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Beware of cheap ebay flutes!
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Author:  dipl_nb [ Sun Jan 20, 2008 3:14 pm ]
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Hi Jem,

I found this topic about the ebonite flute in Eb after I already ordered the flute from Empire Brass on ebay (30 euro + 45 shipping). I ordered the flute 7 days ago and it arrived just 3 days later. I have to say that I'm still an complete noob to flute playing (and music making in general) :-? The purchase of the Eb flute was a rather impulsive act (after seeing some YouTube clips of Hatao and Aanvil). At this moment I'm neither disappointed nor satisfied with the flute. Imo it's a very nice black flute (from India) and regarding to the finish, of decent quality. I fully agree with your description of it. My concern is that I can't get a good tone out of it when all the holes are covered (and the 2 boehm foot keys opend). So I can't get a proper Eb tone :sniffle: . This could be because I've still to master the embouchure, but this could also be caused by inconsistent production quality of the flute. Maybe some kind of tuning is nessasary (head join cork?).
I've bought today a tin whistle to get an easyer start but hope to be able to learn how to play this Eb flute in a decent manner.
Thanks for posting the clips of the empire eb flute. You make it sound wonderful.

Do you, or someone else have an idea how the sound of this flute can be improved. I've checked the stopper cork. It's not leaking and situated approx. 3~3.5mm left from the embouchure hole (maybe to close?). I've also checked that de joins and the keys (when all closed) aren't leaking.


Author:  jemtheflute [ Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:55 am ]
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Dimitry, pm response sent.

Author:  jemtheflute [ Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:56 am ]
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New on eBay! ... NA:US:1123
This looks like a new version to crop up! Similar to but, on close inspection of the pics, somewhat different from the Indian "Empire" brand we have discussed. A very garbled version of flute history in their blurb, though interesting that they have taken the bother to research that far, if with little understanding or accuracy of synthesis! I haven't laid eyes, let alone hands or lips on one of these, so make no comment about their playability. I wonder if these were the people harassing Casey and Jon C recently? It would be interesting to get hold of one to try (without having to pay for it)!

Author:  G1 [ Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:07 pm ]
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I found this forum some time back (recently joined) from trying to Google the eastern flutes.

It saved me from spending my hard earned cash on one. Many thanks, folks.

Instead, I wound up with a really nice Doug Tipple; and just now picked up a Dixon from another member.

Great advice and resources, guys! :D

Author:  jemtheflute [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:17 pm ]
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I have recently done up what appears to be another Pakistani flute - see this thread for the full tale and this post for the upshot. Just goes to show, don't make sweeping assumptions. Not all Pakistani flutes are irredeemable junk, though many are - and I have several on a shelf in my shed to prove it!

Referring to previous posts I've made in this thread about Empire ebonite Eb flutes, I've recently done what I proposed and re-worked the foot joint key touches so they are usable and also tweaked the embouchure. It's really not bad at all. No time for now, but will try to post pics and clips at a later date.

All of which brings back the old question, why don't they just make that little extra effort, which would cost them next to nothing, and get these things right?

Author:  G1 [ Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:57 am ]
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Actually, I bought the $50 ebay flute from a buyer who had posted concerns here a couple of months back. I had the joints corked and smoothed out the embouchure. My girlfriend is happily playing it now! It's not my Seery, but is very playable and has a decent tone.

I earned some relatively cheap 'attaboys' from her with that one. So, yeah - not all are total junk... but buyers should beware all the same. It was a $50 gamble. :)

Author:  jemtheflute [ Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:16 am ]
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Absolutely agreed, these things are a gamble unless you can try 'em out first, and even then, even the better ones won't do as they come, but need tweaking/correcting/improving. But then, buying antiques, even "name" ones, off eBay or otherwise at a distance is also a gamble. Undeniably most of the Pakistani plain keyless wooden flutes seen on eBay are junk, completely unplayable even given attention, and I would not wish anyone to be misled to think otherwise by things I have written in this and other threads.

Author:  Latticino [ Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  M&E and Pakistani flutes

Another wrinkle on the whole e-bay Pakistani thing.

First let me say that I've been bitten twice now trying to switch from whistle to flute with nominal investment using e-bay (the first one was an ebonite flute of which the less said the better). I also bought one of the Pakistani wood flutes and (from "tunes of wood" on a second chance offer at ~$75). On receipt I found it was worse than unplayable, it was unassemblable. Even with all the cotton thread removed (prior to re-wrap with silk or rayon) the body tennon would not fit into the foot joint. This was much more than just humidity swelling, but with some judicious modification to the interior of the socket I was able to rewrap and assemble to attempt to play. Just to be clear on my skill level, I have an older M&E and could at the time get a consistant octave and a half from it, and play several simpler tunes. The Pakistani flute notes (intonation?) were so far out of tune with each other that even a simple scale was excruciating. A much better candidate for Casey's chipper than the reject parts he demoed. However the vendor did accept it back less a somewhat exorbitant restocking fee, so I guess I can't complain too much.

On the other hand, I just came across the following article on the web:

If it is factual then I guess it is more than possible to "improve" one of these flutes to make it playable. Kind of hard to believe though...

Author:  lazyleft [ Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:29 am ]
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Author:  azw [ Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: M&E and Pakistani flutes

Latticino's "another wrinkle on the whole e-bay Pakistani thing" was interesting. It's good to see what "M and E" is. Does it strike anyone else as deceptive (if intentional) to be calling a tweaked Pakistani flute by essentially the same name as M&E's?

Polczynski makes a number of confident statements in that article that had my eyebrows doing jumping jacks. For starters, the few Pakistani instruments I've seen used woods that didn't seem to be nearly the same quality as the "real" instruments. And how does he fix bad intonation? You can increase the size a bit, but that can't fix every sin.

