Wet Out and the Native American Style Flute


The most annoying problem associated with playing the Native American style flute is called “wet out”. Wet out is caused by condensed moisture accumulating in the flue of the flute. The difference in temperature between the humid air coming out of the lungs and the cooler inner surfaces of the flute causes condensation inside the flute. Droplets of condensed moisture impede the flow of air through the flue and distort to sound of the flute. When this happens you must stop playing, remove the bird, wipe and blow out the moisture and then replace the bird. It usually takes 10 or 15 minutes of continuous playing before a Love flute wets out. Wet out is more of a problem in colder conditions.

Some Native American style flute players are not bothered by wet out. For others it is a major problem. Because I was plagued by wet out myself I have done a lot of experimenting to find a solution.

 


A Solution for Love Flute Wet Out


Flute Wet Out ProtectionI have discovered that it is possible to stop wet out by lining the flue of the Love flute and the bottom of the bird with an absorbent hydrophilic plastic material. The plastic absorbs moisture like a sponge without changing dimension. Even when saturated the surface of the plastic has a surfactant quality. This prevents moisture from beading up on the surface of the plastic.  Instead it sheets off into the barrel of the flute. It is droplets of water in the flue that distort the flow of air. Sometimes airflow is stopped completely.

I have developed a method of retrofitting an existing Love flute with this hydrophilic plastic. This involves routing out a groove on the bottom of the bird and the flue of the flute.  Next, I seal the resulting raw wood surfaces with two coats of polyurethane sanding between coats. Finally I must hand fit the plastic into the bird and flute and glue the pieces in place. Each piece of plastic must be carefully dimensioned.

Because this is a time consuming procedure I have to charge and additional $40 for wet out protection. Also because of the difficulty I have in reselling flutes with wetout, if you buy a flute with wetout and choose to return it, the cost of the wetout will be deducted from your refund.