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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 10:00 pm 
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"What a long, strange trip it's been." (Jerry Garcia)

I'm the happy owner of a new (used) flute from a Chiff&Fipple member: a John Gallagher large-holed Rudall. If I understand correctly, Gallagher's designs are close imitations of antique Rudall flutes. Quality workmanship and attention to detail is obvious. I love how lightly the long-F key is sprung.

It is very interesting to compare the very large holed Gallagher with my medium-smallish holed antique by Firth, Pond & Co. And it is very interesting to observe how having two very different flutes informs my playing on either of them.

The FP&C is a flute that requires a "focused" embouchure. (I don't know what to call it other than focus). So much so that it took me well over a year to build up the fine motor muscles in my mouth to the point where I had any consistency at all - and I still lose it at times, like when I'm nervous. It has a smallish, oval embouchure, and if my airstream is off or I get tense or any of ten different issues, then my quality goes to hell. When I'm "ON", the tone of this antique flute is great. It definitely has a tighter tone quality than the Gallagher, but it plays easily and the articulations are extremely fast due to the small holes.

The large-hole Gallagher has a medium-small sized, oval embouchure, that is more generous (easier) than the antique, but it still takes focus and control. The voicing of the flute is huge. I mean, I can push and push it and the flute never stops giving. I'm still coming to terms with it, and I'm sure it will take more time. The Gallagher has a dark, rich, warm tone, and it is easy enough to find the "reedy-buzz" and overtones in the low register.

(1) I have come to realize that both flutes are extremely good. Both go from low C to third register G (If my focus is good!) with reasonable intonation. Low C is much easier on the FP&C, while third register is a bit easier on the Gallagher - I don't quite know why since I would expect a smaller flute to play better in the upper register. Probably it has to do with the embouchure cut.

(2) Embouchure focus is very important for either flute.

(3) Experiencing a huge sound from the Gallagher, I can return to the FP&C and evoke a bigger sound. Experiencing the reedy-overtone quality in the Gallagher, I can return to the FP&C and find it. In other words, learning to push the larger flute teaches me how to get more out of the smaller flute. I think this is an important lesson.

(4) The FP&C is wicked fast on cuts, taps and rolls. The large holes of the Gallagher are not so easy to hit quickly and accurately. Knowing that I can do fast articulations on the FP&C, I know what to shoot for on the Gallagher.

(5) The low-C foot of the FP&C with pewter plugs is dead-on superb. Plugs are dry, WHAAACK, and I can hit a strong low C. The Gallagher has softer pads, which are quiet, but not as positive. At first, I couldn't even get a low-C note at all. Finally, I can get a low-C from the Gallagher, but the low-C from my FP&C is much louder and easier.

(6) In terms of intonation, my FP&C is a little flat on the middle C#, and a little sharp on the A & B notes - a previous owner had applied wax or something to flatten them. The Gallagher C# is flat unless I vent the C-nat key, and my preferred C-natural (OXO XXX) is sharp. Ambiguous C/C# is fine playing by myself, but maybe not with equal temperament instruments. I'm still trying to work that out. FP&C is fine with OXO XXX, although C# benefits from venting.

I'm only 3 1/2 years into the flute, and I have come to realize that embouchure and tone are the alpha and omega of flute skill, but it is a life-long journey. I think there are flutes with easier embouchures - my first flute was a Solen Lesouef, and if I recall it was much easier to play. I "feel virtuous" for working with an embouchure that requires more work; it is possible that I am better off for it.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:24 pm 
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Sure your embouchure is better off for it. Moving back and forth between good flutes is, for me, one of the great pleasures of fluting. My own impression, which I think you share, is that venting the Cnatural is a fine thing to do. There are at least two ways of crossfingering C natural, your way and 0XX 000. It would be interesting to know how the second way works on the Gallagher. If it is in tune you can have it with a little practice. Generally it's a good fingering and it can simplify the move to other notes.

Congratulations. These are art works, acoustical art works, that we get to play. They make the world a brighter place and do no one any harm. Way Kool!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:42 am 
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If I understand correctly, Gallagher's designs are close imitations of antique Rudall flutes.


You should see John's drawings and measurements of the original flutes. I've suggested he should sell those as works of art - I certainly want one!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 1:11 pm 
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I have the same flute on order from John and I hope one day it will arrive.

Interestingly, I also came from a Firth, Pond & Co - the six key Grey Larsen Preferred - a wonderful flute and I regret giving it up. I'm sure they behave very differently.

I currently play one of John's Pratten (unkeyed) which is a beast. The head is designed so I can adapt it to a silver flute which is nice in that the chromatics become available and the tone is quite nice. Congratulations on acquiring that flute.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:07 pm 
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Thanks Harlowe. I remember that you have been anxiously waiting for your flute to be finished.

