Muramatsu EX Questions

Flute History and Instrument Purchase

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burmura
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Muramatsu EX Questions

Post by burmura » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:08 am

Hello everyone. This is my very first post, and I am very pleased to be here.

A very quick history about myself: I have been playing the flute for 7+ years now, and currently in college. I own a Yamaha 481 which I absolutely love and purchased my freshman year of high school. Now, being a college player, I decided to upgrade my beloved Yamaha for a used 2004 Muramatsu EX (I believe it's a IIB) professional handmade flute. I bought the flute from a friend.

Now that I own this wonderful instrument, I have some questions I was hoping this wonderful flute community could help me with:

With this EX model being solid silver head only, and a plated body/foot, I have heard that the plated material is much less forgiving than an all solid silver tubing in terms of accidents resulting in dents, dings and scratches. Personally, I have never dropped or mistreated my flutes, but there is always the occasional clash with another flautist's instrument due to sitting to close to each other, or a brush against the metal music stand. My concern is that if I (heaven forbid) were to damage my EX flute to an extent where there is a dent or ding that I would like to get it removed, would this be possible on a plated instrument such as my EX? I saw a youtube video recently showing how they repair and remove dents on a flute, and I can see why a solid gold or solid silver flute would be much easier to fix than a plated instrument. Also, I hear that silver plating eventually wears off depending on how rigorous you play. I read somewhere that a Muramatsu should last about 15 years or so before it may need to be replaced. Any thoughts on this?

I really wanted to purchase a solid silver flute, but the difference in the amount of silver content and how it affected the tone of the instrument did not justify the cost difference for me, which was why I settled for an EX model Muramatsu. I would love to hear other Muramatsu enthusiasts and what they think of their EX flute, or Muramatsu flute in general.

Also, this Mura was overhauled 2 years ago, and received a COA prior to me purchasing it. On my Yamaha, I've only had a COA done once on it in the 5 years I've owned it. These yamahas are like machines! They seem to last and last with no need for an adjustment! I took my Yamaha to a local band instrument shop, and they did a modest job. But because I have a Muramatsu now, I want to be more delicate with this instrument so that it will last me another 10 years or so. Are there any recommendations on good flute repair shops in the US where I can ship my instrument to, that's preferably cost efficient, but does not sacrifice the quality of their service?

Thanks in advance!

fluttiegurl
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Re: Muramatsu EX Questions

Post by fluttiegurl » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:39 am

I know someone who has been playing on her EX for well over 15 years with no desire to replace it. I played it and to b honest, had a twinge of flute envy :)

Dent removal should be no real problem. I have seen student flutes that have been abused look like new by a good tech, so I see no issue there either. The only problem would be if something happened to take silver off of the flute, such as deep scratches of pitting. Some players experience pitting on the keys from acidic hands, but your Yamaha does not have solid silver keys, so it is unlikely that this will happen to the EX either. Plating can also be replaced, though it is quite expensive.

I have played a number of flutes of this model from time to time and have been impressed every time. It is a great flute for college. If you are serious in 15 years and paying in a way that justifies spending more money, then you can make that decision. If not, there is no reason why this one, if taken care of and serviced regularly, could last a very long time.

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Phineas
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Re: Muramatsu EX Questions

Post by Phineas » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:00 pm

burmura

Do not over think it. If you like the flute, and your local technician says it's good then buy it. The material a flute is made of is overrated. Muramatsu could make a plastic flute and it would still be a Muramatsu.

Just my .02 USD

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pied_piper
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Re: Muramatsu EX Questions

