A long-body flute by Pask



As we saw in the previous articles, Pask is well known for his Improved-era flutes and in particular, as the maker of Ribas's Improved.  So it was a little surprising to come across this long-body style flute marked (unicorn head) / PASK / STRAND / LONDON.

Indeed, the first suspicion is that we are just looking at a re-badged Pratten's Perfected, but there are some clear stylistic and acoustic differences:

  • Half-round rings, rather than the Pratten's Omega shaped
  • A Rudall style cylindrical cap rather than the Pratten's domed cap
  • Wooden ball type indicator rather than Pratten's metal rod
  • 9mm threaded stopper shaft compared to 11.5mm
  • Bb block and key located 8mm higher
  • Long F key-hole located 2mm higher
  • Finger holes well undercut
  • No striker plates under key-springs
  • Subtle differences between key shapes
  • Cork dot silencers are smaller
  • A wider profile to the G# block
  • Cups and pads rather than pewter plugs on C and C#
  • Foot 4mm longer
  • End of foot cut off squarely, rather than Pratten's domed look. 

While the differences are sufficient to suggest it wasn't made by Boosey and re-badged by Pask, the similarities are enough to make us assume it was at least inspired by the Pratten's Perfected.  The C# to Eb length is 247mm, a smidge longer than the Boosey Pratten's 245mm, which might indicate a slightly lower best pitch.

Pask flute, Cocus and Nickel Silver, McGee-Flutes Research Collection

It's tempting to believe that the flute fits into the 1869-71: John Pask & Co, 36 Strand period.

An interesting surprise

Pulling the keys off to enable proper measurements to be made reveals an interesting surprise - the underside of three of the longer keys neatly stamped WYLDE.  This no doubt is the Wylde who had worked with Rudall & Rose and then went out on his own.  So did he make just the keys or the whole flute?

I imagine that he just supplied the keys, or he might have found an inconspicuous place to stamp his name on the woodwork too.  If he did, I haven't found it so far!

A few measurements

The bore of a flute is so important in defining its characteristics, so let's start there.  The graph below sets out the Pask in navy compared with the Prattens in pink, the Siccama in yellow and a typical Rudall in aqua.  It's pretty obvious that the Pask follows the general shape of the Prattens/Siccama bore, with just a few perturbations.

The other interesting thing is the difference in location (but not size) of the short F and long F key holes - about 3mm.  A matter of convenience or carefully done to permit the two keys to achieve differing results?

So, certainly not a straight copy of a Pratten's but too close to it to say it wasn't heavily influenced by it.

What's to be done with it?

Firstly, it's going to need a little work - there are the inevitable shrinkage cracks in the lined head and barrel, and the pads - which could well be the originals - have seen better days.  Encouragingly, it already plays strongly down to bottom D if a good head is fitted and the missing short F pad is temporarily replaced.

Once restored to full operation, the performance will be analysed to see how well it works.  So come back from time to time and see how we're progressing!

And if you have any information about other flutes by Pask, get in touch!


My thanks to Robert Bigio, London maker and researcher for locating and suppling the flute.

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