Perfection - what do you expect from your new flute???

Flute History and Instrument Purchase

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joolz
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Perfection - what do you expect from your new flute???

Post by joolz » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:58 am

Ok so I finally went ahead and ordered a Muramatsu GX from a company that sells online and offers a weeks trial. I got the flute today (brand new but they told me that it had been tested in the shop as most flutes are anyway) and there was a bit of black in the creases in some places like where the meachanism meets the barrel, in the logo engraving and in the round groove on the tops of some of the keys. I took a cotton tip and gently went over it and the stuff came off (except those hard to reach places). Is this oil or grease??? There is one tarnish spot (pin head sized) on the head joint and that same black stuff seemed to have gone on the pads (in the round groove where the pad meets the key hole). Finally, on the barrel where the company logo is, there is a scratch mark (like it's been done with the engraver) and when I run my finger over it I can feel it so it is reasonably deep)

Now I am an EXTREMELY picky person and I know that in about 3 months I'll have added extra marks to my flute but when I pay this much for an instrument and I buy it new I expect, well I expect it to be new!! Someone else would probably look at this instrument and say "yeah, it looks new to me". I am just scrutinizing it to the nth degree.

Am I expecting too much? Do all new flutes come with their own "beauty marks" and I shouldn't worry. Is the black stuff just grease and all new flutes have it? Or does the one tarnish mark mean that this flute will likely easily tarnish in the future moreso than another?

Thanks in advance,
Juliette

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Phineas
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Post by Phineas » Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:07 am

Joolz

1. Just play the d**n thing.

2. Remember that this flute is hand made, so it is bound to have some imperfections.

3. You can always take it to someone and have it looked at.

4. You can always send it back. However you may get a better one, or you may not.

My Miyazawa had some imperfections, but after I played on it, I lived with them. Remember, you pay good money for instruments to play on, not to look at it in a glass case.

Phineas

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:09 pm

Am I expecting too much? Do all new flutes come with their own "beauty marks" and I shouldn't worry. Is the black stuff just grease and all new flutes have it? Or does the one tarnish mark mean that this flute will likely easily tarnish in the future moreso than another?
I think Phineas nailed the major points.

Let's just answer these questions in order, though.

No, you're not necessarily expecting too much, but you are making too big a deal out of cosmetic imperfections. If the flute plays like you want it to, a pin head spot of tarnish, or a scratch here and there don't matter at all. Just forget about it and play the thing. Flutes are tools to help you make music, not items to sit around on shelves looking pretty. Anyway, you said in a few months you would have added your own marks to it, so what's it matter? Even if it came to you in pristine condition, it wouldn't stay that way long! Most handmade flutes do come with their own beauty marks, anyway. My gold flute has a marks on the tube from where the mechanism was brazed on, but I don't complain about that because it plays beautifully.

The black stuff is almost certainly tarnish. Even the stuff on the pads. The pads will pick up tarnish from the rim of the tonehole, and those hard to reach areas generally do tarnish faster than others because you can't reach them easily to wipe them down. The only place where grease would be used (rather than the oil in the mechanism, which is usually relatively thin, and often clear in color) is to help in placing the headjoint cork, and even then, it's a special cork grease...Nothing like what you'd find in a car engine. Nothing like motor oil should be anywhere near the mechanism.

All silver flutes tarnish! One pinpoint spot of tarnish says nothing about the rate at which that will happen, but it does tell you you have a flute with some silver in it. Once again, don't focus on the cosmetic parts...If the flute turns black, but still plays wonderfully, then who cares? How it plays is what matters....Not how it looks.

fluteguy18
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Post by fluteguy18 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:47 pm

I agree entirely with the advice given thus far. I replied to your post on the Galway Flute Chat, so for simpicity's sake, you can just read it there. But, a basic summary of what I said is basically that: companies send instruments on trial all the time, and it is quite possible that your specific flute has been on trial before, yielding the 'imperfections.'

Really though.... dont worry about it. All flutes have character marks. Some are more obvious than others, but all flutes have their quirks if you look close enough. My flute for example has a different logo on the barrel than it does on the headjoint. This was because the headjoint was made before they redesigned the logo, and my flute body and foot was made after they redesigned it. The headjoint logo has dark marks in it from tarnish, and I dont care. I love my headjoint, and it plays wonderfully.

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atoriphile
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Post by atoriphile » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:49 pm

Did you pay $4850 (or a little more if the flute has split E, C# trill, or heavy wall) for the Muramatsu GX? If so, I would expect the flute to be in like new condition with no tarnish or scratches even if it had been play tested. You can send the flute back and go to any Muramatsu dealer and get the same model flute with no tarnish or scratches for that price.

If you paid less than $4850, then I would expect the flute to have some minor marks. Otherwise they would be able to sell it for full price. As others have said, as long as you like how it plays, I would keep it.

I am very picky myself (see my previous post about finger prints) and have never put a scratch or dent on any of my flutes yet (knock on wood). If I pay full price then I expect perfection; if I pay less than full price then I just need to deal with any imperfections.

