Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

I am considering ordering a Martin Doyle keyless flute. My budget could just about reach to the non tuneable model. I am thinking that the tuneable model might be a better choice, but it is another 300 euro. Any thoughs or advice please ?

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Hi.
I love my non-tunable rosewood Doyle flute and have never missed or needed a tuningslide.
The tuning is spot on and I even got a tip from a fellow member here to learn to play a non-tunable flute first to develop a good embouchure.
Ketil

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

I have a Doyle Celtic and have never moved the head more than a millimeter for tuning. I also have a standard Doyle with keys from Mauice Reviol and don’t move the slide at all. The tuning on both is spot on. That said, I’m not playing with folks who have instruments not at A440 and I haven’t had to deal with wide temperature or humidity variations. Martin makes outstanding instruments, and you can always add a slide later if you feel the need. There’s no surcharge for adding it later. You’ll likely keep the flute, though. It’s a lot of instrument for the money.

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Get the non-tunable. Listen carefully and your will learn to tune with your lips.
I love my Doyle keyless, slideless flute, even in comparison to my Wilkes and my Olwell.
Martin Doyle is the man.

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

I’m confused. The ability of a flute to stay in tune perpetually has naught to do with the quality of its construction or the ability of the maker. As David notes, the player has a lot of latitude to tune with the embouchure and position of the hole, so any instrument in good relative pitch can be played without a tuning slide - witness fifes. However, I think it best to have a tunable instrument. I just can’t see the point in sacrificing that flexibility. I have three extremely fine instruments and all benefit from having a tuning slide. Why cut corners?

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Hi, I have a keyless, slideless Martin Doyle. I love it and actually choose it to play over a much more expensive Hamilton keyed flute. Something no-one has said yet in so many words is that a flute without a tuning slide is not actually ‘non-tuneable’ - you can still pull the head out or push it in, it’s just not pretty and silver. And as someone said, you can add the slide later, although it will set you back another 300 euro.

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Ailin, the OP said, "My budget could just about reach to the non tuneable model." Cost is always a factor. If he or she can get a better flute now by bypassing the slide, I say go for it. Martin can add a slide later, if budget and preference allow for it. A flute without a slide is in no way an inferior instrument. A slide adds some flexibility, true, but some players find they get along just fine without it. I have had several flutes without a slide, and it’s never been an issue for me. Doyle, Copley, Olwell, McGee, Burns, and others offer flutes with or without slides. Probably a reason for that. YMMV.

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

I understand, Sid, and I admit it might be tempting to live without the tuning slide. I’m just saying I wouldn’t do it. If it weren’t an issue, Martin wouldn’t make flutes with a tuning slide. If the budget is tight, I say wait.

I see many posts about how to cut this corner and that and confess to sometimes losing patience with that approach. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to master this wonderful music, it just seems negative to me to start out trying to see how much of a tube with holes in it you can get away with. I don’t mean that as a slight to Martin’s flutes. All I’m saying is don’t handicap yourself in the name of saving money. If this is important to the OP, the money will be found.

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Ailin I feel like you’re saying that those of us with slide-less flutes often end up playing out of tune. It’s just not true, unless for some reason we were playing with someone with a completely out-of-tune untuneable instrument (an accordion or something). This hasn’t happened to me yet. So it’s not a "handicap" to me really. I’m kind of attached to my no-frills flute. Just me and six holes.

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Some people might not be able to play a slideless flute in tune, which would account for some snarky comments. No less a player than Ronan Brown plays a Doyle flute without a tuning slide. Catherine McEvoy plays an old Rudall with no slide. Eimear McGeown, here, on a Doyle flute, plays pretty nicely, don’t you think?— https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU8Pd1-hMDM

Martin himself has told me that he prefers a flute without a slide because of the distinctive sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UEC52_O0vU

I often play either a Doyle slideless flute or an Olwell slideless flute. I have never had a problem playing in tune, mutatis mutandi. If you find yourself playing with somebody so badly out of A=440 that you need a slide then either he, or you, is in the wrong session. If someone is unable to play a flute in tune, slide or no, then perhaps flute is the wrong instrument.
This is not fair: "…. trying to see how much of a tube with holes in it you can get away with." The OP isn’t trying to get away with anything. He’s looking for a top-quality flute that he can afford.
This comment also leaves me with a bad taste: "If this is important … the money will be found." Food is important to everybody. Some people still go hungry because they don’t have enough money for food. It isn’t always about personal choice.

