Advice for a flute upgrade

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Advice for a flute upgrade

Post by Diamond » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:43 pm

Hello, it is actually my first time in this forum. I have been searching the internet and other forums for information about flutes. I have found that most recommendations vary greatly depending on the situation so I decided to ask for myself.

I currently play a Sonare 5000 which I received in 10th grade. I am now going into college and plan to study music. I sometimes feel that my flute discourages me from playing certain things, although I can usually compensate for it. I have had experience playing on a Gemeinhardt that I rented for marching band. I did not like it more than my Sonare at all, though it sometimes seemed to be a bit easier to play.

I attended a flute convention a few months ago where I had the opportunity to try out lots of different flutes. Many of which where very expensive, but it was by playing those that I realized that my flute could be the cause of some of my problems. My very first flute was a First Act purchased at Costco. Back then I didn't realize that my inability to play the upper octave well was the flute and not my own fault. I am starting to wonder if my Sonare is holding me back like my First Act did overtime.

So here I am asking if anyone can give me some advice as to what brands I should consider, or if I even should upgrade. I was also wondering if I should consider a split E mechanism. I don't have experience with that, so I am unsure about it.

Thank you for your time and any advice you have to offer. I really appreciate it.

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Post by pied_piper » Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:22 pm

Take a look at the Fluteland FAQ. It should answer a lot of your questions. ... 11&start=0

The Sonare is a good step-up instrument. The Gemeinhardt may have seemed easier to play be cause it was probably a student-level instrument that is designed to be easy to blow for beginners. The biggest difference in ease-of-playing is in the headjoint. A better flute headjoint will take a bit more work, but it also allows a greater variety of sound colors and flexibility. It's sort of like the difference between an economy car and a race car. An economy car may be easy to drive but it will never be able to compete with the race car. The race car, however, requires greater skill to control it. It's very similar to comparing a beginner (economy) flute and a well made, professional-level flute. The better flute will require greater skill to control it, but you can do more with it once you develop that skill. Do you study privately?

When was the last time that you had the Sonare serviced and adjusted? A clean, oil, and adjust (COA) should be performed every year or so to be sure it's in good playing condition. Even a very tiny leak in one pad can dramatically affect the way a flute plays. I recommend having this done by a technician who is a flute specialist.

If you are going to study music in college, before you buy another flute, you should check with the flute professor at the college/university where you will study. Some professors have very strong preferences especially for performance majors. Email the professor for suggestions and guidance in flute selection.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."

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Post by Diamond » Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:51 pm

Thank you very much pied_piper. I actually didn't think of asking my college professor. I was sort of in the mindset that they would expect me to already be equipped with everything I needed. I've been a bit frazzled by all of the college preparation so I just wanted everything to go smoothly. As far as service goes I am actually taking my flute in tomorrow because it has been especially frustrating to play lately.

My main issues at the moment are: response, tuning, and dynamics with the different registers. I know these can all be the players fault, but I really have been working on this with little results.

If you mean private lessons by studying privately, I haven't had my own flute teacher for quite some time now. However I do practice on my own quite seriously.

Also I did read the Fluteland FAQ. I just wanted to see if I could get some more personalized advice.

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Post by fluteguy18 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:59 am

Personalized advice? Sorry, no can do. The FAQ was the combined effort of the most active and most knowledgeable members of this board (when it was made). Choosing a flute is a very personal process and without seeing or hearing you play we simply can't offer a lot of advice outside the questions we already answered in the FAQ.

Get the best flute that you can reasonably afford. That's what I've always heard from good teachers. Teachers have preferences but preferences don't always align with your needs. Mine for example loves Powell and detests Haynes. But, Haynes at the moment has some VERY exciting things going on (that haven't been announced yet) that will be showcased at the NFA Convention. And I was lucky enough to try out their new things when I spent some time with Steve Finley (artistic director of Haynes) recently. I love their new things. I also love my Miyazawa. My flute teacher hated it at first, but then did some blind tests at a convention. The flute she liked best (when she played them) was my flute but with a different headjoint!

It's all a matter of taste. And... most (if not all of this information) was somewhere in the FAQ. Try before you buy.

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Post by cflutist » Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:47 am


Do you know what scale Haynes will be using for their new flutes?

Haynes swapped over to their "Deveau" scale after my vintage handmade (soldered tonehole) Haynes was made in 1972. I have heard some unfavorable things about the Deveau scale and know at least two others that sold their Deveau flutes because of that scale.

I know that Powell and Brannen both use the Cooper scale and were one of the first to adopt that scale.

It's good to hear that Haynes is turning themselves around, as they have fallen out of favor lately (after Fugetta passed away) being owned by the Chinese although I've been told that their Handmade flutes at still being made in Boston.

