(Low to midpriced) flutes - Sources , sellers or just advice.
I’m looking for advice on buying a low to midpriced keyless flute , or any good sources or sellers of them.
I’m looking for advice on buying a low to midpriced keyless flute , or any good sources or sellers of them.
What country are you in, and what’s your price range & currency? Mid-priced for me might be USD $1,100. Keyless flutes could run from about $70-250 for low-end polymer or cylindrical versions, around $250-700 low end, $700-$1300 mid range, $1300-$2000 higher-end. Taxes, import fees, & CITES regulations (regarding wood import/export) are issues that may affect your selection.
Sources? Try http://www.irishflutestore.com/ . Case Burns, M&E, Copely & Boegli, Martin Doyle are all decent (plus many more). You can search those to see if they’re for sale near you.
I have played a 6 key M&E ebonite flute for the last years. I don’t know how the price is today, but back then it was around 500 euro I think (maybe even less) and I still love this instrument ! On different occasions, people told me how much they like the sound of this flute. Some of them don’t play any instrument, others are players of the "Irish" flute and own instruments that cost several thousand euros..and especially the flute players were amazed about the price of the flute !
But I think a player might need some time, to really get into this flute. When flute players (even one professional one) played my flute, they weren’t able to get the same power from the lower notes as I do…has anyone made the same experience ?
Anyway, I totally recommend this flute maker. I started with a keyed one because I had already played the silver flute before and wanted a chromatic instrument, so I can’t say if keys are a problem for a beginner, even if you don’t use them…but for that price I would recommend the keyed flute.
To really judge a flute beyond the most obvious features you have to live with it a while. What you observe about the lower octave is all about familiarity with the instrument. The old joke goes "which flute is best? The one you play 2 hours a day." There is a lot of truth to that. Practice and familiarity pays massive dividends.
True, yet set out a table of ten flutes and an experienced player can test each one for a few seconds and know the basic character of each. You can immediately tell each flute’s ease, response, volume, resistance, power, tone, and tuning; how easy/sweet the 2nd octave is, how powerful the lowest notes are.
Of course if that player were to take any one of those flutes home for a week every aspect of the flute will improve: more power, more clarity, sweeter high notes, more powerful low notes, better intonation.
But the flute that had the most powerful Bottom D at first testing will, after a week, still have the most powerful Bottom D vis-à-vis the other nine, were one of those taken home for a week by the player. Getting to know a flute improves every aspect of it, but doesn’t change its inherent character.
I agree though I have noticed that some flutes have a greater potential than others. That is to say that practice takes you further than on others. It is usually associated with a more precise embouchure in my experience and if it is a good cut you learn where the sweet spot is on any given note giving you a deeper well of tonal variation to plumb. Some embouchure cuts are so biased towards one octave or another that there is just not as much there to find.
You might try this maker: http://www.forbesflutes.com/. I have played his Delrin flute, and heard a fine player on it as well. A great value.
I’ll tell you about my two flutes, since both would fall in the low-to-mid range.
First flute I got was a WD Sweet Shannon. $275 USD, delrin, got it quickly and was my main flute for 2 1/2 years. I thoroughly enjoyed playing it, and got some compliments from people who tried it out for themselves. I understand that there are many teachers who recommend this flute to their beginner students as an inexpensive but very well-made flute.
A few months ago I bought a Lehart flute. Made of blackwood, with bigger toneholes and a bigger overall sound than the Shannon, at least in my hands. I bought it used on ebay, but you can get them new for €700. His keyed flutes are quite reasonable as well, and if you can find one used you could probably get it for around €1000. I would definitely recommend Lehart as a maker to look for if you’re looking for a good blackwood flute under $1000.
I have two Somers flutes in delrin as travel flutes. They are both very good flutes. Most of the usual suggestions have been made, save for Dave Copley and Casey Burns. His folk flutes are outstanding. Blackwood has become problematic to ship internationally due to new regulations, so take that into account. You don’t give a price, but I have a Glen Watson I love, and I hear very good things about Solen Lesouef. A little more money,but good. You can also get a Doyle with no slide quite reasonably.
Casey Burns addressed the issue of shipping protected woods to buyers outside the USA on another site.
He has a number of fine woods which are not on the restricted list and do not require CITES.
He said he is in the process of obtaining the required paperwork to allow him to ship African Blackwood and other protected woods with the proper CITES certificates.
