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 Post subject: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:17 am 
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I bought a keyed wooden flute on ebay for $200. It was listed as an 8 key french flute with no maker's mark. It sat there for a while with little interest or bids, and when I contacted the seller asking why I could only see seven keys on what was listed as an eight key flute, he sent me a picture showing where the eighth key was and made me an offer to sell it for $200. So I took it. Fool and his money? I have no idea.

Can anyone offer any info on what it might be? I'm a pretty good woodworker and think I'd enjoy the restoration process. It looks like it's in pretty decent shape. But I really don't know much.


Image

I have a bunch of additional images but thought it might be better to make them links than to post them.

Embouchure cut: http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/2.jpg

Possible issue: http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/3.jpg

First section: http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/4.jpg

Second section: http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/5.jpg

Foot: http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/6.jpg

Possible issue: http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/7.jpg

http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/8.jpg

All Sections: http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/9.jpg

Stopper: http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/10.jpg

Cracks: http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/11.jpg

Hidden Key: http://spokeshave.net/music/flute/12.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:12 am 
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What have I done!



Don't worry, we've all done it at some point. :D

Image

In fairness, this one was part of a what would be now €15 batch of (parts of) 3 flutes from a second hand shop



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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:48 am 
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You've gone and bought a flute, haven't you? Looks German to me. Holes look small - which will mean it will be a gentle player. This is right/typical for 19C continental models. Unlikely to be valuable. But ideal as a project.

Crack in barrel might just be cosmetic - esp. if barrel is fully lined (metal)? Block one end, blow/suck if no leak probably won't affect playing. You're going to want to do that leak check on each section - to identify pads on keys needing replacement (if it's old and hasn't been serviced likely all will benefit from replacing). Keys will clean up nicely (look like nickel silver a.k.a. German Silver - which is a copper alloy and not silver at all).

Almost certainly the tenons are going to have to be re-threaded for proper seal. Don't worry if a little loose or wobbly when assembled - that'd be expected if this is an attic find type instrument that hasn't been in play recently. That should all tighten up when you've done the threading which will tighten and improve the seal. Again, if any of those are not perfectly airtight it will have a significant impact on tuning and playing.

If it's wobbly initially - you can use some teflon tape to test it out (but be very, very careful not to over tighten and crack a fragile tenon). Also, if there are any leaky keys - plug the hole with plasticine, blutac or putty just so that the basic instrument and tuning can be checked. Don't worry about pads and keys until everything else is right.

Before you spend much money on it you might want to check the "sounding length" of the instrument which will be the length from the centre of the embouchure hole to the end of the instrument. If this is an A440 (modern pitch) instrument - then the length will be approx 580mm. Ideally it should be able to play A440 with the head extracted out a little (not pushed all the way in and not too far out either - say between 5mm and 20mm). If it's not a concert pitch instrument I wouldn't spend a lot on it.

If it hasn't been played or cared for in a long time - take some care in bringing it back to life (regular oiling, short periods of play, drying out after each to minimise moisture uptake).

Have fun with it - if it comes back as a nice player you'll have a lovely flute for small money.


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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:21 am 
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Looks fairly nice!

But I seriously doubt it is French (doesn't have French key-work).

So it is a small holed flute (French flutes typically have even small holes - like a Baroque flute).

Have Fun! :party:

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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:25 am 
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Sillydill wrote:
Looks fairly nice!

But I seriously doubt it is French (doesn't have French key-work).

So it is a small holed flute (French flutes typically have even small holes - like a Baroque flute).

Have Fun! :party:



Small holed is good for practice at home! I hope...


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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:42 am 
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I would say an old German flute. I had one that looked a lot like it and played it for years, it actually sounded quite good.


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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:38 pm 
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Hey PB+J,

Here is a similar flute that I often play, because it sounds so sweet:

Image

I don't like nor use keys, except the Eb..... so I've filled all the extra holes with sealing wax (but Blu-Tack works great). The Eb key pad is made from an EVA Craft Foam Sheet and sealed to the cup with Hot-Melt glue. Just to give you a few ideas. :poke:

I leave this flute fully assembled and laying about, so I can grab it for a quick tune. The head and barrel were already cracked, so I don't worry about abusing this flute. If it cracks again, I'll just mend it and keep playing.

Have Fun and Enjoy your Flute Odyssey! :thumbsup:

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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:54 pm 
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bradhurley wrote:
I would say an old German flute.

I would agree. It's a pretty distinctive look, and I had one myself. The keys and rings will be nickel silver.

bradhurley wrote:
I had one that looked a lot like it and played it for years, it actually sounded quite good.

By report, if it's a genuine Meyer it stands to be a good flute. Haven't had the pleasure, myself. OTOH, know that if it's marked "Nach Meyer", that is not a maker's name; "nach" in this case means "in the style of". There are a lot more of those around than genuine Meyers, and the Nach Meyers are a crapshoot. Some are excellent, and some are firewood. Mine was a Nach Meyer, and it was weak and terribly out of tune. Being new to fluteplaying at the time, I assumed the problem was me, but in the end it proved in fact to be the flute. Not knowing better, I paid way more for it than I should have. But take heart! $200 for sight unseen isn't a bad price; years back they were going for around $400 on average. Unfortunately I only found that out after my purchase. I think you did okay, PB+J. If nothing else, it's a good tinkering project.

