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VFS 9.17.20 — What’s my flute worth? Good question!

We are always happy to discuss purchasing or consigning your flute. How do you learn about it and find out its value? Our expertise lies in the area of Boehm system from 1832 to modern day. We have on occasion sold a few outstanding simple system flutes such as a Rod Cameron Grenser model and an original Drouet.

We generally ask for clear photos with a full description of the instrument and condition and ultimately need to examine the instrument in-person while receiving clear proof of provenance.

If you are selling a vintage Powell or Haynes a new pricelist won’t help you as these are not priced the same as a new flute. This is no reflection on the quality or desirability of a vintage flute as a musical voice, merely the number of people who want them compared to those who desire a newer model. Browsing the internet won’t tell the final selling price, merely the asking price! You also have to compare models, condition, and playability which is “virtually” impossible.

We have played, sold, bought, examined, and personally owned many Louis Lot, Powell, Haynes, Rive, and Bonneville flutes. Therefore, we are able to accurately assess their playability, desirability, and condition to determine realistic fair market value. We find it interesting that our competitors list their flutes for long periods of time. This tells us the asking price is unrealistically too high. A shiny flute may appeal to a museum, but doesn’t mean it plays well! We at VFS do not determine actual market value, which follows the principle of demand and supply. We follow worldwide sales so we determine the proper pricing for your flute.

Most French flutes have a beautiful sound and are made of wood, silver, and/or silver-plated maillechort (nickel, brass zinc tubes plated with a very thick layer of silver). The first and second Lot generation flutes are the most desirable and command the best prices. The other generations are quite nice and play well, but as you progress to each successive period the prices are lower because demand is lower and more were made. In our opinion, they also play extremely well and a viable option for those seeking a fine French flute at a more affordable price. Plated flutes play just as well as silver, just different! The later seamless tubes play great, just a bit more modern than their 19th century counterparts.

Years ago, old Powells were the trendy flute to own. Though their prices have dropped considerably, they are still wanted for their great tone, projection, and smooth feel of mechanism. When they do come up for sale we feel they are a bargain.

Remember, condition is everything! A Louis Lot without its original headjoint still has value, but not as much as with the original headjoint. A vintage flute in poor condition also commands a poor price. Most damage can be repaired and then the question is— does the cost of the repair exceed that of the restored flute? If you love the flute and have to have it, then money is no object. These are some of the factors we use to determine the value.

Flutes are to be played and enjoyed, and it is incredible that old flutes still have good value. When you play an antique flute, history is passing through your fingers. Call us today to discuss selling or buying a vintage flute!

 

VFS Blog 9.10.20 Vintage versus New Flute

One of the many questions we receive is: why buy a vintage antique flute over a new modern flute? The simple answer is the high level of workmanship of vintage flutes and their unique tone qualities. Today’s makers have convinced flutists into believing their new products are vastly superior in terms of manufacture techniques and headjoints. The truth is exactly the opposite.

In today’s economy, it is simply a better choice to buy a pre-owned artist quality vintage flute versus an inexpensive disposable student import or sloppily made custom flute.  The major companies churn their flutes out like sausages and charge thousands of dollars. Flutists can buy professional level vintage flutes that play great and are more affordable than their new incarnations. Yes, you will have to practice more to stay in shape. Yes, the scale is slightly flatter, so roll out and push in the headjoint.  Yes, the low notes are a bit flatter and the high motes a sharper, so adjust with your ear and embouchure. The old A=440Hz flutes play well to A=444Hz. (The French flutes are flatter at A=435-438 so only a highly skilled professional will be able to play with modern collaborators.) The headjoints are not undercut or overcut on the old flutes. You can play with a full bottom and also dolce in the high register. Modern headjoints seem louder but do not project as well. They may be easier and faster for the embouchure and tongue, but a good flutist with proper practice can play them just fine. Listen to the recordings of Rampal and Baker playing on traditional flutes in terms of sound, response, and articulation and their mellifluous flute playing!

Experience this yourself—pick up a vintage Powell, Haynes, or Lot and realize the tonal palette. If you do not overblow with excessive vibrato the instrument sings, like a human voice. Moyse used to say that a great flute rings like a bell. People will say that the new flutes are so much easier to play and are louder and faster. Yes, and they are also shrill and have all the tonality of an electric toothbrush. The older instruments are not only great tools for music, but works of fine sculpture and truly made by hand.

Several years ago a principal player of a mid-west orchestra premiered a composition upon a brand new Boston flute in Boston’s Jordan Hall. This is a world class venue with superb acoustics and balance. The comments all around were, “We couldn’t hear the flute over the piano.” Reason being, the new flutes simply do not project nearly as well as the older ones.

We always would advise flutists to consider the depreciation factors. Old flutes have gone down in price in the last few years, but still have good value. If you leave a new flute-maker or flute dealership with a shiny new modern pin-less flute, that flute has depreciated by thousands of dollars by the time you reach your car. Modern flute makers are in the business of making you a flute as fast and cheap as possible with numerous shortcuts. Quality equals time with equals less profits! The art of a real handmade flute is quite rare today and only can be found in a few small workshops.

We advise you try a vintage Powell, Haynes, Louis Lot versus a new modern custom or student model and you will see the differences for yourself!!!

We are a growing company actively seeking to buy and/or sell on consignment your Louis Lot, Rive, vintage Powell, or Haynes, so please contact us.

 

VFS Blog 9.3.20 VFS (founded 2015)

Why sell, buy, consign ,or seek flute advice from VintageFluteShop.com?  As opposed to most of our competitors, we actually know what we are talking about!  Babe Ruth said, “If it’s true, it ain’t bragging.”

David Chu is truly one of the finest experts in the area of flute restoration and flute-making. He is a professional flutist and teacher having graduated from the New England Conservatory. He trained with the renowned flute restorer Robert Gilchrist and worked for three Boston flute companies where he mastered the art of flute and headjoint making.  He has over 30 years experience with antique French and American flutes, knows their strengths, and has an inane ability to solve any delicate padding, mechanic, or acoustic issues. Most repair people today only know how to work on modern instruments with modern pads, a completely different animal!

Alan Weiss has decades of experience and notoriety as an internationally acclaimed performer, recording artist, teacher, and flute historian. Alan studied flute with Phillip Kaplan, James Pappoutsakis, Doriot Anthony Dwyer, Paul Fried, Julius Baker, and had some lessons and masterclass with Marcel Moyse. He performed and taught with major orchestra, university, and flute-making institutions. He has advised many of the world’s best flutists and teachers (and their students) in finding the optimal instrument to complement their flute voice and style. Alan knows the difference between a mediocre flute and headjoint vs a great one! Since 2002 Alan has not let anyone but David Chu work on any of his personal flutes.

We limit our flute business to the very finest playing flutes at the very best prices. Research our competitors and you will see most of their vintage flutes are overpriced and therefore remain sale for many years. Just because an antique has new pads and is shiny means it plays well! Our current stock contains some wonderful wood and silver Haynes, Lebret, etc. including Haynes #1, the first Haynes Flute! If you seek something we don’t currently have please let us know as we are constantly updating our inventory. We have now expanded to offer pre-owned modern flutes. Our flutes move quickly because they are truly a cut above and priced fairly. Please contact us today!

We offer letters for most Boehm system antique flutes for companies no longer in existence. For appraisal letters on vintage Haynes or Powell flutes, please contact those companies directly.

        


For more information please email Alan Weiss at alan@vintagefluteshop.com