So he, for one, is acutely aware of the CITES issue and you can rest assured when ordering from him.
My top recommendations would be Copley & Boegli (available in wood or Delrin) or Rob Forbes (Delrin).
Casey Burns (wood) and Somers (Delrin) are good, too.
I wouldn’t worry too much about the material either way—Derlin sounds excellent if well made (which the above makers do), and wood is easy to care for, given a bit of common sense.
I’m a year into a WD Sweet Shannon. I played whistles for 8 years and picked up the flute as a beginner. I play an hour a day and have made good progress. The flute is well made and good sounding. The question that I have is are there any more experienced players out there that stick with this flute for years? I don’t see it being mentioned as a flute that players hang onto. Should I consider moving up to one of the flutes mentioned in this thread if I want to progress more easily or quickly or, even more important, create a better sound. I am a guitar player of 45 years so I know that some intruments will only take you so far. I wouldn’t shy away from investing in quality if it is actually going to make a difference. You can always resell quality intruments.
A better flute will not make you a better player unless there is a problem with the flute you have. If the intonation is off or it lacks power, you should be able to tell by now. I have played many, many flutes and I prefer the solidness of tone, the tone quality, the volume and the response of my Casey Burns keyless to all other keyless flutes that I have tried (and that includes the likes of Hamilton, Olwell and Grinter). However, if there is nothing that bothers you about yours, there is no reason to look for something else. On the other hand, embrace every chance you get to play any and all flutes that come your way. In some ways, you’ll never know you want a "better" flute until you have played it, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Ailin, how many different Hamilton, Olwells and Grinters have you played compared to how many of Casey’s flutes?
Nothing wrong with the Shannon, but I don’t have enough experience with flutes to know it’s limits. I’m still exploring mine 🙂 Having played many guitars I know enough to know when one is good, or at least won’t impede me. That is my essential question that I haven’t read on these pages; what more experienced players think of this flute in relation to the others mentioned here? Will a Casey Burns for example, take me further on the road? I can do things on a Fender that I can’t do on a Gibson and vice versa, but that I could never do with a _____ (fill in the blank for a cheap guitar brand).
Ben, I can only specifically recall one Hamilton, but possibly more. At least two, but maybe three Olwells and only one Grinter, played by someone at my current session. I own two of Casey’s and have tried a few others. Also, I used to think I might be the only one to get the tone I get from a CB flute until I heard someone else play theirs (and it was a folk flute). I then realized that what I liked about its sound was something about the way he voices his flutes. To my ears, that quality is unique to his instruments.
Funny how few of Casey’s flutes come up for resale, even though he probably has more in circulation than anyone.
BTW, I’ve played a lot of keyed flutes, as well. The only maker I remember outside of the ones (3) that I own was an Olwell. The best keyed flute on earth, IMHO, is my William Hall & Son Siccama-model ten-keyed flute, circa 1850.
Rogervj - It’s hard to say what needs to happen in order to "outgrow" a flute. Beyond trying other flutes, as I have suggested, you have to try and be honest with yourself. Are there things you think you could do better if you had a better flute? Having been around this forum longer than most, I think it’s fair to say that most players who upgrade for reasons beyond not being able to help themselves from amassing a collection, do so to either go up from a PVC flute to a good wooden or even delrin one, or move up to a flute with keys. Some will upgrade to get one of the designer models, but I question if they get what they expected; many go back on the market within a few years.
Roger, every flute you play will be different. But it’s your voice which comes through on flute, even more than on high whistles, I think. If you let another fluter play the Shannon, he or she will likely have a different sound (voice) than yourself. I highly recommend letting other fluters play your Shannon, if you know other fluters. Sometimes the results can be surprising.
But as far as improving on another flute it comes down to what you’re not getting by playing your current flute. Which is the $64,000 question. If it’s simply an itch then try to get your hands on other flutes and play them to see if you can zone in on what’s itching your curiosity. But, if you can pin it down more exactly, that might help understand what you’re expecting from a different flute. In other words you may want a different tone, more volume, better response. I’ve been there before. For me it was a matter of borrowing a friend’s flute for a couple of years to get the tone and response I was looking for. I did, my playing improved, I bought my current flute and I think I play it better than I would have if I had not taken the additional time to play my friend’s flute.
In other words it helped to scratch my itch for a few years.