Old vs New -- Opinions pls

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MissyHPhoenix
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Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by MissyHPhoenix »

Hey y'all. Need some opinions from those of you out there who have more experience than I do.

I have a 30 year old Prima Sankyo Artist, as most of you know. :lol: I've been back in school now for 1-1/2 years, taking private lessons and loving it -- improving in leaps and bounds. I can't believe how much my playing has changed (for the better) and the level of music I am now playing. However, I have a problem that is still plaguing me. My low notes are terrible. I struggle and am always frustrated at the quality and tone of the low D and C in particular. My teacher has completely revamped my embouchure and it has done amazing things to the middle and upper registers; and when I STRUGGLE the low notes come out better. But it is SO frustrating!

Anyway. Always figured it was simply me. Then a month ago one of my friends tried out a bunch of new flutes and asked me to sit in on her trial of them. After it was over (and she and our teacher picked the Haynes for her) I picked up a few of the other flutes and played them a bit. These were all brand new flutes, BTW. My friend was sitting on the floor cleaning the flutes while I played ... I picked up a flute at random and started a scale and went down to low C and, without trying at all, the note absolutely SANG out. My friend's head popped up and her mouth dropped open. MY mouth dropped open! I got out a piece of music and played through it and felt like the flute was almost playing itself. It was an Altus 907.

My first thought was that the new flutes are easier to play than the older models like mine. My teacher thinks that it is a "grass is always greener on the other side" kind of thing. The problem is that my Sankyo is equivalent to a modern Sankyo 401, which retails at around $9000 (altho of course my older model would not resell for nearly that amount of money). The Altus does not retail for that much, so would I, in essence, be going DOWN to change from the Sankyo to the Altus? I know that if I was a better player I could play any flute and make it sound great, so am not blaming my problems on the instrument. However, is it logical to think that a modern instrument could help more with my musical progression? Am I making sense at all?

Appreciate in advance any thoughts y'all would be willing to give me.
Missy

Why Be Normal????

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Phineas
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by Phineas »

Hey Missy!!! ... Miss ya!

Before I get rid, or replace a flute, I always get it worked on first. I have a technicians that can make any flute play like a million bucks. Every time I thought I was just going to get rid of an instrument, my plot is foiled by a good old COA! IMHO, a few hundred bucks to risk is a lot less than a new flute (at least the ones you are looking at.)

If you are comfortable with your flute, I would consider the headjoint option.

Lastly, I have found out easier playing headjoints are not always the best ones. Been down that road before!!!

Peace my flute sista!

Phineas

wally
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by wally »

Phineas is on the money.

Altus flutes are intoxicating but your Sankyo isn't any less so; it's a monster flute with a modern scale and headjoint that just needs a couple of leaks or adjustments attended to. Put it in the right hands and get that done before trialing any candidate replacements because in its current state, you might not really know its true potential. You may be surprised. It's key though to have a reputable flute tech do the COA. All band instrument repair shops work on flutes but these Japanese horns are virtually handmade and should not be entrusted to the guy that strings guitars and tunes pianos.... you know what I'm saying.

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pied_piper
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by pied_piper »

Missy - My advice is EXACTLY the same as Phineas. Get your flute checked by a top notch flute tech including a COA if you haven't had one done in a while. Even the very smallest of leaks will make the low notes hard to respond. This past summer, I was starting to feel like I had to work hard to get a low C#, C, and B. I checked my flute carefully and found one pad that had a very tiny leak. I replaced it, did a few minor adjustments, and it played like a new flute again.

If that doesn't do the trick for you, then perhaps check out some different headjoints before you jump to another flute.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by MissyHPhoenix »

Hey, thanks for the prompt replies!

I've kept the flute in good repair, sending it in once a year to get a COA. I send it to the same place that I got it from, Miles Davis in Kentucky, who actually completely overhauled the flute before I bought it and put in all new Schmidt gold pads. The last time was about 6 months ago. I don't think the problem is the flute at all, I think I just have trouble getting my embouchure correct for those low notes. I've ALWAYS had trouble with low register, that's why I was so shocked when the notes came out on the Altus for me. The Sankyo is a fabulous flute -- it is all silver and completely handmade. I never had a negative thought about my results playing it until I started having to push more (found out I was a pretty lazy player .... :lol: ). The changes my teacher has made over the last year + have made a tremendous impact on my playing, except for that low register. Actually, thinking about it, the low notes have improved too, just not to the level that I need now. And before you say anything, Phineas ( :lol: :lol: :lol: ), I practice about 2 hours a day just on fundamentals before I go to repertoire. I think that is what frustrates me the most ... the fact that I practice and work on it SO MUCH and it still doesn't get anywhere. My jury scores have consistently gotten better marks, except for comments about those stupid low notes!!! I am being held to a much higher standard than I ever was before and just don't feel like I'm keeping up at the pace I need. I have my Barrier coming up at the end of next semester, and a Junior and Senior recital in the next 2 years. I've GOT to see results.

