Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

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Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by Qiufan Zhu »

The flutes of some makers are very popular,but famous flutist,rarely,use it in albums and performances.Does that mean they're not good enough?Or is it something else?I didn't mean any offence.
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by Sedi »

There is an interesting interview with Matt Molloy on YouTube. He explains that he thinks Pat Olwell is a great flute maker and makes flutes that are very easy to play but that he himself (Matt Molloy) prefers his old flute (a Boosey) he played for such a long time. So if I remember correctly, his daughter plays the Olwell.
So I guess, many flute players prefer the flute they grew accustomed to.
Ah -- I found the interview (it was not on youtube):
http://www.irishfluteguide.info/matt-molloy-interview/
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by kkrell »

Could you be more specific as to which popular makers you aren't seeing used in albums or performances? I myself see plenty of variety in both. For instance, Murray, Hamilton, Olwell, Wilkes, Grinter, Doyle, as well as antique flutes. We might be able to direct you to some recordings.
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by Qiufan Zhu »

kkrell wrote:Could you be more specific as to which popular makers you aren't seeing used in albums or performances? I myself see plenty of variety in both. For instance, Murray, Hamilton, Olwell, Wilkes, Grinter, Doyle, as well as antique flutes. We might be able to direct you to some recordings.
It doesn't seem like a good idea to just write the name.Of course,it is not what you mentioned.They all have own sopkesmen.Maybe I don't know enough about good player's flute.
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by kkrell »

Qiufan Zhu wrote:
kkrell wrote:Could you be more specific as to which popular makers you aren't seeing used in albums or performances? I myself see plenty of variety in both. For instance, Murray, Hamilton, Olwell, Wilkes, Grinter, Doyle, as well as antique flutes. We might be able to direct you to some recordings.
It doesn't seem like a good idea to just write the name.Of course,it is not what you mentioned.They all have own sopkesmen.Maybe I don't know enough about good player's flute.
Those are some of the top names right there. However, there are certainly other makers that have been mentioned that have their own adherents. A few may have fans & availability in particular regions, whether just because of location, or complications in cost, wait list times, shipping, taxes, etc. Breton players have their own favorites in their locale, for instance. I'll throw out a few more names: Reviol, Lehart, Noy, McGee, Lesouef.

I don't know if you're thinking of makers that often have a different class of customer, though may still see some professional use: Copley, Windward, Seery, Somers, Ellis, Baubet, Thompson, M&E, Lambe, Gabriel.

I'm sure I haven't covered them all. You shouldn't be afraid to list names you're curious about, especially if you'd like to view discussions, videos, etc.
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by Qiufan Zhu »

Sedi wrote:There is an interesting interview with Matt Molloy on YouTube. He explains that he thinks Pat Olwell is a great flute maker and makes flutes that are very easy to play but that he himself (Matt Molloy) prefers his old flute (a Boosey) he played for such a long time. So if I remember correctly, his daughter plays the Olwell.
So I guess, many flute players prefer the flute they grew accustomed to.
Ah -- I found the interview (it was not on youtube):
http://www.irishfluteguide.info/matt-molloy-interview/
Nice article.I haven't played the old flute.But the new one seems to be better than the old one.They are in good condition,improved,good at in irish music.Perhaps there is something magical about the old wood,like violin.Or as you say,many flute players prefer the flute they grew accustomed to.
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by fatmac »

Not that I'm any good at playing, but I personally prefer instruments that don't need a lot of looking after, therefore I will only buy delrin, plastic, or metal flutes - it boils down to what works for you personally, so most, I expect, use what they have spent most time with.
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by Mr.Gumby »

it boils down to what works for you personally, so most, I expect, use what they have spent most time with.
It is true to an extend, you will always be more comfortable with an instrument you have spent a lot of time with, you tend to know exactly how it will respond. Some years ago I was talking to a young player, a neighbour, who at the time held the All Ireland under 18 flute title. Her parents had bought her a Grinter but she confessed her original Brendan McMahon was the flute she preferred playing by a country mile . But that doesn't mean the Grinter wasn't the better flute. It takes time to get acquainted with a new instrument and find what it will allow you. It takes effort, throwing out, to an extend, what you know and are used to, and re-learn to go with what's new. If you do that, the new instrument may well reward you with new possibilities and colours. The process does involve a period where things are awkward, slightly uncomfortable and that makes you self-aware and less confident as a player,. Not everybody will want to go through that so they'll stick with what they know and are comfortable with.
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by Terry McGee »

I'm not convinced it's "what you are accustomed to". I rather think it's much more important. I reckon it's "what suits you".