I'd guess that the GLP has a more modern embouchure than my FPC, and probably an improved intonation, not that my FPC is that bad in that regard. Mine does have slightly larger holes than the GLP, and the pewter C-foot is perfectly adjusted for easy and accurate notes. The FPC embouchure definitely requires "focus", and it is not so easy to go back to it after the reward I get from the JG.

Many of my initial issues with the Gallagher (like consistency, ahem) are improving with practice, and I'm quite addicted to the strong dark tone I can get from it. The embouchure is relatively "malleable", meaning I am able to shape the tone. I recall that the Chris Norman flute I got to try in Portal had a particularly malleable embouchure, also. I believe that both FG and CN were influenced if not trained by Rod Cameron and inspired by Chris Norman's famous Rudall. Which makes me curious about how those small-holed Rudalls compare to my large holed Rudall.

My low C is working better, but it is still more difficult than I would like, and that's something I'd have John look at if or when I can stand to be without it.

My primary remaining complaint is that my preferred C-nat (OXO XXX) is sharp and close to the C# which is a bit flat. I'm working on lipping them up and down, with partial success thanks again for a more malleable embouchure. The FPC only needs a little effort on the C# if I don't want to vent the C-nat key. I wonder if the C/C# issues are a compromise in design due to the large holes.

One other great thing about the Gallagher is that the third octave quite easy all the way up to G. Surprising, it's easier up there than my FPC. I have to thank myself for working through the challenges of the FPC embouchure.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:55 pm 
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Hey Tom. I did not realize who I was talking to. Congrats again.

Waiting, yes... but discovering that the Gallagher Pratten headjoint fits and works well with a Gemeinhardt M3 silver body has open up a whole slew of chromatic possibilities (that is, ahem, Reavy tunes). Aesthetically it is a pretty scary looking combination. But I guess adding a wooden head to a silver flute is a thing. I did have to play with the stopper a bit to get the octaves in tune, and even so the second octave is a tad flat and I have to lip up, but still - a nice surprise. Not quite sure what the acoustical mechanics are there, since both are cylindrical. It may have something to do with the chimney height of the embouchure, or the bore that is slightly enlarged from the Gemeinhardt's native head.

Did you get to play Cheryl's keyed GLP? That was my old flute - just lovely. Tiny little holes but it had surprising power if you pushed it.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:19 pm 
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I think I did play Cheryl's flute, but my memory is a sieve. The holes on my FPC are actually pretty medium size - almost large. Hole 5# is 9mm. On the Gallagher hole #5 is 11mm.

The sweet Chris Norman flute was a boxwood keyless owned by the quiet BC, Canadian flute player.

Road to the Glen... At my tempo, more like an air!

I've been loving the key of F:
Paddy Fahey Reel #1 in D-minor
Lad O'Beirnes in F
Neckbelly in F.
Annika's Butterfly in D-minor

Or, in Bb:
Factory Smoke / When the Tide Comes in / Brown Coffin (from one of the Portal Sessions)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 2:12 pm 
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Got the Gallagher keyed Pratten, though not in the way I expected. It is also a very nice flute.

If you remember, I had been playing one of his unkeyed Pratten flutes, which is pretty much a dead-on reproduction of the Boosey & Co R.S. Prattens Perfected No 8626. It is a heavy instrument, with a robust sound, and is a little out of tune in the second octave which I've never been able to remedy by moving the cork - this may just be inherent to this instrument design.

This new six-key keyed Pratten seems more refined. Lighter in weight, which is appreciated, and the toneholes are just slightly different in size and placement. Workmanship is first rate. The headjoint is lined, and I'm not sure how that is going to work out in this dry climate. Hopefully no cracking, but sadly I think it will be prone to that. Tone is quite strong in the 2nd octave, with a nice hard D in the first. Octaves and overall tuning are dead on. It holds its own very nicely in a noisy session.

Hopefully will get to try yours some day. My understanding that of the two, the large-hole Rudall is the more dynamic.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 12:27 am 
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Very cool for you! Ah, sorry. I saw that come up and I should have flagged it for you. I'm glad you were able to get it.

It would be fun to compare, large-hole vs large-hole. I think the Pratten bore is bigger, but the holes are not too different.

My climate is very dry in the winter when the heat comes on. I find that playing for several hours by itself is insufficient to keep the wood hydrated, which shows up as the rings becoming loose and the joints becoming tight. I need to put the flute in a 55-60% humidity box on a daily basis after swabbing out the excess moisture.

The expansion and contraction of my 1850s cocus flute, which has never had a crack (as far as I can tell), seems to be more stable. If I leave it out of the humidity box the rings eventually do become loose, just on a slower time-frame.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:19 am 
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2 of the rings on the keyless Pratten have fallen off and disappeared into the sessionsphere because of shrinkage, but this happened very early on. I tend to almond oil them once a week, which seems to work well. Maybe should start humidifying this new instrument. Wild humidity swings here - dry in winter, to very humid in summer because of the prevalence of swamp coolers.


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