US Flute Makers

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est
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US Flute Makers

Post by est »

So, I purchased an Ellis Essential flute at a board member's recommendation (his recommendation was to buy a flute that could stay nearby for easy use, and this is ebonite, so no real environmental risks like a wooden flute would have), and I find that I really enjoy playing that and have much better command over it than the smaller holed 5 key flute I purchased a little bit ago. It's a Pratten style design as was the Tony Dixon practice flute (tunable version) which I had started out on last fall. I'm guessing what I learned on the cheapy flute carried over nicely to the Ellis.

So, the question is, if I want a new pratten style flute with keys, what would people recommend? I'm perfectly happy with months-long wait times, though, not so sure about years-long waits:) I'm in the US, so I'd prefer a US maker, mostly for the shipping times. I've seen a lot of folks here saying good things about Copley, but I'm a little hesitant if his design is too different from the pratten style I'm currently doing well with.

Any recommendations?
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by tstermitz »

FIrst, I wouldn't get hung up on Pratten vs whatever because most flute makers today are modified from the traditional categories. Large, medium or small holes may mean more than the name or label of the flute. Hole size, not flute style is probably the parameter of interest that affects flute loudness, i.e. whether the flute is appropriate for your living room vs a noisy session.

Secondly, now that you have experience with a couple of different flutes, you should be more discerning, and you really need to try in person samples of the flutes you are thinking of buying. You will get opinions, but not actionable advice from random internet questions. I mean, you have no way of evaluating whether any of "our" preferences match what you are looking for without trying it yourself.

There are easily five or more flute makers with quality instruments. How do you know which one has the embouchure, playability and tone that you are lookin for?
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by plunk111 »

All that being said, check out John Gallagher...

Pat
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est
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by est »

tstermitz wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:51 pm FIrst, I wouldn't get hung up on Pratten vs whatever because most flute makers today are modified from the traditional categories. Large, medium or small holes may mean more than the name or label of the flute. Hole size, not flute style is probably the parameter of interest that affects flute loudness, i.e. whether the flute is appropriate for your living room vs a noisy session.

Secondly, now that you have experience with a couple of different flutes, you should be more discerning, and you really need to try in person samples of the flutes you are thinking of buying. You will get opinions, but not actionable advice from random internet questions. I mean, you have no way of evaluating whether any of "our" preferences match what you are looking for without trying it yourself.

There are easily five or more flute makers with quality instruments. How do you know which one has the embouchure, playability and tone that you are lookin for?
Good points. I guess I'm interested in a larger hole, then. My problem with the idea of try before you buy...is...how do you do that, especially in this modern pandemic environment? I don't know anyone else who plays, and as far as I know, there are no sessions that currently meet due to the virus. If Ellis were still accepting orders, I'd place an order immediately, but his website suggests he isn't taking orders at this time, at least not for Irish flutes. No clue if that's long term or not.

I guess your advice is probably the soundest. Had I held the wooden flute in my hands and tried playing it, I probably wouldn't have bought it due to the huge difference in what I was used to and will probably end up selling it once I have something else with keys.
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by est »

plunk111 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 8:16 pm All that being said, check out John Gallagher...

Pat
Thanks! I've seen his site before...but...it's not very informative:) I've reached out to him for more information.
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by Loren »

I maybe shouldn’t mention this but......A few makers have a demo flute, typically keyless, that they are willing to send out for short demo periods. Or at least this used to be the case, I haven’t asked any makers about this in quite awhile. During Covid times a polymer demo flute would be ideal of course, but one may not have the choice. Be prepared to put down a security deposit if requested by the maker.

You could also post on the forums asking if anyone is willing to rent you one of their flutes for demo purposes. Seems unlikely under the current circumstances, but you never know till you put it out there, and there are some people who have a bunch of flutes sitting around that they rarely play.

I believe you’ll be hard pressed to find a better keyed flute that is made in the U.S., and available in months, not years, than the Copley flutes. Location and availability factors aside, Dave and Marlene’s flutes are top notch and there’s really no reason to think they won’t play as well or better than what you currently have. Their customer service can’t be beat either.

John Gallagher makes fine flutes as well, although I only have my own J. Gallagher keyless Delrin R&R (purchased from a very kind forum member :thumbsup: ) to judge by, so I can’t speak about his consistency, keywork or on how his pratten model plays. I expect his wait times will be significantly longer and his prices higher than Copley’s though.

