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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:20 am 
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Location: Bitter-cold Michigan
Now that I can play a couple of tunes on my tin whistle, I am contemplating the purchase of a fife. This is just an idea at this point, as purchasing another whistle is of higher priority. I am curious, though, as to whether a plastic fife would suffice or I would be better off waiting until I could purchase a wood fife.

I currently live in a 91-year-old house that requires seemingly constant repair and is located in an area that can get rather humid (so I would have to save up for a really good wooden fife and learn to take proper care of it). However, as I am not looking for an instrument to travel with or take on camping excursions, a quality wooden fife might be worth saving up for.

So, should I pick up a plastic fife or wait until I can justify the purchase of a wooden one? And if the latter is the way to go, what wood will give the best compromise between sound quality and durability?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:38 pm 
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I think the money involved is not prohibitive to most people.
I believe you can get a plastic fife from Jem the Flute, who is a member.
Humidity, unless it is truly intense, is not an enemy of flutes/fifes,
which are more in danger from dryness. You might get mold, but
I think you would have to be living in a near swamp. Of course mold
would be no problem with a plastic fife. My own prejudice is in favor
of wood, I like the acoustics, but the flooter is the chief determinant
of sound quality, so you might as well start playing something.
Sweetheart (recently renamed to something I can' recall) flutes makes
good, not terribly expensive, wooden (and non-wooden) fifes
and you can check them online. Hope this helps.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:01 am 
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jim stone wrote:
Of course mold would be no problem with a plastic fife.


Actually not true! When I first became interested in flute (after playing whistle for a few years), all I could afford was a plastic fife, which I played in the first two octaves only. After a few years of playing it I developed a bad respiratory illness, and upon looking inside the barrel I discovered it was covered in white and yellow mold. I had been breathing in the spores while playing. You have to swab out plastic fifes and flutes too.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:03 am 
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Location: Bitter-cold Michigan
jim stone wrote:
Humidity, unless it is truly intense, is not an enemy of flutes/fifes, which are more in danger from dryness.

The humidity here isn't terrible (Virginia's humidity was much worse for me). Having a portable air-conditioner that also has a dehumidifier function helps, too.

Sweetheart's workshop is now used by Musique Morneaux. I didn't find any mention of Jem on the C&F flutemakers' list...but then it does specify that those are makers of wooden flutes.

bradhurley wrote:
You have to swab out plastic fifes and flutes too.

Presumably this is also a good idea for whistles?


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 9:41 am 
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Dan A. wrote:

bradhurley wrote:
You have to swab out plastic fifes and flutes too.

Presumably this is also a good idea for whistles?


Wooden whistles and maybe plastic whistles, yes. I've never had a problem with mold on standard metal whistles (Generations, Sindt, Burke, etc.) and don't swab them out.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:28 am 
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jim stone wrote:
... I believe you can get a plastic fife from Jem the Flute, who is a member.

It's been more than five years since Jem's advertised a new batch of his pvc piccolos (although there have been some mentioned as re-sales by other members). Maybe it's time for Jem to make some more. :poke:

Best wishes.

Steve

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~ Antoine Mahaut, 1759 in a tutor for playing the transverse flute ~


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:10 pm 
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I started with a plastic fife from Cooperman. It's worth the $10.

http://www.cooperman.com/fife-news/trad ... l-student/


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:27 am 
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I have a 6 key Bb band fife in some anonymous black wood*. No cracks or obvious maladies, but I never managed to get a pleasant sound out of it, which fact I attribute to poor embouchure and lack of sustained effort**, although careful attention to rehydration & pads might matter, too. It looks like it dates from mid last century. German silver keys. It's an open question whether I can lay my hands on it after the last several moves. I think I paid $50 for it in a junktique store 20+ years ago, but it's anyone's for 75.

*but looks more like stained hardwood, perhaps box or more likely pear, than a tropical.

**I got an 8 key Monzani flute only weeks later, and concentrated on that.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:31 am 
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For plastic fifes I’m a big fan of Tony Dixon’s, https://www.tonydixonmusic.co.uk/products/dx015/d

Perfectly serviceable enough to buy, find out if fife playing works for you, and then you can decide if its worth splashing out on a more expensive instrument.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:00 am 
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My first fife was a cheapo gift shop one at Fort Moultrie. To my surprise: a) it was playable and b) I could play it. I now have an aluminum D and Bb fife from Angus Fifes and I love them. He put lip plates on his tunable models for me, no charge. I play Irish music on them like tin whistles in the first two octaves and a lot of the skills do transfer over.

One thing to be aware of is that fifes are (so I hear) designed to perform best in octaves 2 and 3, so your Cnat fingering might change depending on how loud you're playing in the first octave. My fifes require OXX XXO unless I'm really going, and then an OXX OOO is mostly sufficient.

Also, most sessions (so I've also heard) will be much happier with you if you play the whistle there rather than the D fife.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:28 am 
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sfmans wrote:
For plastic fifes I’m a big fan of Tony Dixon’s, https://www.tonydixonmusic.co.uk/products/dx015/d

That would be a good option, especially if I can find a stateside dealer.


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