What flute does everyone use? And why?

What flute does everyone use? And why?

What flute does everyone use? And why?

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

Sorry…

I have two, a older keyless unlined Boxwood Olwell Nicholson-style with simple cork joints that weighs nothing and can take anything I throw at it. It is an absolute joy to play, but really filling it can be a bit of a challenge to play for long sets if I haven’t been keeping up my flute practice.

My other is a restored 1857 Metzler 8-key with the low C and C# keys removed. It originally was tuned I believe for A:453 (nearly E-flat) or so and really didn’t play very well with the slide out as far as was required for A:440. After I got it, I commissioned Hammy Hamilton to build a custom headjoint for it at A:440 since I like how my previous Hamilton flute felt to play. It’s a bit more forgiving if I haven’t played for a while and has lower air requirements than the Olwell. It does require paying more attention to the intonation than the Olwell, as is sometimes the case with antique flutes.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

You’ll find no concensus on this question. Years ago, Rudall & Rose flutes were considered the gold standard, but now, there are a host of makers past and present that are loved and respected. If you are seeking guidance, you must specify what your goals and preferences are. Otherwise, play every flute you can get your hands on.

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

As with all other instruments it’s a combination of:
(1) the one you ended up with to learn on and you get used to it
(2) getting one that looks good or has some sort of kudos over plays good
(4) dissappointingly buying the same make/ model as some favourite player/ pop star
(5) the one you can afford
(6) the variety that is actually available
(7) getting used to a nasty cheap one after you leave your good expensive one on the tube

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I use one of those new-fangled McGee flutes. Why? Because I make them, and they really suit me!*

That last point is the important one, Shane. Your challenge is to find the flute that best suits YOU, and that might or might not be a flute that suits most people, if there even is such a thing!

* Even then I am oversimplifying. I make 5 different models of flute, and three embouchure cuts, and only one of each stands out for me as suiting me best. And that has changed several times over my flute-making career. So it’s not just the embouchure cut but the model of flute that needs to suit me, and probably therefore you. You can see why flute players often swap instruments at sessions, just to see if the other player’s flute has something more to offer you.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I play a Jil Lehart keyless flute, and absolutely love it. It’s a larger-holed Rudall design, some of the largest holes I’ve seen on a flute, and has a tone that I can really push for power while still getting a full, complex sound. The embouchure is a bit different than other flutes I’ve played, hard to describe but it just takes a little bit different feel to get it going. That and the large holes mean it’s not necessarily the easiest flute to pick up and play, but since it’s my main flute I’ve adapted to it well. I started on a WD Sweet Shannon that is much easier to play and fill, and is my "throw in the bag/car" hard travel flute now.

It’s funny, I have owned a few different Pratten-style flutes and never fully gotten along with them. Plenty of power and bark, but there’s something about the tone that makes me run back to my Lehart every time.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

Such a difficult topic. As Terry says and I believe it, you have to find the flute that fits you. And this is damned hard for us compared to say, fiddlers or guitar players. We can’t just go down to the local music shop and try out a bunch of "Irish flutes."

Anyway for what it’s worth, I play a modern-made Thomas Aebi 8-keyed close copy of a Rudall style flute in Cocus wood. It’s aimed at A=440 Hz and the intonation is excellent.

My first learner flute was a keyless Windward in blackwood, an excellent flute with a strong and easy to hit low D, but not as easy to play smoothly in the upper octave. Probably down to an under-developed embouchure at the time. And I wanted keys. So this is where I landed. I don’t feel that this flute is holding me back in any way, it’s giving me what I’m looking for.

But this might not be a good flute for you! This is such a subjective instrument compared to anything else I’ve played over the years from drums, to guitar, to mandolin and now flute. Our bodies, the shape of our mouths, the size of our hands and fingertips for large or small holes, all these physiological factors are so important in deciding "what fits." It’s a weird instrument.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

D Flute
Wallis, Euston Rd, London

Eb Flute
Boosey and Co., London

F Flute
Key Rudall, London

Silver Flute
Trevor James, London

Uncle Michael’s Flute
Boxwood, unmarked
Matt Molloy played it and said
"Don’t part with it for anything"

Also had a Blackman D Flute which I loaned to a player in Belfast, "Fish", through a friend from Derry. Mysteriously, and within about 6 months, sadly this flute got smashed. I still don’t know the circumstances?
That was the loudest, easiest flute you might play.

