which golden 14k flute?

Flute History and Instrument Purchase

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manuel23
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which golden 14k flute?

Post by manuel23 » Sun Nov 23, 2008 9:45 am

hi to all.im want to leave my silver flute and get a 14k golden one.im between muramatsu,brannen,burkart and pearl maesta...does anybody tried any of those? i have just tried a brannen....and i cant try anyone else ...there are no dealers here..anybody owner of muramatsu 14? pearl or burkart? i have heard that burkart is a good one ,isnt it? im waiting for your questions

fluteguy18
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Post by fluteguy18 » Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:25 pm

Buying a gold flute is a HUGE investment. I would not under any circumstances spend that much money without test playing the various companies and directly comparing them.

Other companies to look at: Powell, Haynes, and Nagahara. I would also recommend Straubinger gold flutes [which I think are nice], but their production is very limited right now. [Their factory burned to the ground last week].

Most of these companies would be willing to send a flute out to you for a trial period. I recommend trying that.

Here are my personal opinions on the companies that you have mentioned. These thoughts are by no means fact, but are merely opinion.

Pearl: Nice warm and focused sound. I had trouble getting various tone colors. The Mechanism is nice and smooth. Great for getting a nice clean sound.

Burkart: Nice, but not my cup of tea. Very interesting tone colors.

Muramatsu: Very good, but again, not quite my taste. Articulation is very clean and crisp. The mechanism was very light and springy. Good dynamic range.

Brannen: By far my favorite. Great dynamics and articulation. I found their gold risers to have sluggish articulation though. Their platinum risers articulate really well. Tone color is particularly good.

Nagahara: Very different from Brannen, but my 2nd favorite of the bunch. Definitely a powerful instrument. It seemed to be naturally aggressive and lively.

Just keep in mind: this is my opinion only.

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sidekicker
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Post by sidekicker » Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:46 am

Fluteguy is correct. It is not smart to spend that much money on an instrument without first trying all of the alternatives out there and finding what is right for you. To answer your question directly, Brannen, IMO, by far makes the best golds out there. In fact, I just purchased one myself after trying many makers. Having said that, here are some of my thoughts on others (and please note they are merely opinions from one person based on personal experience, and not at all meant to be absolutely authoritative):

Burkart -- Very disappointed in their golds. They seem thin and light for a gold. I'm not sure if the tubing is thinner or what, but I didn't feel at all like I was holding a gold instrument. That is translated into the sound as well. I found no difference at all between a Burkart gold and a silver flute. They are certainly nice flutes, but when considering the cost differential between the two materials, I certainly wouldn't spend that much money to still sound like a silver flute. I'm not bashing this company. I generally like Burkart and own a lovely Burkart headjoint that is fantastic. IMO, their golds just don't match up to the price, though. I have a close friend who owns a gold Burkart. This person had tremendous problems with the mechanism for the first several months; she was constantly sending it back for proper adjustment. However, all is fine now and she sounds fantastic on it. Then again, it could be the Powell head she matches it up with.

Nagahara -- Excellent flutes, but I'd never buy one. Someone here might be able to explain this better, but Nagahara uses a unique scale where the dimensions of the tube, headjoint, and foot joint are all different than most flutes. Because of this, if you wanted to pair it up with another maker's headjoint, it could be disastrous (I've heard stories where this has happened to people); most heads from other makers won't fit into a Nagahara flute (this was confirmed by a Nagahara rep I talked to at convention). However, Nagahara heads are fantastic for a lot of people. I hated them, but that's just because they didn't suit me, not because there is anything wrong with them. I wouldn't own a Nagahara because for that amount of money I would want more flexibility in choosing alternate headjoints.

Powell -- Again, disappointed. Very similar to Burkart but had a more mellow sound. But for me, not enough difference from silver to justify the cost.

Haynes -- Although I own a vintage handmade Haynes that I love, I would never buy another one now -- whether it be gold or silver. I'll just leave it at that.

