Just curious about different types of flutes ....

Flute History and Instrument Purchase

Moderators: Classitar, pied_piper, Phineas

Post Reply
User avatar
MissyHPhoenix
Posts: 368
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:19 pm
Location: Hammond, LA, USA

Just curious about different types of flutes ....

Post by MissyHPhoenix »

So I am always looking around online at all the different types of flutes that I've never seen before, the "handmade" lines in particular.

Anyway, I was looking at a Prima Sankyo Artist line flute, captioned as a "professional, hand-made" flute. I was surprised to see that the instrument has the "Y" arms, not the "pointed" arms. Do the arms not make that big a difference? Is a hand-made flute with "Y" arms going to perform better than one with the "pointed" arms? Or have I been wrong in assuming (hate that word) that the "pointed" arms are for the higher levels?
Missy

Why Be Normal????

c_otter
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2006 4:18 pm

Post by c_otter »

It is my understanding that the pointed arms are primarily aesthetic feature. It used to be that high end flutes were the only ones with pointed arms. Then, the manufacturers of intermediate (and below?) flutes caught on and started offering pointed arms (and gold plated lip plates) as a marketing feature. I would really look at the quality of the instrument, not the fancy outer dressing.

I would expect that a Sankyo with Y-arms would be of higher quality than an instrument from a student manufacturer with pointed arms.

Worth noting, all of the keys that you put your fingers on have Y-arms because the pointed arms would get in the way.

Nancy

Tarandros
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:32 pm
Location: Brighton, England.

Post by Tarandros »

I've never really understood this business of pointed -v- Y arms. My vintage flute's got pointed arms, my modern one doesn't. Aside from the aesthetics already mentioned, I'm sure I read somewhere that the other justification for pointed arms is that they are a stronger construction. But then even on flutes with pointed arms, the pointed arms are only on the keys that aren't fingered. Surely, though, those must be the keys that least need the additional strengthening, as i''d have though the keys coming in for the most stress would be the fingered ones? Confused, T.

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

Post by fluteguy18 »

It used to be that pointed arms were the signature of a quality flute. They used to be more stable, and stronger. But, with modern manufacturing, this is no longer the case. Some people argue that they are more stable than y arms. I don't necessarily think so. I think that pointed arms are now a cosmetic thing more than anything else.

User avatar
pied_piper
Posts: 1890
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Post by pied_piper »

Pointed arms :: Flute
as
Mag Wheels :: car
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

Tarandros
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:32 pm
Location: Brighton, England.

Post by Tarandros »

fluteguy18 wrote:It used to be that pointed arms were the signature of a quality flute. They used to be more stable, and stronger. But, with modern manufacturing, this is no longer the case. Some people argue that they are more stable than y arms. I don't necessarily think so. I think that pointed arms are now a cosmetic thing more than anything else.
So now I'm wondering if maybe nowadays at any rate, pointed arms are a bit of a gimmick that just give flute makers an excuse to slap an extra 10 or 15% on the price for the privilege of having them. And I cant think that pointed arms are any harder to cast, or require signifiatnly more metal, such as to justify these price hikes. Kind regards, T.

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

Post by fluteguy18 »

I do think that they probably take a little more effort to put on (unless stamped out by machine with the rest of the key). On handmade flutes, the key cup and the arm are often separate pieces that are put together. Or at least, this is so on my Miyazawa (there are very slight inconsistencies in the pointed arms and their shape on my flute that are only possible by handwork. A machine would have stamped them out as one piece uniformly). So, in that case, pointed arms would take more effort than Y arms because you have to fit them to the contour of the key cup.

User avatar
pied_piper
Posts: 1890
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Post by pied_piper »

Even on mass produced instruments, the key cups and key arms are usually separate component parts that are soldered together. Here's a link to a video about Schrieber clarinet manufacturing. They make a full range of clarinets from student to pro and have even made clarinets for Buffet. About halfway through the video, you can see the process where the key cups and key arms are soldered together one-by-one using an induction soldering machine.

http://www.gemstonemusical.com/schreiber/default.asp

It's not really practical to stamp a part where there is a wide variation in metal thickness such as the difference between a key cup and arm. The video also shows a CNC machine carving out key arms. Flute key arms of precious metals are frequently cast rather than milling them.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

User avatar
MissyHPhoenix
Posts: 368
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:19 pm
Location: Hammond, LA, USA

Post by MissyHPhoenix »

Thanks for the info! Makes a lot more sense to me now. Someone had told me (probably a salesperson, can't remember) that the pointed arms make the flute easier to play, especially when you have a disability like arthritis like I do. Same person said that the pointed arms "only" come on the higher-end flutes; whatdyaknow, of course these cost a lot more! I still love my Pearl Elegante, wouldn't change it for the world -- but now I feel more confident to make a better-educated purchase in the future, if I need to buy another flute. Because I think y'all are right -- the open-hole, pointed arm flutes are more expensive, and I think that is a sales gimmick to get people to spend more money.
Missy

Why Be Normal????

User avatar
pied_piper
Posts: 1890
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Post by pied_piper »

MissyHPhoenix wrote:Someone had told me (probably a salesperson, can't remember) that the pointed arms make the flute easier to play, especially when you have a disability like arthritis like I do.
That's pure BS... And it's not even a logical statement.

Pointed arms do not affect the ease of playability of a flute. A flute with a quality mechanism that is properly oiled and adjusted is what determines the effort needed to depress the keys.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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

Post by fluteguy18 »

Wow. Sounds to me like a salesperson was caught redhanded! I guess they really wanted that boost on their commission! lol

But you made a good choice. The Pearl Elegante is a quality instrument.

User avatar
JButky
Posts: 391
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:21 pm
Location: Mt. Juliet

Post by JButky »

MissyHPhoenix wrote:Because I think y'all are right -- the open-hole, pointed arm flutes are more expensive, and I think that is a sales gimmick to get people to spend more money.
All pearl flutes come with Pointed arms, even our entry model. Other companies are starting to offer more pointed arms on the entry models. It doesn't make the flute better.

But, I'm glad you like your Elegante!
Joe B

Tarandros
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:32 pm
Location: Brighton, England.

Post by Tarandros »

fluteguy18 wrote:I do think that they probably take a little more effort to put on (unless stamped out by machine with the rest of the key). On handmade flutes, the key cup and the arm are often separate pieces that are put together. Or at least, this is so on my Miyazawa (there are very slight inconsistencies in the pointed arms and their shape on my flute that are only possible by handwork. A machine would have stamped them out as one piece uniformly). So, in that case, pointed arms would take more effort than Y arms because you have to fit them to the contour of the key cup.
Thanks for the information - very interesting. Kind regards, T.

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

Post by fluteguy18 »

Don't take everything I wrote in that post as fact. I wasn't aware that both types of arms are separate at first. But, if done by machine alone (created then soldered together), they would all be perfectly uniform. I'm just guessing that the reason they are more expensive is because they are harder to attach than Y arms.

User avatar
JButky
Posts: 391
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:21 pm
Location: Mt. Juliet

Post by JButky »

fluteguy18 wrote:Don't take everything I wrote in that post as fact. I wasn't aware that both types of arms are separate at first. But, if done by machine alone (created then soldered together), they would all be perfectly uniform. I'm just guessing that the reason they are more expensive is because they are harder to attach than Y arms.
Pointed key arm flutes also have Y arms on the open hole keys...

Back in the day when the pointed arms were accomplished by filing (still to a degree this day in the finishing stages) It was a sign of skill to file the key and create a sharp, straight line for the pointed arm..

Same thing with feathering the Y arm sides into the key cups.
Joe B

Post Reply