Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I began playing flute about 26 years ago and at the time purchased a used Yamaha 24N. I am looking now to upgrade to something a bit better and have found a used Emerson. Seller is telling me the model is Emerson Soloist, S/N is 50325. If what I've read is correct that would mean it's made in 2000. Sterling silver head joint, silver plated body, gold mouthpiece. It's been gone over and is in good working order I'm told, and I can return it if it isn't. it's open hole, offset G, B foot with gizmo key. I'm wondering if anyone can tell me something about this flute and what it may be worth. I've had a heck of a time finding info on Emerson, and even the Conn-Selmer website has nothing. Some folks seem to love them, others hate them, and I'm clueless. I'm looking for a decent upgrade to what I'm playing now. Sellers's looking for 700 and I'm wondering if that's reasonable for a good intermediate flute almost 20 years old? Thank you for your input...

Jackson
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
For Emerson I suspect bells and whistles and fancy metal does not mean it is necessarily better made or play better than a student flute. It is not the metal that makes the sound, but the air column inside it. The container shapes the air column and that shape is the important part. (Placebo effects aside.)

You might be better to spend your money on a second hand professional-grade head of repute, to use on your Yamaha after a decent servicing.

I suspect that if Emerson made great flutes they would be more commonly talked about if not seen.

Some time ago I was offered an Emerson agency. I don't think I had seen any then. From what I saw since I'm glad I turned it down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the response Gordon. My Yamaha isn't really worth putting any money into at this point. It's an old nickle student model, and I'm looking for something better. Perusing through the posts, it would seem that 700.00 is not a bad price for this flute in good working order. I do have another question to ask of the group however. I'm wondering what years the Armstrong 80B was in production. I see it was superceded by the 800B, but cannot find out just when it was being made. That's another option on my list of possibilities... Thank you all.

Jackson
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,482 Posts
Thanks for the response Gordon. My Yamaha isn't really worth putting any money into at this point. It's an old nickle student model, and I'm looking for something better. Perusing through the posts, it would seem that 700.00 is not a bad price for this flute in good working order. I do have another question to ask of the group however. I'm wondering what years the Armstrong 80B was in production. I see it was superceded by the 800B, but cannot find out just when it was being made. That's another option on my list of possibilities... Thank you all.

Jackson
I am not familiar with Emerson models but if it's comparable to the Armstrong 80, you should not bother. The Armstrong 80 although it's made of fancy materials is not as good as your student grade Yamaha. I know this from personal experience.

There are a host of better alternatives. In my mind the most straightforward path is a mid grade Yamaha flute. There are several other paths as well.

Taking a mediocre student flute design and making it out of sterling silver does nothing except increase the price. That is what an Armstrong 80 is, and I suspect it's what most Emerson student instruments are. Modern high quality student flutes take a high quality design and remove cost. This is what a plated Yamaha is.,

Unless you plan to take a university course of flute playing you do not need open holes or a B foot. In my case, my rather nice Miyazawa flute was readily available with open holes and B foot, and would have been a special order with closed holes and C foot, so I bought the open hole B foot model. I promptly plugged all the holes - and you need to understand that when I bought the flute I had been playing open holes for 30+ years. I have never wanted open holes since I got the Miyazawa and plugged the holes. Personally I think the B foot hinders response at the top of the third octave and I plan one of these days when money is a little more available to get a C foot for that flute.