I've made flutes for previous customers of very highly-regarded makers such as Patrick Olwell, Michael Grinter and Chris Wilkes, and these players have written back and thanked me copiously. You can sense their sense of relief. They had thought that a flute by one of the most famous makers would have guaranteed they would be happy. Not so, as it transpired. They were blaming themselves. Not fairly, as it transpired.

Do I interpret that as I make better flutes than Pat, Michael and Chris? No, I interpret that as I make different flutes than Pat, Michael and Chris, and that for some reason, yet to be determined, this suits some players much better. Not all players, clearly, or they would be out of business and I would be raking it in! And I'm equally sure that Pat, Michael and Chris have made flutes for some of my previous customers that have suited them better than my flutes did. We're not talking better and worse here. We're talking different. At least significantly different. Perhaps dramatically different.

Some "different" we can probably put a finger on. Michael and Chris were keen on the post-Nicholson-era style flutes that exhibited very flat feet. In my experience, only a certain proportion of players can successfully deal with that. If you can do the offset-jet trick, great, you'll love the flute. If you can't, sorry, you will struggle desperately. I have made replacement sections for players who couldn't manage it. Or sold them flutes they could manage. They liked the flute. Just not the tuning.

And I've played flutes by Michael and Chris, and found the embouchure didn't suit me. But never have had the time to delve further in as to why. I imagine that flute makers are the fussiest in regard to embouchure. "I can do better than that!"

Less sure why some customers for Patrick's flutes would come to me. (And, to be fair, there are probably fewer of them.) I haven't had much experience of his flutes (I live a sheltered life down here on the south-east coast of Australia). But I'm not aware of any serious difficulties his flutes present. I'm imagining that, again, perhaps we just enjoy a different embouchure. But maybe that's enough?

It seems to me that we, as a community, haven't bitten the bullet on understanding this rather fundamental issue. It's no doubt very tempting to think that "since I love my flute from maker X so much, everyone else should have one". But it doesn't work like that, or maker X would be the only maker in existence. The reality is that we now have more makers, not fewer. Great, I say! More variety means more happy flute players.

But it still leaves the awkward question - I want to buy a flute, who should I buy it from? "No problem", half of the Flute Forum are quick to respond. "Maker X made my flute and it's the best flute I've ever found." Best for you perhaps, but is it necessarily best for everyone?

I'd love to finish this rant with a concrete plan for where we go from here. But to be quite honest, I haven't a clue! It would be fascinating, post Covid, to assemble, at an international flute gathering somewhere, examples of flutes by all our makers, and get lots of players to experience them, and rate them. And ideally to say why. It should probably be a "blind tasting" - makers' marks should be concealed and replaced by numbers to get around the "awe factor".

I suspect that, in the first instance, it would raise more questions than answers. I don't think that it would come down to just embouchure, or tuning, or any other single factor. It may come down to issues none of us could have imagined. But at least we would be on the way....
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by Steve Bliven »

Terry McGee wrote:I'd love to finish this rant with a concrete plan for where we go from here. But to be quite honest, I haven't a clue! It would be fascinating, post Covid, to assemble, at an international flute gathering somewhere, examples of flutes by all our makers, and get lots of players to experience them, and rate them. And ideally to say why. It should probably be a "blind tasting" - makers' marks should be concealed and replaced by numbers to get around the "awe factor".

I suspect that, in the first instance, it would raise more questions than answers. I don't think that it would come down to just embouchure, or tuning, or any other single factor. It may come down to issues none of us could have imagined. But at least we would be on the way....
Interesting concept. From my limited experience, I've found that it takes me awhile to "get used" to a flute. I've gone through a bunch of instruments on my quest, and some were great at first and then, as I got used to them, the glow faded—just not the flute for me. A couple of others were tough for me at first but now that we've spent some time together, we're getting along very nicely.

