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» Coyote Oldman Flute, is it worth the $$$

Jeremy in SC   


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Post #1

Periodically, a Coyote Oldman Native American Style Flute will come on the market on Ebay. Prices range a good bit, most of the time well out of my price range. But every now and then one is not too far out of my range. Then I begin to wonder: Will it be worth the money??

I've been in shops and been able to "audition" flutes. Obviously not an option with one on Ebay. Just wondering if anybody here on the Portal has experience playing one of MGA's NASFs and what is the quality like? Does it justify the cost?

I own 20 or so NAF/NASFs from a variety of makers and I've played at least that many more. Interestingly enough, some of the best players I have came from Jonah Thompson, whose flutes are simply made but play well, and can be had for less than $100 in many places.

So, in terms of range and tone, is an MGA flute worth the money?

Peace,
Jeremy


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Hawk   


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Post #2

Michaels work is outstanding in my opinion. Given the fact that he also came on the scene when interest in the flute was at the beginning of it's revitalization and he has inspired a lot of makers and players I would say only adds to the value of his instruments. All of his that I have played are wonderful. I have been gifted several of his flutes including a very early one...they all play nicely.


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Rick McDaniel   


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Post #3

That depends on the buyer.

MGA's flutes can be better than other excellent makers, or on par, with other excellent makers. They will seldom be less than other excellent makers, and then only if you count softness as a factor, as he did make some softer voiced flutes. His flutes are often more involved decoratively, as he textures the wood surface, and paints most of his flutes today, using a technique pretty specific to his flutes.

Older flutes can be simpler, in design, and may, or may not, have the texturing of the wood. Those should be considered to command less of a premium, than more recently made flutes. Some, are unique flutes, and may have a higher premium, like his replica of old flutes. Then again, that is a unique sound, which some may like, while others do not.

There have been some on ebay, that only someone who specifically wants one of those models, would be willing to pay the premium price for. You should familiarize yourself with how MGA prices his flutes, first, as you might find that you can place an order, for less than you can buy something off of ebay.

The best way to buy, is of course, to attend an event, where he will be there, with his flutes. Those are usually in FL, either Native Rhythms or Musical Echoes, and both are within driving distance from you, in Charleston. This year, hurricanes are going to potentially impact attending those events, but that's always unpredictable. MGA may attend other events as well, but he has cut back, on the ones he attends, in recent years. He has been "slowing down" for a number of reasons, over the past few years, and no one knows how long he will continue to make flutes.

MGA will always be, a favorite maker of mine, as well as thousands of other players, across the country and beyond. However, his flutes have definitely gotten more expensive, in recent years, and harder to get. I have been unable to get one I want, myself, because I haven't seen him at any events in recent years, and he hasn't had what I want, available, on line, and hasn't followed up on my request to let me know when he has something.

So..........you have to decide for yourself, what makes sense, to pay, second hand. For someone with only 20 flutes, you obviously have a long way to go, just to get a complete key range across the available octaves, so adding flutes is certainly not a problem for you, although we all have budgetary limitations.

Right now, you still have the risk of Hurricane Irma, coming your way, so I doubt you will want to be making any decisions right away. If you should ever be coming into the upstate, let me know, and I will be happy to show you my flutes, including a variety from MGA. My collection has been 15 years in the making, so I have a number of flutes, including everything from high octave, to mid-range, to diatonic, and rim blown, from MGA.

Lastly, you could actually make a trip to see MGA at his own place, if he was willing to have you come. Last I knew, he was still in the Dothan, AL, area, which is a bit of a trip for you, but not out of the question.

I can tell you, that getting flutes from anyone, in more recent time, seems to have gotten harder, than it used to be. I have 3 open requests, that date back 4 yrs. to about 6 mos. right now, and I have only had one custom order delivered within 7 weeks, in the last 3 yrs. Maybe that's coincidental with who I have been ordering from, but I do spread my orders around, and my recent experience concerns me, about where this hobby is going, although obviously some makers are getting older, and everyone retires, sooner or later (including MGA), so you might be aware that a number of good makers have stopped making, in recent years, while newer makers are still developing their craft, and have not yet reached the craftsmanship level, I seek in my own flutes, in terms of voicing and tuning.

While there is little I need, in standard tuned mid-range, these days, it has become so hard to get anything else.........I have simply looked for flutes I like in shops, the past few years, and the best assortment I have found, has been in a single shop, in Cherokee, NC, where there are several makers to choose from, and a wide range of keys, available. I have also been able to acquire some flutes from a flute maker friend, in NC, both of his own making, and some he parted with, from his own personal collection, by other makers, from time to time.

I did find a new maker I like, at Native Rhythms, last fall, but he is part time, and hard to get flutes from, except at flute festivals. Custom orders are not something he seeks.

I have tried a few off ebay, new to me, that got good reviews from others, but I found them lacking, and returned them. I can't even recall the last time I got a good flute off ebay, either new or used, at any price. I used to be able to do that, but not anymore.

If I can be of any additional help, PM me.



