Is this a wise choice?

Flute History and Instrument Purchase

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DivaricationOfMind
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Is this a wise choice?

Post by DivaricationOfMind » Tue May 01, 2007 5:38 pm

Some background information:

Okay, so, I've been playing on a Gemeinhardt 22sp for about 5 years now, and I've really been feeling held back lately. Notes crack too often, unless I'm extremely careful about the way I play. My tone is extremely airy, and I've done loads of research on how to improve my embrouchure, and I definitely have improved it...but it's still not nearly as clean and warm as I'd like it to be and it always seems "fuzzy". Dynamics under mezzo-forte seem to be unexistant past upper octave F. I can't get a good sound when I double or triple tongue. ect.ect. bleh! Naturally I blamed myself for all these things at first, but, then I played on a friend's Yamaha (YFL-461 I believe) and well...it was amazing? hahaha yeah... so than I really thought... I need to get a new flute. especially since I'm going to be playing flute for the rest of my life, unless I lose my arms.


SO, I went to a local music dealer, and he had a used Gemeinhardt 3S/3SH(I don't remember which) for sale for $399.99. Well, I took this flute back into the acoustic room and played around with it. It played much better than mine and seemed to have no problems at all. What turned me off was that it seemed to be tarnishing near the keys, and somebody had engraved something on the body :[ (it was just a number) It also didn't play as well as the Yamaha my friend let me play. So, I'm wondering if it's worth it? I'm sort of hesitant because I want a flute that will be able to use through college and beyond. I don't want to purchase another anytime soon.

I'm leaning towards yes, and in fact I have it on layaway with a $50 down payment. But, before I go in any further I'd like to hear some other peoples opinions. I've also heard that unless you're getting a professional level Gemeinhardt, they're not very good at all. :/

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 » Tue May 01, 2007 5:58 pm

Well, I don't consider Gemeinhardt to produce any true professional instruments, so what you heard doesn't really make sense. They make decent enough student instruments, but I would not suggest to anyone looking for a true professional level instrument on which to start a career that they buy a Gemmie. Personally I would encourage you not to buy that Gemeinhardt. First you need to have your flute looked at by a technician. If it's never seen a tech in the 5 years you've had it, it's long overdue for some maintainance, and that may solve many of the problems you're having with it. If having it worked on doesn't improve things, then you can start thinking about buying a new instrument. In any case, if there is anything about a flute that you don't like (in this case, it clearly is not the best you've played), then it's not something you should be spending your money on. Save the cash and wait a little while to gather your funds if you need to, but buy a flute that works significantly better for you than the one you're playing on now. My guess is that in a short time you're going to start noticing that the 3S doesn't play that much differently from the 2SP, and you're going to wish you had another flute. Playtest as many makes and models as you can (which will likely mean going beyond your local music store), and when you have some basis on which to choose a flute, then go ahead and make a purchase. Don't be afraid to take some time flute shopping....In the long run, making the right choice will make the wait worth it.

MeLizzard
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Post by MeLizzard » Tue May 01, 2007 7:37 pm

Play lots of flutes, many different brands and models, before making such a large investment. After playing Gemeinhardt in my younger years, and still owning those to be able to compare to other models, I can't really recommend them, beyond the beginner level. The new Brio series they're making is nicer, however. Most flute companies offer a couple models designated "professional", but it's often hard to find a serious classical flutist playing many of these. Doublers can usually get by with some of them, pop players use them for bar gigs, and even band players during outdoor concerts, but many of these models can't match the tone, intonation, and response of handmade professional flutes. Try a lot of flutes!!
"There is no 'Try'; there is only 'Do'."--Yoda

DivaricationOfMind
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Post by DivaricationOfMind » Tue May 01, 2007 8:14 pm

Well, on the Gemeinhardt website, they have a group of flutes labeled under professional, and these are the 33s and Kurt Gemmies. So, I wasn't claiming they were of professional standards, but rather that thats the category they're under.

I'm sure I'm going to want another flute soon after. But, money isn't really an issue, by the end of this summer before my senior year, I'm going to have about $2000 saved up, and at that point I'm thinking that I can trade in one of my gemeinhardts and have at least $2300 to go towards a new flute. This way I still have 1 crappy flute for marching band season.

