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Discussion Starter #1
I just got this flute in a trade for an alto saxophone that I not only never intended to play but really didn't like, and it's blowing my doors off, so to speak. I've played, just casually only, and owned flutes over the years, always really cheap ones ($300 and less). I had NO IDEA that flutes like this even existed. I never played a good flute my entire life, and suddenly this. It's a vintage (I think it's vintage) Emerson that my friend who owns the music store where I made the trade said was a monster and that he'd just gotten in. He had it for sale for $995. It has a solid silver head and open holes.

WTH??? It plays itself (except the lowest notes which I have to work to get back, but they'll come), and has a huge, no HUGE sound that is so thick and rich that it almost sounds like an alto flute in the low register. The upper register is very loud. I'm also wondering what the date is ..... s# A103xx.

I'm just wondering what I've been missing all these years and where this one might fall in the flute quality continuum. It's not an exaggeration for me to say that this Emerson flute is as much better an instrument than those lousy (and probably leaking) flutes I've played as my '56 Mark VI tenor is a better sax than those Taishan tenors you can get on eBay for, what is it now, $400? Yeah, it's a beast of a flute. How good is it?


Turtle
 

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These are good doubler flutes. If you post a photo of the logos, I can give you a rough idea of the age. I sell them in excellent condition with a B foot for around $500 for reference.
 

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I just got this flute in a trade for an alto saxophone that I not only never intended to play but really didn't like, and it's blowing my doors off, so to speak. I've played, just casually only, and owned flutes over the years, always really cheap ones ($300 and less). I had NO IDEA that flutes like this even existed. I never played a good flute my entire life, and suddenly this. It's a vintage (I think it's vintage) Emerson that my friend who owns the music store where I made the trade said was a monster and that he'd just gotten in. He had it for sale for $995. It has a solid silver head and open holes.

WTH??? It plays itself (except the lowest notes which I have to work to get back, but they'll come), and has a huge, no HUGE sound that is so thick and rich that it almost sounds like an alto flute in the low register. The upper register is very loud. I'm also wondering what the date is ..... s# A103xx.

I'm just wondering what I've been missing all these years and where this one might fall in the flute quality continuum. It's not an exaggeration for me to say that this Emerson flute is as much better an instrument than those lousy (and probably leaking) flutes I've played as my '56 Mark VI tenor is a better sax than those Taishan tenors you can get on eBay for, what is it now, $400? Yeah, it's a beast of a flute. How good is it?


Turtle
Just wait till you play a good Miyizawa or Muramatsu.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks! That is good to know. If I had known that flutes like this were available, I'd have taken this instrument far more seriously, back at age 14 when I started playing flute (on one of the worst flutes I owned). It was so discouraging, and frankly all the other flutes I wrestled with (the best of them was a Gameinhardt 2s) were not much better, that I never considered the flute to be a main instrument. I should have gone into a music store and checked them out a long time ago. It's hard for me to imagine flutes better than this one, but I'll take your guys' words for it.

Miyizawa or Muramatsu ..... What do you have to pay for one of those guys (used, of course)?


Turtle
 

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Thanks! That is good to know. If I had known that flutes like this were available, I'd have taken this instrument far more seriously, back at age 14 when I started playing flute (on one of the worst flutes I owned). It was so discouraging, and frankly all the other flutes I wrestled with (the best of them was a Gameinhardt 2s) were not much better, that I never considered the flute to be a main instrument. I should have gone into a music store and checked them out a long time ago. It's hard for me to imagine flutes better than this one, but I'll take your guys' words for it.

Miyizawa or Muramatsu ..... What do you have to pay for one of those guys (used, of course)?


Turtle
I paid $3600 for my Miyazawa, brand new, about 20 years ago. It's silver plated body and keywork with solid silver head. Low B foot (which I don't care about but would have had to pay full retail to order a C foot).

Miyazawa at the time claimed that they put the same level of handwork into their plated flutes as their all sterling ones.
Since I don't subscribe to materials voodoo, the plated flute seemed like a good way to go. A lot of other manufacturers you can tell that they don't put the same level of care into the plated instruments, so you end up having to go solid silver to get the higher levels of quality. It's a vicious circle: the actual difference in material cost is probably less than $100 (maybe even less than that, since there's a plating operation for plated flutes that solid silver ones don't get; but they charge many times that to upgrade, and you end up having to pay it because those are the ones that get the better assembly and setup. A great deal of flute marketeering is BS.