I can’t really think of any other established U.S. makers with waiting times of months rather than years for a keyed flute.

If you are right handed and don’t play piper’s grip, and you are motivated and tenacious enough, you may (eventually) be able to pry a very nice keyed Olwell from someone’s cold, dead hands :lol: But that’s a bit of a long shot.

Another great used option would be finding one of Hammy’s keyed flutes, as they are also great players particularly for those into the “Prattens” style flutes. Hear Hammy’s own take on that topic via the interview with him posted elsewhere on the forum.

Good luck with your search.
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by NicoMoreno »

I own one of John Gallagher's large-holed R&R copy flutes. He makes small-holed R&R and Pratten copies as well, and a few years ago I was able to compare one of each at the St. Louis Tionol. I'm not sure if this will work, but here's a photo of a session with 7 flutes on the table, three of which were the ones from John above. The man himself is there, too. (One of the other flutes is an Ormiston flute, another is a Cotter, the Ivory headed one is an antique, and I think there's a Murray in there, too). The brown one is my flute (mopane).
Image


Anyway, the interesting thing to me is how similarly all of John's flutes played - the embouchure would be extremely similar on all of them, so I don't think it's that surprising. The main differences:
- the smallest one had the smallest volume, not surprisingly
- the Pratten could be played the loudest, but not actually a ton more than my large-holed R&R
- the Pratten has the single middle joint, instead of two as with both R&Rs
John makes great flutes, and they're very accurate copies of the originals that he has measured. His drawings of the original flutes are pretty damn impressive, and really works of art (or artisan at least) in their own right.
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by PB+J »

I play an Ellis Pratten and love it: I also have an older Ellis essential which I like about as much, but I play the Pratten style much more. I have a Copley delrin flute and I have to say I don't like it very much. It's nicely made but the embouchure cut just doesn't agree with me. I'm totally willing to lay that at my feet rather than the flute's, but if you like the Ellis you might not like the Copley. Among inexpensive delrin flutes the Walt Sweet "Shannon" is similar to the Ellis., at least for me. Both have a "Squared oval" embouchure cut. The Copley I have has a much rounder hole. Again totally willing to blame this on myself rather than on some flaw in the flute
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by est »

PB+J wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:18 pm I play an Ellis Pratten and love it: I also have an older Ellis essential which I like about as much, but I play the Pratten style much more. I have a Copley delrin flute and I have to say I don't like it very much. It's nicely made but the embouchure cut just doesn't agree with me. I'm totally willing to lay that at my feet rather than the flute's, but if you like the Ellis you might not like the Copley. Among inexpensive delrin flutes the Walt Sweet "Shannon" is similar to the Ellis., at least for me. Both have a "Squared oval" embouchure cut. The Copley I have has a much rounder hole. Again totally willing to blame this on myself rather than on some flaw in the flute
I understand completely what you mean. I feel the same about my wooden flute. I'm sure it's a great flute, but it doesn't really satisfy me as much as the other. I am trying to force myself to play it more so I can get used to it, but it's starting to feel like a chore.

So, what I've been referring to is one of Ellis' essential flutes. I'll have to check out Walt Sweet's Shannon, then. I seem to have remembered hearing good things mentioned about it as well.
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by Loren »

PB+J wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:18 pm I play an Ellis Pratten and love it: I also have an older Ellis essential which I like about as much, but I play the Pratten style much more. I have a Copley delrin flute and I have to say I don't like it very much. It's nicely made but the embouchure cut just doesn't agree with me. I'm totally willing to lay that at my feet rather than the flute's, but if you like the Ellis you might not like the Copley. Among inexpensive delrin flutes the Walt Sweet "Shannon" is similar to the Ellis., at least for me. Both have a "Squared oval" embouchure cut. The Copley I have has a much rounder hole. Again totally willing to blame this on myself rather than on some flaw in the flute
Well there’s the sturgeon under your hood right there: Your preference for squared rather than elliptical embouchure cuts. Beginners and those coming from the classical flute world tend to favor more flat sided embouchure holes, but the vast majority of trad players prefer elliptical embouchures and consequently that’s the way most good ITM flutes come configured.

For the OP: Never the less, Dave Copley and other makers will typically honor requests for non-elliptical embouchures, if that’s what you prefer. In fact, Copley Delrin flutes used to come standard with a more squared embouchure hole, while elliptical was by request. I’m like most folks and prefer the elliptical cut, which is how my Copley is configured, but don’t be put off a particular maker’s flutes simply because someone else doesn’t get along with the standard embouchure used on most of our flutes.

