The Native American wooden flute

I still love the Native American wooden flute made in the style of the Native American Woodlands flute that I bought at a store in downtown Raleigh about six years ago. I first bought a cedar flute, beautifully decorated, in the key of G from this store that has since succumbed to the ravages of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. I’ve never regretted that purchase and never tire of the rich tones that flow out of this and other wooden flutes.

My first flute…I never regretted the purchase… I never tire of the rich sound…

I played in so many venues on so many occasions and introduced so many people to the gorgeous sounds of the Native American wooden flute that I’ve since teamed with an excellent flute maker – yes, the maker of my first cedar flute – to offer flutes, online and off, to others.

In the woodlands style or tradition… offers flutes in the “woodlands tradition.” “Woodlands” occupies a period on the historical timeline, but also describes a geographical area – roughly east of the Mississippi River – in what is now the United States and Canada. Written records indicate that woodlands flute makers used various woods as well as cane to construct their flutes.


Native American wooden flute – Plains & Woodlands

The other well-known flute is the “plains flute” from the areas west of the Mississippi. Confusion and debate continue about what makes a plains flute and what makes a woodlands flute. The location of the flue on the flute defines one of the key differences. It’s not always the case, but you will almost always find the flue located in the body of the woodlands flute whereas in the plains flute you will find the flue typically in the block or fetish. The flutes you purchase from have the flue in the body of the flute (see above image). This means that the bottom of the block or fetish is completely flat and forms the ceiling of the air channel between the slow air chamber exit hole (mouth end) and the sound hole (finger hole end).

The craftsman for the Native American wooden flute models offered at uses wood as the main raw material. In addition he uses shells, stone, leather and other “ingredients” for decorating the main body of the flutes.

The woods he uses include…

  • Spalted Maple – partially decayed maple of any kind
  • Curly Maple – maple with a ripple-like grain pattern
  • Oregon Walnut – a dark and hard wood
  • African Blackwood – one of the hardest woods and used for musical instruments
  • Birdseye Maple – includes little shapes that look like birds eyes
  • Purpleheart – a strong and eggplant-colored wood
  • Amboyna Burl – a Southeast Asian Narra wood that is burled
  • Buckeye Burl – buckeye is a softer hardwood native to the United States sought after in burl form
  • Hawaiian koa – a hardwood that does not change much with humidity swings (playing the flute for a long time)
  • Burl Redwood – burled form of wood from the coastal regions of Oregon and Northern California
  • Curly Redwood – redwood with a ripple-like grain pattern
  • Chechen – a hardwood from the Caribbean region
  • Eastern Red Cedar – found east of the Rocky Mountains and familiar to most because of the cedar closet or chest fragrance