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ALTO FLUTE


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#1 vron

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 15:18

The present situation has made me have another think about getting an alto flute. Life is too short and too precious to waste so let's embrace it and do what we have been hankering to do for a  while (within reason  :) ) 

 

So I have decided I would like an alto flute and I am wondering if anyone who owns one can comment on what make and model they have and anything they have found easy or hard with it. For reference I have been playing a concert  flute for just over 3 years and approaching grade 5 standard - I would have been entering for exam in the summer although that is obviously on hold for now.

 

I was looking at a few models and saw a Pearl and noted one comment said it didn't have a Bb left thumb lever . is that Common? Any other things to note?

 

Thanks


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#2 Bagpuss

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 16:38

I have a bargain-basement Just Flutes alto and it's perfectly adequate.  Makes a crackingly good sound (or maybe that's down to the operator of said flute?!  Lol)

Bx


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#3 ellie_the_little_elephant

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 21:31

I have a Trevor James performer alto and love it. Weirdly I found that I can’t get a sound out of a curved headjoint but a straight one is fine, so despite me being only 5’3 I have a straight headjoint alto. My TJ does have a Bb thumb lever.
Good luck with your decision!
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#4 vron

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 09:00

thank you both. I will keep in mind your brands.

 

I am thinking of a straight head although as i have some shoulder problems i am wondering about weight issues. Obviouly at  moment i cannot get out to try any - i would have to travel to london  or somewhere a lot bigger than my rural area. Though tempted to  order online although I shouldn't! It is just nice to plan and have it to look forward to. 

 

Can I ask here you bought from?


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#5 ellie_the_little_elephant

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 11:14

Mine was directly from Carla Rees who is an amazing low flutes person - at the time (2016 I think?) her website for Tetractys Music had a “buying a low flute” section and it was several hundred pounds cheaper than anywhere else. She later did a low flutes day that I went on which was fantastic.
If you haven’t heard of her then I think you’re about to become really really determined to buy an alto after watching/listening to some of her work - have fun!
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#6 vron

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 13:11

thank you for the additional info. I had come across her website in my research without registering fully the name.


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#7 Bagpuss

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 16:20

I know Carla!  Top Bird.

My alto came with curved and straight heads.  I am also weeny but prefer the balance of the straight head.  

Bx


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#8 Flossie

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 17:13

Mine is a Trevor James Masters model which is discontinued. The model had already been discontinued when I bought it, so it was being sold off and was cheaper than any of the entry level models. TJ replaced the Masters series with the Recital series, but they are not the same. They have different headjoint cuts.

I did quite a bit of looking around before I found my alto. I'd tried the Pearl a couple of times and there was something that just wasn't quite working with it for me. Also tried a couple of second hand ones at All Flutes Plus when I had to go down to London for a work event (did a slight detour on the way back to Kings Cross, had no way of fitting in a Just Flutes visit). I found my alto when Windstruments had a trade stand at a woodwind event I went to down at Leeds College of Music. It just felt right for me as soon as I started playing it in a way that none of the others had. They also had the Pearl there and for me there was a big difference. I couldn't get the tone colouring or intonation right on the Pearl (top octave was miles sharp) but that was down to the fit between me and the instrument, rather than the instrument itself. The person I was with got on better with the Pearl than the TJ Masters - but agreed that I sounded much better on the TJ. I booked a visit to their shop down in Harrogate a couple of weeks later and tested the TJ Masters against both the Pearl and a Jupiter model. The TJ was still by far the best one for me, with the Jupiter second choice. It just felt right and so it came home with me. I'd been looking for quite a while and didn't think I'd find anything better within budget, and if I waited until I'd tried a Just Flutes one and the Trevor James Performer then I could well have found myself unable to get a TJ Masters anywhere with it being discontinued.

The Pearl is a perfectly good alto, it just didn't suit me. For concert (normal) flutes I get on well with Pearl instruments and my piccolo is a Pearl. I haven't tried one myself, but have heard good reports of the TJ Performer model and the Just Flutes one. I've also come across people who didn't like them (just like me with the Pearl), so it really is individual. I seem to go for flutes with slightly more resistant headjoints (a lot of people seem to find my normal flute too resistant and in exchange I usually seem to find that theirs just don't give me the response and colour I want).

You may still be able to get a couple of flutes sent out on trial from either Just Flutes or All Flutes Plus. I know that Just Flutes now have a thing for sterilizing flutes and therefore still allow people to test flutes provided they haven't had recent coronavirus symptoms. If you really cannot test before buying then it might be sensible to get one which comes with both headjoints, as you won't know whether you prefer a straight or a curved headjoint without trying. Alto flutes are a lot heavier than normal flutes. The headjoint shape does not change the actual weight of the instrument, but does affect how that weight is distributed compared to your body. I prefer a straight headjoint with modified key work (left hand has keys towards the top end which you use to close the tone holes, rather than pressing keys above the holes themselves). I cannot play straight headjoint models without the modified keywork because they have too much of a left arm stretch and aggravate an old viola-related shoulder injury. I dislike the curved headjoints because it feels wrong having my left hand so close to my face and then a huge gap to my right hand - but again all of this sort of thing comes down to what is best for the individual player. As always, the best advice is to try before you buy, but that is something you can only do immediately if they are happy to send instruments on trial.
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#9 vron

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 17:34

Thank you for all that info Flossie. I need to just curb my impatience   :unsure:  and wait until I can safely try them out as I have never played one before. It is very useful to have the info and do the research now though so I have a better idea when I do get to try them.  I prefer the idea of a straight head I am just unsure of how I will get on with it given past frozen shoulder issues.  I hold my flute quite downwards due to this.  Curved heads just seem wrong somehow. 


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#10 ellie_the_little_elephant

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 20:02

Vron - I would definitely try one out for a while before you buy it; someone in my flute choir had to sell her alto a couple of years ago as she couldn’t hold it for very long after having surgery for frozen shoulder, so there was no point in her keeping it. They are noticeably bigger/heavier than a C flute!

Bagpuss - I agree, Carla is brilliant. My brand new alto (straight from TJ still in plastic bags) had a problem with some of the keys sticking and she spent ages emailing both me and TJ to get it sorted out - she was amazingly helpful (one of the rods was slightly bent and the local music shop sorted it out for me. The funniest thing was a little girl buying her first flute at the same time; her parents looked at 5’3 me and asked how long it would be before she needed the next size up! ????)
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#11 vron

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 21:25

I will curb my impatience and wait it out! 


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