Q6: How does the meditation shakuhachi differ from a flute made with the precision cast bore? Which model instrument is best for the beginning player to start out on?
A: The Meditation Shakuhachi is a simple bamboo flute designed for solo blowing. It is limited in many ways, but adequate to learn the dynamics of blowing at a minimal investment. It is excellent as a meditation flute, but not recommended or suitable for formal study with a teacher. Without fabricating the bore, it is impossible to attain the accuracy of pitch in the highest notes and resonant frequencies exhibited by the Student and Professional Models. Meditation flutes are frequently tuned to themselves rather than to standard pitch. To optimize the relationship between the octaves - given the larger bore diameter of natural bamboo - they are often tuned to a key lower than the standard "D".
Shakuhachi made with the precision cast bore are light-years ahead of both the meditation and beginner instruments in all respects. Players starting out on these flutes who decide to go deeper into shakuhachi, invariably upgrade to a precision cast bore instrument.
Some people have asked, "Why make these beginner instruments at all?" My feeling is that these instruments represent a doorway to a special world for those who would otherwise pass on by for lack of material resources. It's an easy, inexpensive way to get started. (More than one of the teachers listed in the Directory of Shakuhachi Teachers on this web site started out with a Tai Hei meditation model.)
Essentially, I regard shakuhachi as a tool whose true gift and greatest value can be accessed on one of these simple flutes as readily as on one of the most expensive and aesthetic of instruments.