Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

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TxWhistler
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Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by TxWhistler »

While perusing the web I've found a D'Almaine 8 Key Cocus wood flute for sale in very nice condition. Since I know very little about flutes and their makers I'd like to hear from you all. I tried a search here but most of the comments were either those selling or having bought one 10+ years ago with little to no description of it and its playability.

I'm just looking for your thoughts and or experiences with this makers flutes.

I'm assuming they are better than nach Meyer flutes and not as good as ones made by a reputable modern day makers.

This flute looks to have pewter keys for C and C#. Are there drawbacks to these pewter keys?

Thanks in advance for your responses.
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by Conical bore »

TxWhistler wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 10:01 am This flute looks to have pewter keys for C and C#. Are there drawbacks to these pewter keys?
Yes, it's a dumb design. :wink:

I have a modern maker's take on a Rudall type flute, a Thomas Aebi 8-key in Cocus with pewter cups for the low C and C#. I love everything about it except for those keys.

The C# has a very tiny leak around the edge on one side -- confirmed with an LED "leak light" -- but it's so small that I can still hit the C# note fairly well. I can't get the low C note at all, because the LED light shows a much wider leak around one edge. It appears that the cup is very slightly misaligned off center, so one side is hitting the edge of the hole first and preventing a good seal. I bought the flute secondhand so this may be earlier damage, or just off-center drift over time.

So yeah, they CAN be a problem, but it doesn't mean the flute you're looking at has a problem with those keys.

What bums me out about the pewter key design is that I've had two other leaky keys that I've fixed myself by installing new pads. It isn't that hard once you try it a few times. I can't do anything about these pewter keys without sending it to a repair person. This is my only flute so I'm reluctant to do that, not least because I'm not currently playing any tunes that need that low C note. I do play one tune that uses the C#, so I'm glad that's working.

I hope this helps and doesn't scare you off a good flute purchase!
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by tstermitz »

I've had several flutes with pewter keys with extremely solid seals. I've had a couple with poor seals. Sometimes it is the pewter, which is soft enough to mold. Alternatively, it is the setting of the touches, or specifically whether the C-touch properly meets the C# touch. Either problem can be a little fussy to fix.

I have had only one flute with padded C/C#, and found the low notes to be rather fluffy. Again, it might be the way the touches meet or don't meet. Or else I needed to mash the C touch harder.

When set up properly I prefer pewter seals, as they give a very solid initiation to the note, and my pathetic little pinky doesn't have to squeeze very hard at all.
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by TxWhistler »

Conical bore wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:34 am
TxWhistler wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 10:01 am This flute looks to have pewter keys for C and C#. Are there drawbacks to these pewter keys?
Yes, it's a dumb design. :wink:

So yeah, they CAN be a problem, but it doesn't mean the flute you're looking at has a problem with those keys.

I hope this helps and doesn't scare you off a good flute purchase!
Thanks Conical bore, this does help. It won't scare me away but will give me something to think about.
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by TxWhistler »

tstermitz wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:10 pm I've had several flutes with pewter keys with extremely solid seals. I've had a couple with poor seals. Sometimes it is the pewter, which is soft enough to mold. Alternatively, it is the setting of the touches, or specifically whether the C-touch properly meets the C# touch. Either problem can be a little fussy to fix.

I have had only one flute with padded C/C#, and found the low notes to be rather fluffy. Again, it might be the way the touches meet or don't meet. Or else I needed to mash the C touch harder.

When set up properly I prefer pewter seals, as they give a very solid initiation to the note, and my pathetic little pinky doesn't have to squeeze very hard at all.
Great info tstermitz! This gives me even more to contemplate.
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by an seanduine »

I should think the man to ask would be Jem Hammond, as he deals with these type keys on a regular basis.

Bob
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by jim stone »

A drop of (almond) oil is recommended to perfect the seal. Just put a drop on the side of the hole and work the key and the oil spreads round. Some of these flutes are spot on as is. The Siccama has the best keys I've ever played. Also there are people who specialize in getting the bottom keys adjusted so they play. Finally one rarely uses them, so I wouldn't let it be a deal breaker. Interested in how the flute plays, more generally.
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by TxWhistler »

an seanduine wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:45 pm I should think the man to ask would be Jem Hammond, as he deals with these type keys on a regular basis.

Bob
Yes, thanks, I will have to get in touch with him if he doesn't happen to see this post and respond.
jim stone wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 3:37 pm Finally one rarely uses them, so I wouldn't let it be a deal breaker.
For ITM that's true but I plan on playing various other genre's of music so I will be using them more than for ITM.
jim stone wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 3:37 pm Interested in how the flute plays, more generally.
Yes, I'm more interested in how this maker's flutes are generally viewed.

Thanks for all the comments so far!
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by tstermitz »

I have frequently heard the recommendation to use a drop of light machine oil to help seal the pewter plugs. Personally, I have never tried it on my plugs. Since they work great without it, I don't see any need to try oil. Also, I don't want to add anything that might collect dust or thicken.

To that point, I recently found my plugs were slightly sticky. I had to take out the pins and wash the pewter and holes out with alcohol. Who knows, maybe with oil they would not be sticky. Cleaning was an easy fix.

