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Maryn
11-28-2009, 02:27 AM
I won't pretend this is for a novel, just say flat-out that AW seems to have expertise in pretty much everything, if one asks nicely.

Our son, an adult, has asked for a flute. Used is fine. He prefers it be silver in color, and it must be full-sized, since he's full-sized himself. He says he's seen flutes which would be perfectly adequate for less than $100 on his city's Craigslist.

I checked our city's Craigslist, where there were indeed a few flutes priced that low, but then I got bogged down in details.

Do I want an open-hole or a closed-hole flute?

If an ad says it's perfect for students, does that mean it's sized down? Or does that mean it's cheap, or that irresponsible young owners won't add much damage to that is already has sustained?

What kind of damage and wear is okay, and what makes it sound or play poorly?

I assume there are sizes for younger students. Are there sizes for taller adults? Our son is tall, with long arms. But hey, they bend.

Are there brands I want to avoid?

Is a case a necessity if it won't be traveling much?

What else do I not know enough even to ask?

Maryn, bowing before the wisdom of others, as usual

Medievalist
11-28-2009, 02:37 AM
Maryn, I'm perfectly willing to look at ads if you want to send them to me.

A "student flute" is normal-sized. It's made of non-sterling metal, with silver plate.

Artley, LeBlanc, Bundy are some of the main manufacturers for students. Gemeinhardt used to make student flutes and various more expensive flutes. For a new flutist, a student flute is fine.

And open-holed flute is "better" potentially in terms of sound quality, but it costs more, and it requires a bit more expertise. I would wait.

The size of the flute is completely tied to the range; a piccolo is really a soprano flute.

Alto flutes and bass flutes are not the "standard" flute; a "standard" flute will likely just be called a flute, or sometimes, a c-flute.

A student flute is a reasonable first flute.

The Haynes flute company makes higher-end flutes; you might find a good one used (they will be pricey), but I mention them because they have a lot of useful information on their Web site (http://www.wmshaynes.com/).

You DO need a case; the flute has three pieces; a head piece or embouchure (the mouth piece) a longer middle piece, and a short end piece. The case should include a cleaning rod; it's a long metal stick with a slot in one end (you put a cloth, like a hankerchief partly through the slot and gently insert the rag and rod inside the flute, then pull it out, to clean it.

The keys should all open and close with out sticking if you press them gently, one at a time. The pads inside the tops of the keys should be tightly fit. No dents. None.

Find a local high school kid to take with you who plays flute to check out a used flute.

alleycat
11-28-2009, 02:48 AM
Since I used to play the flute a bit (and still have one), I'll add to Medi's comments . . .

Yes, a case is needed.

The designation student flute (or intermediate, or pro) mostly refers to the material the flute is made of. A student flute by one of the better manufacturers is still a quality instrument, but it won't quite have the same sound quality as a more expensive instrument.

An open-hole flute is a little harder to play at the start. It's also generally more expensive.

By the way, at this time of year (Christmas sales, and all), you might be able for find a good new flute online from someplace like Music123 for a good discount.

StephanieFox
11-28-2009, 05:00 AM
Do I want an open-hole or a closed-hole flute?
A closed-hole flute is good for beginners. If he gets to be good, he might want an open holed flute. They are a bit harder to play but they allow for more subtle control.

If an ad says it's perfect for students, does that mean it's sized down? Or does that mean it's cheap, or that irresponsible young owners won't add much damage to that is already has sustained?
The flute would NOT be sized down. It 'perfect for students' means it's closed-holed.

What kind of damage and wear is okay, and what makes it sound or play poorly?
No dents. The keys should work properly. The pads should be good. The glue that holds the pads to the keys can get old and the pads will eventually need to be replaced. Check for bent keys which can make the flute pretty useless. Scratches won't matter and if the silver plate is coming off, it won't effect the operation.
You might want to check your local music store for a used flute. Kids start learning musical instruments and then quit. Music stores often rent on instruments to parents for a few months until the kid decides to stick with the instrument. If he doesn't, then the store will sell them for cheap.

