Which Professional Flute Model?

Flute History and Instrument Purchase

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Valko
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Which Professional Flute Model?

Post by Valko »

Hi, I'm upgrading to a professional flute and have narrowed the list down to these 3 models.

Miyazawa PA-202
Yamaha 684H
Gemeinhardt 33SSB

The problem is that my sound is pretty much the same (really good) with each of these models so I'm not sure which one to choose. I need to figure out the pros and cons. Anyone out there have any suggestions or know of any advantages or problems with one of these brands that I should consider before making a choice?

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 »

Well most manufacturers will tell you that their flute is the best for one reason or another. Many also offer "professional" instruments that you would have great difficulty ever finding a professional playing. Gemeinhardt is one of these. They build solid enough student/intermediate flutes, but they simply aren't at the level that a professional would choose to play. As you progress, you will likely find that your musical options (dynamic, tone colour, response, and the like) are somewhat limited. I also find the mechanism on the Gemmies mediocre at best, but all of this is personal preference, as is anything you will get in answer to your question. Ultimately, after testing the different things the flutes have to offer you (response, tone, dynamics, intonation, overall comfort and ease of play, etc.), you should have a pretty good idea if one sticks out from the rest. Get a professioanl flutist to listen to you play all three (and play all three for you) and offer their opinion. If you still can't find a noticeable difference, I would advise you to simply pick the cheapest one and save the extra money for a better instrument down the line when you start to feel the limits of this one. In my opinion, either the Miyazawa or the Yamaha would be the better buy in the long run, as both will allow you to grow more musically before you need to replace your flute again. How far you plan to take your music, and what you're doing with it now should also help you decide. If you're an amateur that plays in a community band, or for your own enjoyment, and don't hope to enter a career performing, you may well find the Gemeinhardt satisfactory, which means that you can keep the extra money. However, if you're a student looking at a degree in flute performance, having the best possible flute will help you develop, and you might consider the Miyazawa or Yamaha. Keep in mind that if this is you first professional flute, it probably does sound magnificent right now, while you're still dazzled by the concept, but it may not after a while. I bought a Yamaha 581 (an old one, so it's the equivalent of the Yamaha you're contemplating) in my Sophomore year of high school, and while it seemed amazing at first, as I grew as a musician, I realized that it really wasn't a good fit for me.

fluttiegurl
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Post by fluttiegurl »

I agree 100% with everything flutepicc06 said. First, play as many flutes as you can in your price range before making a decission. Second, consider what you will be playing and how long that will last. Hobbyists tend to have great respect for Gemeinhardt simply because they are affordable. If you plan to play professionally, the highest quality you can afford and that you like is adviseable. By the way, that does not mean the most expensive flute you can find. Play until you find one that is right.

I personally don't think the Gemeinhardt would be worth the money in the long run. Even with the available headjoint options, they are still quite limited.

You may also want to consider Muramatsu. I know I say this a lot, but I know many students who have had great success with the Muramatsu EX. There are hundreds of flute manufacturers out there. Not all are good for every player. It is to your advantage to play as many as possible before making a decission.

MeLizzard
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Post by MeLizzard »

Second the recommendation for the EX!! One of my students bought one last year, and has really reaped benefits in the tone department (from a Gemeinhardt 2S). The mechanism's great. :D

Valko
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Post by Valko »

Thanks for the quick responses! Unfortunately my local flute dealer doesn't carry the Muramatsu line so I'm limited to his available selection.

Based on the feedback so far, I'll hold the Gemeinhardt out of consideration. I've played both the Yamaha 684H and the Miyazawa 202 but didn't really hear or feel a strong difference between the two...so I'm not too concerned about the sound quality of either - they both sound good.

I'd like to know which flute is the most durable, requiring the least amount of maintenance and retain the most value over the next 5-yrs.

Any suggestions?