This is just me, though. Others may disagree.

:)

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sidekicker
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Post by sidekicker » Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:29 pm

I have to agree with Atoriphile on this. If one spends money for a new flute, i.e. unused by others except for playtesting, then it ought to be in perfect condition. I don't think anybody here would pay list price for a new car with a scratch on the hood, a big dirt spot on the floorboard carpet, or small crack in the windshield that does not go all the way through. We would ask the dealer to take care of those things and would not chock it up to just a beauty or character mark. I see no compelling reason why we should treat flutes any differently.

Personally, I think it's on the verge of bad faith to even send out a flute represented to be new that has dirt, grease, etc., on it. At best, it shows rather low standards in customer service, IMO. At worst, it may not be a new flute after all.

I would contact the place you got it and see about a possible exchange or a discount off the purchase price. It's not a matter of being too picky; it's a matter of poor detailing once you purchased the instrument and the fact that the dealer has left it to you to clean up what was supposed to be a brand new instrument. You purchased a new instrument, and new instruments are not usually tarnished, greasy, and have dirty pads. It's your job to put the "beauty marks" on the flute, not theirs :-).

If you like everything else about the instrument, fine; keep it, but ask the dealer for a credit for the condition you received it in and the inconvenience of having to put up with a scratch and do your own cleaning. The dealer actually needs to know; he or she may be mortified to find out that an instrument went out below expectations set by the company.

Just my opinion; I know I'm in the minority on this (so far at least).

SK

fluteguy18
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Post by fluteguy18 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:13 pm

I also agree with you here sidekicker. For me, it is entirely dependant on the severity of the wear and tear. If it is merely a slight darkening in the headjoint engraving, then it wont bother me. If it is something along the lines of worn pads, or noticeable scratches, I would have a problem with it.

I can accept slight imperfections, but if the damage is rather noticable, I would bring it up with the dealer. But, in the end, I care more about the way the flute plays rather than how it looks [although I do want my flute to look nice afterall].
Last edited by fluteguy18 on Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 10:07 pm

I see no compelling reason why we should treat flutes any differently.
I can see one. At the handmade level, flutes are generally one-off creations. Every flute is slightly different than any other. The cars that most of us drive are hardly handmade creations from skilled artisans...Most of them are by and large the product of an assembly line. As such, they aren't truly comparable situations, in my mind.

If we were comparing a top-of-the-line luxury car to a handmade flute, then perhaps there would be some correlation. The minute differences in cars don't affect careers or ability to progress as a driver (at least for most of us), while small differences in flutes can. If you send a car back to the maker, a replacement won't really make a huge difference in the long run, but a different flute may perform entirely differently. At least that's the way I see it. I'm interested to see what ya'll think of this.

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joolz
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Post by joolz » Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:43 pm

Hi everyone,
The first few replies made me laugh since they sounded like my husband. The last few sounded like me so there are definately some very different opinions on this issue.

I had been told that this particular flue had been tested out against a DS and that the person had finally decided on the DS over it. When I first read this I thought "well that doesn't sound good" but I guess the company were trying to let me know that it came up against a higher model and that for some time there was thought that it might be better. I, of course took it to mean that it was the lesser of both flutes (which of course it would be being the lesser model).

I've been feeling a bit down about the whole thing. I had thought that I had found my flute. When this one arrived looking not new I was a bit annoyed as I am fussy about that kind of thing. I am a crafty person who is a bit of a perfectionist and so I expect things to be a certain way (particularly when I'm paying $$$ for them!!!)

I have emailed the company but I haven't heard back as yet so that is worrying me a little. What if they ignore my emails? They have taken the money for the flute so really they could just ignore my emails until the week is up and then say that I own the flute. Then again, it's only been one day so I should lighten up a little. Just nervous because it's the chirstmas period and so hard to get a hold of anyone anyway.

i'm about to go and test it out again and see how I feel about it.

joolz

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sidekicker
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Post by sidekicker » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:43 am

flutepicc06 wrote: I can see one. At the handmade level, flutes are generally one-off creations. Every flute is slightly different than any other. The cars that most of us drive are hardly handmade creations from skilled artisans...Most of them are by and large the product of an assembly line. As such, they aren't truly comparable situations, in my mind.
That may be a reason, but it's not a compelling reason, IMO, to treat the two situations differently. In fact, I believe your point about it being a handmade instrument strengthens my argument that imperfections should not be tolerated. We are normally more willing to forgive machines/computers for making mistakes or failing to catch them. But here there is a human being making that last call on what is acceptable, using his or her judgment in the process. Someone else (not an assembly line, computer, or machine), other than Joolz, made the decision that the flute she got was good 'nuff. It wouldn't be for me.

