baroque Period, and was called the French Flute. About 1720 it was made in four sections: the head joint, the middle joint, the lower joint, and the foot joint. This is by far the most common design re-created today. The French flutes were pitched quite low, near to A392, and today we rationalize a standard mid -baroque pitch to be A415.

The Head joint, as its name implies, is the top joint of the flute and contains the blow hole. Notice that the blow hole of the traverso is much smaller than on the silver flute. This, plus the conical bore, gives the traverso its dark tone color, and also allows for rapid correction of pitch. The top of the head joint bore is stopped off by a well fitted cork located about one bore diameter's length from the center of the blow hole. The exact position of the cork is crucial to the tuning of the flute. This is described in a following page on the Screw Cap.

Many of the originals of the period were equipped with up to seven interchangeable middle joints. This allowed the flute to be played at any pitch over a range of about one semitone (there was no standard pitch in the eighteenth century). Our modern pitch standard of A440 is not a very warm sound for the traverso, yet many players today require an A440 joint to allow them to play with friends who may not be equipped at the A415 baroque pitch. If your flute has A415 and A440 middle joints, these would be the equivalent of numbers 1 and 7 of a typical set of seven. This means that A415 and A440 demand that the flute play over the widest practical jump of pitch (one semitone). You will find that the traverso manages remarkably well at both pitches, considering that only one part of it is replaced. A415 is usually the most centered pitch, and you will be drawn to it quite naturally.

The foot joint of your flute may be equipped with a Foot Register. This is the name for the sliding extension at the end of the foot joint, usually including the lowest imitation ivory ring of the flute. The foot register and its use are described fully in a later page.

Care of the Eb Key.

Looking at the foot joint, notice that it has one silver key covering the seventh tone hole. Since the lowest note is D, we can say that the keyed hole is the E flat note. The key is sprung, and when depressed it stops just short of touching the lower joint. The silver key is easily bent if pressed hard, and too heavy a hand will alter its setting, causing it to touch the lower joint. Try to resist leaving your finger on the E flat key. The key is padded with leather, or foam rubber and it should hinge squarely onto the top of the tone hole. A little talcum powder applied to the key pad helps to prevent the pad from becoming sticky from bore oil. A dry winter might sometimes shrink the foot joint slightly so that the slot for the key narrows and stiffens the action of the key, rendering it unworkable. The key needs to be removed and a small amount of filing on the width of the stem will allow it to loosen up and work properly. It is always okay to return the flute to be re-adjusted in this fashion, but if time and distance are a consideration, and there are no convenient woodwind repair shops, your local friendly jeweler should be able to do the job in about five minutes. If the key is very firmly stuck, place the foot joint in a plastic bag with a damp cloth for a few hours or a few days, and this should loosen it. The key can be removed by first pushing out the silver hinge pin. The end of a paper clip is just the right size for this job. Do it carefully, and do not scratch the wood.

Care of the Tenons.

The end of the thread wrapping on the tenons is not tucked in. It is held neatly against the windings by a little cork grease, and it can be located by scratching across the windings with your fingernail until the end shows. The thread is pure silk impregnated with beeswax. If at any time the end of the thread starts to unwind, this indicates that the joint should be greased with cork grease (use commercial cork grease from a music store, make your own from beeswax and Vaseline mixed together hot about 50/50, or use 'Chapstick'). Provided that the joints have been well greased with cork grease, it is a good habit to lightly coat the joints with Vaseline only before each assembly. My experience is that the average player tends to neglect this, and threaded tenons are often forced dry into the sockets resulting in unraveling the thread, and sometimes in cracking the sockets. If the threads do become untidy, it is a simple matter to locate the end of the thread, unwind as much as necessary, then rewind the tenon neatly, before greasing.

If necessary, use the extra thread supplied to adjust the fit of the tenons You will be tempted to use the socket to help squeeze a new layer of the thread into shape. Don't do this. It might result in a cracked socket. Instead, add a few turns at a time, grease, smooth down the windings with the fingers, then carefully fit the socket. Do not cut off the thread until you are satisfied that you have a good fit. The joints need only feel secure, not tight.