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 »

Well considering that the Miyazawa has a plated mechanism, in the long run (hopefully it will take longer than 5 years), the plating will wear off, which can lead to unsightly pitting. That's really only a cosmetic problem, but also take into consideration that solid silver mechanisms can be repaired almost an infinite number of times, while plated mechanisms are less durable. This certainly shouldn't be a problem over the course of only 5 years, but eventually it will happen, and depending on how long you keep the flute, it could affect you. Either one should hold adjustments well. Make sure to have the flute set up by a competent repair tech, and that you give it basic maintenance (cleaning, annual COA, etc.), and either should last you quite a while without any major work necessary. I have a that 15 year old Yamaha, and aside from a bit of tarnish, one overhaul has kept it in nearly perfect condition. As for value, the Yamaha shold hold more value, only because it has more precious metal in it. Both come from highly respected flutemakers, but the Yamaha is nearer the top of the line than the Miyazawa, so that also helps its value.

ick27
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Post by ick27 »

All this has been said before, but just in case you want another opinion.. Avoid the Gemeinhardt. Also check out the Muramatsu EX and the Altus 808, both of which are excellent flutes in the same price range as the Miyazawa and Yamaha you mentioned.

Any of these would be fine, but I personally like the Muramatsu and Altus best. Also, don't be put off by plated mechanisms. These four companies do plating properly, so you won't have any problems with it. Choose the flute you are most comfortable with.

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Phineas
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Post by Phineas »

Professional does not mean anything when it comes to a flute. It really is just a marketing ploy. How I know more musicians making money with "Student" and "Intermediate" models than any of the "Professional" models. That is why playability is more important than anything. When it comes to spending money on instruments, peer pressure is the worse thing in the world. 30% to 40% income is playing music when I am in the US. But, there are some $10000+ instruments I would never buy. To say that professionals only buy "Professional" models is not true at all. I know of professional flute players that are full time that play on "Student" models.

If a professional model is what you need, then buy one. But buy it for the right reason. Do not let peer pressure get you into an instrument just because of a label. I know about this first hand! I have a Haynes Standard that I rarely not play on. For one, why would I take my 5000 dollar flute to a humid concert outside, or some smokey bar, or any other venue even school. Not only because of damage, but even the risk of theft. It is the most expensive flute I own, but if I told you that it is the best playing flute I have, I would be lying to you. It is a great instrument with a great sound, but it just does not suit my needs.

For all of you Gemeinhardt bashers. I know more professionals that play on Gemeinhardt 2 and 3 models than any on would care to admit. All they do is change the headjoint. This maybe more due to availabilty. Still true just the same. Would they maybe prefer a better instrument? Sure. Most important is the instrument fulfills their professional needs depends on what is importatant to each player. A person could do a lot worse than a Gemeinhardt.

In short, you want to find out if an instrument is right for you, just play on it!

Flame on!

Phineas

MeLizzard
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Post by MeLizzard »

True, let's not get hung up on the word "professional". However, while one needn't own the most expensive instrument available to perform successfully, as an orchestral player and chamber musician, I can assure you that I don't currently know ANY "professional" flutists performing on Gemeinhardts, or Emersons, or Selmers, or a lot of other brands. This is NOT brand snobbery, but a matter of response, tone, projection, etc. As an example, I was compelled this weekend to play an orchestra gig on a student piccolo, due to circumstances beyond my control. The pitch was pretty good, the tone was not unattractive, but my cellist husband, at intermission, told me, "Needs more piccolo." :o These are words a string player will probably never utter! While the instrument was relatively pleasant to play, it simply couldn't run with the Big Dogs. I noticed, when trying to play more assertively, notes ocassionally split or whistled. Playing outdoors is a different ballgame, and this is why most of us have two flutes--a fine one and one we're not afraid to (minimally) hurt. If the latter happens to be a readily-available, step-up brand, so be it. I don't enjoy performing on my Gemmy 33S, but I'm not afraid to teach a band camp with it, either. Aside from practical concerns such as these, though, the staff at the music store in which I work has commented that, no matter which flute I pick up there, I still sound like Me. The kind of flute a person buys depends on a bunch of factors, including: 1) Is he or she truly a good-enough player to hear and feel a difference between a $600 flute and a $6,000 flute? :shock: In likely 85% of cases, no. I couldn't advise most students I've ever known to spend more than about $1800. 2) Where and in what sort of playing will you most often engage? In a college or conservatory, in a high school band, in orchestras, almost strictly chamber music, in bars and clubs, in community bands that perform outdoors a lot? How many hours a day or week the flute will be played, for what purpose, and in what environment will greatly influence your decision. 3) What are the player's musical goals? Totally recreational, finish high school, music minor, music major, not-a-music-major-but-good-and-competitive, and want Mom and Dad to help them buy a flute that will easily take them through the rest of a good amateur career? Answering such questions will help a person decide how much money to spend, and how delicate an instrument to buy. It's great we have so many choices now, though flute shopping seems a bit more daunting these days. Play as many flutes as possible, and enjoy the process a little as you shop for your new baby! :D

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 »

Fully agreed, MeLizzard! In fact, I think I hit many of those points in my first post.

ehku
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Post by ehku »

"I've played both the Yamaha 684H and the Miyazawa 202 but didn't really hear or feel a strong difference between the two..."