What if the flute she received was completely black with tarnish but played great? Would we still ask her to just suck it up and play the instrument? After all, all flutes tarnish, she can get it cleaned at her next COA, and it plays beautifully :-). I don't think anybody here would be willing to excuse that. Yes, it's just cosmetic. But the point is that she paid for a brand new instrument. And brand new instruments usually do not come tarnished, with scratches, with dirty pads, and grease on them. I know there are going to be isolated occurrences (like with flutepicc) where that happens and the customer is willing to overlook it. But it's certainly not the rule, nor should it be. Most new flutes are free from all cosmetic imperfections. That's what initially gets the flute buyer's attention. Most people aren't going to be drawn to the "new" flute that is scratched, tarnished, and dirty.

Joolz should be able to decide whether or not to accept as "new" an instrument that does not have the normal attributes one would associate with being new. And the dealer should offer her a discount for the condition in which she received the instrument. Again, this needs to be brought to the dealer's attention no matter what because it's possible this flute inadvertantly missed a final intended detail before it was sent out.

Everybody is going to have different views on this. I'm just unwilling to excuse the flute industry for things I would not excuse any other industry for simply because it's a musical instrument. The customer is supposed to be deciding what's good 'nuff, not the flute maker or dealer, IMO.

Slainte mhath!

SK

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Phineas
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Post by Phineas » Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:56 am

flutepicc06 wrote:
I see no compelling reason why we should treat flutes any differently.
I can see one. At the handmade level, flutes are generally one-off creations. Every flute is slightly different than any other. The cars that most of us drive are hardly handmade creations from skilled artisans...Most of them are by and large the product of an assembly line. As such, they aren't truly comparable situations, in my mind.

If we were comparing a top-of-the-line luxury car to a handmade flute, then perhaps there would be some correlation. The minute differences in cars don't affect careers or ability to progress as a driver (at least for most of us), while small differences in flutes can. If you send a car back to the maker, a replacement won't really make a huge difference in the long run, but a different flute may perform entirely differently. At least that's the way I see it. I'm interested to see what ya'll think of this.
Well, I have bought quite a few flutes over the years. I have had some great looking ones that did not have a good sound, or play well. I have had some pretty ugly ones that played and sounded great. The looks of an instrument are very overrated. I have also played on different flutes of the same make and model, and they all played differently.

I am not picky in the same regard as Joolz, but I do understand where she is coming from. 5gs is a lot of money. Maybe one thing to consider is keeping the one she has, and have them send here another one of the same make and model so she could try both.

Personally, if I found an instrument with minor flaw, but it played the way I wanted it to, I would not send it back. I may negotiate a discount possibly, but I would not get rid of it over minor flaws.

Phineas

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atoriphile
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Post by atoriphile » Wed Dec 19, 2007 9:35 am

joolz wrote:I had been told that this particular flue had been tested out against a DS and that the person had finally decided on the DS over it. When I first read this I thought "well that doesn't sound good" but I guess the company were trying to let me know that it came up against a higher model and that for some time there was thought that it might be better. I, of course took it to mean that it was the lesser of both flutes (which of course it would be being the lesser model).
The only difference between the GX and the DS is that the DS has silver keys. That doesn't affect the way the flute plays.

That said, because these are handmade flutes each one might play differently and the other person might have liked the sound of the DS better. Or it could be that they noticed the scratches, tarnish, and marks on the GX and decided to go with the DS. Who knows?

As has been mentioned on another group, the longer a "new" flute stays around and isn't sold, the more likely it is a "lemon." That doesn't mean it won't play well for you, just that another flute of the same model might be better. You won't know until you try.

I like Phineas' idea of having them send you another GX for you to try. Then you can compare them side by side and keep the one that plays best for you.

Regarding contacting the company, I have found that calling often works much better than email in cases like these.

Good luck!

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joolz
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Post by joolz » Wed Dec 19, 2007 2:58 pm

part of the problem is that it's Christmas in a few days and most businesses close down for the holiday period. Also, I am in Australia so it has taken 2 weeks to get to me as it is. I am going to try the flute out against some different brands of the same price range and see what I think.

The scariest option is to have to send the flute back because there will be a big chunk of time where my $5k is in limbo and I won't be 100% sure I'm going to get it back!!

Joolz

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joolz
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Post by joolz » Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:00 pm

Oh, and Muramatsu have confirmed for me that the flute was manufactured in 2007 so that is a plus.

My teacher heard me play it and she said it sounded beautiful and that I should overlook the cosmetic flaws but in her opinion the flute had been used due to the marks on the pads. I am aware of this anyway - most of the flutes that I have tried in the local stores would be being sold as new and I was trying them out for a couple of hours.

Joolz

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Post by fluttiegurl » Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:21 pm

It is pretty common practice to sell flutes as new when they have been tried out by several players. Otherwise, every time a store allowed someone to play test a flute, they would have to sell that flute as used and that would hinder stores from allowing a person to try before buying. As for the minor cosmetic issues, I believe that if you really are at the level of a handmade instrument, you should also be past what a flute looks like. Yes, it is a lot of money, but no flute will vere be completely perfect, no matter how much $ you spend on it. If it produces the results that you are looking for, there is no reason whatsoever to be concerned over minor cosmetic flaws. If you do send it back, there is no guarantee that the next one will sound or feel the same. I like the idea of comparing it to another of the same model. That will give you a better comparrison.

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