I assume there are sizes for younger students. Are there sizes for taller adults? Our son is tall, with long arms. But hey, they bend.
No, no, no! The size of the flute directly effects the key. Here's how a flute works; When you blow in the mouthpiece, the air travels down the pipe. The longer the pipe (you make it longer when you close the holes) the lower the sound. If you make the flute itself longer, you'll make the notes coming out of the flute lower.
So, you should get him a regular student flute. A very small flute is a piccollo. The flute you'll be getting him is 27 inches long. The range of the flute is from middle C on the piano and up for three octaves (eight notes). The piccolo is an octave higher than that.
There are bass flutes and contrabass flutes, but that's for serious musicians with really, really serious money.
If you want to know how a flute works, in a basic form, think of making a whistle noise with a bottle of beer. The less beer in the bottle, the lower the sound. A bigger bottle (lets say a wine bottle) makes a lower sound than a bottle of beer.

Are there brands I want to avoid?
Not really. Any major brand would be fine.

Is a case a necessity if it won't be traveling much?
Yes, yes you need a case. They are cheap, cheap, cheap. The flute will break up into three pieces which you store in the case. If someone want to sell you a flute without a case, then it's probably been sitting around, getting banged up and it won't be worth the money you are paying.

What else do I not know enough even to ask?
You'll need a cleaning stick and a rag. Any music store should be able to show you how to clean your flute. It's important to keep it clean.

Flutes are one of the easiest instruments to learn to play, but not so easy to master. They are fun and I'm sure he'll love it.

Maryn, bowing before the wisdom of others, as usual

Hope this helps.

Maryn
11-28-2009, 06:13 PM
Is this place great, or what? Thank you all! I now know enough to start ruling some listed flutes out.

Maryn, who knows two stores she'll look besides Craigslist, too

kaitie
11-28-2009, 07:27 PM
Don't most open holed flutes come with plugs, though? Generally, however, open holed will cost more because it's a more professional quality. If you can get one for the lower price then go ahead (but make sure it has the plugs for when he's first learning. mine had them but I have no IDEA where they ran off to). If he likes it and is really dedicated then you can worry about spending the $1200+ on a nice silver one. Heck, probably a lot more now, I got mine ten years ago.

2Wheels
11-29-2009, 06:39 AM
[This assumes son has not played one before] Instead of plonking down bucks for something which might prove a five minute wonder, maybe you could find out if any of the instrument stores in your area rent instruments, and maybe go that way. Then, if having tried it and liked it, go buy one.
I actually did exactly this myself, with a flute. Took it on an initial three month rental, didn't get on that well with it, so returned it and decided to stick with the recorder (alto and tenor). Just a thought ...

Maryn
11-29-2009, 07:00 PM
Not a bad notion, 2Wheels, and if he lived locally I'd go that route, which is why we do not own a trombone. But the logistics of returning it at the end of a trial period could get dicey.

Assuming we can reach a mutually convenient time, I'm going to see this flute (http://rochester.craigslist.org/msg/1472232843.html) later today. Anybody see any obvious flaws?

I'm assuming it's closed-hole, since it's a student flute. What does the M2 mean?

For my area's listings, it's the second-cheapest, the only one under $200 that mentions no dents, and the one where I'm sure I can find the seller's home. (Not having to parallel park in the city always a plus!)

Maryn, who may soon own a flute

Tsu Dho Nimh
11-29-2009, 10:02 PM
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/document?doc_id=97907

I had a real silver flute as a kid, open-hole keys, etc. It was harder to take care of and harder to learn to play, but the sound was distinctly better than the "student" ones made of nickel-silver. My dad won it in a poker game with some musicians.

Maryn
11-29-2009, 10:55 PM
The website had some useful information. Thanks!

I'm going to see the flute in question in about an hour, and now I won't sound quite so ignorant.

