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Discussion Starter #1
I've searched the web far and wide for info about this. The search function here didn't return anything, either. Here's the deal:

My daughter has been playing flute for a year on an old Gemeinhardt M2 that I bought in high school, about *cough* years ago. Works fine, but she's already quite good and will at some point need to move to a better instrument. A couple of days ago, her teacher asked me if we had considered a "step-up" flute for her. A couple of minutes later, I was driving away with a flute to test out (a player the teacher knows wants to sell it). It is a Pearl PF-501 (Open hole, offset G, B foot, split E, but no pointed arms) with a PH-610J headjoint. The Pearl web site doesn't list the 501, so all I can tell from that is that it is not a current model. Neither does it get into the specifics of the headjoints, though this one looks like it has a 10k gold lip plate and riser. Also, part of the inside of the headjoint appears to be gold plated. It plays well, as far as my mediocre flute chops can tell, and the asking price of $550 doesn't strike me as outrageous.

So, it looks like an entry/intermediate level flute body with a decent to pretty good headjoint. Can anybody tell me more about the headjoint in particular, and how far this flute might allow a good young (12 year old) student to go? Also, I'd love to know if the price is actually not reasonable.

Thanks for any insight and suggestions you might have to offer.
 

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Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
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I bought a 761RBE - which at the time was a few models up from the 501. Pearl makes a great product (in my opinion) however if you are going to upgrade, and your daughter seems serious, approach a purchase as follows.

What is your price range?

Find the best instrument in that range.

If you tackle this purchase any other way - Its difficult to say if you got a "deal" or not.

($550 for a 501 seems steep - if i recall - they werent much more than that new) I dont think they had anything special for a headjoint either - silver plated basic cut.

hope that helps
 

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From http://www.allflutesplus.co.uk/2006/instruments/student.htm

"Origin: Taiwan The new Pearl 500 series. Mid price-range, entry-level, silver-plated model.... "

Forget the irrelevant bells and whistles and fancy plating. They almost certainly do not affect the way it plays.

It is a basic Pearl flute, made in Taiwan, not Japan, where outstanding Pearl models are made. It is very likely typical of student flutes in having non-level tone holes, and especially being Pearl, some rather sloppy pivots, and probably insecure silencers under regulating screws, all affecting frequency &/or cost of servicing. Personally, all things considered, I would prefer heading, in an unhurried manner, for a second hand Yamaha. I certainly would not regard Pearl 500 series as a step up from student. However is almost certain to be better to play on than an M2 Gemeinhardt.

I certainly would not regard it as good value for that price.

Of course you can expect a different opinion form every writer in this forum. :)
 

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The current series Pearl Flutes, 505 are very strongly built flutes. Gordon is correct on the older models being less than ideal compared to the Yamaha. The Quantz525 series is a very nicely made flute, it plays well, feels great and has a very solid and strong mechanism. The 665 and 765 models are also nice to play but the price is getting up there.

If you can afford it then I would urge you to check out the Miyazawa models too. I have been thinking of buying a Pearl 525 model myself as a gigging fltue so as not to take my expensive handmade flute out to dodgy gigs. I would be using a nice high end headjoint with this body. The Lehner headjoint with the 525 is a great combination, very flexible and loud when requried, good intonation and a pleasant tone. I would go the Miyazawa becasue it feels a little better overall but for the price difference, the Pearl is a very good option.
 

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For factory built production flutes, I think Jupiter (DiMedici) or Yamaha is a better flute than the Pearl. Each has a better head with a more solid body having smoother more fluid keywork. I particularly like the Jupiter heads, especially the D1 and D3 heads. I've looked at the flutes that some colleges recommend for incoming performance majors. Jupiter and Yamaha are frequently listed alongside the bigger professional names like Muramatsu, Sankyo, Powell, etc. It's less common to see Pearls recommended. If you spend $550 on a Pearl it would likely be a step up from her Gemeinhardt, but I suspect you'll likely be upgrading again in a few years if she gets serious about her playing. But for about $1000 you can pick up a used Jupiter or Yamaha that may be the last flute upgrade flute she would will need for a long time because it would be good enough to take her all the way into college if she chooses to continue her flute playing that far.
 

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You might want to contact Bruce Bailey. He is a flute builder and all around woodwind tech. He is a terrific guy to deal with, too - reasonable prices and the item you buy will be better than expected. I just made my third purchase from Bruce and highly recommend him.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm gathering that the body construction is probably not great. Is the build quality universally bad on this model or just inconsistent (some individual examples may be better than others)? The stock headjoint is also apparently nothing special. This particular one clearly has some sort of upgrade from the stock headjoint (nobody has yet commented specifically on that model hj), but the dominant opinion seems to be that it's probably not enough to make it an instrument to get her through high school. Good enough for a sax player who doubles, maybe, but not for a flutist.

