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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What ocarina(s) do you recommend I start with?

2. What are the differences between the 4 materials that our ocarinas are made of?

3. Do the more expensive ocarinas sound better than the polycarbonate ocarinas?

4. Are your ocarinas accurately tuned?

5. Why does the C ocarina have one less hole than the G instrument? Does it have one less note?

6. What type of hardwood are your flutes made out of?

7. If I were only going to buy one, should I purchase the G or the C ocarina?

8. Should I curve my fingers when I play your ocarinas?

9. Can you explain the how you flute's fingering works?

10. What is the tonal range of your ocarinas?

11. I have large hands. Can I still play your ocarinas?

12. How often do you have to clean your ocarinas?

13. How much is shipping? Do you ship worldwide?


More information about our ocarinas...


What ocarina(s) do you recommend I start with?

If possible, we recommend starting with both a C and a G polycarbonate ocarina. Why? Well, I feel best when clients order both instruments because, even though the two differ in character and tonal range, you play the two in the same way, in other words the two instrument differ in character and tonal range. Most people will enjoy having both, often more than they initially realize.

If you have to choose one key to get started, a key of G may be your best choice. From talking with teachers who use our instruments in music education co-ops, we feel that the G ocarina might be slightly easier at first, though all our ocarinas are easy to learn to play relative to most other instruments. Also, the key of G works best with our Learning to Play Mountain Ocarinas® music curriculum because songs on the companion CDs are recorded on a G ocarina.

If you want to compare the difference in size between the G and the C ocarina, please see this discusssion on ocarina thickness in our forum.

Polycarbonate or hardwood/Corian/aluminum? First of all, the polycarbonate ocarinas are a great place to start for most people. These are quality instruments that play beautifully and are virtually indestructible. Even though a lot of our clients who fall in love with their ocarinas tend to upgrade to one of our higher end instruments, their polycarbonate instruments still have a place. (Some folks upgrade around birthdays or at Christmas time.) For instance, there may be times --a day spent caving or at the beach-- when you don't want to abuse your show piece ocarina. All our ocarinas are pretty tough, but you might not want to scratch one up. I'm an avid hiker and father, so I'm just about always wearing a polycarbonate G ocarina around my neck (including now, as I type this).


What are the differences between the 4 materials that our ocarinas are made of?

  Summary Advantages Surface Weight
Hardwood Phenolic resin impregnated hardwood Significantly more moisture resistant than non-resin woods, tougher than non-resin woods Highly polished wood 3
WarmStone Collection Appearance of ivory inlaid with malachite, made of Corian® solid surface composite materials Highest surface finish, nonporous material which is unaffected by moisture, strongest construction Highest gloss finish, glassy, seamless appearance 2
Aluminum Machined aircraft grade aluminum Hardcoat anodized, very hard surface, excellent scratch resistance, very solid and hefty feel Brass/gold color 1 (heaviest)
Polycarbonate Extremely tough and durable polycarbonate construction Toughest, most durable, least expensive, high impact resistance Textured such that surface is the most scratch resistant of the 4 materials 4 (lightest)

Notes:
  • It has been difficult for us to capture the stunning appearance of the WarmStone Collection and aluminum ocarinas with our photographs. The beauty of the hardwood has been relatively easy to capture.
  • The WarmStone Collection has the highest polish and shine in its surface finish. When people see these ocarinas in person, they are often quite impressed with the shine, lustre and feel. It has been difficult to capture this with pictures.
  • The highest bond strengths are achieved with the WarmStone Collection Corian® ocarinas. This is due to the chemical composition of the Corian® and the adhesives that are used to bond the pieces together. The pieces are basically "melted together" to make one solid piece. The "one piece" nature of the ivory ocarinas allows them to have the most seamless joints of the 4 materials, and in my opinion, the most striking finish.
  • The aluminum ocarinas have a stunning brass/gold color that looks much like carefully brushed brass. They are the heaviest of our ocarinas and have a very solid, substantial, hefty feel. Some people comment that they have a modern, high-tech look.


Do the more exotic ocarinas sound better than the polycarbonate models?

The simple answer is no. The more precise answer is that there are very subtle differences in sound, but the differences are quite small. It is difficult for most people to distinguish the difference. If I had to put into words, I would say that the more expensive ocarinas have a slightly more solid sound.


Are your ocarinas accurately tuned?

Yes. Our ocarinas are accurately tuned. However, one thing to keep in mind is that ocarinas (and many other folk flutes) are affected by blowing pressure. In other words, as you blow harder, pitch rises. Thus, playing in tune is akin to singing in tune. You listen to surrounding musicians and play accordingly. For example, if you are slightly flat in relation to other musicians, you play with a little more breath pressure. This becomes more natural after you have played the instrument a while and have made it your own.