You may find that a flute you like has open holes and/or B foot, in which case you should go ahead, but you do not need these. (Yes, yes, I know, there are some tiny number of compositions and a tiny number of special effects that you need open holes for, but the vast majority of flute players will never do these things.)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
21,034 Posts
The Soloist models are usually the ones from China. It depends on the price. If it is a silver head model, I think $350 would be the top end if it is in new condition. I sell these in that range or less. If you go a bit higher, you can get a sterling tube model. As I recall, the Soloist had a sterling lip and riser but not the tube of the head.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
253 Posts
Hello. In terms of value for money I would second the suggestion you try a Yamaha 221 student flute. Because of the attrition rate with young beginners these can be purchased for very good prices second hand. They are well made and easy to service. Add an aftermarket head joint (say a Yamaha EC) and you have a fine flute for minimum expenditure. Good luck on your search.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
I totally agree with turf3 and perina14.
However
- A Split E makes 3rd octave E a much more manageable note. It is pretty much standard outside USA. (Perhaps USA did not catch on because they had a "fashion" fixation with in-line keys, which is mechanically problematic with split E. Split E for Yamaha has a "1" as the central model digit, eg YFL-211.

- Don't judge Yamaha by your nickel plated one. For some reason they were substandard in every way.

- A really decent head is the main part of a flute's sound and response. Alongside the Yamaha EC suggested, try a current model Murumatsu head. Both are fantastic and really popular. They are a huge upgrade to a student flute, turning it into a quality ,mid-range.

IMO traditional-brand USA-made flutes (other than the top professionals, Haynes and Powell) just do not cut the mustard compared with Yamaha (and other Japanese). Yamaha just left them behind in precision of manufacture, tone, response, volume. Yes, there are a few rare exceptions.
Just my opinion, after decades of playing and servicing a huge ranged of flutes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,482 Posts
I totally agree with turf3 and perina14.
However
- A Split E makes 3rd octave E a much more manageable note. It is pretty much standard outside USA. (Perhaps USA did not catch on because they had a "fashion" fixation with in-line keys, which is mechanically problematic with split E. Split E for Yamaha has a "1" as the central model digit, eg YFL-211.

- Don't judge Yamaha by your nickel plated one. For some reason they were substandard in every way.

- A really decent head is the main part of a flute's sound and response. Alongside the Yamaha EC suggested, try a current model Murumatsu head. Both are fantastic and really popular. They are a huge upgrade to a student flute, turning it into a quality ,mid-range.

IMO traditional-brand USA-made flutes (other than the top professionals, Haynes and Powell) just do not cut the mustard compared with Yamaha (and other Japanese). Yamaha just left them behind in precision of manufacture, tone, response, volume. Yes, there are a few rare exceptions.
Just my opinion, after decades of playing and servicing a huge ranged of flutes.
To add to Gordon's comment re split E:

I had heard/read comments that the split E makes certain trills difficult/impossible. Some months ago, Gordon and I engaged in an interchange on this forum about that, and I tried out the problematic trills both on my C flute which does not have the split E and on my alto flute which does have the split E, and I will briefly summarize:

The split E does make ONE particular fingering for ONE trill, up in the third octave, not work. HOWEVER, there are multiple other fingerings for that trill, and if you search for that thread right here on SOTW you will find our exchange where we listed the various trill fingerings. (By the way, I could not remember ever actually having to use the particular trill in question, although I no longer play classical flute.)

So, in my (revised and updated) opinion there is no reason not to get a flute with the split E, unless you are bound and determined to conform to the US-only fashion for inline keys (which by the way have ZERO effect on sound) because there are mechanical difficulties in making a reliable split E mechanism with the inline keys. But since there's no good reason to have inline keys (they were originated as a manufacturing cost reduction!) and there are several good reasons to have offset keys, I would recommend getting the offset keys with the split E.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,482 Posts
And to further pile on:

The Yamaha 200 and 300 series bodies have the best feeling mechanism of any low cost flute I've ever played. I first realized this when a bunch of guys in my big band all got similar flutes at about the same time and we all tried each other's flutes. My Armstrong 80, solid silver body and head, much more expensive when it was new than these guys' Yamahas, felt clunky and unresponsive by comparison. That was when I decided that current mass production mid-grade flutes were a lot better in the 1990s and beyond than in the 1960s and 70s; and I determined to get myself a better flute at that time. Eventually I did, buying what I would call an upper-mid-grade Miyazawa, with which I've been very very happy indeed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
So much good information... Thank you all... Looking at Yamaha, it seems the 221 has been superceded by the 222, which I can purchase new for a relatively decent price. Anyone have experience with this model, and thoughts regarding it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
253 Posts
Hello again. Previously all Yamaha flutes were made in Japan. I believe the current student models, including the 222, are Made in Indonesia (or at least assembled there). I have heard they play well, but I have not seen one up close regarding comparitive build quality. I hope this helps in some way.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
I have worked on quite a few Yamaha student flutes made in Indonesia and have noted no deterioration in standards.