As to why these flutes?
I like them, simple as that!

I have been gifted a beautiful looking Rudall Carte 8 key flute, which looks in need of a bit of attention.
I must get in touch with Terry for some advice.

Keep safe and well everyone
All the best
Brian x

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

A Sam Murray flute I got delivered in 1995. Because it’s one of the best I ever tried.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

Same as henrik above, but 3 years earlier. I had heard Sam Murray flutes played by Murrough O’Kane as part of the band "Oige", and also Eithne ni Uallachainn of "La Lugh" when they performed in Aberdeen, probably 1991/1992. Both were very generous with their time and opinions, I liked the sound they were getting, so bought a 6-key flute from Sam at the end of 1992, which is still my flute of choice today. I know that people have had bad dealings with Sam, but I had no problems at all. Bear in mind that that was nearly 30 years ago. My advice to you would be certainly get one of Sam’s flutes, but look to buy a second-hand one as long as it has been looked after. I haven’t tried any of the Murray flutes being sold by McNeela, so can’t comment on those.
I will say though that there are a couple of things about the keys I don’t like. I find the G# a bit awkward to reach, and the end of the long F# key points upwards, and would be more accessable if it pointed down. I suppose these things could be altered, but I’ve learned to live with it. Best of luck in your search.

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I have over the years acquired a Dave Williams keyed flute, a keyless Olwell, a keyless Wilkes, and three eight keyed Rudall flutes. I play them all, though the ones I play the most, at home or at a session, are the Wilkes and the Rudall & Carte & Co made in 1892/93, because I like their sound and their fast response. The Rudall flutes were bought at auctions in England. £950 for the Rudall Carte, and £1200 and £1500 for the two R&R patent head flutes.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I play the flute* I own.


*actually flutes

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I use a keyless Damian Thompson Delrin Rudall model.

I got it as I was looking to move on from a beginner Tony Dixon flute after two years and I’d heard from multiple people it was a great choice for intermediate flute (+ being Delrin, very forgiving re. taking care of it).

Damian was incredibly helpful throughout with advice choosing the correct one and I absolutely love it and multiple people have commented on it’s nice tone.

For me, I really liked the fact I can put it in its soft 3 piece case, chuck it in a backpack, and take it out for a few tunes at a session without worrying about it (I don’t think I’d be able to do this with a wood one/would end up playing it less). I think I’ve got much better due to this/the ability to keep it with me and play it more.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I have a Keyless Delrin Pratten Model by Gary Sommers I think.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

Started on a no-name German blackwood flute in the 70s. Swapped it for a parallel Bore Jerome Thibouville Lamy in the late 70s. Lost that in 2000. Got a dog rough no-name German Friday job and played it for a couple of years until I walked into a charity shop and found an 1853 Abel Siccama in need of lots of TLC. Played it ever since and it’s the best of the lot by far. Have coveted an Aebi, Grinter or McGee but one is enough.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I don’t think the question about what flute I play matters. I play the flute that I have. It is exactly what I need at this time. I have probably played better flutes (Hammy for one) but none of those are the flute I’m with now. There are also flutes I would appreciate if I was prepared to find one; which I’m not looking. Top of the list there is Grinter. Right now such a flute, any flute other then the one I have, is only a pipe dream.

edit:"My advice to you would be certainly get one of Sam’s flutes, but look to buy a second-hand one as long as it has been looked after. I haven’t tried any of the Murray flutes being sold by McNeela, so can’t comment on those." Neither can I tell you what to do as I am in the same position as Kenny. Having said that, if I was in your position, I would absolutely go with the six-key from McNeela.

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

Ahem. A note of caution. I think I would only chance my hard won pennies on a keyed Sam Murray from McNeela if I could store it at all times in an absolutely controlled humidity/temperature chamber.
I have little fear of the stability and seasoning of the timbers that go into, for example, a flute by ´Hammy´
Hamilton. He has been quite transparent about how much care he puts into the treatment and selection of his timbers. This is not true for all makers. ´Nuff sed.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

What do you know, postie? Is it firsthand, specific knowledge about Sam Murray’s stock of materials?

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

If there is any question about whether the moisture content of the wood used before making a flute is fully dry I personally would not resort to storing an instrument in such an absolutely controlled environment as described by postie. At this point "enough said" means Sam Murray & his association with McNeela are suspect until evidence shows otherwise.
AB

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

Nobody seems to have mentioned George Ormiston flutes so far. Does anybody else play one? I’m certainly very happy with mine.

