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Hello

I have a question about the cost of the materials in flutes. I would like to know the approx. differences of the materials used in flutes. For example if the cost of a nickel-silver flute was X how much more would an identical solid silver flute cost, same for gold, also for platings, etc. I'm not talking about the cost to the players, but the extra cost to the manufacturer. Does anyone have a clue about this?

Thank you.
 

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The cost of the metal in a cupro-nickel flute is quite small.

In very approximate figures...

Assuming a flute weighs approx 0.4 kg...
Assuming ALL that weight is silver or gold... (i.e. includes keys)

Assuming that the price of sterling silver is around $490 per kg, that adds around $200 to the cost of the flute.

Assuming that the price of gold is around $27000 per kg, That means around $11000 for the metal alone, for a 24 carat flute, but most commonly, gold flutes are only 14 carat, so the value of the gold would be closer to $6500.

BUT:

Silver is easier to work with than cupronickel.
Gold, I am told, is a lot easier to work with than silver.

So aren't the buyers ripped off!!!
No wonder the makers like to market precious metals as having a better tone.. It means they can sell the stuff for several times what it is worth.

Become a maker of gold flute heads! They are actually quite quick to make, once set up for it. Even the setting-up is not too expensive.
 

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In an earlier post I believe I figured that (assuming equal costs of workmanship), a 14k gold flute has a surchage of about $6500 over a silver flute, once the costs of the material have been subtracted...

Toby
 

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Thanks Gordon and Toby. What about platings? For example, the cost to player vs. the cost to the manufacturer between nickel, silver and all the gold platings? Any idea?

Thanks!
 

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Nickel plating on flutes is almost always a part of cost cutting, so I guess nickel is cheaper than silver.

Apart from that I have no idea, never having done it or had it done. The price of the gold involved is obviously many times that of the silver.
 

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The amount of metal used in plating is next to nothing, certainly not enough in be a factor in cost. Next to nothing amounts of nickel cost about the same as next to nothing amounts of gold. It's all in the labor or what people are willing to pay. The premium charged by most companies for plating over lacquer is almost all profit. A few companies charge the same for all finishes, which is much more realistic.
 

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Thanks for that observation Sam. I see from your profile that you are a public school teacher and you teach 'da special needs children. How commendable. You truly must be a kindhearted individual to have chosen that profession. I am a retired music teacher myself so we have a lot in common. Please keep sharing your knowledge of instrument manufacturing with us on SOTW and please say hi to Snixy for me. ;)


John
 

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Sam Chirella said:
The amount of metal used in plating is next to nothing, certainly not enough in be a factor in cost. Next to nothing amounts of nickel cost about the same as next to nothing amounts of gold. It's all in the labor or what people are willing to pay. The premium charged by most companies for plating over lacquer is almost all profit. A few companies charge the same for all finishes, which is much more realistic.
All true. It may be that the cost of the different chemicals is somewhat different, but it shouldn't be by much. Don't forget that gold is plated over an undercoat of silver, so that would bring the cost of gold plating up somewhat.

I used to be a houseparent for severely emotionally-disturbed childen. Nervewracking work and sometimes almost unbearably sad, but extremely rewarding.

Toby
 

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I've had a great deal of flutes replated. The plating cost for silverplated keys, body, foot, and head is <$50 US. The manufactureres are getting it for far less than I. The kicker is that I am doing all of the prep work, which is a LOT of time. I send a flute to the plater completely buffed and cleaned of buffing dirt. They do a final cleaning and the plating.

Matt
 

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Don't neglect the cost of getting the desired material in the correct form. There may not be that many metal producers that make gold sheet in the desired thickness.
 

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Dr G said:
Don't neglect the cost of getting the desired material in the correct form. There may not be that many metal producers that make gold sheet in the desired thickness.
My understanding is that these tubes are all drawn from blocks of solid metal, so it really shouldn't make a difference.

Toby
 

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By the flutemaker?
 

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Yes, I believe so, but perhaps it is commissioned out. In any case makers like Powell offer a number of different wall thicknesses (.012-.020"), so in any case there would have to be some flexibility with whoever draws the tubes. Seamed tubes have not been made for almost a century AFAIK.

Anyway, could it possibly cost $6500 to draw a tube out of gold instead of silver?

Toby
 

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kymarto said:
Yes, I believe so, but perhaps it is commissioned out. In any case makers like Powell offer a number of different wall thicknesses (.012-.020"), so in any case there would have to be some flexibility with whoever draws the tubes. Seamed tubes have not been made for almost a century AFAIK.Toby
I thought makers bought the cylindrical tube as stock, then altered thickness and diameter as per specs, by inserting a mandrel and drawing it through a yielding (lead or polymer) block with a hole in it.

Altus has been offering seamed tubes, complete with BS marketing rave.
 
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