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

The embouchure is so important in playing flute that aside from having a well made flute, which can be played in tune, has a properly adjusted cork & good response I think a learner who begins w/focusing the airstream & strengthening the embouchure he or she will *not be handicapped* by a flute w/out a tuning slide.
You may even benefit.

There are advantages either way ~ slide or no. Terry McGee covers some of this in the following.

"Flutes can be made, like recorders, without a tuning slide. The small amount of tuning which is necessary can usually be accomplished by withdrawing the headjoint slightly at the first tenon. Tuning slides are handy however:

- you have a wider range of tuning available to cater for hot or cold venues, moist and dry days, players who play further into or further over the embouchure hole, errantly tuned pianos in pubs, sharp Uillean pipes, etc.
- adjustments to pitch can be made more easily on the run, as the slide, when working properly, is very smooth in operation. This contrasts with the alternative, pulling the headjoint out at the first cork-lapped joint, which tends to be more "grabby".
- pulling out the slide produces only a minor variation (5%) in bore diameter at that point, compared with the larger discontinuity (24%) produced by pulling out at the socket. This brings benefits in terms of tuning and efficiency."

http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/fluteslide.html

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

What is a good way of learning to play a slideless flute in tune over a range of temperature and humidity ?

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

If you roll the flute outwards you will sharpen the pitch; roll it inwards and it will become flatter. The trick is to do this without compromising your normal embouchure position.

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Thanks, but no, I meant an actual practice routine. Or rather, a routine during practice.

You see, it is normal for someone playing solo to be, say, 15-20 cents off A=440 (e.g. Eimear McGeown in the link that David gave - except that it doesn’t demonstrate his point) . But if when developing our embouchure we simply play when in the woodshed or the kitchen all we will be doing is learning to get a good tone in whatever conditions we are playing in. Not necessarily learning to play in tune.

I think we need a range of environmental conditions and a tuner or a recording to play along with. It’s a bit like a lab experiment. I have no problem with a slideless flute unlees it gets really warm or I stop paying enough attention (I was called out for being sharp last week).

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

If you mean A=440, when playing solo you’ll never know if you are there and it really doesn’t matter. A developed embouchure helps to play in good relative pitch, but so far as playing at a standard pitch level without a tuner or some other frame of reference, few if any can do that. What would be the value, anyway, or am I misunderstanding your question?

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

"What would be the value " The value would be in being able to play a slideless flute in tune with others without having to think much about it. As David Levine says above, it is possible

From the OP the value in that would be 300 euros.

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

The way to do that is what I described. It is the only way it can be done without a tuning slide. You have to use your ears to know you are in tune the same way you use your ears to stay in relative pitch, so I’m not sure not having to think about it comes into play. What exactly are you looking for?

The saving of 300 euros comes, in my opinion, at a cost. All instruments need to be tuned unless everyone else is tuning to you. I don’t know why some here claim otherwise. Cold and hot have opposite effects on tuning and not all fixed-tune instruments are at the 440 standard. Also, if you care to play along with a recording, it can be all over the map. So go ahead, save some money, but don’t tell me you have no trouble playing in tune, because sometimes it’s just not gonna happen for you even if you can "lip it" most of the time.

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

I am not looking for anything. I asked the question because if some people think not having a tuning slide is a significant handicap then the matter is not as trivial as you imply and I was hoping an expert could make suggestions.

