How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

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Thalatta
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How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by Thalatta »

Hi everyone, my apologies if this has already been written or dealt with somewhere. Wondering if anyone know how much original Boosey Pratten's generally go for these days?

Also wondering if anyone has any experience playing them: do they sound like Matt Molloy's Boosey, or is Matt Molloy alone that sounds like that? And is a Boosey more - or less - out of tune than a Rudall or a Fentum for example?

Finally, I asked this before a few years ago, but was wondering if anyone knew any more: Matt Molloy's Boosey has a different head cap (a flat one) from the usual Boosey head cap (which is usually domed, rounded); does anyone know if and then how Matt's Boosey might have been modified?

Thanks all,
Shane
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by bigsciota »

Thalatta wrote: Also wondering if anyone has any experience playing them: do they sound like Matt Molloy's Boosey, or is Matt Molloy alone that sounds like that?
If you're interested in a Boosey Pratten so you can sound like Matt Molloy, you'll need a full lip and finger transplant from him as well. The flute can only do so much, and the player has much more to do with the sound than the instrument. All things considered, you will sound slightly more like him if you're playing the same flute, but you're better off practicing for a long while.

$1,200 is the cheapest I've seen for one on eBay a while back, but you're probably looking at at least twice that, probably much more, especially if it's in very good condition. For the money, you could buy a very nice Pratten-style flute made specifically for Irish music from a good maker. Or, you could calculate the amount of time it takes you to earn that amount of money, and spend a similar amount of time practicing. In fact, you'd probably sound more like Molloy if you took that option!
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by Thalatta »

Hehe, nice reply! :) So, are you suggesting Matt Molloy has Something to do with the sound? I thought it was just the flute :)

But relaly, I would be interested to hear if anyone finds that that reedy sound (like on Shadows of Stone) is the flute, or the ONLY the player. And also if anyone thinks a Boosey is as good as Matt might have said.

Thanks!
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by Nanohedron »

Thalatta wrote:I would be interested to hear if anyone finds that that reedy sound (like on Shadows of Stone) is the flute, or the ONLY the player.
You can't separate the two. You can have the best flute ever (and let's define that), but if someone isn't used to it, the flute won't erase the player's shortcomings. Likewise, I've known players who could overcome a poorer flute's shortcomings so well, you'd swear they could get great tone out of a brick.

It took me about five years, I think, to really begin to get the best tone out of my Noy. Was it a bad flute? Emphatically, no. I had to learn to play it on its own terms, slow as I am. If I next got a Grinter, I would likewise have to learn to play that on its own terms. And if I got a Boosey Pratten, I would have to learn to play that. But the more you learn, usually the learning curve become less and less steep. I loved the Noy, because it taught me very valuable things about embouchure that lesser flutes could not. I suspect the same would be invariably true of any really good flute.
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by flutefry »

I have been playing for 12 years now. If anything, my playing has been handicapped by playing multiple flutes in the quest for the "magic flute". A wiser me would have realized that it's time with the flute, not the flute a lot sooner than I did. Nevertheless, slow and expensive though it was, I am getting to the point where my sound is much better, more stable, and more reliable. I say this so you can discount what comes next accordingly:

The reedy sound is available on all but defective flutes. Sometimes easier, sometimes harder. I have a wooden cylindrical Boehm-like bore flute (Worrell) and it can sound very reedy-it just takes more effort than getting it to sound like a Boehm.

Some flutes are more approachable than others and my experience is that these are more rewarding to start with, but the temptation is to stop too early without learning how to get from good to great.

Some flutes (e.g. Rural and Rose originals or some modern copies) are less approachable, but the reward of persistence is a great tone that can be transferred to any flute.

Notwithstanding the previous sentence, I use modern heads on the two antiques (R+R, Siccama) because it makes a difference to me.

The Siccama is made by John Hudson, who made the Pratten's perfected for Boosey, and has the same bore as the Pratten. It's a really great flute, no doubt about it, and a modern head doesn't make a lot of difference. The Siccama, plus some needed repairs + a modern head is still less than the cost of a new modern flute. However, it's rare to get an antique that is ready to go, without investing time and money in it.

While my 2 flutes are antiques for emotional reasons, reason tells me that the very best modern flutes are better than the majority of antiques.

My gratuitous advice would be to get a Morvan (one for sale now on this forum from someone who lives in France.....).

Hugh
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by JoFo »

I have a late Boosey Pratten. It is in good playable condition.
It is a very powerful flute and actually better in tune than most flutes I've tried (old and new...).

What I am not too happy about, however, is the one-piece body. I find that for me the two-piece bodies a lot easier to play.
Hence it's not the flute I spend the most time on. I have, at times, entertained thoughts of selling it, but then they're not very easy to come by again.

