Gemeinhardt: why the dislike? And a request for advice.

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DeadHeadSF
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Gemeinhardt: why the dislike? And a request for advice.

Post by DeadHeadSF »

Hello,

The last time I set down my flute was around 1995 or so when I wanted to spend more time working on guitar. I've been quite eager to get back to the flute for quite some time now. The issue I'm facing is a tricky one: I haven't played in quite a long time, so my ability to evaluate a flute is somewhat limited.

I'm planning to try as many as I can, but I find myself leaning heavily towards a Gemeinhardt 3OSB - tried it in the shop and liked the feel and response. The sound I cannot really judge effectively since my embouchure will take quite a long time to redevelop, but I liked what I heard nevertheless.

Now, I've noticed a lot of comments about Gemeinhardt instruments - a lot of folks seem to dislike them, but not many give clear reasons *why*. The usual response is: "there are better instruments for the money." OK, fair enough, but... which ones? And why? One reason I've heard (though I haven't checked up on it) is that Gemeinhardt hasn't redesigned their instruments for the apparently recent increase in concert pitch (A442 instead of A440?), but rather just cut their headjoints, etc... Is this true?

I'm trying to stay in the less-than-$2400 price range, but I don't want to get a low-end instrument - I've already had my fill of those in the past.

Others I've looked at:
Haynes Amadeus 700B
Gemeinhardt 3SHB

I plan to spend some time at the local shop this weekend trying various others, including the Brio (also Gemeinhardt?). Many of the Japanese flutes (Yamaha 600-series, etc...) are starting to edge out of my price range and may just be too much instrument for my skill level anyway.

Hopefully those more experienced would kindly impart some words of wisdom here :)

Thanks

jmight
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Re: Gemeinhardt: why the dislike? And a request for advice.

Post by jmight »

I, too, have wondered why many do not like Gemeinhardt flutes. I started on a 3HSB, and loved it. It was a great flute to start with, and I played it for 7 years without a hitch. It seemed sturdy, and sounded great for a developing player.

That being said, I think the argument is that a better flute can be found for a slight increase in price. I played a Yamaha YFL-461H for quite awhile, too, and I must say that that instrument felt much more responsive, and the tone quality in the upper and lower registers was significantly better (for me) and I could find the pitch much easier.

For someone who lives in that price range you described, I have looked at dozens of flutes. In my personal opinion, the Yamaha suited me best. But I still stand by my trusty Gemeinhardt. It served me well. Also, consider that they are among the most widely used and played student flutes. I would be inclined to think that that is because they are excellent beginner models.

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Mark
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Re: Gemeinhardt: why the dislike? And a request for advice.

Post by Mark »

Currently using a Gemmy, myself, and it has done well for the most part.
That said, I am planning to upgrade to one of the Pearl models in the future as
they seem to suit me better.
My son has a Pearl 661 that is very nicely done.
So many instruments.... so little time.... :)

fluttiegurl
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Re: Gemeinhardt: why the dislike? And a request for advice.

Post by fluttiegurl »

I don't mind to chime in on the "why not" discussion. I played a Gemeinhardt through my undergrad studies. To be honest, the flute played great but I had no idea that it was holding me back. I didn't have a choice. It was paid for, and there was no extra money for a new flute. I just couldn't understand why no matter how hard I tried, I could never produce the sound I wanted. It kept me from being the best player I could have been, which was quite obvious later on.

The first time I played a different flute (brand to remain unmentioned), a light bulb went off. All of a sudden, I realized, for the first time, that different flutes not only played differently, but even sounded different. Unfortunately, I didn't have a teacher who guided me in the right direction (but that's a different story for another time).

Now, many years and a LOT of experience later, I rarely recommend Gemeinhardts as upgrades. The main reason is that most of the students who try them simply do not get the results they are looking for when they test them against other flutes. I generally bring flutes to my studio for students to play test. This usually consists of six to ten flutes, different brands and models, including Gemeinhardts, most usually in the same price range. These students are usually pretty experienced and know what they are looking and listening for, which is a different process.

Now, on the other hand, I have found that students who are hobbyists or students who have not played in some time looking for an upgrade, often lean toward Gemeinhardts. My theory is that these flutes are usually pretty easy to play right away, and for the most part, have a nice sound. There is nothing wrong with that. For most of them, the flute they pick will last a lifetime. It does not mean they are not as good or as ambitious, it is just a matter of a person picking a flute that they can rely on no matter what, even after a long time off from playing.

In my opinion, Gemeinhardt step-up flutes are pretty sturdy and dependable (despite some mechanical issues experienced by three of my students several years back). I just find them to be a bit limiting when a player progresses, which can often be fixed with a change of headjoint.

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Mark
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Re: Gemeinhardt: why the dislike? And a request for advice.