For new flute players: Do yourself a favor and start on a (good) flute with an elliptical embouchure, it will make your future flute purchasing life much easier and less costly because the further you deviate from the standard configuration and materials, the fewer choices you have in the used market. Something to consider. Also, about 99% of all trad players are playing on elliptical embouchures so.... maybe there’s something to that?

PB+J: If the Copley doesn’t suit you why not pass it on to someone who can use and enjoy it? Why hang on to it? Heck, come to think of it, if the price was right I’d buy it and ship it off to Maurice Reviol for the experimental keywork I need. :twisted:
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by jimhanks »

I know nothing about flutes, but what makes you think Ellis isn't taking orders? The home page has a Custom Orders button and the bottom of that page says "So to place a custom order, simply e-mail me to discuss the details."

I just got on the list for a redwood xiao that wasn't in stock, and it was like "ok, no problem, I've got you on the list".

If you kinda know what you want, just drop him an email and see.
est
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by est »

Loren wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 2:26 pm
PB+J wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:18 pm I play an Ellis Pratten and love it: I also have an older Ellis essential which I like about as much, but I play the Pratten style much more. I have a Copley delrin flute and I have to say I don't like it very much. It's nicely made but the embouchure cut just doesn't agree with me. I'm totally willing to lay that at my feet rather than the flute's, but if you like the Ellis you might not like the Copley. Among inexpensive delrin flutes the Walt Sweet "Shannon" is similar to the Ellis., at least for me. Both have a "Squared oval" embouchure cut. The Copley I have has a much rounder hole. Again totally willing to blame this on myself rather than on some flaw in the flute
Well there’s the sturgeon under your hood right there: Your preference for squared rather than elliptical embouchure cuts. Beginners and those coming from the classical flute world tend to favor more flat sided embouchure holes, but the vast majority of trad players prefer elliptical embouchures and consequently that’s the way most good ITM flutes come configured.

For the OP: Never the less, Dave Copley and other makers will typically honor requests for non-elliptical embouchures, if that’s what you prefer. In fact, Copley Delrin flutes used to come standard with a more squared embouchure hole, while elliptical was by request. I’m like most folks and prefer the elliptical cut, which is how my Copley is configured, but don’t be put off a particular maker’s flutes simply because someone else doesn’t get along with the standard embouchure used on most of our flutes.

For new flute players: Do yourself a favor and start on a (good) flute with an elliptical embouchure, it will make your future flute purchasing life much easier and less costly because the further you deviate from the standard configuration and materials, the fewer choices you have in the used market. Something to consider. Also, about 99% of all trad players are playing on elliptical embouchures so.... maybe there’s something to that?

PB+J: If the Copley doesn’t suit you why not pass it on to someone who can use and enjoy it? Why hang on to it? Heck, come to think of it, if the price was right I’d buy it and ship it off to Maurice Reviol for the experimental keywork I need. :twisted:
Actually, I'd gladly pay rent for a couple weeks along with shipping before you shipped it off to Loren! :) The embouchure of my ellis looks elliptical to me (but so does the wooden flute's embouchure...but it's a bit smaller and not nearly as elongated)
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by Loren »

Sounds like a plan!

See that PB+J, the money is rolling in!
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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by an seanduine »

Geez, Loren, sounds to me you´ve got quite the little side hustle. . . :poke: :D

I´m really not qualified to enter this discussion. I started flute at 10 years old on a silver typewriter. . .and then ´sent through the mill´ of several years of the Marcel Moyse-James Galway school of ´flexible embouchure´. With ITM I have my ´druthers, but don´t feel my experience should shade anyone else´s, particularly older, adult beginners.

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Re: US Flute Makers

Post by paddler »

Geoffrey Ellis's flutes do not have squared embouchures. To my knowledge, he only does elliptical embouchures.
And FYI, I have tested a lot (dozens) of prototypes for him, and helped in the development of his Pratten model.
Geoffrey's embouchure cut is fairly traditional, similar to what you would find on an Olwell.

As for Dave Copley's flutes, I agree with the earlier comments. They are top class instruments at a great price. I
have owned flutes with both Copley embouchure cuts: the rectangular "modern" cut, and the traditional elliptical
cut. I can play both fine, but I prefer the elliptical cut, and I agree with what was said earlier about most trad
players preferring an elliptical cut. That is what I'd go for.
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