I agree with the earlier post about the silver content making a difference when considering a purchase at this level. I recently visited FLUTE WORLD, and they are selling a used plated 201 Miyazawa which has terrible pitting and worn off plating. Have you tried . . . another brand I've had great success with for my students: Trevor James - the Virtuso II. Wow. They have a beautiful, full rich sound - all silver, B foot, off set G, split E, C# TRILL (a GREAT option and almost unheard of at this price level) for about $2650 - Good luck in your search!

DFlute
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flute choices

Post by DFlute »

What great information you all posted!

And I couldn't agree more with your great advice to those looking to upgrade.

I play a student flute (my second one)...and thought that I would like to upgrade to a more respectable model...

The owners of the local flute supply and service store agreed to actually allow me to trade in my student model for one of these professional beauties...

so I brought my student flute with me for a potential trade-up...while I played and examined mine and the esteemed pros together... side by side... and to my amazement...

the high end yamaha pro flutes as well as some others (I also tested the ones that were far removed from my price range)...

sounded worse than my gemeinhardt...student flute!

Perhaps it was the lowly player...

but when I played the two side by side...there was a richer tone quality in my student flute and the note response was faster!

Needless to say, I felt very happy with my low-end budget flute...and now play with a much greater appreciation and joy for the value of my wee student flute...


I have discovered that we do not need to go into debt to make beautiful music. (at least for me...I mostly need to spend a lot more time practicing!)

The most important thing...in my opinion...is to find a reliable, trustworthy, music service center. While you may save some money buying via web or paypal...I think that a flute is very personal...almost like a pair of shoes or a bicycle or a car...

You would never purchase shoes or bicycles or a car without trying, testing...touching...seeing how you fit...

So too should we also first play our flutes. When we buy our flute from our local merchant and service center...we are also helping to safeguard the ever-dwindling school and community music programs.

Like most cars, pro flutes are expensive... and require skilled dependable local service.

I have found that the technicians in the local music store are an excellent source of information when it comes to success and faliure in product performance. They are better than a consumer reports for flutes!

Many(at least the ones I have talked to) are happy to educate you (and kvetch) because they do not like having to go through the tedious and labor-intensive task of correcting and fixing bad design work!

I am enjoying your many posts...and look forward to reading.

Hope I wasn't to wordy...

or too longwinded
:o [/i]
those who hear not the music think the dancers mad

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 »

One thing to consider in play testing is that you may not want to play your flute for a week or so before you actually test the flutes. You want your embouchure to be adaptable to the flutes, not set on however you usually play. Gemeinhardts especially require a somewhat different embouchure from other flutes, and it will take a bit of time to learn how to play a different flute well. Even staying within the same brand name, it can take a couple of weeks or longer to adjust to the flute and get it's best from it.

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woof
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Re: flute choices

Post by woof »

DFlute wrote:What great information you all posted!



the high end yamaha pro flutes as well as some others (I also tested the ones that were far removed from my price range)...

sounded worse than my gemeinhardt...student flute!

[/i]
:o [/i]
I recently had somewhat of a similar experience when Itried a group of flutes I was considering for upgrade. What I discovered was that with time (more than a quick trip to a flute store) -like days I began to "learn" to get far more out of the new flutes. I think it is also important to take lots of time trying new flutes- not an hour but perhaps days before deciding. I still like my Gemy but there is no question the professional flutes gave rich more interesting sounds with a little practice- they were many times more expensive. My point is that it takes time to learn to coax the potential of a new flute out- especially if you are not such an experience player- which is my case. Still I agree with you that Gemies are not really so bad but I do love my new Pearl-- wow it is so wonderful and each day it becomes more interesting and rich (i.e I learn slowly). Good luck.
Last edited by woof on Thu Jul 06, 2006 6:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

Valko
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Post by Valko »

Thanks for all the great advice! In the end, we ended up choosing the Yamaha 674H. The decision was mostly due to the quality of sound, best price to feature comparison with other flute makers, proximity of an authorized dealer/repair center and recommendation by a local band director. Thanks again!!

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