Muramatsu -- These are great flutes in both gold and silver. Next to Brannen, these are my favorites in gold. For me they had a very distinct golden, warm, mellow tone that actually sound like a different metal from silver. My only "complaint" is that a couple that I played tended to have somewhat of a "brassy" sound, particularly in the lower register. This may be something you like, though.

Williams -- Very fine flutes. The golds are nice, but again I didn't find enough difference between gold and silver to justify cost (I'm very picky on that and won't compromise). However, I don't like the altered C key design. For me it is awkward (and ugly). Mr. Williams is known (from what I've heard) for being a stickler for quality. I don't think you could ever get a bad flute from him. The key, though, is making sure you find the perfect flute for you. Williams headjoints are very popular and work very well for a lot of people. I was not one of them.

Brannen -- As I said, this is by far my favorite in gold. To me, no other mechanism can match up to theirs. It is very buttery feeling. The gold flutes have some heft to them that clearly translates into a warm sound. I spent a long time with my flute before I bought it and had a non-flutist with me to listen for the big differences between gold and silver I was seeking. My experience showed a huge difference in sound, even though I used the same head for both the silver (mine) and gold flutes I was comparing. I found, interestingly, that the warmer tone, etc. I was looking for was in the gold w/ sterling mechanism as opposed to gold/gold. If you end up with the gold/silver mech Brannen, make sure you have gold tone holes as well. I found that they really make a difference. And no, I do not work for Brannen :-). I just really love their flutes.

Most importantly, remember that these are just my personal opinions and yours (and everyone else's here) can and will be different. Try as many as you can and don't hurry the process. I decided about 15 years ago to start looking for a gold flute and it took me that long to find the precise one I was looking for. Also, bear in mind that flutes of this level are handmade, so all are going to be different to some degree. Most makers, though, are pretty good at keeping the overall quality very close to the same for all their handmades.

Lastly, please don't take any offence, but buying a gold flute just for the sake of having a gold flute, to me, is wrong headed. I'm not saying that's what you are doing, but it's best to place your investment -- and it will be a big one -- into the flute that suits your needs and, most importantly, gives you the sound you are looking for.

Hope this helps.

SK

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Phineas
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Post by Phineas » Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:01 pm

Here is my 2 cents(Since we are giving our personal opinion :wink: )

If I were going to spend that kind of money, I would find a good feeling flute, and get someone to custom cut a headjoint for me. Maybe even get the custom headjoints made of different materials. This would go a lot farther for me as a player than spending the money on a flute made of gold. After all, the player and the headjoint are where most of the sound comes from anyway.

Now, I know someone will flame me and tell me I am full of it. I will just have to take the heat on this one. I have NEVER played on a gold flute that ever made me wish I had one, or I thought that was so much better than a Silver one to justify the extra cost. However, would I spend $5000+ on a custom headjoint, YES! Even in the last 2 descriptions, most of what made fluteguy and sidekicker like or not like a flute was the way it sounded. This is mostly the headjoint.

I do not have a gripe about gold flutes. Nor am I trying to talk you out of buying one. If it is for you, then so be it. I can only speak for me. I have not experienced a great enough difference over the same model in silver with the same headjoint. All the gold did was make sound a little darker.

Phineas

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sidekicker
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Post by sidekicker » Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:20 pm

No flames from here, Phineas :-) Your insights are just as important as everyone else's and your experiences are well-taken. I totally agree with your basic premise.

The biggest reason it took me 15 years to find a gold flute I liked was the one you gave: with a great head, almost any flute will sound fantastic. That's why I gave so many examples of me trying gold flutes with my head (a gold Brannen) and being disappointed because there was little, if any, difference in sound. However, I do believe that it's possible to find those gems where it's not just the headjoint, but also something about the body/mechanism material that vastly changes the tone and ability to expand the sound capabilities of the instrument. That's what I finally found in the one I purchased. And that's why I brought a non-musician with me to help find the differences I was looking for. I wanted something very different sounding. I figured if my non-musician friend could hear a big difference, then there certainly was a big difference (of course, I was hearing it as well; however, sometimes we as players tune in to colours that aren't coming across as strong to an audience as it is to us).