MRC01 said:
...it would likely be a step up from her Gemeinhardt, but I suspect you'll likely be upgrading again in a few years if she gets serious about her playing.
Yeah, that phrase "step-up" says it all: better, but not by enough to be worth it unless you're playing a true piece of junk, and you'll definitely need to upgrade again.

Thanks, all!
 

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IMO it's only a step up because Gemeinhardt M2 has a particularly disappointing head, as student flutes go. IMO
 

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I am wondering what that head is. Is it solid sterling silver or just silver plated? All the 501s I have seen are just basic student flutes so it may not be moving up, just moving sideways from the Gemeinhardt. One thing I don't like about the Pearls (the standard ones) is that the keywork is full of levers and arms that just are not needed and the adjusting screws on some a phillips head and not slotted making servicing at a store difficult. I get them in but just move them out for about $150. I would say that if it is open hole, low B and IF it has a solid silver head, you may be OK at that price.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just to add to my general confusion, I got a reply from someone at pearlflutes.com. Here's what she said about the headjoint:

"This headjoint is from a coda model flute either a PF-665 or PF-765. This headjoint is sterling silver with a Solid 10K Lip plate. If bought separately this headjoint would retail at $600."

Now, I assume that's the list price, which no one ever pays. Given that assumption, then it seems like $550 isn't an incredible bargain, but maybe not a rip-off either. HOWEVER, if the flute mechanism is lousy, then it still might not be worth going there.

As for the recommendation for a second-hand Yamaha, which model(s) might I look for?

Thanks!
 

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Exiled92 said:
Just to add to my general confusion, I got a reply from someone at pearlflutes.com. Here's what she said about the headjoint:

"This headjoint is from a coda model flute either a PF-665 or PF-765. This headjoint is sterling silver with a Solid 10K Lip plate. If bought separately this headjoint would retail at $600."

Now, I assume that's the list price, which no one ever pays. Given that assumption, then it seems like $550 isn't an incredible bargain, but maybe not a rip-off either. HOWEVER, if the flute mechanism is lousy, then it still might not be worth going there.

As for the recommendation for a second-hand Yamaha, which model(s) might I look for?

Thanks!

I recently sold all of my old Pearl 501 stock. You have a 501RBE if i am correct. I sold that flute for around $450.00 new. I'm not sure about that HJ. The question I have is who would spend $300.00to $400.00 for a HJ on a $300.00-$400.00 flute? Honestly if I was to sell that very model, I would say $550.00 is pretty exact and is really no special deal for a NEW discontinued model. The fact that it is a used and Discontinued model should bring it around $450.00.
As far as Yamaha i would check out any of the 300 series. You might be able to find a 400 series for around $500.00 also
 

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Price and metal is not a good indicator of quality and suitability of a head. I don'/t think you should be pressured here. Keep your money until the player can play a wide variety.

BTW in many cases an "intermediate" flute is no better than a student flute. For example, the 300 series of Yamaha is much the same as the 200 series basic student flute, but with a sterling silver head. The 400, likewise, but with a sterling silver body. When blindfold, I am struggling to find a difference in the way all three series play.

You don't get a significant difference until you get the models with a professional QUALITY of head (irrespective of the metal).

So my suggestion is that a basic 200 series Yamaha is probably a large upgrade on a Gemeinhardt M2 (unless you happen to have an exceptionally good one).

For another large upgrade on that, forget the intermediate flutes and go straight for a cheaper professional one, with the head that really does something for this particular player. For this step up, the player really does need to play them and choose.

On the other hand, if this player compares the Pearl ALONGSIDE the yardstick Yamaha 200 series, and loves it, then it maybe OK value for money.

But don't buy sight unseen and with no comparisons with other standards.

BTW, I believe that the main reason for selling gold this and that on flutes is so that the manufacturer can sell gold at twice what he paid for it, to those who ignorant, silly, image-centred, or just don't know what to do with their money.

However opinions abound on the topic of flute upgrades, and every player has to find their own reality. You will find many threads already written on the topic, in this forum and in the flute forum at 8notes.com.
 

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I just recently 'upgraded' my flute from a conservatory-grade Gemeinhart open-hole B flute (Sterling head, body, foot) to a used but good-condition Yamaha 225 with a new sterling Yamaha headjoint. Closed hole, C-foot, offset G...all the 'wrong' stuff, but it has been a huge upgrade in my ability to play the flute. Intonation is better, timbre is more even, no more trouble covering the holes with my calloused fingers (need to get a plateau clarinet) and a better sound with more projection. It's lighter weight as well as a side benefit.

