To upgrade or not to upgrade...

Advanced Technique, Performance Questions, Auditions, Recording, etc.

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WhispyTeen
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:58 am

To upgrade or not to upgrade...

Post by WhispyTeen » Thu Jul 09, 2015 6:18 am

Hi, so currently I am a senior-school student in Australia and I've been playing flute since about 2006 (that's like 9 years right?).
To give you an idea about my past instrument history I've had a:
- basic Yamaha beginner flute (it was so long ago I don't know the model
- Jupiter student flute (JFL-511-II)
- Muramatsu GXIII (My current flute)

I wasn't able to test out a variety of flutes before upgrading to the Muramatsu, because my mum was overseas at the time of purchase and it was cheaper so financially it was a easily a win-win situation.

At the beginning of this year I was really happy with my sound. 90% of the time I would find no issues with it. However after about 4 months something changed and I gradually started to hear a lot more issues with it, such as very faint straining in the tone and some vague raspiness that appears to move around the octaves as I go through my practise. I've made some significant adjustments to my embouchure and I'm somewhat alright with the tone I'm producing but I feel something is missing, and I'm consistently reviewing and going straight back to the basics of producing a note (proper attack, detache, timing, etc).

So the question of upgrading!
I've looked at the FAQ2.1, and under Section 3 a few boxes are filled for me.
-The flute is difficult to play in tune.
-The flute is too easy to play or too difficult (i.e. too little resistance or too much
resistance, respectively).
-The tone you can produce on it is not to your liking, and doesn't seem to improve even
with thorough, regular tone work.

Thoughts?

TL;DR
Should I get a new flute (owning Muramatsu GXIII)

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pied_piper
Posts: 1807
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: To upgrade or not to upgrade...

Post by pied_piper » Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:27 pm

Hmm. The Muramatsu GXIII is actually a very nice flute. An upgrade from that would be to a professional level flute.

From your description (playing well earlier this year, but now having difficulties), I would first suggest having a flute technician check over your flute. A decline from playing well to playing poorly is a classic sign of a problem with the flute. A leaking pad, leaking headjoint cork, or adjustment problem could result in the issues you have described. Often a problem like this can develop gradually, so the player tends to try to adjust (as you said you are doing). I certainly would not want to discourage you from upgrading to a professional level flute, but if your Muramatsu needs some repairs or adjustments, that should be a LOT cheaper than a new flute.

How old is your flute and when was the last time you had it professionally serviced and adjusted?
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

WhispyTeen
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:58 am

Re: To upgrade or not to upgrade...

Post by WhispyTeen » Tue Jul 14, 2015 2:41 am

My flute is about 4/5-ish years old, and I recently had it serviced this year in February. Between now and then though I have gone on a tour with it to Gallipoli, and that was about the time when I started to notice slight changes so things may have happened during transport.

During the last week of practice I've noted that the quality is changing with great variance among practice sessions. Sometimes it is great and that's fantastic but during the next practice it loses the crispness and the ease of note production.

I tested everything I could in terms of leaks in the flute and headjoint fittings and everything seems to check out absolutely fine. Despite this I'm leaning heavily towards thinking this is a mechanical problem with the flute, and might be to do with an adjustment problem. The annoying thing with this is I have a competition this weekend and there's nowhere near enough time to try and get it fixed within the next few days. I'll try get it out to a flute technician tomorrow to see if he can spot anything that he can fix after the competition though.

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Gandalfe
Posts: 109
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 5:28 pm
Location: Seattle
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Re: To upgrade or not to upgrade...

Post by Gandalfe » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:31 am

I found establishing a good relationship with a tech to be very valuable. Sounds like it's time to have your instrument checked over again. Just be happy you don't play 10 instruments like I do. The costs for maintenance, reeds, etc. can be prohibitive. Enjoy.
Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra ~ Quinn the Eskimo Vintage Horns
I played the wrong, wrong notes. ~ Thelonious Monk

WhispyTeen
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:58 am

Re: To upgrade or not to upgrade...

Post by WhispyTeen » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:41 am

I've had a chat to a couple of other flute players and a few music teachers that have heard me play for awhile and discussed some thoughts on it.
From their perspective nothing negative has happened, and instead my tone appears to be developing well.

It's more of the fact that my ears are adjusting to the tone that I was happy with producing and finding flaws in it that I was previously not able to hear because I was happy with it. So my ability to analyse the quality of my tone has increased.
My flute teacher agrees with this and says it's likely because I am instead hearing the potential that my tone has, and the fact that I can hear flaws in my current tone means that I have the ability to improve it even further.

I've started to gain a lot better muscle memory in my embouchure and I'm recalling what I've done in previous practices in the past week to produce a good tone, and even with just 10 minutes of messing around with it I've been able to get a very nice sound with which I'm happy with. Hopefully this can stick and I'm able to refine it even more :D .

I'll still get a technical check but I'm now more leaning towards thinking this is my over-critical mind blowing things out of proportion.

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pied_piper
Posts: 1807
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: To upgrade or not to upgrade...

Post by pied_piper » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:34 pm

Sometimes, we can be our own worst critic. The positive side of that is that it drives us toward self-improvement.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

fluteguy18
Posts: 2311
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:11 pm

Re: To upgrade or not to upgrade...

Post by fluteguy18 » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:02 am

WhispyTeen wrote:
It's more of the fact that my ears are adjusting to the tone that I was happy with producing and finding flaws in it that I was previously not able to hear because I was happy with it. So my ability to analyse the quality of my tone has increased.

That was my first impression honestly.... ;)

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Phineas
Posts: 953
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:08 am

Re: To upgrade or not to upgrade...

Post by Phineas » Tue Jul 28, 2015 7:44 am

If you do not like the way you sound, practice will always take you farther than flute dollars.

Keep your flute well maintained and practice more. The flute you have does not need to be upgraded.

Now, if you just want to buy another flute, just do it and stop trying to justify the reasoning behind it.

My .02USD :D

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