Polymer Flutes



Certain materials have become associated with different flutes.  For instance, the orchestral flute is usually made of metal, ranging from silver-plated brass to solid sterling to gold.

The concert (or "Irish") flute is usually made of exotic hardwood.  Species of wood used by different makers include African blackwood (also called grenadilla), cocus, boxwood, ebony, and rosewood.  Other woods such as mopane which have not traditionally been considered "tone-woods" are now being used as well.

Into the mix come the polymers.

"Polymer," of course, is simply a fancier-sounding term for plastic.

Many people have come to associate the term "plastic" with such concepts as "cheaply made," "disposable," and even "of low quality," and this is a prejudice faced by someone deciding whether or not to consider plastic as a material from which their flute might be made.

Polymer does have some advantages over wood:

bulletIt never needs oiling.  It will never split or crack.
bulletA keyless polymer flute doesn't have to be dried out carefully after each playing.
bulletThere is no "playing in" time; you can play it for hours right out of the box; conversely, you can not play it for two months, and then play it for hours again.
bulletA polymer flute plays the same after five hours of play as it does after five minutes.  It doesn't react to weather changes or environmental conditions.
bulletYou can play a polymer flute in the rain, or outside when it's very hot or very cold.  You can leave it in the trunk of your car without damaging it.
bulletYou can wash a keyless polymer flute with soap and water.
bulletYou can leave it assembled all the time without damaging the tenons.
bulletPolymer flutes are usually less expensive than wooden flutes.  (Well, for Irish music anyway.  For a lovely polymer flute that's pretty durn expensive, please see www.matitflutes.com.)

Makers which offer polymer as a choice of materials for your flute include Michael Cronnolly, Desi Seery, Tony Dixon, and Terry McGee.  Other makers such as Patrick Olwell and Hammy Hamilton have made polymer prototypes but have not yet incorporated polymer models into their product line.