Bamboo or polymer?

Bamboo or polymer?

I know there have been similar questions asked in the past but thought I would seek more advice myself. I have been learning the whistles properly for the last couple of years (not too late for others to book on the course in Skye later this month πŸ˜‰ ) and I learnt classical flute when I was younger. I would like to get a simple system/wooden/traditional flute (delete as you prefer) but can not really afford to splash out a fortune - at least not for a while until I have got some playing under my belt.

Basically what do flute players out there think is the best option for a decent, inexpensive flute - polymer or bamboo? The three names that seem to crop up are Olwell, Seery and M&E Flute (Michael Cronnolly). Any others worth a look?

Re: Bamboo or polymer?

Hi Alistair,
I recently asked Patrick Olwell about his bamboo flutes and he’s not making any D bamboo flutes right now nor, I think, does he plan to for a while.

In any case, a tuneable flute is a better idea if you plan to play in sessions.

I normally play an Olwell wooden flute but like to have a synthetic flute that I can just leave around ready for a quick tune. I started with a Seery but just couldn’t get a good sound from it. I now have an M&E which I find much easier to play, and I find it easier to switch between the M&E and Olwell.

Good luck!

Re: Bamboo or polymer?

Yes Tipple PVC Flutes are great I own two Low D and Low C. It is cheaper than all of the others and it is just as good as some. I have played a few other beginner’s Flutes which were not as good (I still have some if you want to buy one give me an email). Also try asking on the C & F board.

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Re: Bamboo or polymer?

I own a Seery, played an M&E R&R I was loaned for two weeks, and I also own a 4 key Sweetheart flute.

I do think the Seery is hard to get a good tone out of, but I also think when you do it sounds better than an M&E. But that might just be me - I prefer the pratten sound over the R&R sound - so I’m not implying anything is wrong with the M&E.

I think Sweetheart flutes (about $350 or so for rosewood) are actually rather good flutes with much improved consistency (I’ve heard that was an issue in the past - I’ve not seen it with newer flutes of his). However, they are based on a Boosey Pratten (with some minor mods - but measurements are nearly identical to a Seery) Ralph Sweet owns and I think many newer players think they don’t play well when in reality the player isn’t ready for a pratten yet.

Another option not menioned is Casey Burns’ folk flute in mopane for $250 - it gets good reviews, I’ve not played one.

The lower priced sweethearts and burns don’t have a tuning slide, but the tenons are long enough to tune - I’ve never had a problem in session tuning to others. The M&E and Seery do have slides.

Eric

Re: Bamboo or polymer?

I have a M.E.R.R.

I’d go with the M&E, Tipple, or Seery for the following reason - you will practice much, much more if you don’t need to dissassemble/reassemble your flute to play it. You can pick it up literally anytime, anywhere without any sort of premeditation. This translates into *much* more time playing, and quicker improvement. This factor is often overlooked. I think it’s perhaps the greatest benefit of a polymer flute. YOu will never outgrow a decent one because you can always use an "instaflute."

I like my M.E.R.R. but I want to try a Seery (And the Olwell, for that matter).

Re: Bamboo or polymer?

Polymer is a good pick. I bought one some time ago (3-piece) and cannot be more happy than I am. Easy to carry, easy to assemble, easy to clean, durable (which is important in my case), and it’s possible to play it just anywhere. Ideal instrument for frequent traveller. The sound is very decent, I guess if I were a better player I would require something better, but at this stage it’s me who is the problem, not the instrument.
Dixon is not a bad budget pick, but I had mine ‘improved’ for better sound (original sound seems a bit too shallow). I tried also M&E and really liked the sound. Don’t know much more about it tho.

Re: Bamboo or polymer?

I bought a one-piece Dixon polymer flute for $35 (US) to just try things out and see how they went. It played pretty well, especially given the price, and I still pick it up once in a while to mess around. It gave me a chance to try the flute thing out without too much of an investment. I eventually decided not to go the flute route. The only downside of getting a cheap flute to experiment with is the thought that you might enjoy it more with a better instrument. It seems like a lot of people have multiple instruments, do you have a pal you could borrow from for a short while?

Re: Bamboo or polymer?

Al - I can see yer point if you go for a *very* basic flute. I’ve heard of other people having similar experiences with the Dixon one and two piece flutes.

The Merr and Seery, though, get played at sessions all the time with no stigma, at least around here. Last week somebody asked me if mine was an "antique," which made me laugh. Although inexpensive compared to top-of-the-line flutes, the Seery and M&E are by no means "cheap" in the sense of quality.

