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 Post subject: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 2:32 pm 
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Hello fellahs, my first post and question to you all.

I need to upgrade my current flute.
I am a classical flautist, so have kinda blown the budget on the silver flute. However, I currently own an acceptable Tony Dixon polymer flute:

https://www.tonydixonmusic.co.uk/produc ... -key-of-d/

I am in the market for a wooden Irish flute possibly with keys...
I would love suggestions for a flute that would fit a precise blowing style, small fingers and good for practicing on.
Any comments welcome as I can also adjust my playing style (but not my finger size D:) if you are selling a decent reputable flute.

Many thanks in advance!


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:00 pm 
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Keyed or unkeyed?

Price range?

See http://irishflutestore.com

See this recent thread:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=109841


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:16 pm 
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tstermitz wrote:
Keyed or unkeyed?

Price range?

See http://irishflutestore.com

See this recent thread:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=109841


keyed & price range negotiable

thanks for link!


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:34 pm 
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New 6-key flutes are running $4,200 or so from a number of makers, but the wait time is typically a couple years or (much) more.

A decent 6-key used flute can be in the $1,500 - $1,800 range. The best prices are in antique 19th C flutes - pay attention as the flute might be intended to play at A435. That can be a great deal as long as you don't play with anyone with a fixed tuning instrument!

19th C flutes do have intonation idiosyncrasies that require you to make adjustments. Modern flute makers have improved that to greater or lesser extent, sometimes at the cost of losing the optimization in the third octave. That doesn't matter for ITM.

There is a two-keyed Casey Burns at Irishflutestore.com for $1,500. There are two 8-key Grinters up at $8,000. The Grinters are very high quality instruments, but the price reflects the maker's recent death and reputation - they're basically made out of unobtanium.

I'm not sure what you mean by precise embouchure, but you might check out Chris Norman, who makes small-holed flutes with "malleable" embouchures. His flute design is a replica of his famous "Man with the Wooden Flute" antique. I would certainly describe his own embouchure as precise, although he doesn't play with the reedy ITM flute sound that is the popular popular style.

I wouldn't worry so much about finger size. My hands are small, and I went from a small-holed antique to a large-holed modern without trouble. Hole size has more impact on volume and articulation speed.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:08 pm 
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Riase wrote:
I wouldn't worry so much about finger size. My hands are small, and I went from a small-holed antique to a large-holed modern without trouble. Hole size has more impact on volume and articulation speed.


Having worked with hundreds if not a few thousand small handed players, I've found that it is a highly personal issue, not a generality, and I strongly disagree with the above statement. I've worked with many who have said that they gave up Irish and Modern flute playing long ago due to their small hands and hand issues in general and that their discovery of my small handed ergonomics allowed them to play and enjoy flute again without any issues. For your budget I could make a keyless flute without tuning slides or silver rings (but upgradeable for these and keys besides) later for $700, with slides and keys already installed $1100 and custom fit this flute to your hands, although that might take a few iterations. I've been making Irish flutes for smaller hands since 1985, longer than any other maker.

Casey

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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:46 pm 
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Casey, I'm sure you know much more about flutes than I ever will. And, as you say, everybody is different.

But, on this board I frequently see the comment "I have small hands, therefore i need a small-holed flute." Since I know flute players with the tiniest hands that play big Pratten flutes, I think people shouldn't automatically assume there is a problem.

I agree that there are good reasons for choosing an ergonomic flute like you make. There are other reasons for choosing small or large holes.

The OP already has a simple-system flute so they probably do have some awareness of flute ergonomics.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:20 pm 
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Well, now that the box is open, is it the size of the holes or the hole spacing (or both or neither) that is most critical for small-handers?

Best wishes.

Steve

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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:25 pm 
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I thought I posted a reply but must have hit "cancel" in haste. If it appears somehow forgive the repeat.

I wear a men's small size glove. I've played many of the great flutes out there. My "small hands" had no problem with an Olwell pratten. (known for its good sized holes and volume among other great things).

I am often told by people they can't play the simple system flute since they have small hands. When we test that hypothesis palm to palm they often find their hands are larger than mine. Since you and I are not in the same room we can't test that one out. But...

