Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Powell Scale

We received the following inquiry regarding the production process and how it affects the scale, and we thought many of you might have the same questions:

How do you construct the scale of your instruments? What are the advantages of having a flute with a handmade scale when compared to a mass-produced flute?

Powell Flutes are made today using the Modern Powell Scale, but over the course of 79 years we have used a few different versions of flute scales.  Our current scale is based on the Cooper Scale by Albert Cooper; but there are modifications that have been made to better suit a Powell instrument.

In theory, there could be no difference in the scale of a handmade flute versus a mass-produced flute.  The position of the tone holes on the tubing determines the scale of an instrument, and that is not a factor in determining whether a flute is handmade or mass-produced.

However, flute makers who offer handmade soldered tone hole flutes have been the quickest to make modifications to their scales to improve intonation.  Thus, most handmade flute makers offer a more even and in-tune scale.  In addition, handmade flute makers are more likely to continue to improve their scale based on the opinions of professional flutists.

Bodies with drawn tone holes.
Bodies with soldered tone holes.

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