Why does the C ocarina have one less hole than the G instrument? Does it have one less note?

Both ocarinas play the same number of notes.

Both our C and G ocarinas follow the same linear fingering pattern, both are fully chromatic without half covering toneholes, and both play an extra low note. The only difference in fingering between the two is that you cover an extra left pinky tonehole to play that low note on the G ocarina whereas you blow differently to play the lowest note on the C ocarina.

Omitting the lowest note referred to above, here is the basic fingering pattern to sound the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, and E on our C ocarina. Start with all nine toneholes covered: four fingers on the right hand, three fingers on the left hand, and two thumbholes. Blow into the ocarina to sound a low C. Raise your right pinky to sound a D, then your right ring finger to sound an E, then your right middle finger to sound an F, then your right index finger, then your left ring finger, then your left middle finger, then your left index finger, then your right thumb, and finally your left thumb. In other words, 1) right hand fingers, 2) left hand fingers, 3) right thumb, and 4) left thumb.


What type of hardwood are your flutes made out of?

We now make all of our ocarinas out of a type of phenolic-impregnated hardwood called Dymondwood®. Through a process involving heat and vacuum pressure, the capillaries of the wood are filled in with phenolic resins. As a result, the wood is not only very beautiful but it is also stabilized, making it extremely resistant to changes in humidity, temperature, etc. For that reason, our ocarinas require no "break-in" period or oiling. Dymondwood® can be a bit difficult to work because it is so hard, but the end result is well worth the effort.

Because we use phenolic-impregnated wood for all our instruments and we make them to strict tolerances, the sound quality is very consistent from one instrument to another. In other instruments, the woods may significantly affect the sound quality. For example, the woods used to make stringed instruments are very important because parts of the instrument (such as strings, soundboards, etc.) actually vibrate, contributing to the quality of sound. With ocarinas, however, it is primarily the air that vibrates rather than the instrument itself. I have prototyped using all types of woods and other suitable materials. My findings are that, after a certain minimum threshold of hardness, the type of wood has little impact on sound. Rather, the quality of design and the precision with which one adheres to the design are what impact sound quality. Other ocarina makers have come to similar conclusions.


If I were only going to buy one, should I purchase the G or the C ocarina?

We recommend starting with the G, but both are very useful depending on the song, the mood, the situation, whom you are playing with, etc.

I suggest that you learn with the key of G ocarina since it works best with our "Learning to Play Mountain Ocarinas" curriculum. The recordings for the curriculum were made with a G ocarina. It is a smaller instrument and thus more portable, and personally I think the G is a better looking instrument.

Listen to the below two songs each played on both a C and a G ocarina.

Spancil Hill (C)      Spancil Hill (G)

The Spinning Wheel (C)      The Spinning Wheel (G)

I like to encourage people to own both the G and C ocarinas, not because that means an extra sale for our company, but because I think they will enjoy having both more than they initially realize. If you are sure you only want one, the G is what I generally recommend.

If you want to compare the difference in size between the G and the C ocarina, please see this discusssion on ocarina thickness in our forum.


Should I curve my fingers when I play your ocarinas?

Yes. Our ocarinas are best played with curved fingers, although you can keep the pinkies straight.


Can you explain the how you flute's fingering works?

The fingering of our G and C ocarinas is exactly the same except for an extra low note below the lowest note on the scale. The G ocarina uses an additional left pinky finger tonehole to play that note. The equivalent note on the C ocarina is played by blowing more softly.

Here are the basic fingerings for our C ocarinas--without the sharps and flats. (The same fingering pattern also applies to our G ocarinas.) Start with all nine toneholes covered and blow to play a C. Then raise your right pinky to play a D, then your right ring finger to play an E, then your right middle finger to play an F, then your right index finger to play a G, then your left ring finger to play an A, then your left middle finger to play a B, then your left index finger to play a C, then your right thumb to play a D, and finally your left thumb to play an E. In other words, 1) right hand fingers, 2) left hand fingers, 3) right thumb, and 4) left thumb. (Of course, I already mentioned the low B in an earlier paragraph of this email.)

As far as chromatic notes, they are played by different fingerings, so you don't have to half-cover toneholes to play the sharps and flats. For example, a "B" is played by covering the left index finger tonehole and the two thumb toneholes, whereas a Bb is played by covering the left middle finger tonehole and the two thumb toneholes.


What is the tonal range of your ocarinas?

