Rich Halliburton's Querencia Flutes

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Location: Hermosa Beach, California, United States

After building flutes for a number of years now, I sneeze sawdust, and it scares my cat. That being said, it is however an absolute drop dead, no joke passion for me. When I'm not eating sawdust, I'm searching the entire planet for the most beautiful, exotic/bizarre woods, and gemstones I can find. I plow every dime back into purchasing these items, in addition to a few margarita supplies....... I don't follow, or pretend to understand a lot of the cardinal rules of flutemaking, and the end product seems to indicate I'm better off for it. PLUS, I continue to make great friends on a daily basis, most of whom possess humbling talent. ...Ya won't find that working at a carwash, even if it does pay better.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Hawaiian Curly Koa Gm


In flute making,  I’m particularly fond of equatorial hardwoods, for their beauty and voicing. My tools are never fond of them. Ever. This is Hawaiian curly Koa. It has a 1” bore diameter, and is tuned to Gm. I had other Hawaiian hardwoods available, lychee and mango mostly, but wasn’t thrilled with the boards available to me.  I cut the fetish block to look like the “Io” which is a hawk indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands. It doesn’t look like the Io. ……..not even close. Other materials include abalone, freshwater coin pearls, Hawaiian jasper, hematite, Australian boulder opal, labradorite and turquoise. Other woods include anigre, walnut burl, mappa burl, and amboyna burl, the most expensive burl in the world, thanks to Chinese hoarding. Both the labradorite and Hawaiian jasper are coveted for their healing properties. This then, wraps up the first build for 2023. I hope 2023 works out better for you than 2022 did for me. Play nice.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

A Brief Dance with Physics


I decided I wanted to defy the laws of physics, and build a flute with a 7/8” bore diameter…over two ft. long, tuned to E4m. Shortly thereafter, I decided there are some rules of acoustics that have no work around. I could have pulled it off, if I was building something like a train whistle. I didn’t want a train whistle. I also didn’t want to chop 6 inches off the end and lose the beautiful contrast in this “rainbow” poplar. Poplar is a fuzzy, open grain soft wood, most notably used in making cardboard boxes…..and toilet paper. The rainbow designation is an effort by lumber peddlers,  to glamorize the random mineral uptake by the tree during growth cycles. Nothing more.


In keeping the original length, I cut in a tuning hole, bringing the fundamental tuning to F4m. In my mind’s eye, it is a stylized dragonfly, with powdered inlay of Ethiopian jasper, Arizona turquoise, coyote bone, New Mexico pipestone, lapis lazuli, and malachite. Additionally, and this was a surprise, while I was busy cutting the fetish of two opposing ponies that I call “Fight or Flight”, my wife was above me on our deck, taking random photos of the storm clouds out over the ocean. When she showed me her handiwork, I saw what looked like my fetish block in one of the photos, and almost sprayed my cocktail all over her phone.


Additional materials include spiny oyster, abalone, Mexican boulder opal, turquoise, almandine garnet, and Mexican crazy lace agate…….Have a joyous holiday, celebrating whatever it is you like to celebrate. Play nice.

Sunday, December 11, 2022


So while I was downstairs in my shop fashioning the fetish block for my latest instrument, my bride, Ms. Denise was up on our deck, taking random photos of the storm clouds brewing out over the ocean. When she came down to show me the result, the cloud formation in the lower right corner almost caused me to spray my cocktail all over her phone. An uncanny resemblance to my "Fight or Flight" opposing ponies fetish. 

Monday, November 21, 2022

Another tribute to the Zuni Pueblo


So I again tried to create a shade tree tribute to the people of the Zuni Pueblo. A people who’s culture, language, and spirituality are unique among Pueblo tribes, and who have by and large been unaffected by the challenges and influences of warring Apache, Spanish conquest, the Catholic church, all the way down to the National Park Service and the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Today, the Zuni remain isolated, deeply religious, cohesive, and peace loving.  Their purity of spirit, reverence for their ancestors, and clarity of purpose, magnify their mystery.

This instrument is built from SE Asian Paldao. It’s tuned to F#m with a 7/8” bore diameter, and an overall length of 22-1/4”. Additional woods include California buckeye burl, SE Asian thuya burl, and Oklahoma red cedar. The remaining Zuni accents, include inlay powders of Sleeping Beauty mine turquoise, San Juan Basin NM coal, Mexican limonite, coyote bone, and New Mexico pipestone. The fox fetish was cut from Picasso marble, by  Zuni artist Gabriel Boone, while the small Zuni channel inlay south of the fetish consists of turquoise, red coral, lapis, and spiny oyster, set in sterling silver. Additional stones include turquoise, and spiny oyster cabs. Play nice and have a stress free Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Something a little Different