Post by pied_piper » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:53 pm

burmura wrote:I decided to upgrade my beloved Yamaha for a used 2004 Muramatsu EX
Congratulations. Muramatsu makes fine flutes.
burmura wrote:My concern is that if I (heaven forbid) were to damage my EX flute to an extent where there is a dent or ding that I would like to get it removed, would this be possible on a plated instrument such as my EX?
Absolutely. Any good flute repair shop can remove dents. On plated instruments, the base metal is usually nickle silver which has no real silver in it. It's very similar to brass (composed of copper and zinc) but with the addition of nickel to give it a silvery color). Nickel silver is slightly harder than sterling silver, so it takes a little more manual effort to remove dents. However, that also means it is slightly more resistant to denting than sterling silver. So, the bottom line is that unless your flute has been run over by a steam roller or bent like a boomerang, dents can usually be removed. One caveat though is the shape of the dent. Round or curvy dents are usually easier to remove and after repair, there will often be no sign of damage. Crease dents (with sharp lines) are more difficult to completely remove and after repair, it may leave a mark along the line of the crease. However that is cosmetic only and does not affect the playability of the flute. Crease dents or deep scratches can penetrate the plating and expose the base nickel silver metal. If that should happen, the area can be very lightly buffed, cleaned, and brush plated to improve the appearance and help prevent corrosion of the base metal. (Sort of like applying touch-up paint to scratches on a car to prevent rust.)
burmura wrote:I hear that silver plating eventually wears off depending on how rigorous you play.
There are several factors related to the plating deteriorating. First, the base metal must be properly cleaned before it is plated. If not, the plating may peel or flake off. That's a quality control issue with some manufacturers, but it doesn't seem to be a problem for Muramatsu. Second, good flute makers use a heavy plating technique that is thicker and more durable. Third, as Flutigurl mentioned, acidic skin on some people can attack the plating over time. After playing, wiping the instrument with a plain microfiber cloth can remove most of any acidic skin residue.

burmura wrote:I read somewhere that a Muramatsu should last about 15 years or so before it may need to be replaced. Any thoughts on this?
A better rule of thumb is that after 15 years of heavy playing, a flute may need an overhaul, but it wouldn't necessarily need replacing. Overhauls are expensive, but when compared with the cost of a new pro-level flute, an overhaul is a good economical alternative. Typically, as a flute ages from playing, the keys rods (made of hard steel or stainless steel) wear away a portion of key shafts (made of softer silver or nickel silver) and that makes it difficult for the pads to properly seal the tone holes. During an overhaul, the key shafts are "swaged" (sometimes called swedged) to remove the "slop" in the mechanism caused by wear. Flutes which get annual COAs, are cleaned and re-oiled which helps prevent wear and can dramatically extend the useful life of a flute.
burmura wrote:On my Yamaha, I've only had a COA done once on it in the 5 years I've owned it. These yamahas are like machines! They seem to last and last with no need for an adjustment!
One COA in 5 years is not enough maintenance for any flute regardless of how heavily it is played. Would you run a car for five years without an oil change? OK, that's not a fair comparison, because flutes are not subjected to the same conditions as an engine, but it should still make you stop and think. In a flute, oil evaporates over time, oil gets dirty from particles in the air, and microscopic metal particles wear off which causes more wear almost like sandpaper. You might be surprised how much. While it might not be noticeable to most flutists, wear is always happening. Regular maintenance is the key to extending the life of any flute.
burmura wrote:I took my Yamaha to a local band instrument shop, and they did a modest job. But because I have a Muramatsu now, I want to be more delicate with this instrument so that it will last me another 10 years or so. Are there any recommendations on good flute repair shops in the US where I can ship my instrument to, that's preferably cost efficient, but does not sacrifice the quality of their service?
Most local band repair shops can do a passable job with a Yamaha because they are familiar with them. For the Muramatsu, I'd suggest one of the flute specialty shops that also do repair. Here's a few well known flute repair shops that you could consider for COAs and repairs:

J.L.Smith
Carolyn Nussbaum
Flute World
Flute Pro Shop
Cinncinatti Flute Works
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

burmura
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Re: Muramatsu EX Questions

Post by burmura » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:41 pm

Thank you fluttiegurl, Phineas, and especially Pied_Piper for your thorough and helpful advice. You all have been great! I am quite relieved to know that should something happen to my instrument, it can be repaired. Also very good to know that Muras are strongly made.

Has anyone heard of a flute repair company called "Expert Flute Repair by Louis Carlini" in the NJ area? There prices are very reasonable. There are absolutely no flute specialty shops where I live, let alone, repair shops where I could take my instrument to. So shipping my instrument would be my only option.

