Instruments in the style of Native American Flutes
Spirit of the Woods Flutes
Twelve years ago, at age 37, I was suffering the painful combination of Crohn’s disease and work related stress. “I remember it was a Saturday night, I laid down and said a prayer to have something come into my life to help relax me and give me peace.” The following morning I sat up in bed, looked at my wife & declared “I have to buy a Native flute!” I started to play and fell in love with the tone of the wood. It helped to relax my soul and by the end of that year I had purchased over 40 flutes for my collection.
I had played percussion instruments from the tender age of four with influences from my elders. My Maternal Grandpa played Baritone in the band that was to become the Saint Louis Symphony. My Uncle played trumpet and his big band opened for Louis Armstrong. My mom is a singer & my Paternal Grandpa and Father were both woodworkers. I grew up surrounded with music and musical influences. This is where my passion for music and fascination with beautiful woods turned me to the task of creating the flutes.
Here is my story on how I became a flute maker........
As I had mentioned…I was a player before I was a maker. I have been playing flute for about 12+ years now. I was buying flutes from all kinds of makers back then but I couldn't find a really good tuned flute anywhere. I was thinking about doing some recordings at the time.
There was one maker I was buying from and I liked the looks of his flutes but the tuning was never quite right. I sent a flute back to him 2 times to be re-tuned but it came back to me the same way, out of tune, both times. I called him and asked why he wasn't correcting the problem and he said it was close enough. I told him that it was noticeably off and he then said to me..... "I thought you knew wood working...." I said "I do, my grandfather was a wood worker, my Dad was a wood worker, so yes, I know wood working", then he said.... "and I thought you knew music", I said.... "I do, been playing music since I was four years old." Then this maker said in a stern voice.... "then make your own flutes!" and hung the phone up on me. At first I was a bit mad but only for a minute because then the light bulb went on and I asked myself.... why am I not making my own flutes? I started making flutes for myself so that I could have a good, in tune, recording flute.
At the time, I was kind of pen pals with a guy down in CA that had a huge collection so I sent him a flute to see what he thought of it and he called me right when he got it. I will never forget his exact words.... he said.... "how long have you been making flutes?" ... I said.... "oh about 3 months now" and he said.... "guy, you are making flutes better than guys that have been doing it for 10 years. This flute is perfectly in tune and sounds really nice." He then asked if he could buy another one from me and I told him that he could. He asked how much it would be.... I don't remember for sure but I think I said... oh how is $100? or something like that. Well when he got that flute he called and told me that he really liked that one also and that he thought I should start making them for others. Next thing I knew, he was spreading the word and I started getting orders. I was working for the school district at the time.
After about a year of working at the school and making flutes I had built up a back log wait of around a year and I was still getting orders coming in so I asked my wife if she would mind if I quit the school and made flutes full time. She said she would support me whatever I chose to do. I was really nervous but I really loved making flutes so I gave notice at the school and I have been making flutes full time now for about 9 years. I do not make seconds. If I make a flute that doesn't play quite right or sounds odd, then I take it to the band saw and rip it in half, turning it into firewood. I have only done this a few times but it has happened. I want people to have a very high quality recording flute that has a nice voice, is in tune and very responsive. This is what got me started and this is how it will stay. I worked on developing my flutes voices (all 28 keys) for about 5-6 years. I still will make subtle changes every now and then but overall, I am very happy with my designs today. The voices on my flutes are very direct. This is great for recording and playing into a microphone. This is how I wanted my flutes to be. I found that with some other flutes, the voice can bounce around and do not record as nice. I did not want my flutes to do this. If you play one of my flutes into a microphone, you will see what I mean. :-)
You need to have everything right when you make a wood flute...
I have accomplished my goal to developing the instrument in the style of the Native American Flute so that it could be used for recording and to be played with other instruments. I use an electronic tuner as I work the pieces to make sure that each flute is not only beautiful but also functional.
Spirit of the Woods Flutes has grown naturally. Having my wife Mary, Son Ed III & Daughter Amanda’s support, I was able to quit my job and devote my time to doing what I love; making flutes full time. Average wait time is now 6 to 8 months.
Prices now range from $165-$1800 and are made in 28 different keys ranging from 1 foot to 3 feet in length and have been adorned with stone inlay, diamonds, legal pre-banned elephant ivory, buffalo horn, semi precious gem stones such as Turquoise, Chrysacola, Green Malachite, Blue Lapis, Paua Shell, Mother-of-Pearl and more. I have even worked with Mt. Saint Helens volcanic ash to honor Sitting Bull with an extraordinary likeness on a flute, so much so that Sitting Bull’s great, great grandson, Ron His Horse Is Thunder, called me to thank me.
I have not only made Native American Style Flutes for some of the top Native American and World Flutists like R.C. Nakai, Mark Holland, Peter Phippen and Charles Littleleaf just to name a few but also 2-3 Grammy winners, Jan Gippo of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, actor Tommy Lee Jones and even Rocker Ted Nugent. I have sold flutes to people all around the world; in such countries as England, Germany, Brazil, Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Japan, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium and Australia and everyone seems to just love them.
To see and hear some of my flutes you can look through my “Galleries” and the “Hear The Keys” page on my website. You can also give me a call at (541)-386-1264 or Toll Free 1-800-236-0406 for more information on these wonderful instruments.
"Close your eyes and enjoy the sounds that your inner spirit, along with the Spirit Of The Woods, can bring."
I know it works for me!
Become a friend of Ed's on MySpace by going to..... http://www.myspace.com/nativeamericanflutes.
|International Orders? If you can download Skype, you can now call me for free. Click here to download Skype. Once you have downloaded Skype you can then call me using my Skype name..... SOTWFlutes.|