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.

Dec 1, 2012

Cello-Phone... cleaned!

I lengthily hesitated. Should I keep the Cello-Phone in her state or clean it. The fact is that patina is part of the history and soul of an object. But regarding a metal object that oxydizes, the question is a bit different: Is the patina protective or destructive? Would it have been a vintage japanese lacquered bowl, I surely wouldn't have touched it. But in the case of the Cello-Phone, there were nasty traces of corrosion.

More, I noticed that the patina was actually a coat of tar, probably a mix of smokes and grease, becoming bogged with dust and crud. So, I took the decision to clean it. With tepid and soapy water first, then with diluted metal cleaning product. I also cleaned the inside of the tube with smoking pipe cleaners (scratchy then fluffy) and got deciliters of deep black liquid before getting clear water back. Finally, I buffed the instrument with a soft cloth, and applied lemon oil all over it (and inside).

What a discovery! Until then, I thought the Cello-Phone nose saddle and Mouth shield were made of brass... and they are nickel or nickel-plated pieces! I also thought that the long tube was tin made, plated with copper... no, no, no! It is a brass tube, which was probably electroplated with nickel, since traces still appear! Big big changes!

I stopped my "restoration" there. I do not intend to re-plate the nickel, nor restore the solderings. More would be too much.

Needless to say that the playability has been greatly improved, probably thanks to the tube cleaning. The sound is still weak, dull and windy, but the bandwidth has enlarged and the attack got a bit sharper:



  1. Antoine, even though the "original" state of the Cello-phone really appealed to me in a sentimental, "historical" way, I am so happy that you decided to clean and protect the instrument. Now we can see and enjoy the truly original state, the way it was intended!

    As soon as I read the word "cleaned" in this post, I felt that the instrument would have improved considerably, and so it has, which is one more reason why you absolutely made the right decision.

    I totally agree with you and Luis about the labium. I wonder whether the airway could be placed on the other side of the mouth shield or could somehow be incorporated in the mouth shield? That could be an interesting experiment. It appears to me that this design resembles the approach of a panflute.

    I am afraid that the Cello-phone is a one-off, so there are possibly no more of its kind around... Is anything at all known about the patent? Could this have been the prototype or rather the demonstration model?

    The shadowplay in the final picture is fabulous. I wonder what it would look like on a quality white or even black surface with shades and reflections. I would definitely hang 100x150 pictures of this printed on aluminium or acrylic on my wall. A whole series of nose flutes would make a grand exhibition!

  2. Dear Maikel,

    Thanks for your comment. Indeed, I do not regtret at all to have cleaned the Cello-Phone.
    I don't think it was a prototype, since it's stamped like a patent pending object. However, niet, I found **nothing** about it. The patent might also have been rejected (applied for, but not registered).

    Yes, the shadow of this nose flute is great. I will probably make other pictures of it...