The best news is that I was able to sell my Gemeinhart 3SB for almost as much as I paid to get this new combo together
 

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Gordon and All,

This thread has me thinking about Pearl alto flutes. If I get an alto flute it has to have a curved head joint....for my physical issues. Getting an alto that has both curved and straight joints seems like a waste. Pearl is the only company I know of at this point that sells an alto flute with just a curved head. Are there any others? What are your opinions of the Pearl alto?

Thanks, Roger
 

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About a year ago I got an alto flute. I tried the Sonare and Jupiter. Also played one my friends' very nice Flutemaker's Guild alto. Both the Sonare and Jupiter have straight, curved, or both heads. I found the straight head had two advantages: easier intonation in the top and more power and response in the bottom. But the ergos are indeed poor. Fortunately I have long arms. I like the Jupiter alto a LOT. The tone and response was 95% as good as the Flutemaker's Guild which is worth about 10 times as much. The scale is excellent and the body keywork is smooth, solid and quiet. It's a very very nice flute especially for the money. In comparison the Sonare was underwhelming both its head and its body.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Gordon (NZ) said:
Price and metal is not a good indicator of quality and suitability of a head. I don'/t think you should be pressured here. Keep your money until the player can play a wide variety.

BTW in many cases an "intermediate" flute is no better than a student flute. For example, the 300 series of Yamaha is much the same as the 200 series basic student flute, but with a sterling silver head. The 400, likewise, but with a sterling silver body. When blindfold, I am struggling to find a difference in the way all three series play.

You don't get a significant difference until you get the models with a professional QUALITY of head (irrespective of the metal).
This reminds me of the material vs dimensions argument with sax mouthpieces. It's easy for me to believe that shape and cut matter more than material.


Gordon (NZ) said:
So my suggestion is that a basic 200 series Yamaha is probably a large upgrade on a Gemeinhardt M2 (unless you happen to have an exceptionally good one).

For another large upgrade on that, forget the intermediate flutes and go straight for a cheaper professional one, with the head that really does something for this particular player. For this step up, the player really does need to play them and choose.

On the other hand, if this player compares the Pearl ALONGSIDE the yardstick Yamaha 200 series, and loves it, then it maybe OK value for money.

But don't buy sight unseen and with no comparisons with other standards.
We've played it alongside a mid-1980s E. F. Dean flute that I have (open hole, inline, low B, sterling head and possibly body; it might be a stencil brand of some sort). There's not much difference, though the Pearl might project just a little better. The Dean is a sentimental value instrument, so my kid won't be taking it to school, etc. However, we don't have on hand a realistic standard, such as a Yamaha, for comparison. I'll see that we do before buying anything.


Gordon (NZ) said:
BTW, I believe that the main reason for selling gold this and that on flutes is so that the manufacturer can sell gold at twice what he paid for it, to those who ignorant, silly, image-centred, or just don't know what to do with their money.
Come on, don't hold back, tell us how you really feel! :D :D I suspect this is right on target.


Gordon (NZ) said:
However opinions abound on the topic of flute upgrades, and every player has to find their own reality. You will find many threads already written on the topic, in this forum and in the flute forum at 8notes.com.
Haven't ever seen 8notes.com, I'll take a look if I have time.

Gordon, Bootman, Bruce, and others, thanks very much for taking the time to share your expertise with me. I appreciate all the comments and am so glad to have SOTW as a resource.
 

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I mean "ignorant" in the most non-emotionally-laden, accepting-of-humanity way possible. Been there myself, wasting thousands of dollars. Meaning "not knowing". :)
 

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I use a 9K rose gold tube, solid platinum chimney, riser and lip plate head joint on a solid silver hand made flute. The reason I chose this set-up is simply because it allwoed me to get the sound I heard in my head on flute. The fact that it cost me a lot didn't trouble me too much (other than coming up with the money in the first place).

I ended up with the flute that I felt worked best for me after test driving everything on the market. I suffer from a Compulsive/Obsessive problem when it comes to instruments and equipment I purchase for my own personal use. It can be a nuisance at times but it also allows me to learn a lot on the way to reaching a decision.

The best advice I can offer anyone is to play any instrument for themselves before purchasing. This isn't always possible particularly in places other than the US or Europe or even when ordering online. Speak with others and get their wisdom and views. Also remember the final decision must be yours and you are the on ewho is going to have to live with the instrument you finally choose.

Have fun on the journey searching for the right flute.
 
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