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 11, 2016

4 Hanabue by Tida (Nobuyuki Takaba)

'太陽(てぃだ)'('Tida':'The Sun' in Okinawan dialect) is a little workshop in Tsu (Mie Prefecture), Japan, held by Mr. Takaba Nobuyuki, who began producing nose flutes December 2014.

Takaba-san has already handcrafted about 80 hanabue, and will present his work at the Saitama Nose Flute Exhibition (June 14 to 19).

M. Nobuyuki Takaba also makes interesting devices dedicated to fasten a nose flute to a mike stand:


I ordered four Tida hanabue. All Nobuyuki's 'Solar Nose Flutes' are crafted with much care in the choice of the woods. They are generally made with 3 pieces of wood, although early ones were composed of 4. They all are individually numbered and finished either with beeswax or a mixture of beeswax and rapeseed oil.

#23: Rosewood (cypress airway) - Oil finish

This early model was made with 4 pieces of wood. Indeed, a thin cypress shim goes along the airway and forms its inner wall on the rear side. It is a small flute (4.4 x 6.2cm), very smooth and well finished, unless the nose cavity (see below), which a bit coarse. All in all, this is a nice little nose flute, very agreable to play, sharp oriented and loud.

#32: Ebony - Oil finish

This darky is a super small baby (4.8 x 5.0cm) and is very funny. The air intake – at the bottom of the nose bowl – is a very thin cut line (less than 1 mm!!). Since the nose bowl, which is far better finished than on #23, collects the breath, the is no problem to align nostrils and intake. However, the flute is lightly squeaky in the very sharp notes.

#37: Zelkova - Oil finish

A small instrument again (5.0x5.5cm), with a slightly more woody sound. The intake is less wide, but also just a bit less thin (1mm). No squeaking problems noticed, and a rather wide tone range.

#67: Jirikote - Beeswax finish

This flute is the most recent among the four. It certainly dates of 2016, and I can notice a real improvement in the finishings. The nose bowl has now a peanut shape and is smooth and regular. It measures 4.9x5.6cm, but is a bit thicker that the other ones. The two-colored Jirikote wood is stunning, and the flute is a real little wooden jewel in the hand. Without any doubt, Takaba-san evolved in his craft, and the flute is loud, precise, quick...


Each Solar Nose Flute is provided with a plastic cord, with a pair of chromed beads, and an unscrewable fastener, that allows to remove quickly the cord from the flute. Any of the Tifa hanabue is numbered, and a little wooden label is mounted on the cord, with the number engraved. Each flute comes also with its identity card, detailing the woods used, the finishing, and the serial number.

As said before, a great care is applied to the choice of the woods. Here are some details of my #67, made in a beautiful piece of Jirikote. Please notice the 'peanut' shape of the nose bowl, and its nice and smooth finish (last pic.):


Whether there is (always) a place for improvement – in a total perfect finishing and sound purity –, the Tida nose flutes have really quickly evolved in a good way, reaching now a good fair level of quality and playability. The woods used are beautiful and the details (cord, beads, label with sn#, id. card) make them desirable instruments.

Here is a short sound sample, please excuse my unsecure playing, it was 5:30 in the morning :)

We wish Mr. Takaba Nobuyuki a good success at Saitama Nose Flute Fair next week, and to continue to produce great and beautiful Solar hanabue!

Jun 10, 2016

75th Anniversary of the plastic Humanatone!

Filed Jan. 22, 1940 by Ernest W. Davis (NFHoF), the patent of what became the plastic Humanatone (in 1943) was registered on 10th of June, 1941, exactly 75 years ago!

We all know that the 'Hum' is not the best nose flute – could I dare to say it is the worst mass produced one – but it has been much better by the past. The plastics used have evolved in a bad way: whether the 1943+ models were roughly injected in a low grade plastic (celluloid?), the Fred Gretsch Mfg Co. quickly turned to a nice polystyren, stiff and crispy, yet light, nicely sounding. But on the turn of the 1980-90s, Trophy Music Co. bought the brand and began a production in a cheap, soft and dull sounding PVC (not from the beginning however, there were polystyren Trophy Music versions, then translucent red ones, then only the PVC).

The original shape evolved a bit at the early stages: the nose scoop got sharper, the 'true tremolo' hole stopped to been chamfered, the wingspan was reduced a bit while the mouth hole made bigger, and a heal was added to the bottom of the mouth shield. All by Grestch, on their late models.

Besides the bad quality of the plastic, we all know that the main feature that turns the Humanatone to a cheap toy is the very broad mouth hole: clog the bottom third of this hole by a piece of bristol (or better: a piece of aluminium), and the Hum immediately sounds better (but sharper). This is maybe the reason of its success: a sturdy, sharp and loud instrument would have frightened the parents! Better buy a barely sounding toy, more 'windy-woody' than sharp and crisp, and better, that the kido will break after an afternoon of use.

However, in the 1940s, the Humanatone was also specially packaged to be sent to the 'buoys' fighting in the Pacific. No more dedicated to concertists, as the original metal one was, but to kids and soldiers.

The early models were incredibly psychedelic, with swirled and marbled colours! But Gretsch rationalized its catalogue and began to produce only plain color Humanatones. Red, yellow, blue, brown, black. Then Trophy Music froze the range to the current 6 tones: yellow, orange, red, purple, navy blue and green.

In the 1950-60, the Humanatone was also produced in a tin version, made in Japan.
The Hum was copied. By the Hum-a-Tune, produced in Hong-Kong in 1969, rebranded into 'Bullwinkle's Hum-a-Tune', but also by an anonymous chinese production, in the 90s. But the Humanatone continued its road, sold under different disguises, like the Topps Nose Flute version in the 1960s, the Dr. B. B. Bumpstead's Musical Respirator, the Amazing Nose Flute in 2005, or even by Trophy Music itself with the 1st Note Nose flute. It was even used as a promotional toy for a nasal spray!

The Humanatone was also the object of all my affection in my very first video, very first post of this blog on 9th of August, 2011:


So, despite your numerous flaws, your cheap make, your deep crappiness, you're the one with the biggest success and longevity, and this must necessarily mean something…

Happy birthday, Grandma!