Re: Bamboo or polymer?

Thanks for all the advice. Any other insight would be appreciated. I don’t think I know anyone with a polymer flute. There are surprisingly few flute players around Glasgow, at least in comparison to fiddlers and they all play high end wooden flutes. I am sure it would be easier to get my hands on a Bb flute but I don’t really mix in those kinds of circles πŸ˜‰. I like the idea of trying before you buy, certainly a policy I would apply to other instruments such as guitar and whistle. I will have a look around. I had a quick go on a friend’s wooden flute a few months ago and did manage to get a tune (of sorts) out of it although I was struggling a bit for breath. I am just a little out of practice. I am not really worried about never being able to get a note out of it but am worried about buying a doozy. I saw one of the Pakistani wooden flutes in a shop and as respectable as they, and the case they come in look they are completely unplayable.

Cheers,

Alistair

Re: Bamboo or polymer?

The Seery and M&E’s are serious flutes that are worth keeping after you "upgrade" to a wooden flute. I like my Seery for traveling and just leaving it assembled around the house for a quick tune when I don’t have time to do the whole assembling, disassembling, swabbing thing with my wooden flute. I’ve also played an M&E and found it more forgiving on the embouchure—the Seery demands a focused embouchure. Both are tunable and capable of a strong, reedy tone. Both are responsive and can "pop" on cuts and rolls. And their value seems to hold up well—I see used Seery’s selling for more than what I bought mine for new just two or three years ago.

We also have a Dixon 3-piece polymer flute for our local session’s instrument lending library. It’s not as robust in tone or volume as the M&E or Seery, but it’s very easy to play and well suited to small hands. I’d advise against the one or two piece Dixon cylindrical bore plastic flutes—they’re playable, but the tone is whispy and intonation problems preclude playing with other instruments.

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Re: Bamboo or polymer?

Your instincts about the Pakistani flutes are totally correct! I’ve never owned one, but nobody on any of the flute lists has anything nice to say about them. They’re generally referred to as flute-shaped objects, and the best use for them seems to be as raw material for a musically-themed lamp.

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Re: Bamboo or polymer?

I suggest a Doug Tipple plastic flute.

Re: Bamboo or polymer?

this is slightly off topic, but i dont want to start a new thread. what does everyone think of mcgee flutes? i have been thinking of a 5 key, grey larsen preferred mcgee flute. worth the $3,000, or no?

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Re: Bamboo or polymer?

I think when you’re looking at top-end flutes, the prices all round out - quality is pretty much assured. I can’t recall anyone ever saying they didn’t like Terry’s flutes.You should just make sure it’s got the sort of tone you prefer.I think if I were to get another flute, it’d be a McGee full-keyed Rudall perfected, or maybe a keyed Larsen-preferred, though I’d want to test its action beforehand - those small holes worry me a teeny bit (but only cos I’m used to the half-holing capabilities of Copley’s larger-holed Pratten-adapted keyless - this wouldn’t be as much of a factor in a keyed flute). From the looks of the Larsen-preferred (it’s a tweaked firth ‘n pond, really), you could get a dextrous, nimble touch going, probably at the expense of volume.

Damn, am in serious covet mode now. Thanks a lot!
πŸ˜€

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Re: Bamboo or polymer?

One of the bigger issues to consider with Terry (And other makers) is the embouchure shape. He has several options, each of which will affect the tone and playing characteristics of the flute probably more than more other factors.

I have a low A flute on order with him, so I’m in anxious wait mode currently.

Re: Bamboo or polymer?

Q - i dont think i can afford the flute i had on hold. unfortunately, your profile says you live in south africa (not because i dislike s.a, i have cousins that live there). i was going to buy the flute from grey larsen (brand new, terry supplies him), but i’m spending my money on going to noel hill’s concertina camp instead. i say unfortunately because i leave 6 hours away from grey and he was gonna let me try it out, and he wouldve let you the same, but you’re too far away.

i was considering getting a keyless grey larsen. i dont know that i ever want to do half holing too much (although i’m willing to learn.. i can do it on the whistle, but the whistle is out of tune. my half holing gets me to concert c, but all the other notes on the darn thing are out of tune). i also have a concert flute, which i love, and i am only getting a wooden flute because i want one, not because i need one. if i really need to play in a weird key, i could just use the concert flute, since i know all the notes and all. its a shame i cant afford the keyed one, tho, because i really do intend to learn how to use all those darned keys.

would it be worth getting a keyless, or should i save up for a keyed?

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