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Beware of cheap ebay flutes!
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Author:  Alan [ Tue Nov 22, 2005 11:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Beware of cheap ebay flutes!

Tintin wrote:
How about a "sticky" at the top of this forum warning people away from Pakistani ebay flutes? The question seems to come up fairly regularly, and there's only one answer!

Author:  kourtjestr [ Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:51 pm ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  peeplj [ Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:24 pm ]
Post subject: 

Well, for instance, an "ebonite" 8-key flute in "E-flat," the same flute "used by Indian marching bands," complete with case.

Sound familiar, Alan? :) Curiosity: does that horrid thing still exist, or have you put it out of its misery by now?

--James

Author:  Alan [ Wed Nov 23, 2005 11:03 pm ]
Post subject: 

peeplj wrote:
Well, for instance, an "ebonite" 8-key flute in "E-flat," the same flute "used by Indian marching bands," complete with case.

Sound familiar, Alan? :) Curiosity: does that horrid thing still exist, or have you put it out of its misery by now?

--James


Well I was able with a bit of work to make the head. though not the barrel, work on my old German 8 key flute and it sounds pretty nice now that I have played it that way for a good while. The ebonite body survives also but only as an example of how utterly horrible a flute can be. I still marvel at how far off the intonation is. It seems to defy the laws of physics. Amazing!

Author:  Lambchop [ Wed Nov 23, 2005 11:52 pm ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  Unseen122 [ Thu Nov 24, 2005 1:40 am ]
Post subject: 

Sweetheart has a good rep for their low priced Flutes. Seery is more expensive and not a good beginner's Flute. Hammy Hamilton makes an Aluminum "Practice" Flute which is also pretty highly regarded but it is in A I think so not really the right Pitch but fine for learning.

Author:  peeplj [ Thu Nov 24, 2005 3:53 am ]
Post subject: 

Hammy makes his practice flutes in G for kids but also in concert D, according to his website.

As yet another option, there are some old German keyed flutes out there that aren't worth having, but there are also a few that are pretty good players. The only catch is buying one usually means buying a bad one--the good ones are in the hands of players who aren't selling them. Still, if someone had a flutist to work with them, and they were able to try a flute before buying it, there is a small but real chance of finding one of the really good ones.

--James

Author:  Eldarion [ Thu Nov 24, 2005 9:55 am ]
Post subject: 

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


You know its a Pakistani flute when you see a flute that the seller claims to be in Cocus or Boxwood. They can come in a variety of hole sizes, from small to large hole so thats no help. Sometimes there are even cracks in it too due to the poor workmanship but sellers normally pass it off as an antique, saying its due to old age or what not.

A better indication are the stamps on the body that read like "Rudall & Rose", "No.1 Tavistock Street" or some sort of place like that. Thats the address of the flute factory in Pakistan. (where they exploit underpaid child labour as well) The fancier models may have a metal end cap with the image of some animals dancing around a shield. Do not be fooled, these are crapsh*te. Many beginners have burnt their fingers paying thousands of dollars only to get a stick fit for propping open windows.

If you see one of these things for sale do NOT touch it with anything less than a 10 feet pole.

Everybody avoid it like the plague.

Tell me of it immediately, I will ensure that the seller will have hell to pay.

Author:  Screeeech!!! [ Thu Nov 24, 2005 10:36 am ]
Post subject: 

Wow! You edited your post 100 times. :oops:

Author:  Unseen122 [ Thu Nov 24, 2005 2:23 pm ]
Post subject: 

peeplj wrote:
Hammy makes his practice flutes in G for kids but also in concert D, according to his website.


I wasn't too far off.

Author:  monkey587 [ Thu Nov 24, 2005 2:50 pm ]
Post subject: 

peeplj wrote:
Still, if someone had a flutist to work with them, and they were able to try a flute before buying it, there is a small but real chance of finding one of the really good ones.

--James


I can attest to that... I love my old german flute :)

Author:  Dave Parkhurst [ Sun Nov 27, 2005 1:15 pm ]
Post subject: 

As an addendum: Also on eBay are numerous wood Boehm flutes, selling new for around $1100. Beware! These flutes are made in China, and have a good upper end, but the bottom 3-4 notes are completely unsoundable... this is personal experience talking here. I have one that I sent back to the dealer twice, and twice it returned in basically the same condition. And so, in my closet it sits...lesson learned: there is no cheap route to a new, good wood Boehm flute. Hmmm.... propping open windows eh? Maybe finally I have found a use for it....

Author:  oskan_oskula [ Tue Nov 29, 2005 12:01 pm ]
Post subject: 

What an intriguing thread--
I have just bounced over from the whistle forum (greetings!) but I am originally a flute player, and I do own a non-name-brand flute. And I did buy it on Ebay. And it plays beautifully. Hence my shock at the terrible warnings present in this thread!

Of course, there are some differences. My flute is made of rosewood, in D, with thread joints (instead of cork, which I've also seen- or, worst of all, BARE WOOD). It is a tapered, 6-hole style, which from what I've seen is pretty standard for Irish trad. It shipped from the US, and wasn't of Pakistani make-- actually, the seller sent along a little catalogue with it (in which the flute was featured) of all sorts of British and Irish odds and ends. My guess is that this was an independent importer? Still not sure where the flute actually came from, though.

When I bought this flute initially, I was horrified at the sound. And it smelled a little funny. So, naturally, I took it apart. Apparently the joints had been wound with COTTON thread, which of course expands with water and turns the seals into a flubby mess. So I redid them, which took forever, and then oiled the whole shebang, inside and out, with a good wood conditioning oil (all natural, not the fumey-chemically kind).

As I said before, this odd little instrument now plays perfectly well, with just the woody resonance I was looking for in switching from the cold silver Gemeinhardt of my orchestra days.

I have heard some horror stories, though--
I guess I just got lucky!

Author:  talasiga [ Thu Dec 01, 2005 6:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Has Been - will travel

Lambchop wrote:

.................
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.

....................


I am sorry but snake charmers do not generally play bamboo flutes. They play a mini double barrelled reed instrument known as a "been".

The first and only time I have seen a Pakistani made Irish flute was in a music shop in Dublin, Ireland in 1993. I did not buy it.

Anyone who wishes to obtain a D flute from the Indian sub-continent should seriously consider a bansuri (bamboo flute) made by Harsh Wardhan and suchlike. They would call the D flute a G tonic flute because they categorise their diatonic flutes by the XXX OOO note. Jeff Whittier in the USA also makes good bansuris.

Author:  Dave Parkhurst [ Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:19 am ]
Post subject: 

Oskan, you got lucky... the majority of Pakistani instruments are good in one aspect....they burn faster than the average kindling.

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