The number of Native American style flute makers is growing everyday. It's getting harder and harder to find flutes that are different enough and also well made to fork over the money for another flute. However these makers are out there -which is good for NAF enthusiasts but bad for bank balances- and one of these is John Stillwell of Ancient Territories flutes.
I first met John at the debut meeting of the Inland Empire Flute Circle and it was obvious that he was doing things that I had never seen before. At that time all of his flutes had end caps made of multiple layers of contrasting colored wood in a distinctive chevron pattern. The workmanship was first rate. Turns out John has a background in cabeint making so he knows how to work with wood. The other difference was that instead of cutting his blanks on the horizonal he cuts most of his on the vertical so that the seam runs through the finger holes and sound holes. The final touch was that the flutes flaired slightly on the top making for a subtile flatting of the finger board, the top of the flute where the finger holes are.
All of this made for a very unusual looking flute. They also sounded good too and since that time John has constantly experimented to make his flutes even better.
For good or for bad many flute makers stop experimenting once they get a template that works for them. For many makers this is not a problem once they get a good sounding flute. John however seems to be driven to strive for the next level of his craft.
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