Emerson, Armstrong, and Gemeinhardt are all kind of "meh" as flutes. (Though way better than the run-of-the mill Artleys and Bundys.) Yamaha student flutes punch way above their weight. The big Japanese names (Muramatsu, Sankyo, Miyazawa) and the big American names (Brannen, Haynes, Powell, etc.) are even better. Unfortunately a lot of the big names have started putting a fairly good head joint on a not really all that nice Chinese body and stamping it with their name - so these "second line" flutes say "Haynes" on them but they're not the same thing as a real Haynes.

All that said, you can do a heck of a lot to a "meh" flute with a really good head joint and good adjustment. The action won't be as slick as a really good body, but you can still have a pretty good rig.
 

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I paid $3600 for my Miyazawa, brand new, about 20 years ago. It's silver plated body and keywork with solid silver head. Low B foot (which I don't care about but would have had to pay full retail to order a C foot).

Miyazawa at the time claimed that they put the same level of handwork into their plated flutes as their all sterling ones.
Since I don't subscribe to materials voodoo, the plated flute seemed like a good way to go. A lot of other manufacturers you can tell that they don't put the same level of care into the plated instruments, so you end up having to go solid silver to get the higher levels of quality. It's a vicious circle: the actual difference in material cost is probably less than $100 (maybe even less than that, since there's a plating operation for plated flutes that solid silver ones don't get; but they charge many times that to upgrade, and you end up having to pay it because those are the ones that get the better assembly and setup. A great deal of flute marketeering is BS.

Emerson, Armstrong, and Gemeinhardt are all kind of "meh" as flutes. (Though way better than the run-of-the mill Artleys and Bundys.) Yamaha student flutes punch way above their weight. The big Japanese names (Muramatsu, Sankyo, Miyazawa) and the big American names (Brannen, Haynes, Powell, etc.) are even better. Unfortunately a lot of the big names have started putting a fairly good head joint on a not really all that nice Chinese body and stamping it with their name - so these "second line" flutes say "Haynes" on them but they're not the same thing as a real Haynes.

All that said, you can do a heck of a lot to a "meh" flute with a really good head joint and good adjustment. The action won't be as slick as a really good body, but you can still have a pretty good rig.
I wouldn't put Emerson in with the other two, they can be good flutes.
Bruce knows.
 

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I agree with turf3.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
All that said, you can do a heck of a lot to a "meh" flute with a really good head joint and good adjustment. The action won't be as slick as a really good body, but you can still have a pretty good rig.

That sounds like a great move ...... What would you say changes the most, or would change the most for me, going from the head that's already on the Emerson (solid silver) to something much better ...... the tone or the playing characteristics or both?

What is knocking me out the most about this Emerson is the way it plays ..... So much better than the cheap junk flutes I've had to endure. The tone is really nice, it's huge compared to the cheap ones, but I can't say that it's a great tone. It's good, it's very good, and it's really loud, but I'm sure it could be better.

And, what sort of head joint can you recommend to take this Emerson up a notch in sound quality?


Turtle
 

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Sometimes flutes just really work. Emerson flutes are not super valuable but very workable and it sounds like you have a good one.
 

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That sounds like a great move ...... What would you say changes the most, or would change the most for me, going from the head that's already on the Emerson (solid silver) to something much better ...... the tone or the playing characteristics or both?

What is knocking me out the most about this Emerson is the way it plays ..... So much better than the cheap junk flutes I've had to endure. The tone is really nice, it's huge compared to the cheap ones, but I can't say that it's a great tone. It's good, it's very good, and it's really loud, but I'm sure it could be better.

And, what sort of head joint can you recommend to take this Emerson up a notch in sound quality?


Turtle
If you like the sound of the flute as it is, then I would suggest to spend some time with it first. Head joints are like mouthpieces only more expensive and with subtler differences from one to the next.
 

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If you like the sound of the flute as it is, then I would suggest to spend some time with it first. Head joints are like mouthpieces only more expensive and with subtler differences from one to the next.
+1 from me too.

You might just happen to have a specimen that is better than the norm for Emersen.


My "yardstick" for performance for cheaper (i.e. student) flutes is Yamaha. (And Gemeinhardt definitely does not measure up, with the occasional exception)
My yardstick for performance for more expensive flutes is Muramatsu EX. (Good enough to be James Galway's practice flute for some years!)
You may like to compare your Emersen with those.

If you do want to try "upgrade" heads without going into prices in the stratosphere, I would suggest beginning with Yamaha EC head and the basic Muramatsu (current) head.

All IMO.
 
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