Post by Mark »

fluttiegurl wrote: In my opinion, Gemeinhardt step-up flutes are pretty sturdy and dependable (despite some mechanical issues experienced by three of my students several years back). I just find them to be a bit limiting when a player progresses, which can often be fixed with a change of headjoint.
Quite true, I was privileged to borrow a wonderful Yamaha gold headjoint that a friend had laying around one Christmas season.
It made a world of difference.
So many instruments.... so little time.... :)

DeadHeadSF
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Re: Gemeinhardt: why the dislike? And a request for advice.

Post by DeadHeadSF »

Everyone, thank you kindly for the replies.

Having evaluated the options (and taking into consideration my current skill level), I ended up purchasing a Gemeinhardt 33OSB with a modified headjoint. As soon as I tried this one, I loved it - the "stuffiness" that was present in the other Gemeinhardts was cured in this flute, and the tone sings beautifully and evenly in all registers. I'm so happy with it, I can hardly put it down :)

The difference between this instrument (esp. with the modified headjoint) and the other Gemeinhardts made it clear to me why some folks dislike the "stock" Gemeinhardts. Best of all, it's a good quality instrument that was (just barely) within my price range. Otherwise, it would have been a Yamaha 600-series (too much money at this time).

Other makers I tried that didn't quite cut it for me were Haynes Amadeus and Lyric. Then, there was a Muramatsu that was *way* out of my price range, but a treat to play!

At any rate, I've got a lot of work ahead of me :)

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Phineas
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Re: Gemeinhardt: why the dislike? And a request for advice.

Post by Phineas »

Here is my .02

I have owned MANY Gemeinhardt flutes over the years. Gemeinhardts are not my favorite flute, but I would not say that they are bad flutes. I would rather have a higher level Gemeinhardt than an Amadeus, Lyric, or any of those other hybrid flutes. If the mechanism is decent, you can always change the headjoint.

Unfortunately, I have ran into a lot of flute players that are close minded creatures of influence (Peer Pressure). The funny thing is, you would think that all of these people that say they need a $5000.00 flute could play the thing. Often times the flute they have is just for show.

I played in a community orchestra once. I was the only guy, the only jazz player, and the only black!(Another story...LMAO) Anyhow, I showed up to rehearsal with my Gemmy 3SS. Everyone in my section had Haynes, Powell's, Custom made, etc. I got laughed at until I started warming up. One lady got made, packed up here instrument and went home. I found out later she was upset because she payed $8000.00 for her flute, but here tone was not as good as mine...LOL Go figure.

You could possibly do better than a Gemmy, you sure could do a lot worse. None of that matters. All that matters is that you can PLAY THE D**N THANG!

Get what you like, get what you can afford, and practice. If one of your peers chooses to judge you for having a Gemmy, just ask them for a donation.


Play what you got, play what you like, as long as you can play it!!!! Cause if you suck, a name brand is not going to help you!

Phineas

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Mark
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Re: Gemeinhardt: why the dislike? And a request for advice.

Post by Mark »

:)
So many instruments.... so little time.... :)

scax
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Re: Gemeinhardt: why the dislike? And a request for advice.

Post by scax »

We have two Gemeinhardts -- a 22SP student flute which is older but plays decently for what it is.
Then an unusual creature. No model number on it, just a serial number of 57XX below the "Hand Sterling Crafted" banner. When I called Gemeinhardt on it, they said it was likely made in 1962 by old Kurt himself before he retired. I wondered if it was a 5SS, but it doesn't say 5SS and I believe if it was that model, it would have it stamped below the banner. Also, if it was a 5SS, the serial number would put it as made in 1968, not 1962. So, it's an odd duck, but sings compared with the 22SP -- no comparison, really. I recently tried a Gemmy S1 headjoint on the sterling flute and it didn't sound as good as the original. The pro flutes are much better than the student models. My son had some solos in his first youth symphony concert and people were coming up and commenting on his tone quality and asking what flute he played. He does have issues with the low notes going flat and the high notes going sharp -- the old flutes were tuned to A=435 and that makes it harder to stay in tune. The newest flutes from fine makers are now putting A=442 (except in Germany, where it is now 445!).

That said, I agree with what a wise-man once said: 90% of beautiful tone quality comes from the player and the head joint. Yup, Yup.

Anyway, getting the old Gemeinhardt overhauled as soon as a new(er) flute arrives from London this week. My 14 year old boy's professor felt the old Gemmy was holding him back, so he has an upgrade coming his way to see what he can do with it -- an Altus 1207FBOC# with both a B and a C foot joint (so he can practice with the C most of the time and use the B when and where the added weight is worth the effort). The Altus is a true step up (or two) from the best of the Gemmys, but that's not to put the Gemmys down -- the Altus cost more and is more -- simple. Sometimes you get what you pay for -- and if you're lucky that means pay more, get more. :mrgreen:

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