But you are absolutely correct about the headjoint having the biggest impact on sound quality. However, there are gold flutes out there (hard to find) where a big difference can be found. It happened to me. And I'm about as picky as they come! :-)

SK

fluteguy18
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Post by fluteguy18 » Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:25 am

The Nagahara Thing:

They have an option called the "Full Concert" Model. Basically you can have any flute made with this scale. They utilize a larger bore and a new scale to balance it out. The 10k gold Nagahara I liked at the NFA Convention [2nd only to a 14k Brannen] had this option. Every "Full Concert" model that I tried was a VERY powerful instrument.

My biggest problem with gold, is finding a flute that articulates cleanly [particularly in the lower register]. The two flutes I liked best at the NFA Convention both had 10k gold heads with platinum risers and both articulated extremely well. The Brannen I liked best also had silver toneholes. And IMO Sidekicker is right. The tonehole material does make a difference. I am fairly sure that I tried the Brannen that you bought Sidekicker [14k throughout with sterling keywork inline g with a clear little "sold" sticker on it?]. It was a *very* colorful instrument and was very nice in comparison to the other Brannens they had there. I personally couldn't articulate quite as cleanly as I wanted to, but then I tried the same head on a 14k body with sterling toneholes, and the articulation was much clearer.

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sidekicker
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Post by sidekicker » Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:28 pm

Yep, that's the one I bought (14k, sterling mech, gold rings/tone holes). A sticker was added because I bought that particular flute rather than order one just like it.

It is a fantastic instrument, isn't it?? :-) And you are right about the colors. I was just blown away by the capabilities of that instrument, and had to have it. Widest tone palette I've ever come across in any type of metal. I use my own head with it (which is also a Brannen) which has a huge variety of colors already; however, when I matched it up with that particular body it was like a "perfect storm" flute. Everything I was wanting more of suddenly came to life.

Thanks for clarifying the Nagahara thing. I was hoping someone could come along and explain that better. They make terrific flutes.

SK

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cflutist
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Post by cflutist » Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:37 pm

SK,

Congrats on your 14K Brannen. You know what would be really neat?
For you to compare performances on your new flute with your vintage Haynes on YouTube so that we can hear the differences between the two.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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sidekicker
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Post by sidekicker » Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:32 pm

That's an idea. Then again, people might have to see my ugly mug. Perhaps a sound only clip. :-)

SK

bj
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Post by bj » Tue Dec 16, 2008 1:04 am

[quote="fluteguy18"]The Nagahara Thing:

"They have an option called the "Full Concert" Model. Basically you can have any flute made with this scale. They utilize a larger bore and a new scale to balance it out. The 10k gold Nagahara I liked at the NFA Convention [2nd only to a 14k Brannen] had this option. Every "Full Concert" model that I tried was a VERY powerful instrument. "

Probably a mute point in this conversation, however this is a clarification to the statement above, which is incorrect. They have two different types of flutes you can purchase. A regular flute with standard boehm size and scale, then a seperate style called the full concert model with the larger bore. The Full Concert Model is a completely different model flute. Not an option on a regular flute. The regular flute will allow changing out HJs with any other type of flute. The FC will only fit with the Nagahara FC headjoint.

You can also get their locking crown assembly, which adds additional weight on the hj in either style.

Good luck in the search

fluteguy18
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Post by fluteguy18 » Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:36 am

bj wrote:
fluteguy18 wrote:The Nagahara Thing:

"They have an option called the "Full Concert" Model. Basically you can have any flute made with this scale. They utilize a larger bore and a new scale to balance it out. The 10k gold Nagahara I liked at the NFA Convention [2nd only to a 14k Brannen] had this option. Every "Full Concert" model that I tried was a VERY powerful instrument. "

Probably a mute point in this conversation, however this is a clarification to the statement above, which is incorrect. They have two different types of flutes you can purchase. A regular flute with standard boehm size and scale, then a seperate style called the full concert model with the larger bore. The Full Concert Model is a completely different model flute. Not an option on a regular flute. The regular flute will allow changing out HJs with any other type of flute. The FC will only fit with the Nagahara FC headjoint.