Polczynski's flutes sound a lot like the wrecked and salvage cars that are rebuilt and sold to unsuspecting buyers.

Author:  Latticino [ Fri Sep 26, 2008 8:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Not sure about all this, but from eyewitness reports...

Since no one looked at my previous post for a while (one of the problems with stickies I think, they get overlooked at times) I reposted the question about M&E on this thread: with a tag line that was sure to get comments. It seems that the consensus is that if M&E flutes were ever pre-manufactured in Pakistan, they certainly aren't now (as far as I've been able to determine Polczynski is M&E's website administrator as well as the author of the very clever Irish Flute Tutor and Irish Flute Poser pages:

Wish someone from M&E would comment specifically one way or the other. Certainly from the one M&E that I have played for some months, and the single Pakistani flute that I played for a few days, I can say that the difference in quality is significant. The M&E flute is a real instrument and is fully capable of being used in virtually any venue. The Pakistani flute was more of a flute blank and could not be used without modification

Author:  Jayhawk [ Mon Sep 29, 2008 7:22 pm ]
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To finally put this puppy to bed...and yes, this is a duplicate post from Lattacino's other thread.

I emailed Mr. Cronnolly about this online article, and he said he was not aware of it.

He said he makes the flutes himself. However, he said in 2004 he started buying his polymer from a Scottish/Northern English company, Protomould that makes plastics that are non-harmful for various purposes (including medical uses). The polymer rods come the correct length and they have the exterior taper already there (which saves him considerable time). He then has to cut the holes, cut the interior bore, cut the joints, put on the rings, etc. Essentially, except for getting the polymer the right length and with the exterior taper, he does all the normal work one does to make a wooden flute.

Hopefully, this will put to rest the Pakistan issue...

Jack - it's possible your earlier R&R M&E was made from the prior PVC Mr. Cronnolly was using. He said the new material, in his opinion, has a woodier tone, and it's only available through his current supplier. He definitely wanted only to sell polymer flutes that would not have any chemicals that could harm anyone. Maybe it machines a bit differently?

As an aside, Mr. Cronnolly is a real gentleman, responds to emails, and I wouldn't hesitate recommending his flutes to anyone. Then again, I am biased since I own one, but I've had the opportunity, and funds, to buy a more expensive flute but am happy with my M&E.


Author:  daveogden [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Here's one masquerading as "Irish" ... 0310775912

This flute is identical to an Empire that I sent back to the company, see my post in this thread previously. The seller claims they "know nothing" about flutes, always a bad sign...

Author:  Welshman [ Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beware of cheap ebay flutes!

If you want further evidence - learn from my experience.

I didn't know the first thing about flutes (my background is more guitars and mandolins), so when I saw a cheap flute on eBay, I thought - great ... buy it!

Bad move!!!!

The seller disappeared (with my money) and now I am contesting it through PayPal. I know I'll get my money back eventually, but as fellow musicians you will understand my disappointment.

Still, there is a good side to my story - the flute was one of those badly made ones mentioned here (I won't attribute it to a nationality, because it will be the skill of the maker not their pigmentation that screwed up the product). So when I get my money back, I'm off to a recognised dealer and buy myself a decent beginner's wooden flute :-)

Author:  fleadhcheoil [ Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Lambchop wrote:
kourtjestr wrote:
Only two notes to add to the sticky:

1.) How can you tell something is a Pakistani flute?

2.) List characteristics for determining same so this doesn't become a "Is this a Pakistani Firewood in the Key of D" post.

I think we're using the term "Pakistani flute" to mean Pakistani flutes, but also any cheap flute of vaguely unidentifiable origins. Some seem to be Pakistani flutes which were gone over by somebody else before being resold.

One problem with buying a flute is that a beginner may think that if it looks like a flute and it's called a flute, and it's sold by a "music shop," then it's really a flute. But, a flute isn't just a piece of wood with a bored-out middle and some holes, and there are lots of "music shops" that just sell stuff which is really intended for the "movie props" department. There's a lot more to it than that.

The temptation to these things lies in their price. You think you can start off without having to blow big bucks. It's false economy, though, because you won't be able to play the thing, you'll become discouraged, and then you can't even sell it. You really will have wasted the money.

There are good . . . really GOOD . . . flutes out there for not all that much. You CAN play them, you'll be less likely to become discouraged, they'll keep you fluting for years, and then . . . ta daaaa! . . . you can sell them.

So, how do you know it's a good flute? It will be made by a reputable flute maker--a person with a name, not a tribe.

How much will you end up paying? Less than $100 to $300-400 USD.

Doug Tipple, whom I believe still sells on EBay, makes fine PVC flutes in the less-than $100 range.

Steve Cox of Tallgrass Winds (just search for his website) makes fine bamboo flutes in that range, as well. Bamboo flutes are real flutes--these aren't the snake-charmer kind. You'll hear them on ITM CDs all the time.

Moving up slightly in price, Casey Burns has a "folk flute" which is highly regarded. These have the advantage of being available in ergonomic and small-handed versions. (You'll notice that other flutes can be a handful.)

Tony Dixon has a 3-piece polymer that many like, as does Michael Cronnolly (M&E Flutes).

There are more reputable makers. If you do an archive search here, you'll find tons of information. This will get you started, though.

And, remember, if you see something and wonder if it's any good, just ask here. Just don't buy the thing first.

alibaba .com . they make 500 irish D flute a month, those flutes find there way to music shops around the world and are sold for 5 to 10 times the original cost, no mention of Pakistan check out the site for more info,,,,,,

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