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.

May 7, 2012

Amplified nose flutes by Maikel Mei

Have you ever tried to amplify your nose flute ? I did, and I can tezll you it's a pain in the neck. For sure, you still have the solution of playing in front of a microphone, but so, you are not really free of you moves. The best solution would surely be a contact piezo pickup, and that's what I tried. Result : no real place large enough to stick the pickup, and anyway, a very weak sound, leading to much background noise (and feedback). So, I gave up for the moment.

Our Dutch friend Maikel Mei, well known on this blog (see his works here and here, and his magnificient silver flute here), did it with much cleaverness, modifying the flutes.

« The first time I played with a specific microphone was in 1998, when I teamed up with one of the best Dutch guitar players around. We looked at the idea of creating an electric sound for the nose flute. We accomplished this by attaching a contact microphone close up to the labium and running the jack through a series of stompboxes such as wah wah, reverb, chorus, distortion and delay. As my 'partner in crime' applied the effects while I was improvising on Brian May's 'Brighton Rock Solo', we were both absolutely blown away by the result. »

So, what did he do?

« Out of a bag of 50 'Swan logo' nose flutes, I created 12 good-sounding flutes, by taking off all the lids and trying them on each body. I enhanced each of these 12 flutes with a different extended lower lip rest, so that I could attach the contact microphone to it properly. I used (cut up) parts of 'Swan logo' nose flutes and of Humanatones to create these extensions. For the final version I actually used 2 plastic guitar plectrums. »

Then, having extended the vibrating zone, he just stuck a piezo pickup...

« This contact microphone was purchased from specialist contact mic maker and recorder Jez Riley French, based in the UK. It is a flawless amplifying device used by several professional performing and recording artists, including flautists. Attached to the instrument, the contact mic picks up all vibrations produced, which can add greatly to the sound of the instrument. The jack is a standard one to plug straight into an amplifier and a stompbox or a multi effects box of your choice. The cable length is 5 meters, so as to have the freedom to move on stage. »


  1. Very impressing! It is a pity that there are no recordings available. Maybe Mr. Mei can do something about that one day? A little youtube film? I would love to hear and see him performing (any live gigs??)