Maryn, raiding in-house cash supplies

Medievalist
11-29-2009, 11:00 PM
Not a bad notion, 2Wheels, and if he lived locally I'd go that route, which is why we do not own a trombone. But the logistics of returning it at the end of a trial period could get dicey.

Assuming we can reach a mutually convenient time, I'm going to see this flute (http://rochester.craigslist.org/msg/1472232843.html) later today. Anybody see any obvious flaws?


It means it's the Model 2 version of this flute:

http://www.gemeinhardt.com/catalogpage.asp?mode=LIST&type=Flute&level=Student

You can, by the way, look up the serial number (usually somewhere on the head-piece) and it will probably tell you the data the flute was made.

And if it's as advertised, it's a fair price for a better than average starter flute.

Model 3 is open-holed.

kuwisdelu
11-29-2009, 11:36 PM
Mmm, Kuwisdelu remembers when he was a young bloke and the only male flautist in the band. Fond memories, I tell you. Fond memories.

Maryn
11-30-2009, 01:04 AM
And who doesn't like a happy ending? I bought the flute. It came with a nice little story.

The woman selling it played trumpet in high school and college and taught privately for a while. When she and her husband learned she was pregnant, she just knew her children would be interested in music and quite possibly talented as well. So she bought instruments when she saw them at estate and garage sales at a good price.

By the time her kids were old enough to select instruments, she had a silver trombone etched with fleur de lis, two trumpets, a cornet, a clarinet, a bass sax, and a flute.

Years later, all four children are indeed musically inclined, but none has any interest whatsoever in the flute or the clarinet. She offered me a package deal, but the clarinet needed work. I used to play one and saw damage.

Maryn, proud owner (for a month or so) of a silver-plated flute which sparkles

kuwisdelu
11-30-2009, 01:15 AM
Maryn, proud owner (for a month or so) of a silver-plated flute which sparkles

Awesome! :D

I think it's finally time to turn your son into a vampire, so they match ;)

Maryn
11-30-2009, 02:33 AM
He'd probably prefer death over resembling Edward Cullen. After all, it didn't take him any 104 years to finish his senior year of high school.

Maryn, whose son is smarter but less sparkly

Medievalist
11-30-2009, 03:06 AM
Maryn, proud owner (for a month or so) of a silver-plated flute which sparkles

It's actually a good make; the embouchure is just a little different, and makes it easier to learn. They also used higher quality in the little wire spring mechanisms that make the keys work.

And at 75.00, you totally scored.

Don't clean it with silver polish. Ever. Use a damp with water soft cotton cloth.

Maryn
11-30-2009, 03:13 AM
Oh, that's good to know.

The cleaning rod is there, but it has no little rag attached. Do I want something like a bit of old tee shirt, or is there a specific little rag I need to buy?

Maryn, still accepting tips on care and feeding of flutes

alleycat
11-30-2009, 03:19 AM
The main thing is to clean it after every use to remove the moisture. Any soft cloth will do.

Gemeinhardt is a good brand. That's what I have (although I don't play it any more; the reason being because the little finger on my right hand doesn't work very well any more due to a childhood injury).

You may have mentioned it somewhere already, but how is your son planning on learning how to play? Lessons or self-taught? If you would like them, I happen to have a couple of instructional DVDs on playing the flute that I would be happy to give you (if I can find them, that is).

Maryn
11-30-2009, 03:22 AM
His intention is to teach himself. If you can find those instructions, they'd be useful, I'm sure. I bet he doesn't even know how to finger it.

Maryn, who likes that the kitty has Santa boots, too

Tsu Dho Nimh
11-30-2009, 03:40 AM
Oh, that's good to know.

The cleaning rod is there, but it has no little rag attached. Do I want something like a bit of old tee shirt, or is there a specific little rag I need to buy?

Any soft cloth will work ... chamois are sometimes recommended,but they get spit-covered and t-shirt rags are cheaper and disposable.