In another case, I found the pewter plugs to be slightly sticky, and felt that a small ridge had developed on the pewter. Burnishing the pewter edge with a metal tool, smoothed and shined up the pewter, and then they sealed perfectly again. On my present flute, the pewter has a little bit of discoloration or tarnish or corrosion (does pewter tarnish?), and it doesn't shine up.

Sometimes pewter plugs rotate easily, and other times they are more stuck in the key-arm. If you rotate the plug, sometimes it can twist out of the optimum position; good luck re-finding exactly the right place. The seat is of a much harder metal than the pewter, so only the plug could be out of round. Replacing the pewter is possible, but not from the normal, good repair guy.

I also have an Abel Siccama flute. I agree that the low C/C# keys seem to operate with very clean and solid action.

As to ITM and low C/C#, there are a few. Tunes in D-minor, G-minor, and F frequently use low C. "Roslyn Castle" and "Annika's Butterfly", the only two tunes I know in Harmonic Minor, benefit from the sinister low C#.
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by jim stone »

I play all kinds of music too (Klezmer, Blues, classical, baroque, jazz),
and don't much miss functional bottom keys. The Eb is very useful but
you'd have that.
The notes the two bottom keys play are still available anyhow and, for instance, baroque flutes
didn't have them. Pat O's flutes don't have em. I think they are nice
to have but not a deal breaker for what I do, and they can be adjusted.
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by Andro »

I have a D'Almaine flute possibly very similar if not identical to the one you are describing, restored to perfection by Arthur Haswell. It's simply divine. It's a fairly soft flute, so it may not really be suitable for bashing out a tune in a session - I don't know, since covid we have no sessions here in Australia any more.

A very beautiful instrument for 19c music, and because of the restoration, no issues with keys as this thread went off into.

Personally, I'd jump at the chance to get another one, the only caveat being the overall sound power output level. A sublime flute for chamber music though. I believe we can date it to about 1827. It amazes me the the instrument has survived so long in perfect condition, no mods to the embouchure, and only one crack expertly restored.
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by TxWhistler »

Andro wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 10:11 pm I have a D'Almaine flute possibly very similar if not identical to the one you are describing, restored to perfection by Arthur Haswell. It's simply divine. It's a fairly soft flute, so it may not really be suitable for bashing out a tune in a session - I don't know, since covid we have no sessions here in Australia any more.

A very beautiful instrument for 19c music, and because of the restoration, no issues with keys as this thread went off into.

Personally, I'd jump at the chance to get another one, the only caveat being the overall sound power output level. A sublime flute for chamber music though. I believe we can date it to about 1827. It amazes me the the instrument has survived so long in perfect condition, no mods to the embouchure, and only one crack expertly restored.
Thank you Andro for your thoughts. That is exactly the type of info I am looking for. I do not need a booming loud flute. I will be playing for my own enjoyment and recording from time to time at home. So a softer playing flute is just fine.
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by flutefry »

I bought a used flute at auction in the UK (Siccama made by Hudson ~1850-52) a few years ago, and I had them send it to Arthur Haswell for an inspection/"do anything that you feel is necessary to restore it to perfect playing condition". Cost was reasonable and everything was indeed perfect when it arrived. If it had arrived in Canada, it would have been difficult to find someone with the expertise to make the repairs. Might be worth it for the peace of mind.....

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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by TxWhistler »

flutefry wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 1:34 pm I bought a used flute at auction in the UK..........and I had them send it to Arthur Haswell for an inspection/"do anything that you feel is necessary to restore it to perfect playing condition". Cost was reasonable and everything was indeed perfect when it arrived. .......... Might be worth it for the peace of mind.....
Hugh
Thanks for the info Hugh! I'll keep him in mind if I ever need that service.

What I'm looking for in my original question is: what kind of flutes (quality-wise) did D'Almaine make? One person has shared their experience with D'Alamine flutes and that helps but if I'm going to shell out the money for an 8 Key I would like for a few more people to share their opinions that it is better than just a mediocre flute. In my mind a mediocre flute restored is still, at best, a mediocre flute.

And for any who may be following this thread, it was suggested by another member here that I reach out to Jem Hammond for his thoughts. I'm assuming this Jem is the same as the C&F member Jemtheflute. I did send him a pm but have not heard back from him. I don't blame him at all since he doesn't know me from Adam and has no obligation whatsoever to respond! I'm sure he is busy with his own business and personal life.
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Re: Request your thoughts on D'Almaine - London 8 key Cocus Wood Flute

Post by intheair »

What I'm looking for in my original question is: what kind of flutes (quality-wise) did D'Almaine make? One person has shared their experience with D'Alamine flutes and that helps but if I'm going to shell out the money for an 8 Key I would like for a few more people to share their opinions that it is better than just a mediocre flute. In my mind a mediocre flute restored is still, at best, a mediocre flute.

And for any who may be following this thread, it was suggested by another member here that I reach out to Jem Hammond for his thoughts. I'm assuming this Jem is the same as the C&F member Jemtheflute. I did send him a pm but have not heard back from him. I don't blame him at all since he doesn't know me from Adam and has no obligation whatsoever to respond! I'm sure he is busy with his own business and personal life.
General comments on D'Almaine flutes may be misleading since they were made over a period of time and in many styles. It's also possible that some flutes bearing the D'Almaine name were actually made by someone else.

I think your flute of interest was discussed in the Flute History Channel on Facebook about 2 weeks ago. Comments and opinions there (positive overall) may be helpful.
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