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Flute/buying new flute, need advice

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QUESTION: Hi Herbert,

Thank you so much for offering your time . It will be really appreciated, as my research has gotten me into a corner.

I have a Gemeinhardt M2S flute, closed hole . I am thinking of upgrading because this one is in need of work, and from what I am reading, newer flutes might be easier to play and sound better.

I would label myself a solid intermediate, recently getting back into playing after a 20 year hiatus. I can play by ear, and also read music.  I jam with local friends and might join a community orchestra again sometime in the future, but I have no goals to become any type of professional. I'm in it just for the fun ! My budget is under $500 , new or used , and I prefer to stick with closed holes.

Looking online as a place to start, I have found several that might work, so would love some further advice.

I could trade in my Gemeinhardt to Gemeinhardt, but several people have expressed that they feel other brands are better.  
Others I found are :

Jupiter 507S , new $500
Jupiter Carnegie XL  CF 50,gold mouthpiece,  used in very good shape, $200 and up
TYGENN FL-87 , new $360 on sale

Do you think the gold makes a worthwhile difference ? I lean towards buying new, but if the XL's are really superior, I would be willing to get one of them refurbished.

I've never heard of Tygenn, and couldn't find anything online other than new ones at a store. They videoed a $1600 Jupiter being played next to the Tygenn, and I liked the sound of the Tygenn but am leary of it in case it's an off brand.

Thank you for letting me bend your ear !

Julie

ANSWER: Hello Julie!

I'm always pleased to spend a little time helping out fellow flutists, and I hope you'll find my response useful.

First of all, I would absolutely cross that Tygenn flute off of your list.  It's one of the innumerable Asian import flutes that began to flow into this country about 10 years ago in huge numbers.  Some of these instruments are now nearly-playable.  More of them are complete junk.  And with the distributors involved with such instruments coming-and-going as rapidly as they do (and changing instrument suppliers even more often!), there's simply no way to know what you're going to get.  For the price that Tygenn is going for, you could get a flute from a reputable maker with none of the playability or repair concerns of these cheap Asian imports.  As such, I recommend you avoid Tygenn, or any other similar instruments you might come across.

The Jupiter 507S, on the other hand would be a good option.  You should note that Jupiter considers this a student instrument, but for the budget you have available, the needs you've outlined, and list of specs you want, I think this flute could be a good fit for you.  It should certainly outplay an older Gemeinhardt, particularly one in need of work.  Do note, however, that while these are well-built flutes, you may or may not like them.  Not every flute will work for every player, so I recommend testing any flutes you might be considering before money exchanges hands.  If you don't have a local music store that can help you arrange to try the flutes you're interested in, any major flute dealer (FluteWorld, Flute Center of New York, Carolyn Nussbaum, Flute Specialists, etc.) will be able to ship flutes to you on trial.  You might also consider looking at Yamaha, Pearl, Trevor James, or Emerson's student level instruments.  All of these companies produce quality instruments that should suit your needs...It's just a matter of deciding which works best for you.

As for the Carnegie XL flute, given your limited budget, I would skip it.  The gold plating will do absolutely nothing to influence how the flute plays (but will cost more than a comparable flute without the plating), and you're right to be wary of used instruments.  Fantastic deals can be had buying used instruments, but most used instruments are not in proper working order even if they appear to be in excellent cosmetic condition.  Unless you feel that you are knowledgeable enough to spot mechanical/structural problems from photographs (which often disguise such problems) and are willing to risk the possibility of the flute needing significant pad/timing work (which is expensive and can't be predicted from photos), I would advise you to steer clear of used flutes unless you are buying from a reputable FLUTE dealer (not music store or individual!) who explicitly says that they have had the flute looked over by a repairer and offers a guarantee and return policy.

I hope this is helpful, and I wish you luck in the hunt for a new flute.  If there's anything else I can do to help, please don't hesitate to ask.

Herbert

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Herbert,

Thank you for your well though out response. It is a huge help and confirms my thoughts. I will look into the new flutes you listed and try a few .

Why would a newer flute outplay an older Gemeinhardt ? Have there been changes and upgrades to newer flutes ? I took my flute to a local flute dealer ( and teacher for 40 years) and he suggested an overhaul, so I am pondering the worthiness of doing that instead of going with a new one. I, luckily have another M2 that a friend is loaning me while I decide . I'm looking forward to trying new flutes- mine is the only one I've even tried except for my friend's , and hers plays better because the pads don't leak like mine are starting to.

Thanks again!   Happiest of Holidays to you !

Julie

Answer
Hello again, Julie!

The simple answer is that yes, there have been changes made to newer flutes.  

While the overall design of the flute has changed relatively little since Boehm first created the modern form of the instrument, there have been large advances in areas which are not apparent at first glance, namely when it comes to scale and embouchure hole design.  The M-series Gemeinhardts are old enough that newer flutes are generally more in-tune (thanks largely to the work of Albert Cooper and his contemporaries) and tend to respond faster with a clearer tone and less effort required than these older flutes while offering many more varieties in tonal color.  

Older Gemeinhardts were (and are) also noted for inconsistencies in build quality.  Your flute may not have had any real problems, but some flutes from the same era were pretty shoddy by modern standards.  New, modern instruments from the reputable companies I mentioned in my first response tend to be VERY well built.

In the end, it's your money and you must decide what to do with it.  I can certainly understand if you have an emotional attachment to your M2, and that attachment may outweigh financial concerns.  I've sunk a lot of time/money into a couple of instruments that wouldn't normally deserve it, but had a special meaning to me.  However, if we look at an overhaul purely in terms of monetary value vs. cost, the repair work necessary to get your flute playing as it should will far outstrip the value of the instrument once it's brought back up to par.  I'd recommend testing out those new flutes before deciding either way.  If you find a new one you like, it might be worth simply buying a new flute and retiring the M2.  If, however, you find that you prefer your M2 to the other flutes within your budget, at least you'll be making an informed decision about whether to have it repaired.

I hope this is helpful, and wish you a very happy holiday season.  If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Herbert

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Herbert Smith

Expertise

I can answer questions about almost any flute-related topic.

I have trained professionally as a flute repair tech and music educator, and have a broad range of experiences as a performer. I also have experience with a huge array of flutes with any imaginable material or specification, and can comment on the quality of various instruments, as well as guide people through the flute-buying process. I'm willing and able to discuss various flute gadgets (Valgon rings, Foster extensions, etc.) as well.

I'm very familiar with piccolo, alto, and other harmony flutes (including those in unusual keys, such as Eb flute, Db piccolo, G treble, Ab alto piccolo, Flute D'amore, Contrabass, etc.).

I am also glad to offer advice on how to approach difficulties within pieces of music, offer teaching tips to those who give lessons, or answer just about any other flute-related query you can throw at me!

Please note, however, that I am not an appraisal service, and will not provide estimates of value. Please do not ask me about the value of your flute. I also must decline to date instruments based on their serial numbers.

Experience

I'm a professional repair tech with years of experience, and a veteran high school band director. I've maintained a successful studio for private flute lessons for many years, and have performed professionally in just about any imaginable venue.

Education/Credentials
I have bachelor's degrees in music education and performance from highly regarded universities, and have trained with one of the best flute techs/flute makers in the US.

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