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.

Jul 2, 2012

A Humanatone copy from 1997

Maikel Mei generously sent us a lot of plastic nose flutes made in China. These are Humanatone copies in very bright colors, which appeared in 1997 (check the end of this post). Bright colors, indeed, with very interesting shades, notably ranging from orange to pink.

Yes, this is a copy, and no brand or text appears on the nose flute (for sure no patent references), except "Made in China". This is the only detail that keeps from calling it a total forgery. Indeed, if you check a Hum-a-Tune from the end of the 60s, you can see a Humanatone copy, but some differences : no "true tremolo" hole, no heel at the bottom of the mouth shield... In this case, this is a real copy : exact same shape, same dimensions, same details, same angle of the nose scoop...

Even the printed wrapping is an "interpretation" very inspired by the original : Yes, the drawing has been "re-drawn", the brand name has disappeared, but the text and his typesettings are absolutely identical.

Well, there some differences. First, as we told before, no text or patent mentions appear on the flute, except "Made in China". But there are other ones.
The most obvious is the quality of the plastic material that has been use in the injection. The genuine Humanatone one is a bit soft (PVC?), and the chinese spin-off one is much more breakable. With this plastic, some moulding stigmata were left on the air duct cover :

But the easiest way to make you feel the difference in the plastic is a recording : first, you can hear a genuine Humanatone falling on my desk. Then the chinese copy, dropped the same way (but I had to amplify the original Humanatone recording), then followed by a scale played on each (I must admit I prefer the chinese copy sound (2nd scale), a bit less "windy"):

Another difference lays in the quality of production. The chinese "Hum" has been made with no care, and the bottom of the mouth shield is rather "worn". Is it because the Humanatone was directly copied by moulding it ?


On a similar topic :

- Hum-a-Tune : a vintage low grade copy
- Hum-a-Tune : different colors
- Bullwinkle's Hum-a-Tune and Humanatone
- Humanatone copy from 1997



  1. A very interesting remark you make here, Antoine: this nose flute could well have been made from a mould based directly on an original Humanatone. I wouldn't be surprised if this actually was the case, as it also very probably is with the 'new generation' of swans, "made in Germany"...

    I do have a question about the 'tremolo hole': could anybody tell me what this is about? I haven't got a clue how this 'hole' could ever produce a tremolo! To me, it is simply a hole drilled to be able to hang the instrument on a string around your neck!

  2. Dear Maikel,

    Thank you :) Well i'm not sure about "moulding the mould". I thought of what we discussed about the Swan on that topic, And I told me that if the mould was made "over" the original, the copy should have naturally been either the same, or **thicker** (and not thinner!) than the original...

    regarding the "true tremolo" hole : in Ernest W. Davis patent (the patent of the plastic Humanatone), Mr. Davis wrote :

    « A specific object is to enable the player to produce a true tremolo tone at will. »

    and then :

    « In the right wing 14 I provide a tapered tremolo aperture 32, with its large end outermost. This makes a large enough dimple in the outer surface so that the user’s finger can readily find it. With the part of the player’s mouth in a given position and the aperture 32 open, the air in the oral cavity will vibrate at a slightly lower frequency than when the aperture is closed. Thus the user, as clearly indicated in Figure 1, may use one finger, such as the index finger 34 of the right hand, to cover and uncover the aperture 32, and when this is done rapidly as by vibrating the finger across the aperture as idnicated (sic) by arrows 36 and 38 in Figure 1, a tremolo, or periodic oscillation in pitch may be obtained, the frequency of the oscillation depending on the speed of vibration of the finger 34.It will be apparent that it is a true tremolo as distinguished from a vibrato. With the aperture 32 either covered or uncovered, the player can produce a vibrato by varying the force used to produce the sound, although with such an instrument as this, the tremolo is a much more desirable musical effect. »

    Indeed, you can try, it gently works, but it works much better in the sharps than in the medium tonality range.

    check :