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High quality Delrin (polymer) flutes for Irish traditional music

 

Welcome to my updated website.

I am a flute maker based in Tubbercurry, South Sligo, Ireland.

South Sligo is an area with a rich history of Irish traditional music with many generations of great local musicians (particularly flute & fiddle players). 

I have a long involvement personally in Irish music & have been playing flutes of one sort or another for over 30 years, beginning with an interest in the North Indian Bansuri bamboo flute (including several journeys to India).

I have been making flutes professionally for around ten years after studying 'Woodwind instrument making & repair' at Newark on Trent, U.K.

 

After making flutes for several years with the exotic hardwoods normally used (like African blackwood & Mopane), alongside alternative materials like Delrin (a polymer), I have now decided to concentrate my attention & focus on to Delrin exclusively.

I have spent the last few years exploring the unique possibilities offered by this material in respect to flute making with very positive results.

My thoughts are that Delrin flutes may have acquired a reputation previously for being only a simple budget option. I have never subscribed to that view.

I believe it is all in the skill and dedication of the maker.

The tone & response of a well made Delrin flute is almost indistinguishable from a wooden instrument.

Delrin not only has the advantage of having very similar tonal qualities to African blackwood (for example), but being a polymer it is not susceptible to the many variables that can affect wooden instruments.

Delrin will never crack, warp, swell, shrink or distort in any way. Delrin is completely unaffected by moisture & does not require oiling, or any special care.

A Delrin flute can be left assembled without worry.

On top of that Delrin is not affected by the subtle atmospheric changes that can affect a wooden flutes daily response & performance. 

In fact Delrin itself is incredibly strong ,stable, & virtually maintenance free, just a few of the reasons it was developed for extensive use in the engineering & manufacturing industries across the globe.

With over 200 Delrin polymer flutes leaving my workshop & being delivered to satisfied customers worldwide over the last ten years, I have 100% confidence that a top quality instrument can be constructed from it.

 

Much of the making process is almost identical to wooden flute making with the instruments being machined to fine tolerances from solid rod on a precision engineering lathe and milling machine.

Bespoke & specially made tools provide critical bore dimensions along with an array of other unique tooling, both vintage & modern, for different tasks.

The detailed finishing work still being performed with patience by hand & eye (& most importantly ear!), at the workbench.

I take great care to tune, voice & finish all my instruments to the highest standards. The flute will be played by myself until I am completely happy with it.

My flutes are based on instruments produced by two of the best known historical wooden flute makers of their time, Rudall & Rose, & Boosey & Co. These antique flutes have long been sought after in Irish music circles for their fine tone & craftsmanship.

My new instruments based on these originals are tuned at modern pitch  A440 & optimised for Irish traditional music, with a solid low D & rich resonant first octave, with a bright & clear second octave.

The new 'Standard' model, a full length four section flute with a nickel silver tuning slide. This model closely resembles the 'Rudall' model offered previously whilst taking some influence also from the 'Pratten' design. This model is capable of great volume & projection, whilst it can also be played softly with equal ease, in a more nuanced style. In my opinion it is all about the responsiveness of an instrument. I'm confident that this new model will please the great majority of players.

The 'Student' model, a slightly shorter & lighter two piece design (following a  modified 'Rudall' profile) with a Delrin tuning slide.

This model has proved very popular with Comhaltas groups & music schools across Ireland & beyond. The same care is taken during making despite this flute being more affordable.

Both models are available in the usual key of D with other keys available. Interchangeable body sections in different keys are also an option, please request a full price list for details.

The 'B flat'model. I am very happy to now also be offering a B flat model, a three piece flute with large tone holes & a deep resonant tone.

Keys & other features

Up to six keys can be now also be added to either model.

The keys are mounted on solid anodized aluminium round blocks, which can be added to the flute during making or at a later date.

The blocks are attached to the flute in a similar way to traditional metal pin mounts, being counter sunk into the flute body & permenantly fixed.

Being aluminium it is my view that they will offer superior performance & reliability in the long run when compared to traditional wooden blocks.

The aluminium blocks are lightweight whilst offering excellent wear resistance and being less prone to damage.

I believe this is a major innovation with my new design.

Left handed keyed flutes are also available.

The key pads are made from high quality closed cell foam (think wetsuits), a fantastic hard wearing modern alternative to traditional leather or felt pads. These pads are impervious to moisture & are even washable.

If you purchase a keyless flute & would like keys adding at a later date that is now also possible. I can also 'retro-fit' keys to any already existing keyless Delrin flutes that I have made previously. 

For added ease of maintenance and durability nitrile rubber 'O' rings are fitted to the joints (instead of thread or cork).

O rings are purposely designed to form a reliable long lasting flexible seal in countless mechanical applications. They work absolutely perfectly with Delrin & are easily available, inexpensive & simple to replace.

Even the usual cork stopper in the headjoint has been replaced by a Delrin plug, secured with O rings.

Spare O rings are supplied free with every flute.

Ultimately my aim has been to produce the highest quality Delrin flute for Irish music, focusing on  playability, reliability & ease of maintenance.

Whether it's a starter flute, a second flute (for travelling maybe), or a main flute, I believe you will be delighted with my instruments.

To place an order or if you have any questions please use the form on the 'Contact' page, or pay a visit to my workshop in South Sligo (by appointment please).

A full & up to date price list can be emailed by request.

Please note I am not currently taking on any repair work.

Damian Thompson   

Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo 2024

Introduction

Why Delrin?

Flute making

Flute models

In summary
Standard model 6 key with case
Decorative end caps
Student flute 3 key
Thompson Flutes
Trileske
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