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Post by fluteguy18 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:15 am

Here's the scoop. They've completely overhauled their entire lineup. They have gotten rid of the chinese production (except for their lowest model... it's still produced in China). The large majority of their flutes are once again made in Boston. They have stepped away from the Deveaux scale and have returned to the Cooper scale. They redesigned all of the flutes, and they did a massive amount of research and redesigned their headjoints. I tried several of them and they were all spectacular instruments.

This is at least what Finley said. I believe he can be trusted (being their Artistic Advisor), but none of this is official until they are released at NFA. I do not believe that they will be making a big announcement or renaming the models however. Finley also said that they have been producing them for several months now. So I guess they will have some at the convention available for purchase? I'm just guessing on that though.

And if I'm wrong about all of these things... well... Steve has some explaining to do! I want to know where those flutes came from if they're not Haynes! I want one!

P.S. the only reason I posted this info is because Finley gave a class/presentation about them at the seminar I went to in Colorado. So it's not a secret really... they're just... not acting like they have anything new to announce (when in fact they do!).

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Post by cflutist » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:32 am

One thing to check from Haynes, my flute has "BOSTON MASS." engraved on it.

Oh, Brannen just announced a 85/15 - 15% gold and 85% silver -
flute (drawn toneholes) paired with a LaFin headjoint.

All our customization options are also available. A 15/85 Brögger Flute with B footjoint and 15/85 Lafin Headjoint starts at $14,340.
That's not too bad

I'd be interested to hear your opinion on this one if you should try one at the convention.

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Post by fluteguy18 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:47 pm

I definitely plan on trying one.

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Post by Diamond » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:04 pm

To Fluteguy18:
Thank you for your response.
I found that I was able to gain some helpful information by asking in some flute forums. I especially find it insightful to hear more people's opinions on what flutes they prefer and why they prefer them. I often see the same list of brands being mentioned, but I don't know all about each one. It helps me to hear which ones some people like.

You mentioned that you loved your miyazawa and that haynes has exciting things going on which I find helpful. I don't have constant access to all of these flutes, most music stores in my area don't carry many non-student flutes. Because of that I was hoping to gain a better idea of which ones to look out for when I do have the opportunity to try them. I also find it helpful when I hear more about people's experiences with the split-E mechanism. I wasn't sure if it's considered "normal" to have it, or if I don't need to worry about it too much.

Yes the FAQ has a large amount of quality information, but I'm just trying to get a wide range of ideas and opinions to aid me in shaping my own.

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Post by MissyHPhoenix » Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:06 am

Then I will go out on a limb and tell you to try a Sankyo. :oops: Everybody here is laughing at me, I know, because of the way I feel about my flute, but ..... I know how you feel because I was not in an area where I could try a lot of different flutes, either. I had to just pick one or two to try and hope that they would be what I was looking for. I ended up with a used Prima Sankyo Artist purely by chance, but I was very very lucky because I couldn't have found a better match for me. It doesn't have all of the more recent gadgets on it, altho it does have a gizmo key, but for ease of play, vibrancy of tone, and sheer BEAUTY of sound I don't think I could have done any better.

As far as split E is concerned, I had a Yamaha with that and I liked it, but my Sankyo does not have it and I don't miss it. But then again, the Sankyo is head and shoulders above the Yamaha (handmade versus machine made) so I think that is why I don't need the split E with the Sankyo. I believe if the flute is made well enough, that high E is not such a problem as on other flutes. That is simply my opinion, tho, not meant to dis any other brands of flutes with the split E!!!

There are many different makers of flutes and all (or most) of them are wonderful flutes. If you have the luxury to try out all of the new ones, that would be the best way to go. But if you need some ideas of what people consider the "best of the best" to try, like what everybody said before, you need to know first of all the amount of money that you can spend! It is pretty much consensus that a handmade flute is going to give you the best response, period. However, they are not cheap. If you can afford to spend about $3000 to $5000 you can have some very nice flutes to choose from. I, of course, am a Sankyo afficionado, so I would recommend trying that. The new Sankyos are pretty pricey, but I found mine used and am very happy. You can always look for a used, reconditioned handmade if you need to keep costs down. Miyazawa, Muramatsu, Pearl, and Powell are also well spoken of on this forum. Those are simply a few of the well known makers. Your teacher might have a different view. And, most of all, the flute must fit you, not me or your teacher. I love my Prima Sankyo and would not trade it for anything, but you might have a different opinion. Start trying out some flutes and see what you like and don't like. Since you asked for opinions, this is mine. I hope I have helped you. Good luck! Flute shopping is FUN!


Why Be Normal????