It is often the stretch and the finger placement. If you are switching from a Boehm flute the first thing you will need to adjust to is using other parts of your fingers to close the holes. Many players use the finger tips on first two fingers on the left hand, while the rest are placed in various positions to close the holes and allow for ornamentation. This varies from player to player. I know some players who don't use their finger tips at all.

As for your embouchure. That will adapt to the flute you are playing as you and the instrument search for the sound you are desiring. But you won't lose it for your Boehm flute playing. Your brain will know which instrument you are playing and your body will adapt.

Keys on keyed flutes are seldom operated by the finger tips in the same way you would on a Boehm. So thinking your hands are too small since you can't reach those holes or keys the same way you do on your silver flute is selling your fingers short so to speak. I open the cnat key with the side of the first finger on my right hand betweeh the first two knuckles for example. It would be impossible to open that key with your fingertips.

If you know players talk to them. Ask them if you can handle their flutes. If you don't have any in person people to discuss this with talk to us here. Check out some of the free videos on the Online Academy of Irish music. See how the teachers are holding their flutes. I think they still give you a week for free. YouTube videos of famous players sometimes give you glimpses of the hands, though camera operators often think we want to see the faces.

Good 6 keyed flutes from good makers sometimes come up used, but often at a premium since the buyer is skipping the wait time if a maker is in demand. And many fine flutes are available with shorter waits because no one famous has happened to record with their instrument.

Buying an antique can be a minefield. There are some great restorers out there who have done up and instrument and can stand by their repairs, but an unrestored instrument can cost far more than its purchase price in repairs, not to mention it may not have been created to play A=440 or in the key of D. So unless you know who you are buying and what to look for its hard.

Modern 8 keyed flutes are rare because most of the modern makers are building with the Irish flute market in mind. And Irish flute players have decided low D is low enough. A good 8 keyed flute is wonderful. But making that mechanism is expensive and requires expertise. Many makers just don't want to make them.

An excellent conical bore wooden flute with our without keys is going to be pricey. We are a niche market, and there is a lot of detailed labor and experience that goes into making one of these beasts.

If you see something at the Irish flute store you do have the advantage of their giving you a trial period.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:36 am 
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Casey Burns wrote:
Riase wrote:
I wouldn't worry so much about finger size. My hands are small, and I went from a small-holed antique to a large-holed modern without trouble. Hole size has more impact on volume and articulation speed.


Having worked with hundreds if not a few thousand small handed players, I've found that it is a highly personal issue, not a generality, and I strongly disagree with the above statement. I've worked with many who have said that they gave up Irish and Modern flute playing long ago due to their small hands and hand issues in general and that their discovery of my small handed ergonomics allowed them to play and enjoy flute again without any issues. For your budget I could make a keyless flute without tuning slides or silver rings (but upgradeable for these and keys besides) later for $700, with slides and keys already installed $1100 and custom fit this flute to your hands, although that might take a few iterations. I've been making Irish flutes for smaller hands since 1985, longer than any other maker.

Casey


Thanks for your detailed reply, Casey! Your flute options sounds great, which key options are available on the flutes you make, are there combinations or are they usually keyed or keyless?


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:42 am 
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tstermitz wrote:
New 6-key flutes are running $4,200 or so from a number of makers, but the wait time is typically a couple years or (much) more.

A decent 6-key used flute can be in the $1,500 - $1,800 range. The best prices are in antique 19th C flutes - pay attention as the flute might be intended to play at A435. That can be a great deal as long as you don't play with anyone with a fixed tuning instrument!

19th C flutes do have intonation idiosyncrasies that require you to make adjustments. Modern flute makers have improved that to greater or lesser extent, sometimes at the cost of losing the optimization in the third octave. That doesn't matter for ITM.

There is a two-keyed Casey Burns at Irishflutestore.com for $1,500. There are two 8-key Grinters up at $8,000. The Grinters are very high quality instruments, but the price reflects the maker's recent death and reputation - they're basically made out of unobtanium.

