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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:42 pm 
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Hi. Does anyone know if the Irish flute store is on vacation at the moment? I’ve sent a few emails over the past week but getting no response.

I’m interested in this Firth and Pond. Anyone have any comments on it.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:15 pm 
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They are very busy, Blayne is working full time and they have I think two small children.
The flute looks very good.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:28 pm 
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I got to play the advertised flute about a year ago, but at that time I was fairly inexperienced so I can't pass fair judgement. It's in the "medium-hole" Rudall style, so it fits the hands nicely. It is fully functional, has good intonation at A440, and is very responsive. This family of flutes (Firth, Pond and also William Hall) from about 1840s-1860s are very similar to each other. They are quality instruments such as a classical orchestra musician might play in 1850s. You can play into the third register if you want, and I can get up to D, E and F.

I subsequently purchased a different Firth, Pond & Co, which I have come to love, and I would have no hesitation at buying a similar flute.

A couple of things I would note:

At first, the embouchure was a challenge, requiring good focus - my mouth was inexperienced and used to working with an easier flute. Achieving consistency and power has taken me a good long while, but now I truly love the tone I get from my flute. It has a strong, sweet voice, and the low D is very good; even the low C.

The low E and F# notes on my flute do not show much if any flatness, however they open up (sound more resonant) when I vent the Eb key. This is typical of 19th C flutes, and I think it's intentional. Or, perhaps it helps intonation in the second register, or else it's a hold-over from the previous generations of baroque style flutes. I learned to hold down the Eb key, which was surprisingly disruptive to old habits. Not hard; it just took some time.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 5:11 am 
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American flutes from the 1830s - 1860s are often incredibly good players. They usually have better intonation than London built flutes from the same period, so the American flutes could be easier to adapt to if you usually play a modern instrument. The tone is often slightly different to English built flutes, which could be because New York built instruments often have smaller embouchures and slightly thicker headjoints (resulting in a deeper embouchure chimney depth) than their English counterparts.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:47 am 
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Uni Flute wrote:
American flutes from the 1830s - 1860s are often incredibly good players. They usually have better intonation than London built flutes from the same period, so the American flutes could be easier to adapt to if you usually play a modern instrument. The tone is often slightly different to English built flutes, which could be because New York built instruments often have smaller embouchures and slightly thicker headjoints (resulting in a deeper embouchure chimney depth) than their English counterparts.

The two I have (Firth, Hall and Pond; E. Reilly) are generally in tune with themselves—with some attention to specific notes—but are not easy to play at 440. The first plays a bit sharp, the second a bit low. However, each is great for playing solo and have both a soft, "smooth" tone and a sense of history (I always wonder who and where they were played over the almost two centuries between manufacture and when I got them).

Best wishes.

Steve

_________________
"[Some flutists] place the flute between the upper lip and the nose, blowing the instrument from below. This position does not prevent good playing, but it does not look graceful."
~ Antoine Mahaut, 1759 in a tutor for playing the transverse flute ~


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:32 am 
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Worth keeping in mind that Pat Olwell, who is considered one of the best flute smyths
on earth, has gone over this flute. It is likely to be as much an Olwell flute as
anything else, and it has been tweaked to play in tune at 440.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:12 am 
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If I were you I would try to find out more about what specifically was done to the bore and intonation of this flute. The webpage
says "major improvements to the bore and intonation". Does this mean that the bore has been re-reamed and now has a different
shape than the original? If so, what reamer was used and what flute model is the new bore a copy of? Did the "major improvements"
to the intonation involve significant modification of the tone holes or embouchure, or adjustment of the length of any of the flute's
sections? All of these are easily possible on a flute like this given the relatively small original embouchure and tone hole sizes, and
the wide bands at the sockets (I also wonder if these are original).

Depending on the amount of modification, it is quite possible for a maker like Pat Olwell to transform an antique American flute like
this one into a small or medium holed Rudall-type flute, in which case the tone and playing characteristics could vary quite considerably.
In either case, it is probably a nice playing flute, but depending on what has been done to it, its playing characteristics may no longer
be typical of antique American flutes at all.

I would also check into the functionality of the C# key. It looks like a replacement, and what was a pewter plug looks to have been replaced
with a padded key. However, it looks like the original socket for the pewter plug remains in the tone hole, so I wonder how well this seals.
Aside from that, it looks like a lovely flute, and in my experience, the quality of the workmanship and key work on these older American
flutes generally exceeds that on most antique British flutes.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:37 am 
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I asked Blayne how well the bottom keys work.
He wrote back that they work perfectly.

If I may say so, supposing this is more an Olwell than anything else,
you get an eight-keyed 'Olwell,' probably one that sounds like his 'Rudall'
model, for under three thousand dollars. There is a returnable policy if the
flute isn't for you. This is a very good deal, IMO.

If your passion is a pristine antique flute, this isn't it. If you want
what Patrick does with old flutes, here it is.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:44 am 
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Thanks for all the replys so far. All really helpful.

The main thing that is attracting me is the make. I had a McGee 6 key GLP in the past which was lovely to play due to the finger spacing. I should never have sold it. I believe this is the flute Terry based the GLP on (correct me if I’m wrong).


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:44 pm 
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karl wrote:
Thanks for all the replys so far. All really helpful.

The main thing that is attracting me is the make. I had a McGee 6 key GLP in the past which was lovely to play due to the finger spacing. I should never have sold it. I believe this is the flute Terry based the GLP on (correct me if I’m wrong).


Terry copied Grey's Firth Pond & Co flute and used it as inspiration for his GLP model. Grey's flute has a short footjoint, and the tone holes are ever so slightly smaller than on the Olwell restored instrument. It may therefore play slightly differenty. It would be interesting to know what sort of improvements Olwell has made to the flute in question. Getting it to play "with a lot of energy and power" suggests that the flute's original voicing may have been changed. As another point of interest, Grey Larsen himself is using a Chris Abell headjoint on his flute these days. I don't know if the original headjoint is out of commission, or if Grey just wanted something new from this flute.


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