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pied_piper
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Re: Muramatsu EX Questions

Post by pied_piper » Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:52 pm

I'm not personally familiar with Louis Carlini, but a quick check of the Straubinger website verifies that he is Straubinger certified. While that's no guarantee of good results, it is at least an indicator that he has taken training on high-end flute repair. On Mr. Carlini's website, he indicates that he studied with Ransom Wilson, that he has a music performance degree, and that he is a member of the NFA. These are all positive signs, but you should probably ask him for some references and talk with him to be sure that you feel comfortable with him working on your flute.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

wkzh
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Re: Muramatsu EX Questions

Post by wkzh » Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:38 pm

Hello there, fellow Muramatsu EX user! (and welcome!) I know I'm two weeks late, but here goes...
With this EX model being solid silver head only, and a plated body/foot, I have heard that the plated material is much less forgiving than an all solid silver tubing in terms of accidents resulting in dents, dings and scratches... My concern is that if I (heaven forbid) were to damage my EX flute to an extent where there is a dent or ding that I would like to get it removed, would this be possible on a plated instrument such as my EX? ...a solid gold or solid silver flute would be much easier to fix than a plated instrument. Also, I hear that silver plating eventually wears off depending on how rigorous you play. I read somewhere that a Muramatsu should last about 15 years or so before it may need to be replaced. Any thoughts on this?
As mentioned, "replaced" is the wrong term to use. The relative ease of repair of a flute made of a solid material is definitely a plus point, but (as aforementioned as well) a good repair tech should be able to put it back in working order. According to the tech I bought my Muramatsu from (who received training from Muramatsu, too), they have really high quality plating (they do platinum plating, too), so wear should be not much of a worry. My Eb key has started pitting, however. (I have sweaty palms, but I always keep my flute clean.) But rest assured, their plating is good. If, in any case, something terrible happens, you can either replate, or get a replacement part.

I really wanted to purchase a solid silver flute, but the difference in the amount of silver content and how it affected the tone of the instrument did not justify the cost difference for me, which was why I settled for an EX model Muramatsu.
The only reason why I'd ever want a solid silver Muramatsu is for the custom key options, e.g. C# trill key, but since you bought it second hand, I guess that isn't much of an option. The material really doesn't appreciably affect the timbre (although Muramatsu, and some other people, say otherwise; I will not argue) so don't fret over it. However, weight might be a problem: when I first switched over to my EX (I previously used a solid silver Sankyo 401), I had issues balancing it due to its lighter weight. I'd expect that you have adapted to it by now, though.

I would love to hear other Muramatsu enthusiasts and what they think of their EX flute, or Muramatsu flute in general.
Muramatsu takes pride in their work; it's a very Japanese thing. (You can see that in Yamaha, too.) Most flute makers offer headjoint cut A, headjoint cut B, headjoint cut hybrid A+B... but Muramatsu offers only one single headjoint cut, because that's what they believe is "the Muramatsu sound", and only a handful of veterans do all the cutting, from EX to full platinum. They only employ Japanese craftsmen, and they even have an exclusive flute club (take a look at their Japanese webpage). Apart from that, their company policy is that ALL craftsmen must be proficient flute players, something you don't find in many American flutemaking firms.
The thing I love most about Muramatsu flutes? The touch. I'd never play a Yamaha or a Powell for that reason alone. (Seriously.)

Also, this Mura was overhauled 2 years ago, and received a COA prior to me purchasing it... But because I have a Muramatsu now, I want to be more delicate with this instrument so that it will last me another 10 years or so. Are there any recommendations on good flute repair shops in the US where I can ship my instrument to, that's preferably cost efficient, but does not sacrifice the quality of their service?
If you're really not sure who to trust, you can go to their certified dealer in the US: http://muramatsu-america.com/service/


HAVE A LOVELY TIME WITH YOUR MURA! :D
The flute family: probing the lower limit of human hearing and the upper limit of human tolerance.

burmura
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Re: Muramatsu EX Questions

Post by burmura » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:31 am

Hi wkzh,

Thank you so much for your insight! I really appreciate it. I, too, love Muras. Thank you also for the history about the company.
My EX is great, and I'm sure it will give me many years of playing pleasure. :D

KarlMeinhardt
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Re: Muramatsu EX Questions

Post by KarlMeinhardt » Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:59 am

Hi! I have tried many of these plated flutes over the years. My main reason for preferring a solid silver body and keys is the tactile response of the metal. The silver seems to be 'just right' in terms of not too slippery and not to sticky.
Plated keys and tubes tend to lack that 'connected' feel for me. It may just be my quirky disposition , as with all matters flute: it is so personal. I don't have sweaty hands or the like, so it's not for that reason. My Sankyo body has plenty of blackened silver areas with shiny areas where my fingers reside. I kinda like the black shades.

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