This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Jun 23, 2012

A Nasenflöte by Karl Wigert

Mister Karl Wigert is a 67 years old carpenter. He lives in Uster, Switzerland, and make nose flutes. I ordered one, and received it quite quickly, packed in a very nice little bag. Inside the bag: the flute, and an user-manual.

« I've been producing nose flutes for 15 years. Before, I made different musical instruments in the percussion field. At the moment, I only make nose flutes, no other instruments. The fabrication time varies, but usually, it takes me one day per flute. Until now, I have made around 250 ones. »

The flute itself has a shape very near the "large model" by Heinrich Handler, in Austria. And since this shape was, for Mr. Handler, the result of a recomposition of the traditional Styrian nose flute from the 30s (he worked with archive photos), I thought the shape was also traditional in the Canton of Zurich, where Mr. Wigert lives. But I was wrong : « No, this flute is an unusual instrument, here too. »

The instrument gives immediately a very nice impression of precision and well-done craftsmanship. It has been well assembled, well sanded, and stained with a mate mahogany light varnish.

The flute is signed by Karl Wigert monogram, a 'W' made by four strokes of chisel.

The nose saddle is rather ergonomical, but should have been a bit more, with a more comfortable place (a scoop) for the nose bottom cartilage (yet this &#@§! cartilage...). But it's however possible to find a position with no air leaks.

The particularity of this nose flute is its whistling system. As told before, the instrument is very precisely done, and thus was open to receive sharp specifications (or it is the inverse : the will of fine settings needed a precise woodwork?).
Indeed, the mouth hole is the tiniest I've ever seen : it is 2 cm wide, by ... 2 mm high! And more : the exit of the airway is less than 1 mm thick !

Those very tiny specifications lead to a very precise nose flute, dramatically oriented to "sharp playing". Indeed, I can reach very high notes without having to bend the tongue near the palate, but fore sure, cannot go deep in the bass.
The flute is so precise, that just a light breeze make it sound. On the negative side however, blow too hard makes it produce unwanted sounds.
What I would say as a conclusion, is that I feel this very good Nasenflöte as a... recording studio nose flute : very precise but a bit weak in loudness, because you have to blow it lightly.

The Wigert Nasenflöte is a very fine instrument, needing a bit of time to accustom to it : as lightly as you blow, as precise you have to be yourself to keep the tone, because the flute is very sensitive to tongue movements. This flute is for experimented players, and absolutely not for beginners (and thus, a bit to difficult for me). It won't forgive no mistakes, but will offer in exchange an easy speed and precise playing.

Here is a quick sound test to show the sharpness of this instrument (played by Nosy Diva on my insistence as she was doing something else) :

Fortunately, Mr. Wigert has embedded 3 nice pieces on his website, played with a pair of Nasenflöten. I don't know (but I don't think so) whether they have the same specifications than mine, but I guess not, since they seem more disposed to bass playing :

Lueged vo Berg und vu Tal :

Der Mond ist aufgegangen :

Viel Glück und viel Segen... :

Last word : this nose flute review was totally supervised by the best authority, the CEO herself, Miss Patafix :


  1. Another master craftsman!

    I really love the pictures of the process, as the work is in progress. I would like to see more craftsmen do that: take pictures of the various stadia and share them on this blog!

    The end result is stunning: it is a most beautiful object with a superb finish.

    I tend to associate wood with a warm tone, yet this flute produces sharp and high notes... Could a wooden flute be produced that somehow sounds full-bodied, deep, warm and reedy, but most of all is easily playable?

    I still consider the 'Swan logo' model as the best playable nose flute. Could that be because of the 'teeth rest', that provides more 'angles' and therefore different kinds of approach? What I would love to do is work together with artisan-cratfsmen, in order to create the perfect nose flute!

    1. Yes, it is a very fine and well-made flute. And very challenging to play. - About the swan logo I must say I have a quite different opinion. I find it rather hard to play and the sound not pleasant at all, too much air in it and a small octave range. My personal favorites are surely the bocarina and the Heinrich Handler wooden nose flute from Austria. But that is just my personal opinion. The swan have quite a variety of quality, some quite good and many very bad, haven't they?

    2. There is indeed a difference between the 'old' and the 'new generation' of swan logo flutes. Also, there are differences between individual flutes from the same batch, as they are cheaply mass-produced and randomly assembled...

      It must be the fact that I only knew the swan logo flute and not any others: I probably adjusted to it. I actually do remember having a sore nose and 'bleeding teeth' from playing. But I guess you had the same with your fingers learning to play the violin..;-)

      To me, the bocarina is far more difficult to play and I wouldn't use it for melodies. For effects I would, as it produces a nice reedy sound. Sadly, I cannot reproduce the same range on the bocarina as I can on the swan logo...

    3. Thanks for your reply, this is a very interesting task. As our blogmaster never gets tired to say - it seems to be a very individual task which noseflute one gets along with well. I have practised a lot on the Handler flute before I knew the bocarina. I found it very hard to play fast notes with it. Now I am so used to the bocarina that I find it very difficult with other instruments. For me the bocarina seems to be the perfect noseflute. As for violin practice - I do not remember playing until fingers were bleeding - maybe I should have :)

  2. Yes, a great and beautiful flute, yet very difficult for me to play it properly. I have to find the exact and precise position towards my nose.