World Shakuhachi Discussion / Go to Live Shakuhachi Chat
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'Black' bamboo, 'Philostichys Nigra", can be very Funky.
I have been making Shakuhachi from Black for the last five years, I have my own grove and also have planted a variety of Madake.
I don't sell on eBay, I sell directly to people that approach me, I charge around $150 to $250 depending on the flute.
While Black can produce a good flute it is different to Madake in several ways.
The culm does not have a long lifespan in the grove and deteriorates after its third year, whereas Madake will continue in good growing condition well beyond three years.
Black is a softer wood than Madake, noticeably.
Because it does not have as long a growth period it is thinner walled and does not produce as thick a taper up into the bore, so a significant 'reverse-taper' is seldom possible.
The node spacing is usually a bit closer and a good hole placement would be hole 1 between two nodes, hole 2 and 3 between the next two and holes 4 and 5 between the next. I can get a nicely balanced placement and would charge a little more for this.
I don't prefer a hole near a node but this often does not significantly affect the sound from that hole.
So I suggest that these flutes you see may not have much taper and 'back pressure'.
I once read of the oldest flute in a Japanese museum is from 'Black' from the 7th Century, so it can have a long shelf life if looked after, I have flutes I made five years ago that now have a fine patina from use and no cracks.
A $20 Shakuhachi sounds like a ;'dog' to me, I certainly wouldn't put my money out.
But, to be fair, I have blown a $35 EBay flute that looked rough, unrefined, was in good 1.8 pitch through two octaves and was quite suitable for the beginner player to develop his blow before auditioning a more expensive model.
I do find the tone from Black is different to that from Madake so this can be useful.
One good thing about a grove of Black is that it produces a lot of culms with a bore diameter around 20-22mm for Shakuhachi, probably ten times the number found in Madake groves, which get pretty fat, but this depends on the ground conditions also.
Best to take time and trial a flute.
Last edited by Karmajampa (2010-07-08 17:09:58)
I came across one of these flutes by this maker walking backstage before a show, recently. I held it while the player tried my flute. I am really crazy about shakuhachi, but I can tell you that I felt no desire to play the flute I had in my hands.
Black bamboo shakuhachi are pretty good when a decent cast bore is poured into it. I like Monty's black bamboo student models the best!
I got lucky and had a friend give me a box of black rootend culms when I was starting to learn how to make them. The node placement wasn't the greatest, but I got 4 decent shakuhachi out of them, and one of them (a 2.3) is one I perform with regularly. It is the one I am playing in my avatar.
Last edited by Taldaran (2010-07-08 19:06:07)
An interesting historical note on 'black' bamboo.
After submitting the name 'black' or 'Nigra' to those who register a new species name, the discovery people realized it was actually 'dark green' and applied to have the name changed.
Too late !
It seems once named that's it, can't be altered.