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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:59 pm 
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Thank you all very much. It's really interesting learning about this, and probably the worst that can happen is I'll enjoy tinkering with it. Great tip on EVA foam and craft glue!

I'm wondering if I'll ever even use the keys.

Now I need to start googling for the best way to clean up a grisly old flute


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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:11 pm 
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If the keys work then probably one day you will be glad you have them.
Keys are nice to have, though not essential. Well done, you know. It looks
like you got just what you were looking for. Second (or is it third?) German.
Flutes with small holes can generate serious volume if you play them a good
deal. As the saying now goes: 'Which flute sounds best? The one you play
two hours a day.' Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:25 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
Great tip on EVA foam and craft glue!


Hmmm, not sure if that was really a helpful tip or more of a “so this is how I MacGuyvered a pad for my Eb key”

Ok, that’s a lie, I am sure. :twisted:

Do yourself a favor and research the methods of properly repadding the sort of keys that are on your flute - starting with how to safely remove and re-install the axle pins. None of it is particularly difficult, but you can make things worse, rather than better, if you go about things wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:29 pm 
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P.S. No slight meant to Sillydill, who likes keys less than I do.


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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:14 pm 
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The no-name German flutes are often referred to as "student flutes." That's what I had, actually -- there was no name on it anywhere. But it was a remarkably good-sounding flute; Chris Abell did some minor repair and restoration work on it for me, including a bit of work on the embouchure hole.

As for cleaning it up: the pins on pin-mounted keys are slightly tapered so you can tap them out carefully and remove the keys for cleaning. They're nickel silver, so don't use silver polish. You can try making a paste of baking soda and water, or line a pan with aluminum foil pour in some hot water and a half-teaspoon of salt, mix well, and put the keys in, making sure they're in contact with the aluminum foil. That should help get rid of the tarnish.

While the keys are off you can oil the flute (Try finding some food-grade almond oil or flaxseed oil, don't use linseed oil...especially not boiled linseed oil). Oil it lightly on the outside, let it soak in a bit, and rub it off well. You can do the same inside the flute using a long thin dowel or chopstick and a bit of silk or light cotton cloth, being very careful not to get the cloth stuck inside. I usually put a corner of the cloth on the tip of the cleaning rod, ensuring that the cloth keeps a low profile inside the bore and doesn't bunch up or cause stress on the bore. Swab out the flute with a clean cloth once the oil has had some time to soak in.

After that you might want to oil it once a week or so...how often you need to oil after it's been broken in and being played frequently is a matter of debate.


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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:13 pm 
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Loren wrote:
PB+J wrote:
Great tip on EVA foam and craft glue!


Hmmm, not sure if that was really a helpful tip or more of a “so this is how I MacGuyvered a pad for my Eb key”

Ok, that’s a lie, I am sure. :twisted:

Do yourself a favor and research the methods of properly repadding the sort of keys that are on your flute - starting with how to safely remove and re-install the axle pins. None of it is particularly difficult, but you can make things worse, rather than better, if you go about things wrong.



I like the idea of hot glue as it's pretty easily reversible!

I'm reasonably skilled--I've built a bunch of guitars--so I'll be careful, but thank you, good advice


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 Post subject: Re: What have I done!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:17 pm 
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bradhurley wrote:
The no-name German flutes are often referred to as "student flutes." That's what I had, actually -- there was no name on it anywhere. But it was a remarkably good-sounding flute; Chris Abell did some minor repair and restoration work on it for me, including a bit of work on the embouchure hole.

As for cleaning it up: the pins on pin-mounted keys are slightly tapered so you can tap them out carefully and remove the keys for cleaning. They're nickel silver, so don't use silver polish. You can try making a paste of baking soda and water, or line a pan with aluminum foil pour in some hot water and a half-teaspoon of salt, mix well, and put the keys in, making sure they're in contact with the aluminum foil. That should help get rid of the tarnish.

While the keys are off you can oil the flute (Try finding some food-grade almond oil or flaxseed oil, don't use linseed oil...especially not boiled linseed oil). Oil it lightly on the outside, let it soak in a bit, and rub it off well. You can do the same inside the flute using a long thin dowel or chopstick and a bit of silk or light cotton cloth, being very careful not to get the cloth stuck inside. I usually put a corner of the cloth on the tip of the cleaning rod, ensuring that the cloth keeps a low profile inside the bore and doesn't bunch up or cause stress on the bore. Swab out the flute with a clean cloth once the oil has had some time to soak in.

After that you might want to oil it once a week or so...how often you need to oil after it's been broken in and being played frequently is a matter of debate.



Those are very useful suggestions, thank you very much.

Now as to boiled linseed oil, what it the argument against it? I would think you would want an oil that cures, not an oil that stays soft. I have some flaxseed oil--I use it for french polishing with shellac, to lubricate the pad. But if I'm putting an oil finish on, say, a fingerboard, boiled linseed oil is great, because it cures instead of staying oily and attracting dirt and gunk.


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