I am not an expert, I am a do-it-yourselfer who sorted it out for himself, but ended up knowing that what David Levine says is correct. I do also have a flute with a tuning slide. I rarely move it.

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Well, I suppose I’m as much of an expert as anyone on this subject. I don’t know under what circumstances you play or your level of expertise or even how often you play with others, but if you rarely tune your flute, you are either instinctively lipping it into tune, which is fine when it works, or you are not as in tune as you think. By and large, we all keep the tuning slide in approximately the same place, but when it needs to be changed, we change it. It’s that simple. How significant that is you can decide for yourself, but you will be hard-pressed to find many players who forego a tuning slide, and few makers who leave it off their instruments. At the very least, they do as Casey Burns does, and make a longer tenon for the head joint to allow the head to be pulled out at the cork. Not as elegant as a tuning slide (that’s how clarinets work, but the mouthpiece is much smaller), but ‘twill serve if you want to go on the cheap. I don’t recommend it except for maybe a backpack flute.

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

David, I think it comes down to training oneself over time & using any available reference(s). I may be way out in left field but I begin with keeping my head on the keynote; if that’s in tune it’s 50% of the battle.

Each fluter has basic tendencies when it comes to keeping their pitch, playing flat, or gradually raising their pitch. So it’s helpful to pay attention to which of these you’re doing in order to adjust your intonation.

When playing with others I usually consider who is most important to be in tune with. Tuning is as much art as it is measurement.
Long story short, I mostly try to stay in tune with our strongest fiddler (she has wonderful tone and when we’re not in resonance I lay back). Of course it depends on the tune, the combination of instruments, the mood at any given point in the session. I always strive for a consistent keynote & listening to the overall sound.

Outside of session I constantly play with recordings, focused on staying in tune with the player on the recording.

Ailin, the OP is asking about presently buying a flute from Martin Doyle & eventually adding the tuning slide as funds become available. This seems reasonable, does it not?

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

"Ailin, the OP is asking about presently buying a flute from Martin Doyle & eventually adding the tuning slide as funds become available. This seems reasonable, does it not?"

Sure, but that’s not what he said. He said he was leaning toward getting the tuning slide and wanted input. I like your idea, though, since that is an option. Whether he does it up front or over time, my suggestion is that he do it. I tried to substantiate why that would be the best course.

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

"My budget could just about reach to the non tuneable model."

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

"I am thinking that the tuneable model might be a better choice." You move, Moriarty :)

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Ailin, what part of budget do you not understand?

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

What I understand is that he has enough money for one, but thinks the other might be the better choice. Am I missing something in his question?

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

… what part of budget do you not understand?

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

I don’t understand your question. Please read the OP and explain what you think his question was. It had nothing to do with his budget, that much I can tell you.

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

I have gone through 3 quality flutes with tuning slides before my keyless Doyle and in my experience a whole lot fell into place when I got the keyless! Because of my underdeveloped embouchure I always struggled to be in tune with other players and as a result kept constantly adjusting the slide back and forth. Just making matters worse because I kept changing up things all the time. When I got the Doyle and the security of a top quality instrument I was forced to focus on my intonation (its not the flute, its me!!) and my playing has improved a lot! So my advice is go for slide less and add a slide later (if at all necessary) when you are confident you can play in tune!

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Wow, I did not expect to spark such a response !
Thanks to everybody for your comments. Tuneless certainly has plenty of endorsements. I shall slowly deliberate all the posts again before I take the plunge.

Many thanks Clive.

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

I would actually prefer to have a Doyle flute without a tuning slide. It has nothing to do with the expense. If I thought a slide made a Doyle flute better then I would have one. Doyle developed his flute without a slide and what that’s he chooses to play when he attends a session. Aside from tuning issues, the sound of a flute without a slide is very different from a flute with a slide.
Re: "I suppose I’m as much of an expert as anyone on this subject." I doubt that, Ailin. Have you much experience playing a flute without a slide? I’m not talking about picking it up or putting it down for a tune or two, but actually practicing on one for hours, as well as playing with other accomplished players over some time.
I wish that beginning fluters would start out playing a good slideless flute so that they might develop their intonation and learn to hear themselves better, rather than think that by pulling the headjoint in or out they have solved their intonation problems.