The reading range of our ocarinas is B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E with all the sharps and flats, so you can play any songs that fit that range. Because this is the comfortable vocal range, there is virtually unlimited music in this range, but your recorder and tin whistle books may or may not work well.

Also, in the same way that they teach you to play tin whistles in different keys as D whistles, we teach you to read music with our G ocarina as if it were a C ocarina. Thus, the G and C ocarinas finger identically. However, in our Favorite Carols in Easy Keys book, we include a simple tutorial that quickly teaches you to read music with the G ocarina as a true G instrument so that your range would be as follows: F#, G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G, A, B with all the sharps and flats. In this range, I pick up a lot of fiddle and tin whistle music and anything written for the Highland Bagpipes or Irish Warpipes.

The tonal range of our C ocarina is: B4 - E6. The tonal range of our G ocarina is 5 steps higher: F#5 - B6.


I have large hands. Can I still play your ocarinas?

Yes. I have large hands (I wear extra large gloves), and I love playing the G (smaller instrument) as well as the C. One thing to keep in mind is that our ocarinas are best played with curved fingers (unlike some other instruments which are played best with flat fingers). If you have large hands and tried to play our instruments with flat fingers, you may find it difficult. I haven't run in to any customers (yet) whose fingers were too large to play our ocarinas.


How often do you have to clean your ocarinas?

Our ocarinas are very carefree. Under ordinary circumstances, you really don't have to clean the sound chamber. After playing, just store your ocarina in a case or bag that breathes well, i.e., not a plastic bag.

The only cleaning our ocarinas usually need is an OCCASIONAL polishing of the windway with a piece of folded paper. On the fingering/tips sheet included with each ocarina, we explain how to polish the windway every once in a while.

Why don't you have to clean your ocarina's sound chamber after each use? After all, the sound of tubular woodwinds --especially the recorder-- will degenerate over time if you don't swab out the bore after each playing session. Well, unlike tubular flutes, the sound of vessel flutes (such as ocarinas) is not affected by moisture in the chamber. Also, the sound chamber of our flutes is small, open, and well-aerated by many holes, so they dry out nicely after each playing.

What about swelling of the windway and toneholes after a long practice session? You don't have to worry about that with our hardwood ocarinas. We now use a resin liner in all our ocarinas to protect the wood from moisture problems such as swelling, cracking, coming unglued, etc. As a result, our ocarinas don't require an initial "break-in" period, and there is no limit to how long you can play your ocarina in a single session. If your ocarina were ever to crack, etc., we guarantee our ocarinas for life against accidental breakage.

Here's an example of how carefree Mountain Ocarinas are. At large conventions, I sit at our booth and literally play my ocarina all day. At the end of the day, I tuck my ocarina into a cell phone case and head home. The next day I simply slip out my ocarina and play it again with no problems whatsoever. Please note: If you store your ocarina in your pocket, we suggest that you keep it in some kind of breathable case. This will protect your ocarina from lint and from tiny scratches at the hands of the abrasive stuff that lurks in pockets.


How much is shipping? Do you ship worldwide?

You can find out how much shipping is by adding items to the shopping cart... and continuing to the next page. Shipping costs will then be displayed on the page.

We do ship worldwide.

We ship all orders via the US Postal Service. US orders are shipped via USPS Priority Mail. International orders are shipped via USPS International Priority Mail. Orders are shipped from Connecticut.

We try to ship orders in 1 to 2 business days. If we expect a delay in fulfilling your order we will notify you by email. When we ship your order, we make a request to the USPS to send you an email containing your delivery confirmation number.

We do not charge the customer for any customs fees, nor do we pay any customs fees on the customer's behalf. We are required to fill out actual sales prices on forms we submit to the U.S. Postal Service for foreign shipments. We cannot accommodate requests to submit lower amounts on the value of the goods shipped.


More information about our ocarinas...


  Listen...
 The Black Nag
 Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye
 Cumberland Crew (w/accompaniment)
 Lovely Joan
 Bridget Cruise (w/accompaniment)
 Shady Grove
 Mist Covered Mountains (w/accompaniment)
 A Bunch of Thyme
 An Boithrin Bui
 Barbara Allen
 Brochan Lom
 By the Rising of the Moon
     More music...

  Watch...

  Our Ocarinas  
About Our Ocarinas  

Hardwood
Key of "G"

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Hardwood
Key of "C"

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WarmStone Collection
Key of "G"

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WarmStone Collection
Key of "C"

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Aluminum
Key of "G"

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Aluminum
Key of "C"

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Polycarbonate
Key of "G"

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Polycarbonate
Key of "C"

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