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Post by Zevang » Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:13 am

If I were in the USA I would sure try Brannens and Powells. I have Muramatsu and Sankyo, in love with them both.
Still it's a matter of how much do you plan to expend. You should narrow your choices based first on the amount you have. Then you go for try playing. Mostly you will choose from different headjoint makes, not exactly from flute makes. You may have two flutes from the same brand, same materials, and a small change in the headjoint design can make a whole difference in your choice, at least IMHO.

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Post by fluteguy18 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:32 pm

I know that you may be in an area where it is difficult to get access to higher caliber instruments. But many companies offer trial periods and will ship instruments to you. And honestly, I don't feel that you can genuinely form your own opinions about whatever brands you have heard of until you have tried them yourself. Without first hand experience with them you are merely copying and pasting opinions of others. I for one had heard wonderful things about Pearl flutes in high school...

I thought they were the best. I had researched them, compared them to other flute companies and felt that they were genuinely the real deal. I then tried one. NOPE! Didn't like it. Hated it actually. It was a well made flute. A good company too... but I didn't like any of them.

Don't make opinions until you try them. Period. I mean, otherwise you could end up turning against companies from hearsay only. For example. If you heard Galway talking about Yamaha flutes, you would think they carry a contagious disease. If you heard Brad Garner talk about them, or Jim Walker... you would think they were the best. (Although, Jim now plays Burkhart).

See what your options are, then select from that pool.

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Post by cflutist » Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:47 pm

To totally confuse you, I saved this from a website I found several years ago. It may or may not be accurate today:

The brands they play:

Andras Adorjan/Brannen/LaFin headjoint
Robert Aitken/Powell
Jeanne Baxstresser/1961 Haynes/LaFin headjoint
Willliam Bennet/Louis Lot, Altus
Philipe Bernold/Yamaha
Mathieu Dufour/Powell/LaFin headjoint
Bart Feller/Brannen
Dieter Flury/Yamaha
Benoit Fromanger/Pearl/Pearl ST-4 headjoint
Patrick Gallois/Haynes -> Yamaha -> Abell
James Galway/Muramatsu* - he plays Nagahara now
Severino Gazzelloni(d)/ J. Hammig
Irena Grafenauer/Yamaha
Gottfried Hechtl/Haynes (I sold him mine!) -> Sankyo
Timothy Hutchins/Brannen
Trudy Kane/Muramatsu
Jeffrey Khaner/Yamaha/LaFin headjoint
William Kincaid(d)/Powell
Shigenori Kudo/Haynes -> Yamaha
Robert Langevin/Powell/Albert Cooper headjoint
Christian Larde/Yamaha
Maxence Larrieu/Powell/LaFin headjoint
Alain Marion(d)/Sankyo
Massimo Mercelli/Yamaha
Aurele Nicolet/Muramatsu/LaFin headjoint
Emmanuel Pahud/Brannen/Dana Sheridan headjoint
Michael Parloff/Brannen/David Williams headjoint
James Pellerite/Powell
Amy Porter/Muramatsu
Jean Pierre Rampal(d)/1958 Haynes->Deveau-scale Haynes
Paula Robison/Brannen
Elaine Shaeffer (d)/Powell
Christina Smith/Powell
Joshua Smith/Yamaha
Mark Sparks/Brannen
Alexa Still/Brannen/Drelinger headjoint
Sheridan Stokes/Pearl
Keith Underwood/Powell
Carol Wincenc/Burkart
Anne Zentner/Brannen/Oleg headjoint

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Post by Zevang » Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:05 am

Now the statistics...

Brannen 9
Powell 9
Yamaha 7
Haynnes 5
Muramatsu 4
Pearl 2
Lois lot 1
Hammig 1
Sankyo 1
Burkart 1

Well, I didn't go so wrong...

Concerning trying brands, it's very relative to the possibilities of a person who lives in a small town or a region where there is no dealers, or the ones existing do not have a variety you can choose from.
For those who live in the USA there is the possibility of getting instruments for trial during a certain period of time, but even so you would have to choose from many existing brands, since you certainly would not be able to ask for all of them to be sent to you.
In some way, I know that opinions may help sometimes. In this particular case I go with the idea of getting your own opinion playing the instruments from brands you have access to. All big brands make great flute bodies, durable and reliable, and they use almost the same materials to do that. What really changes is the headjoint design. That's the reason you see so many flutists using big brand bodies with headjoints from some other makers in the list CFlutist included above.
Since you may not have access to many brands, first you decide a price range, then some models from brands you have access to, then choose at least two different headjoint designs from each brand.

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Post by cflutist » Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:53 am

You can also add Marina Piccinini who plays a Brannen with a Cooper and LaFin headjoint (found this on a hardcopy of the list I had printed on 1/4/2007).

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