The reason I feel like I should buy this Gemmie is because of the Sterling Silver head joint, when I was testing it out, my tone really was better than it was on my 22sp(I'm sure it's a 2sp, but for some reason it's engraved with "22sp").

hmmm

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 » Tue May 01, 2007 8:20 pm

DivaricationOfMind wrote:
The reason I feel like I should buy this Gemmie is because of the Sterling Silver head joint, when I was testing it out, my tone really was better than it was on my 22sp(I'm sure it's a 2sp, but for some reason it's engraved with "22sp").

hmmm
The sterling silver won't matter much (if at all). The design is much more important than the material. And you didn't say, but has your current flute been given it's proper maintainance during the time you've had it? (A COA at least annually, and at least one overhaul during that time). If not, the fact that the 3SB is in better repair could very well explain any tone differences. Leaks can have a major impact on your sound. And there are plenty of other flutes (really headjoints specifically) that will most likely be able to offer you a better sound. No reason to 400 dollars on a flute that's only marginally better than your own.

DivaricationOfMind
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Post by DivaricationOfMind » Tue May 01, 2007 8:43 pm

Really? I was always told that the Sterling Silver made a big difference.

hmm well, while I was at the Music Dealer, I had my Gem. 2SP checked out and the repair guy said it was fine. But... looking at the pads, they seem to be torn. I was thinking that if they were in need of change, some notes wouldn't even play. I actually went to another music dealer to ask about the pads since the other repair guy seemed reluctant to changing them, and they told me they would only change 3 of them at a time. But, quite frankly I think all my pads need to be changed, they all have tears in them.

Question: What exactly happens in an Overhaul and in COA? and how much does it usually cost to have them done?

by the way, thanks a lot for the quick responses!

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 » Tue May 01, 2007 8:56 pm

DivaricationOfMind wrote:Really? I was always told that the Sterling Silver made a big difference.

hmm well, while I was at the Music Dealer, I had my Gem. 2SP checked out and the repair guy said it was fine. But... looking at the pads, they seem to be torn. I was thinking that if they were in need of change, some notes wouldn't even play. I actually went to another music dealer to ask about the pads since the other repair guy seemed reluctant to changing them, and they told me they would only change 3 of them at a time. But, quite frankly I think all my pads need to be changed, they all have tears in them.

Question: What exactly happens in an Overhaul and in COA? and how much does it usually cost to have them done?

by the way, thanks a lot for the quick responses!
That bit about solid silver is a myth that's fooled plenty of people in the past. Proof of this can be found by playing a silver plated Louis Lot (or other flute of similar quality) vs. a solid silver Cibaili or other similar junker flute. You'll almost certainly notice that with both flutes in good repair that the Louis Lot FAR out performs the Cibaili....It's the overall design and craftsmanship that matter most to a flute, not what it's made of.

If your pads are visibly torn, it's almost certainly time for a repad. Even if the pads aren't visibly damaged, a leak can open up that will definitely affect your sound, as well as technique (by forcing you to push the keys harder to close the leak). I would try to get the flute to a flute specialist (rather than an all around band instrument repairman), as most music store repairmen know a little about a lot of subjects, but don't have the specialized knowledge to do a great job with flute repair.

What a COA (Clean, Oil, and Adjust) and an overhaul will entail varies from tech to tech, but the norm is for a COA to involve taking the flute apart, removing the old oil and any dirt or grime from inside the mechanism, clean the flute, apply new oil, reassemble it, and adjust the mechanism so that the linkages act as they're meant to (so that keys meant to close simultaneously do so without any lost motion). It may also include some simple pad work, or the replacement of the headjoint cork (if need be), though not every tech will do that. A COA is basically the annual maintainance that keeps the flute in the best possible playing condition between overhauls. An overhaul takes care of the same things, but will also address any mechanical problems that have arisen, such as side-to-side play in the mechanism, recorking, more major pad work or a complete repad (depending on tech and what needs to be done) and a full polish. An overhaul will essentially put the flute back in "as new" condition. How much either of these will cost ranges widely depending on tech, area, what work needs to be done, and in some cases the flute to be worked on, so I can't provide you with a definite quote. I can tell you that the cheapest COA I've dared to get on any of my instruments cost $50, and I currently pay $300-$350 dollars for a COA. Overhauls run me about $900. I do use a top tier tech, who lives in an expensive area for that type of thing, and I play extremely high quality instruments, so any and all of that contribute to price. Your mileage may vary.