Flute Pitch and Intonation.

If the same traverso is handed to a dozen good players, it will be played at a dozen different pitches. This is because each player tends to develop the embouchure that works best for their sense of the sound they wish to develop. Each of us will have a favorite sound to reach for, or be influenced by the playing of our teachers, and it is probably true that the situation was the same in eighteenth century Europe. Ideally, it would be good to allow the flute to play at, say A415, for every style of player. The head joint can be pulled out by a small amount ( about 3mm) without much affect, but more than that begins to interfere with the overall response. Notice the difference in the thick wall of the tenon, compared with a modern silver flute, which has a wall thickness of half a millimeter. You will appreciate that pulling out the head joint of the traverso begins to make a large swelling in the bore at the head of the socket, whereas the modern flute may be pulled out quite a bit, allowing a large change in pitch without interfering with response.

Until such times as players adhere to a relatively uniform style of playing (hopefully, they will not!) it is best to let the flute maker know your style of playing beforehand. As a generalization, American players play the same flute sharper than Continentals, and the British play lower still. Your flute has been made with a definite sound center at the correct pitch, but it may not necessarily work there for you. If this is the case, try living with the instrument for a few weeks to see if you find that center. After that time, if you wish to have the overall pitch or intonation adjusted, please contact the maker. Ideally, the flute should work for you at the correct pitch, with the head pulled out about 1 mm when it is warmed up, and in a playing room which is at a comfortable temperature (68 degrees F.) The pulled out head allows you some latitude for colder rooms. Remember the flute's pitch is a function of air temperature, humidity, and your playing style. The pitch of a flute rises with temperature. Try to avoid testing your flute by blowing at a 'Korg' tuner, or some other meter. It is 99% certain that you will play sharper into a test meter than you will in a musical context, and A is not the best note to test. Middle d is more stable. This is true in my experience, even for very experienced professional players. It takes a lot of practice to avoid regarding the sound meter as a test of strength and support. The best way to test if the flute is centered at the correct pitch is to test it in a musical context, preferably with a fixed pitch instrument, such as a harpsichord. The flute should be warmed up, the harpsichord must be stable and its pitch measured by a meter, and the room should be at a temperature which is characteristic of your normal playing environment. Now play a few sonatas. If under these conditions you feel you have to press hard, or hold back, then an adjustment should be made. Remember that your playing style is another variable. A beginner would do well to question their style as part of the test. A good teacher is an asset here. The beginner is usually puzzled by the apparent flat F# and sharp F natural, until they get used to the meantone tuning, and the technique of rolling in and rolling out. Again, a good teacher should be sought where possible.

Woodwind Bores.

Players who are new to wood flutes need to know that these instruments react to moisture and temperature in a more delicate way than do metal flutes. There is an excellent probability that your wood flute can last for centuries with proper care, and without that care it may be harmed in just a short time. Cracks can and do occur, but the incidence is low. Of the seven thousand wooden flute joints ( four joints make up one flute) that I have made, about forty have cracked, and mostly because of the way they have been treated. Most players would like to believe the fault lies in the material.

Existing original renaissance and baroque woodwinds are not sealed against moisture in the bore. They require conscious care in order to prevent cracking, both while playing, and while in storage. The same applies to present day woodwinds which have a bore treated only with natural oils. Quite simply, if you wish to have a flute modeled as closely as possible on an original, the bore must not be too smooth, and it must be soaked in a non-hardening cold pressed vegetable oil, such as peanut oil. Such a flute can give many years of trouble free service when treated with care, yet it could possibly be damaged in thirty minutes no matter what its age if it is subjected too quickly to changes of temperature and humidity. Some priceless originals have been cracked by too much playing too soon by eager musicians in the process of re-discovering their fine qualities. It is best to bear in mind always that a flute is a delicate thin-walled wooden tube which has to be continuously subjected to big changes in temperature and humidity, factors which result in very definite changes in its physical geometry. There is a limit to what the flute maker can do in preparing the instrument for such an environment, and proper care for the flute by its owner over the whole life of the instrument is to be encouraged. I have met many players who have good care habits, but my experience has been that the average player's treatment of his or her instrument tends to be a little forgetful. Here is a good test for the experienced player: When did you last oil your flute, and what condition are the winding in? When where the tenons last greased?