As for recordings,they seldom reproduce the specific sound as much as one might think.
EQ, reverb, delay, compressors, et c, are normally added and can change the perceived tone of an instrument considerably.
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by Jon C. »

I used to own one, they are great flutes! I bought it for $300 and sold it for $1,300, wish I still had it...
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by MKE_Chris »

In my opinion, it would make more sense to work with a good maker to get the type of flute you want rather than hunting down an available Boosey in playable condition. Additionally, this gives you a flute optimized for modern ensembles rather than having to work around the tuning foibles that can be present with the design of 100+ year-old flutes.

Terry McGee, for example, is very well-studied on reproducing original designs, though he still tweaks and optimizes them.

And of course, as others said, two players playing the same flute will sound markedly different... take for example, this clip from Conal O Grada in the 80s:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUb55JUvkbM

He seems to be playing here a beat-up old German flute with the metal lip plate, the crown missing, and the tuning slide pulled way out to put it in tune... yet he still sounds, unmistakably, like Conal.

(I should qualify this advice with the disclosure that I am the worst offender when it comes to Flute Acquisition Syndrome, though I keep it in check by never getting rich enough to get all the flutes I want to play.)
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by Matt_Paris »

MKE_Chris wrote: He seems to be playing here a beat-up old German flute with the metal lip plate, the crown missing, and the tuning slide pulled way out to put it in tune... yet he still sounds, unmistakably, like Conal.
Very beat-up yes, but this flute looks English to me... My guess is some second half of the 19th century high pitch (hence the extended slide), with several keys missing, and the corresponding holes plugged. You don't see many block mounted German flutes.

And what a great sound!
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by Thalatta »

Thanks everyone for your replies. It sounds like nobody thinks a Boosey is "the" outstanding flute. So it's the player really who makes it work. And maybe Matt Molloy just loved having the "antique". In the Conal O'Grada clip it looks like he's playing an old Rudall or Wylde... no? But beautiful playing, great clip.
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by JoFo »

Well, if you're comfortable with a one-piece body, it's certainly an outstanding flute. At least the one I have.
It's not the easiest flute to play but it's very powerful and you can feel the flute really vibrate in your hands from the sound it makes. Which isn't always the case with a lot of other flutes.
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by rama »

I bought a late Boosey PP from a fellow chiffer a few years ago. It is in excellent condition, requires no maintenance. It came with the original case, original HJ plus 2 modern HJ's (which are slightly longer than the original HJ). On the modern HJ's, I barely pull out the slide for A440, while the original HJ is pulled out a little bit further. The flute plays well at A440, it has excellent tuning. It is light, comfortable in my hands and fun to play. It has a great sound, full of character. IMO, it is a keeper for both a collector and for a player.
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by RudallCarte6950 »

[Thread revival. - Mod]

I used to play a Rudall Carte for about 15 years. Grand flute. Great flute even.
I recently ( Oct. '20 ) bought a Boosey Pratten Perfected from the 1890's. Ser. No. 14901

My experience is the Pratten is just as expressive/lyrical as the Rudall, and is more in tune.
It's just the C# that is flat, but this can be vented and lipped up to pitch.

I feel the Pratten is a better instrument. There's something about the searing clarity around the middle G, and the balance overall.
It's easy to fill in spite of the common/widespread opinion about Pratten's being hard to blow.
( IMO that comes down to embouchure development and focus )

The low D takes very little air to sound.
I can see how they called it perfect.

I wouldn't go back to the Rudall.

Oh and regarding the OP question about the Molloy sound. Yes the Pratten does sound like what you hear on Heathery Breeze and Stoney Steps.... but he's Matt Molloy, and the recordings are highly processed ( mic'ed/compressed/FX/reverb.... ), so as others have said, it's up to you/me as the player to do the work, the Pratten will sound great, but only as great as the person playing it......

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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by BKWeid »

Pat, that’s interesting perspective. So many have move away from Prattens over the years to Rudall based flutes, so it might seem from information posted on this forum. After 15 or so years of casual efforts with Rudall types, I’ve just started to play my first Pratten. I love my Rudall patterned flute, however, the Pratten has been surprisingly easy to play and has wonderful tone at both ends of the scale, to my ear. Of course, many modern makers blur the lines of the Rudall-Pratten historical designs in favor of very good modern flutes.
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Re: How much for a Boosey Pratten and is it worth it?

Post by jim stone »

An aside, The Irish Flute Store has antique flutes of various varieties.
In my experience, the ones refurbished by Pat Olwell are especially
worth considering. I have a Rudall Carte from about 1860 that is, for me, at least as good as any contemporary flute I've ever played.
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