And you're very welcome for the quick responses. I like to help, and if I can do so without delay, why not? :)
Last edited by flutepicc06 on Tue May 01, 2007 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DivaricationOfMind
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Post by DivaricationOfMind » Tue May 01, 2007 9:09 pm

I see I see...

Those procedures seem quite expensive :? But, I'm assuming they will be much cheaper for a gemeinhardt. On the other hand, if the repairs are more expensive than the Gem. 3S(which seems to be in great condition) would it be wiser to buy the 3S? Right now I'm looking at my 2SP, and well.. I have no doubt it needs a lot of work...all the pads are torn. I think they might have also been significantly damaged by getting wet(it rained during our half-time show once...)

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 » Tue May 01, 2007 9:17 pm

DivaricationOfMind wrote:I see I see...

Those procedures seem quite expensive :? But, I'm assuming they will be much cheaper for a gemeinhardt. On the other hand, if the repairs are more expensive than the Gem. 3S(which seems to be in great condition) would it be wiser to buy the 3S? Right now I'm looking at my 2SP, and well.. I have no doubt it needs a lot of work...all the pads are torn. I think they might have also been significantly damaged by getting wet(it rained during our half-time show once...)
They can be expensive, but like I said, prices vary HUGELY. I'd suggest you ask around for reputable techs and then get a quote from them. If the repair on the 2SP costs more than a brand new flute that's in good working condition, then obviously it doesn't make much economic sense to get the repairs done. However, if you did get the work done, assuming you like the feel of the mechanism and the scale of the flute, you could potentially pair the body you have now with a professional level headjoint, which could almost certainly take of all your tone related problems for less cost than buying an upgrade flute, followed shortly by a more expensive upgrade flute (which is what you're probably going to be able to get for $2300ish dollars). I'd suggest doing some research into repair rates, and then making the decision that seems logical to you, but if you decide to just buy a new flute, I would suggest buying something other than the Gemeinhardt you have on layaway, as you said yourself that the Yamaha played much better. As I said, there's no point in buying a flute that's only slightly better than what you play currently if you're going to outgrow it in the near future (that doesn't make much economic sense either). If you're going to buy something, buy something substantially different from your own instrument.

DivaricationOfMind
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Post by DivaricationOfMind » Tue May 01, 2007 9:23 pm

so, if I was to repair the 2SP completely, I could just buy a better head joint and use it with the 2SP's body and it would be more efficient than buying a new flute(like a yamaha for example)? If so, how do I go about buying a head joint?

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 » Tue May 01, 2007 9:30 pm

DivaricationOfMind wrote:so, if I was to repair the 2SP completely, I could just buy a better head joint and use it with the 2SP's body and it would be more efficient than buying a new flute(like a yamaha for example)? If so, how do I go about buying a head joint?
It might be. Get your flute worked on, and try out other flutes and see if the scale or mechanism on them suits you better. If you notice no difference, then a headjoint could be the answer to your problems (assuming the body is given the repair attention it needs). The fuzziness in tone, poor response, etc. are all headjoint related (once there's no question of leaks at the headjoint cork, pads or otherwise, or other mechanical problems), so replacing the head could easily solve that. Plus if you buy a head you like now, you can always purchase a better quality body down the line when and if you start to feel limited by the 2SP, and pair it with your headjoint of choice. In this way, you don't have to pay the relatively large price for everything at once. Headjoints (which will need careful testing to see what suits you, as no two handmade heads are the same, even from the same maker and with the same specs) can be purchased from almost any maker of flutes. A handmade solid silver headjoint can cost from $700 on up new (though it's not terribly difficult to find such heads for hundreds of dollars off their retail price if you're willing to buy used), but assuming you find one that fits you well, can last you many, many years. I'm not saying a headjoint will definitely solve your problems, but it's another option you should think about, along with refurbishing the 2SP and just purchasing a new instrument.