Yep……, this flute has yet another bird for the fetish block. However, the flute itself is significantly different; It has an Amaj melodic tuning, in a Hitzaz (Ousak) scale. The 8 note sequences of this scale are divided into what are known as maqams. Countries throughout the Middle East, each have a number of these sequences that are tied to national heritage, and religion. Sort of like trademarks. There are approximately 50-60 of these sequences, and mine uses a thumb hole to achieve the highest note. Specifically, I consider mine kind of a wobbler, in that it is a Turkish sequence, but if the third note in the scale were to be lowered a semi-tone from C#, to C, it actually becomes Greek. Practice will be the key to this instrument, as muscle memory associated with a standard Native American style flute, goes out the window, particularly with a thumb hole. I’ve placed a rawhide wrap directly north or above that thumb hole, hoping it will be easier to find sight unseen during play. I thought about dishing the hole, but that reduces half holing options, and gave it up years ago. A search on Wikipedia for “Arabic Maqam” will provide a dizzying amount of information on the subject.

Ingredients of this instrument include Oklahoma red cedar, canary wood, Bethlehem olive, walnut burl, yew burl and mappa burl. Stone work includes Ethiopian fire opal, turquoise, labradorite, abalone, spiny oyster, almandine garnet, Brazilian azotic topaz, and hematite beads.

Thanks for visiting my page. Go out and play nice and don’t run with scissors.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Clarity and Fuzzy woods are not Friends


So I tried hardening the bore of this “Rainbow” poplar F#m flute, without a ton of success. In addition to having large cellular voids like cedar, which dampen the ringing voice typical of a hardwood, the material is fuzzy as well. Fuzzy does not help with clarity. Again, This wood doesn’t look like any rainbow I’ve seen on this planet, and is just an effort to glamorize a material best known for manufacturing cardboard boxes. Despite the stark contrast in color between the top and bottom half of this flute, they both came from the same mineralized slab of wood.

Remaining ingredients include CA buckeye burl, SE Asian amboyna burl, Hawaiian koa, box elder burl, and abalone. Inlay includes, Brazilian azotic topaz, hematite, Mexican crazy lace agate, Mexican boulder opal, turquoise, and amber.

And yep, the fetish is another bird. In this case, the Archaeopteryx, which most of you know to be a 150 million year old Jurassic parrot, or sparrow according to the internet.  Lastly, the serpent motif at the foot, or far end, is a tuning hole into the bore, cut to bring the instrument into a fundamental of F#m. Play nice, and stay safe.

Saturday, September 03, 2022

Happy Birthday Leonard

During my 20 years in the flute trade, I’ve met many great performers and makers. Three stand out as being most influential in this journey, One continues in that capacity, one hasn’t spoken to me in about 9 years, and the third is dead. That third, was an inspirational breath of fresh air by the name of Leonard Lone Crow McGann. He passed away at 61. back in 2013. We first met at the Oklahoma Flute Festival in 2007, where I humbly won first place in the flutemakers competition. I purchased one of his instruments at that event.

Thereafter, my first effort to contact him was by phone. His wife Ms.Kitty, answered the phone, and after introducing myself, stated “He’s down the road cuttin’ firewood for the stove”. After hearing that, I asked myself “Where the Hell does this guy live?”……His address, in the hills of Virginia, was on Difficult Creek Road, outside Bedford. That began 6 years of late night phone calls talking about anything, and everything. During one such call, I did a Google Earth search during our conversation, and found his property, predictably, in the middle of nowhere. I saw a circular dirt driveway, passing a barn, the main house, some sheds, and a small vegetable garden. There were 3-4 trees in the center of this drive, and an odd blue dot, among the trees. Since the photo was taken from space, the blue dot looked completely out of place. I asked, “Leonard, do you have a Jacuzzi out there in the middle of your property?” He thought a moment, and said “Aw, no. It’s a poly tarp tied to the trees so my dogs can get out of the rain.”….That was Leonard. His birthday is this month, and he would have been 70 years of age. I just finished a flute in time for his birthday.

This flute has a different tuning. Specifically it’s tuned to modes 2 and 5. Pioneered by Leonard, this tuning has the player hold down the 4th or 5th hole from the mouthpiece, as opposed to the 3rd or 4th, providing celtic and other major chromatic options. Leonard typically built these from cedar, with a ¾” bore diameter, and are very manageable. Mine on the other hand, not so much. Mine is cut from Indonesian paldao, with a 1” bore diameter and is almost two feet long. The hole closest to the foot, is 20” from the mouthpiece, so a long reach is necessary as well as greater lung capacity. The term “Go big or go home” has some practical limitations. Having said that, I wanted to create an homage to Lone Crow for his birthday month. Happy Birthday Leonard. Ingredients of this instrument include African ebony, alowood, amboyna burl, hematite, Ukrainian pyrite, almandine garnet, abalone, and powdered  Arizona turquoise, chrysocolla, and New Mexico pipestone.