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A good already-intermediate-level flute ?

Discussion in 'Practical Advice' started by Pierre, May 27, 2012.

  1. Hi there, everyone !

    I'm coming for some advice here.
    I'm only doubling on clarinet and sax and am seriously considering adding the flute. First because I think it's a lovely instrument to play (well, I never tried, but I guess it must be), and also because it certainly would be a great step further in this ww doubling thing that is obviously going on here for me.

    Now, I could start with a student level flute. Problem is, I started with a student level clarinet. It quickly showed its limitation and I bought a second-hand top Buffet Crampon clarinet. This meant extra money (not that much actually because I got it from a old man who used to play in the army band but who doesn't anymore and he sold it to me for a really low price) and most of all some adaptation time. I noticed I had taken bad habits to make my old (well old... My "new" one is older but you get my point) clarinet sound acceptable which I had to get rid off before I was able to have that nice wooden sound I've always sought.

    2 years ago, I bought a student-level alto sax that flirted with the intermediate saxes to start getting my hands on saxes. I loved it for the first year and so but now I'm starting to reach its limits.

    Anyway, that leads me to some questions, if you folks have time to answer them.

    I know some are resilient to those "doublers-friendly" instruments, but my request here is not that much asking for such an instrument but rather if it would be best to directly buy a good flute rather than start on a low level flute ?
    I think I've also heard many say that doubling didn't mean you could skip steps in learning an instrument, but wouldn't even a kid starting the flute benefit from having a top flute ?
    Finally, what flute would correspond to these criteria ? I know about the Yamaha YFL-4 and -5 but don't know anything more than that about flutes.

    I think I would start with closed holes as I have stumbled across a few if any advantages of getting open holes.

    Thanks again for your time and have a great day !

    Last edited: May 27, 2012
  2. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Welcome the the Woodwind Forum Pierre.

    I am not a pro on flute my any stretch of the imagination. But here is what I did in an *attempt* to add flute to my arsenal of instruments I can cover on a moment's notice.

    The Great Flute debate: Open or closed hole

    For me though, it hasn't been about equipment. It's been about time on the instrument. With six saxes (sop - bass sax) and four clarinets (sop - bass) I am challenged to practice them all enough to be at least intermediate level. Each has their voicing challenges. And I'm still doing the 8 to 5 mambo with two hours of commute time each day. Then there are the ensemble practices taking up 4 to 6 hours a week. And lesson times, when I can fit them in.

    So my beautiful flute sits in it's case a lot as a project for when I retire, assuming I live that long.
  3. Given what you're doing, where your going and your past experiences, I'd suggest going as far upmarket as you can.

    My wife started with a student level Jupiter. Easy to play, needed a couple of adjustments making. But when she upgraded to an intermediate level flute with silver headjoint and better keywork, there was a big improvement - in playablility AND sound.

    It's not only the level of flute or open/closed toneholes, but offset G, how many keys on the footjoint, headjoint design.

    But... I know nothing about flutes, so treat this as an observation only.
  4. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    "Reaching the instrument's limits"

    I won't comment on flutes per se as I don't know a lot about what to look for and what to avoid (but our flutist was very intrigued by a newer Bundy...).

    No, what triggered my interest (and moderators, feel free to move this threadlet to someplace else) is your statements like "It quickly showed its limitation" or "I loved it for the first year and so but now I'm starting to reach its limits."

    How does one feel such limits? In what way is a specific instrument limiting you? I am just curious, as I perceive this as being in the same category as "blown out" and such. (in no way I mean to claim that these conditions don't exist, it's just that I'm lacking the vocabulary to describe it to someone else)
  5. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Ben, for me on many, many horns, when I tried to save money on a student instrument, I could only suffer the intonation challenges for so long before I moved to a professional horn. There were also voicing issues in cheaper instruments.

    For example, when I moved from a Leblanc Paris to a Selmer Privilege bass clarinet, I no longer had to fight the clarion range squeaks and weak sound. The change was immediate and make me realize, it isn't always the player.
  6. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    I see your point Jim.

    Then again, I wouldn't know that a Leblanc Paris (wood) bass is considered a student instrument - wouldn't that rather be their plastic version? For the sake of comparability, let's stick to instruments of the same maker, but marketed to different target groups. Maybe the problems you were facing could be attributed to a specific model rather than it being a "student" instrument. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to relativise your experience.

    I think we should stick to a specific brand, eg Yamaha, who sells the full range of (proven) student through (proven) professional instruments. Doesn't help to compare a (per their own definition) "pro" instrument from maker X to a "pro" instrument from maker Y when we want to discuss "reaching limits of a student instrument".
  7. Hey,

    Thanks you all for the answers.

    Gandalfe (or Jim ?), I've visited your website to find valuable information about the whole open/close hole debate. This reassured me in my opinion that close hole have many more pros than open have (at least for a doubler who doesn't really seek all those effects that open hole creates).
    I've also looked through your blog to find a couple of interesting articles.

    Kev, this is exactly my point. Why bother with a student flute that lacks tone, articulation and so when you know that you'll buy a better flute sooner or later.

    Tictatux (Ben ?), when I say I'm reaching an instrument's limits, I mean that I find I can't further improve my tone, or for the particular example of my sax, it has articulation problems in the low register (while when I had the opportunity to try friends saxes low register was much more easy to articulate). This is the kind of limits one's instrument can have, I believe.

    I heard people say that starting with a pro level instrument was like heading to that big bodybuilding machine at your first visit to the gym. While I understand this point of view, I also think that facing the problems you'll have to deal with anyway right away can only give you a steeper learning curve.

    Thanks again for the answers,

  8. I think there are some good arguments for beginner/student level instruments.

    1 - Cost for parents, especially when there's no guarantee that the kid will continue. And often an intro level instrument is a lot cheaper than hiring a mid range one for a year.
    2 - Kids often don't take the care that's needed with an instrument. So a cheaper one can be replaced for less than the cost of an expensive repair.
    3 - A lot of the tone of an instrument comes from the player. And I've seen /heard from many students who're amazed at how good their cheapo instrument sounds when played by a good player. It's also amazing how little the tone of a top pro changes when he switches instrument - Charlie Parker is an excellent example.
    4 - Pro level instruments are often much harder to play than student level ones. Flutes are an excallent example of this as the beginner head joints are made to be easy to blow, while pro level ones are made for quality of sound, at the expense of ease of play.
    5 - Many of the bottom end instruments are pretty good these days. And in the past with saxes for instance, the difference between student and pro instruments was just the finish/features - or an older pro model still being sold with a few changes to justify the lower price.
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