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Meddle

Taking up the flute!

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I'm really tempted to get started on flute. Any flutists out there on BC? Is it relatively easy to pick up?

Alongside bass I play guitar, keys and bits and pieces of violin, mandolin and viola when the need arises. I've never really got my head around wind instruments at all.

I've always liked the flute work of Didier Malherbe in Gong, and Ian Anderson to a slightly lesser extent. I would be leaning more towards jazz/folky leaning rather than classical performance.

So... buy a £100 Gear4music flute and have a bash, or take a more measured approach? 

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Yes, it's relatively easy to pick up. I'd even say very easy. The right embouchure takes some time, and will develop through the years, but I'd say that with some experimenting a person with ears and instrument experience should soon get the hang of it.

You'll want two things from a beginners' flute:
- ease of blowing: the flute "wants" to sound and to sound well
- ease of fingering: keys that tighten the holes completely without you having to press hard.

On some cheap flutes, the latter can be trimmed, and the pads inside the keys can be exchanged. The former is virtually impossible to do something about, as it's mainly due to materials used, construction and for example the exact shape of details in and around the embouchure hole - - parameters that are either unchangeable or way too expensive to change. Even the cork and tuning pin inside the head can virtually ruin a flute (though I guess this is rare).

I have no idea about a 100 quid G4M flute, but admit to being sceptical. I've had three flutes myself: a good Muramatsu, the cheapest Yamaha and a Chinese cheapo (Parrot, if I'm not mistaken), and I borrowed a good Sankyo..
I still own the Chinese one simply because I don't know anyone I hate enough to give them that flute. Trying to play it is very hard work, and it remains virtually uncontrollable. The Yamaha OTOH resembled the Muramatsu and the Sankyo way more than it resembled the Chinese one.

Personally, I'd be less sceptical about those newfangled plastic flutes than of a G4M metal one, but I might be much mistaken. Maybe you wish to Google the plastic ones to see what they offer.

At any rate, if you go for a G4M metal one, you'd be much helped if you could get a flautist to check it for you.


PS, thanks for posting.
It reminds me I must give the Parrot as a present to my ex. 😉

Edited by BassTractor
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I play the flute.

Bass Tractor's post sums it all up really.

You won't have much trouble with learning the fingering, but the embouchure is a different matter. If you want to play classical it's tens of thousands of hours of practice. If you want to play jazzy... like short, choppy and breathy notes... then you're in luck.

I really wouldn't buy a cheap nasty flute. I have a Trevor James Cantabile flute, about £800, which is great value for money. They do a cheaper model, the 10x, I think, which is the same but it has a silver plated rather than solid silver head.

Don't dismiss plastic flutes, I have heard that they are ok.

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Another +1 for getting a decent flute, and Yamaha 211 kept me going for about 30 years until a more recent solid head Yamaha came into my grasp. I still have the original one as my home flute, and take it out occasionally as well. Comfy slippers an'all that!

With Yamaha, make sure it's a Japanese one and you can't really go wrong. They made some, possibly still do, in India.. reputation not good!

As with basses, you can get some right old bargains by looking at used flutes, but may need to do a few tweaks. Basic flute setup is not as hard as some make out, and is a really handy skill in case of things going out of kilter.

As for embouchure, which is obviously important, blowing a flute is sort of a refined version of blowing across a bottle(!) In early days you'll be wasting alot of air, so less note per breath, but as with most things you're going to develop better efficiency with that.

Flute is great.. enjoy the ride!

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So, Meddle.. have you jumped in?

If you're around Bradford you'd be welcome to drop round for a hints and tips sesh.

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I like the idea of "splitting" a note so you get a second sound going. Also to hum a note while playing a harmony note. Open holes ? Offset G ?

Edited by grenadillabama
no strings on a flute !

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Flute is my main instrument.

I’d second getting a decent Yamaha student model. There are plenty of used older 211s out there that are still in great condition. Pearl also make some good student models.

Get something with offset-G and a split-E mechanism. Closed hole is a better starting point.

 

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