ADDING:
I started out teaching myself, but being a left-handed person, it had me playing the flute headed the wrong way. :(

If you can blow in a coke bottle and get noise, you can probably play a flute. There is none of the problems with reeds and mouthpieces that trumpets and clarinets have.

alleycat
11-30-2009, 03:44 AM
The first thing is just to be able to consistently make the correct tone. He can practice this with just the head joint (cover the open end with the palm of one hand. The first few time he will probably have to play around a bit to find the correct way to hold the flute against the lower lip. He will get a tone, then not get a tone, etc. After a little while, it will become second nature on how to hold the flute to get the correct tone.

Medievalist
11-30-2009, 03:45 AM
His intention is to teach himself. If you can find those instructions, they'd be useful, I'm sure. I bet he doesn't even know how to finger it.

Maryn, who likes that the kitty has Santa boots, too

Use a cut up t-shirt; you want pieces about the size of an unfolded hakerchief.

Go look at the Gemeinhardt site; there are charts etc.

Also, tutorials on You Tube.

alleycat
11-30-2009, 03:48 AM
There is none of the problems with reeds and mouthpieces that trumpets and clarinets have.
I have a friend whose son plays the clarinet in the school band. One day I asked her if she wanted to go to lunch and she told me she couldn't, that she had to go out to get cork grease.

"What the hell is cork grease?" I asked. I thought maybe it was something to put on cork boards.

I believe she then called me an idiot.

;-)

kuwisdelu
11-30-2009, 03:55 AM
The first thing is just to be able to consistently make the correct tone. He can practice this with just the head joint (cover the open end with the palm of one hand. The first few time he will probably have to play around a bit to find the correct way to hold the flute against the lower lip. He will get a tone, then not get a tone, etc. After a little while, it will become second nature on how to hold the flute to get the correct tone.

All of which can take anywhere from a few weeks.

Oddly enough, before learning flute, I could always get a tone from blowing on a bottle. Took my forever to get a tone from a flute. Upon finally becoming a decent flautist, I immediately lost said ability to get any sound at all from a glass bottle. Don't ask my why. :Shrug:

Medievalist
11-30-2009, 04:03 AM
All of which can take anywhere from a few weeks.

Oddly enough, before learning flute, I could always get a tone from blowing on a bottle. Took my forever to get a tone from a flute. Upon finally becoming a decent flautist, I immediately lost said ability to get any sound at all from a glass bottle. Don't ask my why. :Shrug:

Karma, dude, karma.

dnic
11-30-2009, 12:17 PM
Piping in here on the flutes.

I have two, one closed hole (Yamaha) and one open hole (Pearl). There's actually a difference in the alignment of the keys as well as the foot joint. The Yamaha, which is more of a "student flute", has an offset alignment for your left hand so it's easier for your left fingers to move, and it has a C foot joint instead of a B. The Pearl's keys are inline and has a B foot joint and it also has a few trill keys that the Yamaha doesn't have.

Either one's fine. For a beginner, the extra trill keys might not be necessary though it can make fast pieces easier.

Maryn
11-30-2009, 09:03 PM
Since our son is likely to play for his own amusement and to lay down a track in doom metal, I'm assuming speed is not even a factor.

He's had two wooden flutes which cost nearly as much as the one I just bought, and both spontaneously cracked in half while in their protective bags, even though he'd followed the care instructions. IIRC, that happened to somebody here at AW, too. (Bartholomew, maybe?)

Anyway, the flute is a more traditional addition to his instrumental line-up. He's already made tracks using my crystal wine glasses (eerie and interesting, IMO), Tibetan singing bowls, and my metal popcorn bowl with various amounts of water in it, which sports a dent from being struck with enthusiasm.

Maryn, whose kitchen is also a music store

Willowmound
12-02-2009, 08:45 PM
What kind of damage and wear is okay, and what makes it sound or play poorly?

"This one time, at band camp..."