A further complication exists for players who live in conditions where the air gets much dryer than was experienced by those who lived and played in Europe two hundred and fifty years ago. This is the case in much of the interior of North America, and in the East Coast of the US. where in winter the humidity drops very low, and wood dries out fast. Remember also when traveling by air, cabin pressure is equivalent to standing at the top of a very high mountain, and the air pressure surrounding you and your flute is quite low. This sucks moisture out of the flute in a rapid drying process. The prudent flute player will always carry the instrument in a plastic bag to seal the moisture in. In areas of dry winter months, keep your flute in a plastic bag when not in use.

You will have noticed by now that the subject of 'too much playing too soon' and its danger to woodwinds has been repeated often in this text. This is being done with purpose, not to be alarmist, but so that the subject becomes second nature to you as you enjoy your new flute. This way, your flute will last a lifetime. Here is some more information about wood and water:

The Effect of Moisture in Woodwinds.

Many old woodwinds have survived from the eighteenth century, both in museums and in private collections. The bores appear to have no sealer to prevent moisture from the player's breath from permeating the wall material of the instrument (wood or ivory). Various oils were used as a partial barrier, probably natural vegetable oil. Oiling the bore of a woodwind appears to both improve the sound if the instrument is dry, and also to act as a barrier to droplets of water condensed from the player's breath. Oil is very useful as an acoustical seal to improve tone, and it does help repel moisture in liquid form. It does not stop moisture in gaseous form from penetrating into the wood or ivory of the flute. (The oil in its molecular structure can be thought of as a large lattice fishnet trying to stop very small water molecules from passing through...without success). An oil-soaked flute will absorb moisture from the player breath just as quickly as a dry flute. It is important to remember this: Oiling the bore of a flute does not allow you to play it for longer period, In the case of a new instrument or an old one that has been in storage, playing floods the flute with moisture from the player's breath. We are used to thinking of moisture as drops of liquid, or the cloud of vapor coming from our breath on a cold day. This is moisture which is not in solution, but air absorbs and carries moisture in the form of an invisible gas, and it is this form which quickly penetrates the inside wall of the flute, expanding the innermost layers of wood while the outside remains dry and stable. The idea of 'playing in' your flute is to allow enough time for this moisture to permeate evenly throughout the wood. Too much playing, too soon results in the inner layers of wood swelling to impose a 'hoop' stress which can strain the instrument unnecessarily. This is why it makes good sense to adhere to the 'playing in' schedule referred to earlier. Swabbing with a cloth helps a little by preventing further absorption, and it should always be done as it also improves the tone. Remember most of the moisture enters the flute as a gas in the player's breath. This cannot be swabbed. Note: These paragraphs are included to offer the player a fuller understanding of how wood and water interact. Use this information to increase your enjoyment in playing, and do not feel that you have to be overly cautious. Your flute will often survive lapses in care and attention, but not always. It will give of its best by following the few simple rules given earlier.

Wood as an Instrument Material.

Wood and ivory are very beautiful materials in both sound and appearance when used in woodwind construction. As building materials, they would not be first choice in terms of maintaining their correct shape, and resisting being stressed. Wood is an excellent material for its original purpose: to pump water efficiently from ground to leaf, and to resist moderate strain while in a supple green state (waterlogged) as a living tree trunk. It is sometimes agreeable to think of a wooden instrument as a 'living' thing, compared with, say, a plastic instrument. The fact is, both the wood and the plastic are quite dead, and the dead wood readily soaks up water and changes its shape in doing so, much in the same way as a dead sponge soaking up water in the bathtub. This change of shape occurs unevenly, as a drying log will shrink more around its circumference than in a radial' direction. This is why woodwinds which have not been stabilized by seasoning usually warp into oval cross-sections.

Preparation of Wood, Seasoning.