You can also get their locking crown assembly, which adds additional weight on the hj in either style.

Good luck in the search
Sorry I wasn't clear enough. I understood it correctly at least. You are correct. Rather than it being a full concert option, it is a completely different model.

:: drip sarcasm from being up too early::

kymarto
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Post by kymarto » Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:43 am

Before spending all that money for precious metal, it might be instructive to read this study, which indicates (as all acoustic scientists will affirm), that the metal does not make a bit of difference to the tone or response of the flute:

http://iwk.mdw.ac.at/Forschung/english/ ... tner_e.htm

Of course gold is pretty and it doesn't tarnish, which are both pluses ;-)

Toby

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Post by fluteguy18 » Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:51 am

I can agree with the theory that the material might not affect the tone of the instrument that much, but I completely disagree with the metal having no impact on the response.

I've tried a LOT of flutes made from about any metal out there, and various headjoint cuts on each of the materials. The metal does make a difference to response. True, the cut itself dictates the majority of the response, but silver responds differently than gold, and gold than platinum. They all FEEL different when you play them. Silver tends to be quick in response but can't be pushed as much. Gold is a little thicker and [for me] on the slower side but has more room to push before cracking the notes. Platinum responds the most quickly once you get the airspeed to play on it, and can be pushed the furthest.

So I agree and disagree. I have heard silver flutes that sound like gold flutes and vice versa, but I haven't ever played a gold/platinum flute that feels like a silver flute when played. Not a single time.

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Post by pied_piper » Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:51 pm

I'm with fluteguy18 on this topic. I have degrees in Music and Computer Science and I've worked with a lot of scientific equipment such as frequency counters, spectrum analyzers, and the like. While I can appreciate the science behind this study, I don't think a totally scientific approach can encompass all the factors in play here.

There are many tangible, yet unquantifiable aspects to music and the human mind. While we can analyze and quantify the frequencies, overtones, etc., we cannot quantify the the many subtle characteristics of music and how the human mind perceives it. Trying to characterize the sound qualities of various flutes is as unquantifiable as trying to compare and measure the aural differences or musical attributes between say James Galway, Rhonda Larson, and Tadeu Coehlo. If we performed a spectral analysis of these three flutists, I'd wager that the numbers would be extremely similar, yet most advanced flutists could probably listen to each and name the player.

So, yes the differences between the sounds of silver, gold, and platinum are typically very subtle, but yet many (dare I say most) advanced flutists CAN hear a difference. We might not be able to measure that difference in a meaningful way (with our current state of technology), but the difference IS there and we can hear it just as easily as we can hear when another player is only 2 cents out of tune.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

kymarto
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Post by kymarto » Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:25 am

pied_piper wrote:I'm with fluteguy18 on this topic. I have degrees in Music and Computer Science and I've worked with a lot of scientific equipment such as frequency counters, spectrum analyzers, and the like. While I can appreciate the science behind this study, I don't think a totally scientific approach can encompass all the factors in play here.

There are many tangible, yet unquantifiable aspects to music and the human mind. While we can analyze and quantify the frequencies, overtones, etc., we cannot quantify the the many subtle characteristics of music and how the human mind perceives it. Trying to characterize the sound qualities of various flutes is as unquantifiable as trying to compare and measure the aural differences or musical attributes between say James Galway, Rhonda Larson, and Tadeu Coehlo. If we performed a spectral analysis of these three flutists, I'd wager that the numbers would be extremely similar, yet most advanced flutists could probably listen to each and name the player.