The middle digit "2" in the models indicates offset G, covered keys, and no split E.

The first digit "3" in the model indicates a silver head, which really makes no difference. However with this model I believe more attention has been given to getting tone holes level, which increases reliability. (It takes me about 15 minutes to greatly improve the levelness of the relevant tone holes, and then a full adjustment is likely needed. A full adjustment would be needed on most flutes within the first 18 months. My method does not involve filing, which can be quite destructive of flute tone holes, but I don't think many techs would confidently undertake it.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Many musical instruments are coming from Indonesia these days. My current favorite guitar is Indonesian and it's very well put together. I think quality depends on the factory, and their quality control, which can vary greatly... Gordon, what type costs are associated with the type of adjusting your speaking about in your last post. Are these instruments, (222) usually playable out of the box, or do they require some up front tweaks before getting serious with them?
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
My impressions are these:
- Most flutes, when new, unless you pay a lot of money, have issues with non-level tone holes.
- Excellent adjustment at factory level is pretty expensive, so it tends to be skimped - a minimum done.
- Some flutes play at their best straight from the box. Others need adjustment when brand new. Otherwise the player gradually gets into a habit of pressing the keys harder to effect a seal, which is a detrimental habit to have got into for when the player is more advanced. (It is very difficult to press the keys hard when playing fast.)
- Most flutes, to play at their best, even if they play well out of the box, need some adjustment before 18 months to 2 years is up. That is because soft materials - pads and linkage silencers - bed in with use. ( a good technician will attend to issues which make adjustment more stable.)
- When pads are new they have more accommodation and can accommodate slightly non-level tone holes and seal OK.
- With use, the felt in the pads gets more compressed around the areas that contact the tone holes. Compressed felt is less able to accommodate slightly non-level tone holes. Therefore until the tone holes are leveled, adjustments are more precarious, so more regular servicing is required.
- Taking Yamaha as an example... You can read lists of specs for different models. These focus on silly things like the type of pivot screw (which within limits does not really matter) and the metal of the body and keys, which is also somewhat irrelevant. However it is clear to me that as you get into the models above student, more effort is made at factory to levelling tone holes. But they do not print that model XYZ has levelled tonke holes, because that would be telling you that model PQR by implication does not!

In summary, a flute with level tone holes will stay in adjustment more reliably with less servicing attention.

"Gordon, what type costs are associated with the type of adjusting your speaking about in your last post."

Sorry, I don;'t know what you mean here. If you are asking what it costs to level tonke holes, there are several ways of going about it. Some are very time consuming. Some risk serious damage to the tone hole edge. If they are filed so that they present a wider area to the pad, the player will have to press harder for a seal, so little has been achieved. My method, in the hands of somebody not very familiar with the way the various metals behave, and a bit rough, could also be very damaging, collapsing part of the tone hole wall to be badly lower rather than raised.

As for cost... I charge for about 15 minutes of time. (I am pretty experienced to do it in this time) In this modern world many service people charge the maximum they think they can extract from the customer.

On the other hand, I have met some flutes (up-market models made by well respected brand names) with tone holes that have been so filed that I will not work on them - it's extremely rare for me to take such a stand for a customer other than for this - because of the risk of serious damage.
See https://www.flickr.com/photos/photorua/44376456745/in/dateposted-public/ (Sorry about the grainy photo.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Lots of good information Gordon, thank you for that.
You've pretty much answered my questions, and I've learned a heck of a lot...

Jackson
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top