Freshly cut wood is usually at least 50% water by weight, and is called 'green'. Before use, it must be dried to around 6%-9% moisture content, a typical measure of equilibrium for wood used in string and wind instruments. The drying or seasoning of wood is not necessarily irreversible. Serious study has not revealed any particular merit in, say, slowly air drying for twenty years, compared with kiln drying in a few days. Wood dried for many years before manufacture of a woodwind may be saturated up to its green state in a relatively short playing session. The use of wood in woodwinds can present special problems of stability compared with, say, stringed instruments. The reason, again, is that the wood in woodwind instruments shrinks and swells unevenly when subjected to moisture. Part of my rigorous stabilizing process is to soak the wood after drying, pretending to the wood that it is being played, then allowing it to dry once more. Ideally, we want an oiled bore, like the originals, yet we do not want to have warping and cracking when the instrument is flooded with moisture from the player's breath.

The question is sometimes asked, whether early instrument makers had a particular way of treating wood, now forgotten or lost, which allowed a woodwind to resist damage from moisture. 'Burying boxwood in a pile of manure for twenty years', is often quoted in this respect, from Bate's book on the flute. This in fact was a good way to store the wood without cracking. Variations of this storage are still used in Georgia. It may be that there were effective ways of dealing with moisture in wood, however serious investigation has not uncovered them. The behavior evidenced by surviving originals shows susceptibility to moisture and damage. Opinions and positions abound on this topic, and there is always the tendency to inject some magic into the mysterious process of producing the definitive instrument. Magic is a wonderful ingredient to include in instrument making. It is best added after the details have been handled.

This article covers more than is strictly needed for the enjoyment of your flute, and it is offered here mostly for your interest. Please let me know if you can improve my understanding on all of the above.

Roderick Cameron


Ordering Information                                                                                                                                                Top of PageSubcontrabass recorder in Bb, by Adriana Breukink

Email, call or write me to order or discuss your needs.  You can't order from my web site--I like to discuss your order with you first.

Many people have told me how much they enjoy my bringing my ‘store’ of instruments to workshops so that they can try many different ones over the course of a few days.  This makes their decision-making process much easier. 

Obviously, when ordering by mail, I can’t send you my whole ‘store’ of instruments to try, but I do try to come as close as is reasonably possible.  All instruments can be ordered on approval.  I am happy to send out two or more instruments for you to compare.  For instance, I could send out two or three rosewood altos, or rosewood, pearwood, grenadilla and  boxwood altos for you to sample.  Then you can play them (please, no more than 15 minutes per day, just as if you were starting the breaking-in process), let your friends try or listen to them, and let a teacher try them.  This gives you some feedback on your choice, and gives you more confidence in your decision. 

I want you to be satisfied with your instrument, and feel under no obligation to buy it if you don’t like it.  A normal time for deciding is approximately one week.  I, of course, expect any returned instruments to be in like-new condition (see below).  Whether you decide to buy an instrument or not, all I ask is that you pay for shipping costs both ways.

Once you have decided on a purchase, I will bill you. 

Email, call or write me to order or discuss your needs.  You can't order from my web site--I like to discuss your order with you first.


I had an instrument returned that smelled of cigarette smoke.  The customer did not smoke, but a visitor did.  I haven't yet succeeded in removing the smell.  I can't sell a smoky instrument, so I do not want to send instruments on approval to households where people are allowed to smoke.  If a smoky-smelling (or mildew-smelling) instrument is returned to me, I will not accept it, and you will have bought it, since it is no longer in like-new condition.  In my experience, hardly any recorder players smoke, so this should be a rare occurrence.  So please, no smoke, mildew or lipstick, and brush your teeth before playing--all things you should do if the instrument were yours.  I hope you understand this policy.


I don't give out customer contact information to other companies.


I accept personal checks, money orders or cashiers checks.  
I accept Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. VisaMasterCard  

Martin Shelton

761 N. Cherokee Rd, Suite C

Social Circle, GA 30025

(770) 366-8596

(866) 511-2981


OPEN BY APPOINTMENT-Call--I'm here most of the time, 6-7 days a week


To order, email, phone or write me your request.


I don't give out customer contact information to other companies.

Warranty                                                                                                    Top of Page

Wenner Fluten
Martin Wenner
Aluminiumstr. 8
78224 Singen