I want a flute
December 15, 2005 9:44 AM   Subscribe

I might be getting a flute for Christmas...

So my father wants to buy me a flute and asked what I am looking for in one. The thing is, I don't really know. I know i don't want it to be open holed and I'd like the sound to be more soulful and less shrieking. I played for about 7 years before I got rid of my flute 4 years ago. What should I tell him to look for? Where is a good place to look?
posted by nadawi to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A good place to look is at a music store where they'll let you try a couple - especially if you can find a day when a headjoint supplier is demoing in the store. There's no way your dad can buy for you, really; the best thing is to make a trip together to a good store.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:53 AM on December 15, 2005

Based on the information in your profile, you might want to check out the Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company. They're in Dallas.

No personal experience, but flutes are their specialty.
posted by purephase at 9:56 AM on December 15, 2005

What kind of music are you thinking of playing?
posted by mendel at 10:14 AM on December 15, 2005

A closed hole wooden flute?
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:37 AM on December 15, 2005

Less shrieking? An altoflute? (Or, for guaranteed shriek-proof: a contrabassflute).
posted by TimeFactor at 10:59 AM on December 15, 2005

Less shrieking? That's an individual flute thing, although some of it is technique. Some flutes are shriekier than others, although I've known flute players who can get a mellow sound on a high G, and others who can't get the same flute up to a high D w/o shrieking. I don't think Dad's going be able to find you a non-shrieky flute, unless he gives you a shopping trip where you can try them out, because it's a combination of you and the horn. Cheap student flutes tend to be shriekier than better quality horns.
posted by jlkr at 11:45 AM on December 15, 2005

I have a really really old closed-holed solid silver Haynes flute that I never play, but nor will I ever get rid of it because I'm not seeing the likes of that again anytime soon.

Every serious flutist I've met has a Gemeinhardt, so I would start there.

[And I'm with you all the way on closed-hole flutes. Open holes drive me crazy.]
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:39 PM on December 15, 2005

You can always start with a convertible flute - I had one that allowed me to plug the open holes with these little plastic thingies. Just don't lose the little plastic thingies.
posted by MeetMegan at 2:13 PM on December 15, 2005

If you care about the sound and feel of your instrument, he should not be looking, you should. As Wolfdog says, I would not let someone choose an instrument for you; he's never going to know exactly what sounds and feels good to you or how a particular instrument will fit your body. Let your dad take you to an instrument store to try different models. A store that specializes in band/wind instruments would be especially good.

Also, I'd strongly recommend an open-hole if you are serious about tone, as they really produce a much more resonant sound. Get the plugs, and gradually wean yourself off them. You may find that a model with an offset G key (sometimes this can be custom-ordered) is helpful if you've had problems keeping the holes covered.

As regards soulfulness/shriekiness, there's probably less difference between brands and models than between student, intermediate, professional, etc. flutes. In other words, you get what you pay for to some extent. But the staff in a good instrument store (they will probably say "bright" rather than "shrieking") will be able to point you toward what you're looking for, whatever your budget is.
posted by keatsandyeats at 3:27 PM on December 15, 2005

Professional model flutes offer a choice in the thickness of the wall. Thicker wall = darker tone.
posted by jaruwaan at 8:44 PM on December 15, 2005

Yes, I certainly realize that going and trying all the flutes is the way to get the best sound, however, he lives in Missouri and I see him rarely.

And, Timefactor...I'd sell my first baby if i could get an Alto Flute but I don't think my father is willing to drop 3 grand on my christmas present.

Geimeinhardt was the brand of my student flute and I did really enjoy it, so maybe that's where I'll start.

So, tell me, if I do get an open hole and never ween myself from the little plastic covers, won't it sound worse than an closed hole? Maybe I should be less lazy.
posted by nadawi at 9:14 PM on December 15, 2005

So, tell me, if I do get an open hole and never ween myself from the little plastic covers, won't it sound worse than an closed hole?

I don't see why it would. Honestly, making the transition is usually not all that hard, especially if you already have years of experience. Play every day, and the plugs'll be gone in a week.
posted by keatsandyeats at 10:44 PM on December 15, 2005

If you don't feel adept enough to pick out an instrument yourself, ask a local player to come along. Is there an orchestra or music school where you live? That's the place to start. If you get one of the better students, it will probably only cost you a lunch.

Emerson makes good quality student flutes and is a reliable choice. So is Gemeinhart.
posted by KRS at 6:29 AM on December 17, 2005

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