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I'm wondering whether to keep blowing or give up and start over on this mouthpiece. Ro doesn't seem to work. Flute info below:
Length: 29 3/8 inches
Bore diameter: one inch plus a millimeter or so. It's a one inch schedule 40 PVC
Drop off angle: About 30 degrees give or take
Utaguchi hole width: 13/16"
Utaguchi hole depth: 3/16"
Aspect Ratio: About 29 or slightly less
I measured the utaguchi hole depth not in absolute vertical, but along the 30 degree slope. It's probably a little bit less in absolute vertical. This is my second shakuhachi mouthpiece. My first one on a 3/4" pipe sounds good and looks like hell. This new one doesn't blow Ro yet. The tube has no tone HOLES yet. I'm waiting to get Ro first. Should I keep blowing until I get it or start over?
By the way, my email is probably wrong. I'll keep checking back here or you can email monkeyjediflame @ gmail (dot com)
Last edited by Nobody (2011-02-12 14:40:50)
A correction for previous: I measured a 30 degree slope angle from the horizontal rather than from the vertical. Let's see. 90 degrees minus 30 is 60. I hope it's not 60 degrees. I'll find out in about 2 hours. Dought!!!!!!
I've been playing 2 shakuhachi, both 2.1's (one wooden with a steep blowing slope, the other Jinashi bamboo and more blunt), sporadically over the course of the past 3 or 4 years. Still at the point that when I blow a new one, I temporarily lose the embouchure of the one's I've been playing all along.
Anyway, I just made a new one on a one inch schedule 40 pvc. The angle's correct. It's 29.5 inches along and will be shortened to bring it up to A. The utaguchi hole is 11/16" wide and a deep 3/16" deep, but there's room for widening. It will probably be 12/16" wide by tonight. The goal was 25/32" by 5/32", but I overshot the depth. Seems promising, though. Hopefully it will start singing like a bird tonight.
By the way, it's just a tube with no tone holes until I get a solid Ro. After that, I'm placing a hole 30% up the tube, then another 7 holes for an 8 hole dong xiao tuning. It's a Bastard. I used to make transverse flutes with bamboo. I'm in love with the shakuhachi mouthpiece, but a total rogue and "jammer" at the same time. There is no instrument on the market I'm compatible with, so that means I have to invent my own.
Last edited by Nobody (2011-02-13 14:45:35)
Ro in the lower Otsu is a little more difficult in that it requires a steady controlled but also calm blow. It is often easier withour the other tone holes.
Ro in the Kan register may happen easier, though the bore diameter will influence this.
When I am making bamboo Shakuhachi, I spend a lot of time working the bore profile, blow-edge and bell or not to bell, end hole, before drilling any of the other holes.
Pvc is another story.I don't use it.
Bamboo's just plain scary at this point for this type of mouthpiece. PVC is safe, slightly simpler and low maintenance. If the acoustics work out, maybe I'll eventually be playing a wooden one. I live in the desert where you learn to hate bamboo instruments rather quickly. That Jinashi mentioned earlier split down the middle because I didn't have it constantly oiled. Bore adjustments and eliminating nodes don't seem much fun either - yet. PVC's good practice.
Last edited by Nobody (2011-02-13 15:38:21)
The bamboo that split, did you play it daily ? Or did it sit around for more than a week or so between blowing ?
I ask as I think daily blowing keeps a level of moisture up. I had a 'Moso' Shakuhachi that had sat for about four months, I came to blow it, it sounded really great so I blew for about 20 minutes and it cracked from end to end in my mouth with a 'Snap', quite a surprise.
It was in a warm dry workshop, not in a desert.
It cracked about a year after I got the wood one, which I played more. It would sit around for a couple weeks or more between plays in a plastic tube designed to retain moisture. It was a 2.1 Jinashi from Shakuhachi Jon's early days. Can't remember whether it was burn cured or not, although I've seen some of my burn cured transverses split, especially if there was a nick at the end.
I've made flutes with bores from 0.68" up to 1.13". All are in the key of D (294 Hz) and all have a blowing edge about as wide as the bore.
My favorites have 0.8" bore. I've made flutes of this bore with aluminum, brass and PVC tubes. I like all three materials.
I know PVC is cheap and doesn't command much respect. But common 0.8" ID PVC makes truly beautiful sounding instruments when coupled to a good head design.
For the record, I have played a few pvc Shakuhachi and have been pleasently surprised at how well they sound.
In the distant past bamboo was perhaps the only readily available and cheap material for anything like this, now there is pvc.
But no taper, and I like shaping bamboo.
It seems like tapered bores favor the higher notes. By the way, are there any troubleshooting guides for mouthpiece design? I've seen basic how to overviews on the internet and a great web page about optimum utaguchi hole dimensions. However, I have not seen any checklist for subtle things to look for if you have troubles getting a tone. I blew for six hours last night with no progress. Usually, there's a "notch" or a "sweet spot" in the tone, and once you hit it, you zero in on it until the flute sings. Did not experience that. The only thing I can think of besides embouchure is that the "wedge" aspect of the blowing edge is more of a ledge than a wedge. It's still paper thin, but it's not very pointy except at the center of the utaguchi hole. Other than that, it's almost a perfect semi-oval indentation except that it's very slightly less indented on the right side of the bottom of the blowing edge than the left. Seems like a miniscule difference, but it's there. Not sure if either of these factors make a difference.
I suspect you are still developing your blow,
Suggestions, alternate between this new flute and your others that you can get a sound from.
You may be able to shape the edge from the inside to get a wider edge without making it deeper.
Wlhat about the angle of your chinrest, too shallow, too deep ?
Shift your blowing position, head down, head up, flute down, flute up, blow softer. cghange your lip posture, bring your bottom lip forward.
Perhaps the 30 degree angle it too steep, bring it down a bit.
Great thing about making your own Shakuhachi is you can mess with it as much as you like.
The chin rest is one thing I thought of. It's pretty shallow. I was hoping to deepen its slope after getting a blow. I'll try that before more blowing. Bottom flip forward is a new one. In the past success has come from a focused upper lip and relaxed bottom lip. I'll try that. I'll also blow on my wooden flute for a while before continuing with this one.
OK. Full report tomorrow. Thank you.
I think your's may be a case of operator error. A schedule 40 PVC tube cut to 29" length would be on the narrow side for a good aspect ratio, thus making Ro more difficult. However, it should still be able to play, regardless of the utaguchi angles. Since PVC is inexpensive, may I suggest making another flute with a 21' length and keeping the sama angles you presently have. I'm sure this test will reveal something.
Good luck, Perry
The whole problem was the blow. I lowered the chin rest, then blew into the wooden Sho Fu or whatever it is. When I realized how close the lips were to the utaguchi hole, the bells went off and a lightbulb appeared slightly above the crown area. I picked up the new flute-in-progress and got a booming Ro in 1-2 minutes. Easiest Ro ever in both octaves and easiest harmonics, too. Now it's time to blow for a couple days with a chromatic tuner until there's an easy transition between octaves and very little pitch variation. Then I'll chop it down to a 2.4-ish size, bring it up to "A" and poke some holes. Right now it plays a sharp G# on a good blow and a straight G# on a bad blow, otsu and kan exactly the same. It's exactly 30 inches from blowing edge center to the foot.
Thanks again to everyone who jumped in.