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briolette
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Post by briolette » Wed May 02, 2007 7:21 am

I agree that investing in a good headjoint and getting your flute overhauled would be a good approach. When I was a younger flautist I thought my fuzzy sound was mainly due to me and didn't even realize my flute (which was new when I got it) actually had a couple of leaks (Houston is very humid and pads get out of whack easily). The first time I got my pads readjusted I was shocked at the difference.

Many music dealers have headjoints that you can try with your flute. There are even headjoint makers that'll custom fit and cut one for you.

The gemmy 2sp is really a student instrument, so I understand why you want to fully upgrade if you plan on playing flute for life. It's just that I'd save up more (like around $ 3k -4k) to buy a better instrument because you may outgrow your next flute sooner than you think.

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Post by fluteguy18 » Wed May 02, 2007 11:44 am

I agree completely. Check out all of your options. Repair prices in my area vary quite a bit as well. A COA here in KY performed by our best full time tech runs between $150-200. There is a place that will also do them for about $50-60. But, there is a difference because of various certifications regarding flute makers, and pads etc. etc.

Actually I did something similiar to a COA [ A CA I guess.... I didnt unpin the mech and oil it] the other day because a girl in my studio needed repairs badly, but didnt want to drive an hour last minute before juries. So, I spent about 2 hours cleaning and adjusting her instrument [it needed a lot of work]. However, she definately needs it overhauled this summer [I just cleaned it thoroughly, adjusted the screws, and shimmed the kickers on the keys that needed adjustment].

Anyway, back to the point. I would definately get a quality tech to do as much repair as possible. Try your instrument, then decide if you want to just upgrade to a new flute, or just a new headjoint.

Also, [if you havent already] do a search for the FAQ thread on here. You can learn a lot from it.

DivaricationOfMind
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Post by DivaricationOfMind » Sat May 05, 2007 8:03 pm

Okay, so, I went to an instrument repair shop my band director recommended, and after examining my flute they told me I would need to have it overhauled, and it would cost $330

The way I see it, for $60 more I could get a second flute, with nicer key mechanism and a better headjoint.

I also called a few music dealers in my area about headjoints, and unfortunately none of them sell headjoints alone. Is there any companies that I could order some from to try?

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 » Sat May 05, 2007 8:19 pm

DivaricationOfMind wrote:
The way I see it, for $60 more I could get a second flute, with nicer key mechanism and a better headjoint.

I also called a few music dealers in my area about headjoints, and unfortunately none of them sell headjoints alone. Is there any companies that I could order some from to try?
If you get your flute overhauled, I would suggest finding a flute specialist to do the work. I believe I wrote about this above, but most music stores have band instrument or woodwind technicians rather than flute specialists, and with such involved work as an overhaul, you want the job done right by someone with all the knowledge and skills to take care of it. There is a big difference between the work a good flute tech will do and the work a general band instrument repair person will do.

The headjoints may have slightly different cuts, but be sure to try out your headjoint on a flute that is in good repair to see which you actually prefer. A good headjoint put on a leaky body is not going to perform as well as it could. Also keep in mind that the mechanism most likely only seems nicer because it's in better shape at the moment. You'd be surprised how much having a clean and well adjusted mechanism matters. If you decide to buy that 3 series Gemmie, you're going to have to be sure to maintain it, or it will reach the same state as your current instrument. This means you'll end up paying $400 for a flute, plus (assuming you keep it for any decent period of time, even as merely a backup flute) one COA per year, and an overhaul every 3-5, when merely paying for the repairs and future maintainance of your current flute could very well give you an instrument that would play just as well.

As for where to buy headjoints, most flute dealers will have a selection to choose from. You might try contacting Fluteworld, the Flute Center of New York, Carolyn Nussbaum, Flute Specialists, JB Weissman, etc.
Last edited by flutepicc06 on Sat May 05, 2007 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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