So, yes the differences between the sounds of silver, gold, and platinum are typically very subtle, but yet many (dare I say most) advanced flutists CAN hear a difference. We might not be able to measure that difference in a meaningful way (with our current state of technology), but the difference IS there and we can hear it just as easily as we can hear when another player is only 2 cents out of tune.
This is a debate that has been raging for over 150 years. The scientific consensus is that the material cannot make a difference, because it simply does not vibrate enough to add perceptibly to the sound. Typical cross-section expansional vibration in metal woodwinds comes in at about 1 micrometer; this is only 1/10000 of the radiated sound: -40 dB. This is simply not perceptible.

You claim that you can feel the difference. First of all, the putative contribution of material would be so small as to be completely overshadowed by differences in bore geometry. A study by the flutist and flute professor Joan Lynn White attempted to answer the question of the effect of materials in flutes. She tested five "identical" handmade flutes: two in silver, one in 9K, one in 14K and one in palladium. The second silver instrument was included as a control--to establish the variation due to differences in construction. It turned out that the response differences between those two supposedly-identical carefully handmade Sankyo silver flutes was so great as to render any possible contribution by material moot. The researchers reported only that there was a small difference in the seventh partial which might have been attributable to the material in the 14K flute, however it was so small as to be imperceptible, completely disappearing in the second octave.

So without simultaneous A/B comparisons of strictly identical instruments, it is literally impossible to tell what is causing whatever differences a player might feel.

It gets better. Dr. John Coltman, a respected flutist and one of the two or three greatest woodwind acousticians of the past 100 years, devised a clever experiment to test how players' expectations affect their perception. He built three identical simple flutes in three materials: silver, copper and wood, and let respected players try them out. Almost all players could "tell the difference" between the instruments, even describing the differences in tone and response. Then Coltman took the three flutes, mounted them on a spindle, and had the same players try them in the dark. The result? Not a single player could correctly identify any of the instruments. Coltman says:

"The literature abound with statements, made by scholarly, experienced men, that take quite opposing positions. The reason is twofold. First, the player and experimenter rarely, if ever, have any way of knowing whether the instruments they are comparing have differences other than those of the material, in fact I know of no reports in which the claim for 'no other variation' is made. Second, the musician cannot, under normal playing circumstances, dissociate his personal preferences and prejudices from the question at hand. In the case of the three 'flutes' I constructed, nearly every player who picked them up and tried them had a preference for one or the other. Often he would describe his impressions - the wooden flute has a 'fuller' tone, the silver one 'projects' much better, etc. He was then usually baffled to find that he could not identify any of the instruments under the 'blindfold' conditions I described. The plain facts are that his judgment is influenced by preconceived notions and metal associations of tone quality with other properties of the material."

I urge those interested to read the full paper and commentary:

http://ccrma.stanford.edu/marl/Coltman/ ... n-1.06.pdf
http://ccrma.stanford.edu/marl/Coltman/ ... n-1.08.pdf

Another interesting report along these lines can be found here:

http://la.trompette.free.fr/Smith/IOA/material.htm

Here we have the case of materials and thickness in trombone bells, a place where materials *do* make a difference. The conclusion is as follows:

"The difference between ear and bell spectra amounts to about a 2 dB increase at a particular harmonic for the thinnest bells. Having taken precautions to equalise the weight and balance of the bells, ten of the best trombonists were put through a double blind test where the player is presented with a prescribed random order of instruments. (all players play the same order) to ascertain whether they could distinguish between the six bells. The statistical results showed that the difference between thin and thick bells was so small that it could not be detected by any of the players. At a later stage in the testing an electroformed pure copper bell (made on a similar - but not the same mandrel) was added into the playing sequence. Under test conditions this was not noticeably any different to the brass bells but when subsequently played in non-blind tests it gained magical properties!

These results indicate that the bell thickness does have a significant effect on the sound spectra measured at the players' ear position due to some sound radiation from the material itself. However, under controlled conditions players seem unable to distinguish between thick and thin materials."

I myself have played scores of professional flutes in gold, silver, wood and have owned or own early French and German handmade plated flutes. There are differences between all, to be sure, but no differences which can consistently be attributed to the material. In many ways I prefer an old plated August Hammig to my handmade Powell.

Toby

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