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Exactly my own experience, David! It was in fact you who pointed me in this direction, thanks!
Ketil

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

I am intrigued to hear that tuning slides alter the tone of flutes. Can you put the difference into words, David?

Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Good day, David. Yes, I have considerable experience playing flutes without slides as I am friends for about 40 years with a flute maker who makes them in G, F, A and D. I have quite a collection. I also have a few by other makers in G. And yes, I can get them to play acceptably in tune, as I have already noted. Still, I was very happy to get my first flute with a tuning slide, since I knew from my experience with Boehm flute that there is no substitute for having one. I have never experienced a tonal difference, btw. I can’t dispute your experience if you think that is the case. I can only say that I have never noted that phenomenon.

I am also intrigued by your statement that Martin Doyle "developed" a flute without a tuning slide. Aside from not including one, I have no idea what he would have "developed." Regarding the tuning slide being some kind of crutch that prevents beginners from developing their embouchure, really! A tuning slide on flutes has been standard for centuries. You make it sound like getting an unnecessary app on a smart phone.

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Thanks for that. Doesn’t really add any substance to the discussion, though, does it? My takeaway is that some people like a tuning slide (given that some add it later) and some don’t. I think I have already conveyed that you can live without it, but given the choice, I wouldn’t. That’s my advice and I think the overwhelming evidence of all the flutes out there with tuning slides supports my view, but if one finds the cost prohibitive or one is persuaded by the notion that a tuning slide is unnecessary or even counter-productive, vaya con Dios.

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

One of the differences is that the Doyle slide less is unlined. So it is all wood. I am not experienced enough to say what tonal differences that make, but it does sound sweet and complex! ☺

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

Some flutes have metal lining the head, but Martin’s are not lined, so the only metal is the slide and barrel. This should make the sound a bit brighter without taking away the wood quality. I use a wooden head on my Boehm flute and get much the same sound as a wooden flute. I did a recording recently where I used the Boehm because it was easier to play in the keys favored by the harper. It was very hard to distinguish it from the wooden flute tracks. Most vintage eight-key flutes have metal in the head, so that’s what you are hearing on most recordings. Doesn’t appear to be an issue.

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Re: Martin Doyle Flutes, tunable or non tuneable ?

I hesitate to dive in here, because I haven’t been playing that long and don’t have the experience of others here. But for what it’s worth…

When I bought my first flute a few years ago, my decision to go for a tuning slide was based on the goal of eventually playing it in the same sessions where I’ve been playing mandolin. I know from that experience that the "consensus A" among the group can drift quite a bit. Sometimes it’s the pipers drifting north of A440, sometimes it’s the fiddlers wanting an A note from a concertina that sounds like it hasn’t had its reeds adjusted in years. Sometimes it’s a whistle player leading a few sets with a non-adjustable whistle that’s sharp, and the fiddlers are unconsciously following with their intonation.

Eventually someone might notice that the pitch is drifting, so the fiddlers will tune up again to the concertina and we’re back to a different baseline for everyone. Drives me nuts as a mandolin player, because there are 8 strings with 4 in unison to keep track of! So I leaned strongly towards getting a flute with a tuning slide, having already paid my dues in chasing the group’s pitch on mandolin.

I know it’s essential to learn how to blow a flute in tune through embouchure development. I just saw no reason to make it more difficult than necessary, especially when I knew there would be situations where the baseline pitch for playing with others could vary so much.

As it turned out, the flute I finally selected was a keyless Windward (from Forbes & Yola Christie), that includes a tuning slide as part of the basic design. So it wasn’t even an option not to have one. And I don’t have to justify having it.
:)