I'm glad y'all think my Sankyo is a good flute and that it isn't obsolete simply because it's so old. :oops: I'm embarrassed to say that I hadn't even considered replacing the headjoint!!! That might be the best thing to try -- I've had the flute now for about 4 years and have never been able to master the lows, so perhaps it's a compatibility issue? I don't want an easier headjoint, I just want to be able to see results when I work hard! :shock: Is there a point in time when you finally say enough is enough and I need to try something else, since what I'm doing now ain't workin'? Heh, and headjoints aren't quite as expensive as a whole 'nuther flute.

::waves at Phineas:: Nice to talk atcha again, Big P! Sorry I've been too busy to post. Thanks for the input, as always!
Missy

Why Be Normal????

wally
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by wally »

Missy, since you added a bit of info, let me add another comment question or two.

First, I don't mean to offend anyone by this, but Miles Davis in Kentucky probably isn't a flute specialist. More likely an ebay specialist or high-volume sales specialist (nothing wrong implied by that). Maybe they do excellent work on quality flutes, I have no idea, but since your problem with low notes has continued despite their regular COA work, to me, that says more.

So, how about having the flute checked out by a flute specialist (= someone that works on flutes exclusively) somewhere local to you (New Orleans or ?)? Someone that you can take your flute to and talk with in person, about your flute and your issues with it ... I concede I am seriously biased. Some woodwind techs *can* do it all but then there are the rest that do most of their work on student saxophones or clarinets for school band departments. Not the same cup of tea....

Second, have you had other accomplished players try your Sankyo to get their thoughts on the low end?

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pied_piper
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by pied_piper »

Wally asked some very good questions, so I checked the website for Miles Davis.
http://www.milesaheadmusic.net/t-about.aspx
http://www.milesaheadmusic.net/t-staff.aspx

It seems that Missy's flute has been maintained by a respectable instrument tech. He studied flute repair with Jon Landell. He is Straubinger and Schmidt certified. In addition, he has worked on flutes for a number of pros including Jim Walker, Brad Garner, and Nina Perlove. I think he's qualified. :lol:
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

wally
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by wally »

Then I have to eat crow for not doing any due diligence. I also noticed in one of those links that Miles Davis professionally performs on flute and picc in addition to a number of other instruments. (Actually I thought Miles Davis might be a storefront instead of an individual, apologies for that too.)

That said, there are many good flute techs out there, including no doubt in the New Orleans area. I still think it would be a good idea for Missy to go local and have access to a flute specialist she can sit down and discuss her flute's problems with. If Missy can get the low notes out easily on one Altus, it should be possible to do so on her Sankyo, too.

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pied_piper
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by pied_piper »

No problem Wally. Since the name Miles Davis is often associated with the late jazz trumpeter I was curious and wary too since I was not familiar with this tech and shop.

You offer good advice though to seek out a tech that is closer.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by MissyHPhoenix »

Thanks, I think that is very sound advice. I've asked my teacher to play my flute again when we start back up at school, and I will ask around and see if there is a flute tech in the area that I could talk to. If I have to I can always call somebody like Carolyn Nussbaum and get their opinion.

I appreciate all of the help!
Missy

Why Be Normal????

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Zevang
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by Zevang »

Sorry, I'm late.

I must agree with the others.
First that you were missed here, welcome back! :-)
After that, I wish to say I will be very soon another proud disciple of Mr Jon Landell. I will attend to the first two of his courses next january (brrrr, it will be freezing up there... :-) If a good reference should be made to your technician, then Mr. Landell is one of the best...
Also, that I own a Sankyo flute, made in 1995. It's just simply wonderful. My current main flute at the orchestra. I also have a good friend that owns a Sankyo flute, older than mine. He always tells me that this flute only needs a COA once a year, and it just comes back as new all the time.

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: Old vs New -- Opinions pls

Post by MissyHPhoenix »

Hey Z! Thanks for the support of the Sankyo -- they really are great instruments, aren't they?

I'll try to get back more often; always enjoy reading the posts here. :D
Missy

Why Be Normal????

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