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I play a Geoffrey Ellis Ebonite pratten style. I was drawn to it because it’s not going to crack and because I had one of his "essential flutes" and liked it a lot.

I like the ebonite—it’s light and resonant and stable and low maintenance. But last summer I ordered an Olwell keyless, which should be available by summer, maybe.

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I have an Ormiston too @Bazza. A 6-key Pratten model. I’m quite happy with it. I bought it because I was living in Scotland at the time, and he had a few available for Celtic Connections. Great flute, very easy to play.

Unfortunately, I’ve had some issues with the tenon corks since I moved back to Spain. I’m in Asturias, and the weather isn’t that hugely different from Scotland, you could say we get slightly warmer rain 🙂 , but I had to get it over to George once already and a few months later I would need him to change them again. Sending stuff to the UK is now a pain due to Brexit so I’m using plumber’s tape for now, considering replacing the cork with thread.

I’m also waiting for a 5-key lemon wood by Marcos Llope, from Asturias. Marcos was the flautist of Asturian band Llan de Cubel and then moved on to make flutes. He worked on his own design and I find the ones I’ve tried even easier to play, not so demanding on the breath, and very powerful. Brian Finnegan plays keyless flutes made by Marcos, if anyone is curious about what they look/sound like. Lemon wood might sound a bit "exotic", but those flutes are beautiful, with great sound, and I really want to have a flute made in Asturias, by a local maker, using local wood. He gave me other more "usual" options for the material, but I saw a lemon wood one he had in his workshop and fell in love with the material.

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

Interesting, DaveF. I’ve not heard about Lemon wood being used for instruments, but I’ve been told (and it seems plausible) that fruit woods were often used in the days before exotic hardwoods from faraway places became available. Still favoured in some quarters: the body of my nyckelharpa (by Johannes Mayr) is made of Pear wood. The way thing are going with CITES rules may mean we’ll see greater used of native fruit woods for instruments.

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

A bit difficult to judge recorded sound when a lot relies on quality of mic and related kit (inc. my speakers) but it certainly sounds very good! Full tone, and very nicely played. Clearly, there’s a lot to be said for the lemon flute.

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I play a McGee Rudall Refined.

My why is because only a few makers have smaller hole flutes for people like me with smaller hands, and his is one of those that still gives a great sound too. I also chose one of his flutes because of the way he designs the headjoint and barrel with cork between the metal and wood to help prevent cracks as much as possible if the wood expands.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

As if it matters … an 8 key Pratten from Tony Millyard (I’ve also ordered a 6 key in F), a (like our friend Kellie) a flute that started out as an unkeyed Pratten that now has 8 keys thanks to Maurice Reviol, a much loved 4 keyed Rosewood from Walt Sweet, a carbon fiber F from the Carbony guy, and I’m eagerly awaiting a Bb from Ari DeKeyser which I will use, along with the F, to play Jazz along with my flat key friends. Yeah I know it’s too many flutes. If the house catches fire I’d save there Millyard and the Sweet, I keep them in the same box. It would be painful but I’d even walk through fire for the flutes over my banjoes, mandolins and tenor guitar

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I’ve been playing antique 8-key flutes for the most part. N. American (Firth/Pond/Hall family) or English (R&R).

Why?

I love the quality or character of the tone, the rich resonance.
Prefer medium hole flutes, so don’t need a modern Pratten-style.
The 3rd register is very sweet and easy to play, which I like for learning Baroque, Argentine or Brazilian music
I love playing in the keys of F and G-minor which often use the bottom C note.
Somewhat cheaper (R&R) or a LOT cheaper (‘Merican) than the equivalent modern flute
Cocuswood flutes, which is pretty much unobtainium in a new flute.
Touching and holding something with history - Regency England or Civil War USA.

I’ve found that the compromises of playing an older flute are less of a problem than the reputation. Venting E and venting C# might be useful or necessary, but it is not that hard. Playing the flute first is helpful; but, I guess that is true of any flute!