Perhaps more experienced players can adjust much more quickly than I—maybe even "on the fly" of a side-by-side testing. But for me, it's taken time. And there's that crappy flute that I never could play that I dragged out the other day and it just sang. How could it have improved so much just sitting in a box? Very mysterious.

Best wishes.

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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by Peter Duggan »

Terry McGee wrote:But it still leaves the awkward question - I want to buy a flute, who should I buy it from? "No problem", half of the Flute Forum are quick to respond. "Maker X made my flute and it's the best flute I've ever found." Best for you perhaps, but is it necessarily best for everyone?
Absolutely with you here, Terry! Since what-to-get and who-to-go-to threads (and I've seen plenty on both flute and whistle forums) so often turn into what-I've-got lists from the same people, I normally just leave them alone unless I've got something more to contribute.

Of course maker X did make the perfect (necessarily unique) flute for me and was great to work with along the way, but I still don't leap in and tell everyone to go to him whether or not he makes what they're asking for!
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by flutemaker »

Hi Terry, nice to hear from you and I couldn't have said it better.
I always tell people to trust their senses and play as many flutes as possible to find the one that fits them and don't heed too much attention to the name on the barrel, more to do with Concert Flutes where I don't have a stake in selling anything as I only repair them. But same for wooden flutes. Try flutes out, see if they fit your style/needs, take a few days to get used to it and also going back to one to re-check might be a good thing...
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by BKWeid »

This discussion, as well as the "Wilkes--the knack" type discussions (without all the polemics) is so fascinating to me.

The variety of themes proposed are interesting:

1. Is there a ONE better flute for a person--let the search begin...?

2. Are you better off focusing on one flute? (Love the one you're with...)

3. As us "Improvers" build our embouchure(s), will we seek more challenging flutes?

4. Do more challenging flutes (knack required) offer more satisfaction, more dynamic range, and tone color? Or, are they just difficult flutes?

5. Is the flute that works well for where I am NOW the one where I should be focusing my effort?

6. If great player "X" sounds wonderfully on flute by maker "Y", should I not seek out that flute to play?

7. Do we really sound exactly like US regardless of the flute we are playing? (I believe I do.)

I've found a flute that works wonderfully for me where i am currently in my development and it is a joy to play. In addition, I've also spent weeks with two flutes both made by one top maker--they are so very different! One is very attainable and has wonderful tone, for me. The other is tougher to play and I struggle with a consistent strong bottom D. Of the two, do I play the one that suits me much better right now? Or, is there something to the challenge of "finding the knack is going to be rewarding" line of thought?

Wow, we are fortunate to have so many excellent makers of fine flutes. It is rewarding to try different flutes; the journey is fantastic. If only I knew where to focus my efforts!
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by Nanohedron »

BKWeid wrote:Do we really sound exactly like US regardless of the flute we are playing? (I believe I do.)
I agree with this, too, although I think this is a separate issue, and not necessarily to do with how an individual makes flutes sound, although blowing style contributes. I know fluters whose whistle playing couldn't be anyone else's; same with some pipers I've known. Once it's established, personal style comes through. Having gone through a few flutes myself, at more than one session I've had arrivals tell me they knew I was there before they saw me. I thought it was best to let that sleeping dog lie...
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Re: Is best flutes when it is loved by nice flutists?

Post by I.D.10-t »

I have at least 2 beautiful flutes. I also own several fifes. When I want to play I reach for the tube that is me and is objectively not the best instrument of what I own. It is the fude that I paint bamboo with. When I reach for a knife I grab the wood handled garbage from the 80's and not the chef's workhorse knife with forged blade and polyoxymethylene scales. Art is a process, and the first step is choosing a tool. Anyone that chooses a hunk of wood over a tublier metal typewriter has chosen a specific art that they want to make. After that, I think fine details should be put in perspective. At the end of the day it really doesn't matter how I sliced the tomato for my hamburger.
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