I'm not sure what you mean by precise embouchure, but you might check out Chris Norman, who makes small-holed flutes with "malleable" embouchures. His flute design is a replica of his famous "Man with the Wooden Flute" antique. I would certainly describe his own embouchure as precise, although he doesn't play with the reedy ITM flute sound that is the popular popular style.

I wouldn't worry so much about finger size. My hands are small, and I went from a small-holed antique to a large-holed modern without trouble. Hole size has more impact on volume and articulation speed.



Thank you for all your research, this is great insight and v handy :)
By precise, I mean my blowing style produces a focused sound and not as reedy as a lot of ITM players. So possibly a flute with a large embouchure hole may not be suited to how i already blow across, and I also favour a sound full of the tone rather than maybe 50% air. However as a folk flute novice I don't know if the tone hole varies in size depending on maker...


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:47 am 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
Well, now that the box is open, is it the size of the holes or the hole spacing (or both or neither) that is most critical for small-handers?

Best wishes.

Steve


For me - it is the size of the holes themselves, not spacing. But it very much depends on individuals. I have issues covering with 4th finger of right hand as I have a large scar on the print and the width of my middle joint is only around 1.4cm (just measured!)


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:01 am 
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Busterbill, it is certainly possible for a small handed player to play a flute with large spacing and hole size, using the Piper's Grip method. However, many people going from playing the modern flute for years to playing a traditional 6 holed flute are more inclined to use fingertips. I myself can barely use the Piper's Grip as my finger pads and the joints in between are not exactly straight but have peaks and valleys.

This is the reality for many players that I have worked with.

Why make things more difficult by insisting that one has to have a flute with the 19th century finger spacings? This reeks of orthodoxy.

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Coming Soon: An Ergonomic Low G flute!
http://www.caseyburnsflutes.com
http://www.folkflutes.com


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:58 am 
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Riase wrote:
For me - it is the size of the holes themselves, not spacing. But it very much depends on individuals. I have issues covering with 4th finger of right hand as I have a large scar on the print and the width of my middle joint is only around 1.4cm (just measured!)


Ah. That makes sense.

My session mate who came from boehm and baroque, has the tiniest fingers, yet she uses her finger tips on her Olwell Pratten. Frankly, I don't know how that works!

A conical flute typically has a slightly longer distance for the ring finger of the right hand than you'd expect. If I hold my right and left hand together without stretching, my right ring finger rests slightly wider than the left, as it seems to have adjusted.

This is where Casey's ergonomic feature is probably a benefit (I've not tried his flutes). The 3rd hole on the left (and right) hand is rotated a few degrees closer around the tube. Casey, do you make large-holed ergonomic flutes?

I would appreciate comments from players or makers about what makes a flute more or less reedy. I've thought that this is mostly a blowing style, but I don't know if there is also something about the flute design. Chris Norman is known for his elegant tone, but many ITM flute players think that style is not rough-and-ready enough for Irish. I think Chris is spectacular, and believe that good playing should include control over the tone. It is true that the prevailing style in ITM is reedy and sometimes breathy.

I know that my small-holed 19th C Firth, Pond & Co has a sweet tone that can't be pushed into session loudness, but I've handed it to good ITM players who can make it sound reedy. My modern large-holed Rudall Gallagher allows and encourages me to play with much more volume and a reedier tone, especially in the low register.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:09 pm 
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tstermitz wrote:
But, on this board I frequently see the comment "I have small hands, therefore i need a small-holed flute." Since I know flute players with the tiniest hands that play big Pratten flutes, I think people shouldn't automatically assume there is a problem.


Yep, Bird had tiny fingers, Coltrane had incredibly long and thin fingers. Bird was told he'd never be able to make the reach on the alto, Coltrane that his fingers would trip all over each other on the tenor.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute Upgrade
PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:26 pm 
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chas wrote:
Coltrane had incredibly long and thin fingers. ..... Coltrane [was told] that his fingers would trip all over each other on the tenor.

And Coltrane was pretty good on a penny whistle too. (I know it's early, but it was a good lead-in.)

Best wishes.

Steve

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