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

Since you asked … I love my D keyless flute from Patrick Olwell, a Nicholson so i could reach the holes.
And I really love my wooden Haynes, circa 1910 boehm system. It has all the notes!
I also have cedar wood High Spirits Native American flute in Am. I’m waiting for another, made from a birch branch. It will be in A432, in E minor, for sound healing.
My silver flute sits in the corner, not often played.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I’m currently playing a keyless D flute by David O’Brien and a delrin Copley. I also have a Casey Burns in D (keyless, unlined). I’ve played the flute off and on for the past 15 years or so, but hadn’t played for a few years until the fall of 202o, when I decided to get back into it. I started with a CB Folk Flute since I was familiar with Casey’s work and wanted to gauge my new-found interest with an affordable instrument, then ran across a previously owned CB standard large-holed model that I played until the end of 202o. Since then, I’ve been playing the O’Brien regularly, by a not too well-known maker who’s no longer making flutes. It took some time to get my embouchure right for this flute which is quite different than the Burns, but I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s got a super sweet upper register and is an easy player for sure. In the meantime, I became interested in Solen Lesouef’s flutes, and now have a keyless D flute on order, which should be coming late summer/early fall.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

Olwell (by Aaron) 6 key (left-handed) because I have tried friend’s Olwell and it suited me and so does this one. I have an LH 8 key Ormiston too, which I have bought used (required some work, fixing a small crack and chip on tenons and exchanging pads and spring, good as new now) while waiting for an Olwell (7 years), which I still keep for the tunes with Low Cs. I quite like that one too, though Olwell suits me better for harder low D.

Eb and Bb by Gilles Lehart, both keyless. The Eb one is the most responsive flute I have. Would love to add the keys to both, just didn’t make it happen yet.

Two bamboo flutes in F, one by Barna Gabos and one by Billy Miller, bought the latter second hand, it is a brilliant flute with big sound, but "ergonomic" right-handed which is a pain to play lefty so I have bought one by Barna too.

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Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

A beautiful Holmes McNaughton flute. I wish I could do it justice. Why? Relatively local maker.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I play an 8 key cocus wood Firth & Pond I bought from Tom above…lovely flute, great volume and medium sized holes. Unlike Tom, I don’t play much in the 3rd octave so I enlarged the Fsharp hole to get that pesky F# into much better tune (venting didn’t help enough at all…not even close). Anyway, I love the history, the tone and ease of ornamentation. Plus, the low C and C# keys are superb and easy to reach with my short pinky!

I also have a Dave Copley 8 key in delrin, which I now primarily use for bad weather gigs and out of country travel. I know cocus isn’t on the CITES list, but I don’t want any border folks confused and to have my antique flute confiscated even for a brief period. You just can’t easily replace an 1860 flute that has never, ever cracked and is in near pristine condition (except for my enlarged tone hole).

Play what you like and what works for you as everyone else has said. It’s a journey finding the ideal flute.

Eric

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

D Flute
Sam Murray - 6 keys
Gilles Lehart -6 keys
Eb Flute
Solen Lesouef, keyless blackwood; 3 keys mopane
C flute
Solen Lesouef , keyless blackwood
I like sound of Murray flute and Solen flutes.
I like also sound of Grinter flutes, but don’t have it….
Marin

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

I play an Olwell Keyless Pratten-style in D made out of Blackwood. As to why, it’s the only flute I have ever played. When I decided to get a flute after beginning on the tin whistle I took the advice of Blayne Chastain and put myself on the wait list for a keyless Olwell and a keyed Olwell. I figured if I didn’t like it, it would hold its value. It took about a year to get the keyless. I think I’m about 3 years into the wait for the keyed flute now?
I decided to plunk down for a high quality instrument from the get-go because in my experience high quality instruments are generally always a good investment for a player if you can afford it. You know that any issues you have are most likely YOUR issues and not the instrument’s. It lets you concentrate on learning without second guessing yourself. You also usually save money in the long run. As a guitar player who took a long, slow, upgrade path over the years, I would’ve saved myself a lot of money by just buying a great guitar right from the get-go. I couldn’t afford the up-front cost at the time…but I could with the flute.

Re: What flute does everyone use? And why?

My first flute was a pretty terrible M&E keyless, moved on to one of Chris Norman’s first batches of keyless R&Rs for a few years, then decided I wanted keys and got a Gilles Lehart 6-key which was a lovely instrument. I lucked into an 8-key Pol Jezequel initially made for Jean-Michel Veillon in five or six years ago and it’s absolutely the one, clear tone, plenty of volume, honking low D. I’ve always found there’s something so special about the sound of Breton-made flutes.