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Utah Chris   


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Post #4

I've played several MGA's, standard and rim-blown. The standard flutes have two characteristic qualities. The first is the tone. Since the ones I've played have all been "plate" flutes with a slimmer bore and longer length, they have a sweet, slightly reedy tone with a very precise tolerance for clarity (meaning you have to fiddle with the plate to get the exact pitch and lack of airiness). I think this quality of tone was a choice based on his original models which were 19th century plate flutes in museum collections, and influences from predecessors like Doc "Toubat" Payne. I've played one original Toubat flute and they're similar sounding to MGA's. The second characteristic is an almost uncanny consistency of craftsmanship that applies to all his flutes and spans nearly four decades. I seems like he settled on a design quite early (i'm talking about TSH ratio, dimensions, size of blowing end etc.) and made every flute even the less expensive or experimental ones to that design. He seems to have had no learning curve, even in the beginning. If you've played one MGA you know what they all sound like to a considerable extent. Unique (many imitators, no duplicators) and confident (this maker knows exactly what he's doing) are the descriptors I would use.



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Keith Glowka   


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Post #5

Spot on with the observations, Chris.

The unattached brass plates that MGA uses are very traditional and in keeping with the museum pieces he so dutifully replicates. I like those "floating" plates but find them a bit fussy to deal with after moving a flute to be played elsewhere. Dr. Oliver Jones, a contemporary of Dr. Payne, often uses wood nest plates and glues them down in a position that he judges to be optimal. Then, for positioning the block, he makes a small hashmark for the player to use for good playing. (But, if the player prefers a different sound, the block can easily be moved.) That is to say, the position of the plate is given greater importance than that of the block.

Most of the flutes I make are not of the traditional NAF-style, although I do make plenty of those. Since I began making flutes, brass nest plates have been my preference for setting the height of the windway. Following Dr.Jones's example, I usually glue the brass plate into position. Then, on the plate, I "hashmark" what I deem to be the best position for the block. That system is always my Go-To when making warbling flutes, because there are so many variables to adjusting for the sound of a warble.

QUOTE(Utah Chris @ Sep 9 2017, 11:18 AM) *
I've played several MGA's, standard and rim-blown. The standard flutes have two characteristic qualities. The first is the tone. Since the ones I've played have all been "plate" flutes with a slimmer bore and longer length, they have a sweet, slightly reedy tone with a very precise tolerance for clarity (meaning you have to fiddle with the plate to get the exact pitch and lack of airiness). I think this quality of tone was a choice based on his original models which were 19th century plate flutes in museum collections, and influences from predecessors like Doc "Toubat" Payne. I've played one original Toubat flute and they're similar sounding to MGA's. The second characteristic is an almost uncanny consistency of craftsmanship that applies to all his flutes and spans nearly four decades. I seems like he settled on a design quite early (i'm talking about TSH ratio, dimensions, size of blowing end etc.) and made every flute even the less expensive or experimental ones to that design. He seems to have had no learning curve, even in the beginning. If you've played one MGA you know what they all sound like to a considerable extent. Unique (many imitators, no duplicators) and confident (this maker knows exactly what he's doing) are the descriptors I would use.


This post has been edited by Keith Glowka: Sep 9 2017, 05:08 PM


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Geoffrey   


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Post #6

For the first couple years that I made flutes I used a floating brass spacer plate. Around 1999 or early 2000 I was contacted by Mac Lopez of Whirlwind Studios (a flute "broker") who was interested in selling my flutes. One of his first pieces of advice to me was that I should "glue that plate down". As he put it, "a lot of players are just getting started with this instrument, and they are trying to figure out how to hold it, how to blow it and what to do with their fingers--giving them a flute where the plate moves and the block moves just makes them freak out". Solid piece of advice. I began gluing the plates down, and then soon switched to wood spacers that I glued. Within six months of that the spacer was gone and I was putting the channel in the body. Much easier.

I think MGA's flutes are among the most unique and iconic flutes I've ever seen. There are some great flutes being made by imaginative makers (there is one guy in Russia who is doing some incredibly cool stuff), but MGA was there first. I suspect his retirement is not far away, and then the price of his existing flutes is going to jump.


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rocksncactus   


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Post #7

Well, I have it on very good authority that Michael is gearing up for a busy year. He is making and selling flutes, and I believe there is new published music in the works. He has already signed up to be at World Flute Society next August. I just received a new flute from him, and it is very special. He sold a bunch of flutes at Musical Echoes.

I wouldn't be counting him out anytime soon.

Lizabeth


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Geoffrey   


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Post #8

QUOTE(rocksncactus @ Sep 10 2017, 07:49 AM) *
Well, I have it on very good authority that Michael is gearing up for a busy year. He is making and selling flutes, and I believe there is new published music in the works. He has already signed up to be at World Flute Society next August. I just received a new flute from him, and it is very special. He sold a bunch of flutes at Musical Echoes.

I wouldn't be counting him out anytime soon.

Lizabeth


That is excellent news! I've been hearing conflicting rumors for the last several years. I hope to see him at WFS.


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Mike   


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Post #9

QUOTE(Geoffrey @ Sep 10 2017, 08:48 AM) *
... I hope to see him at WFS.

Has it been two years already? I was thinking that it just happened this past summer. I guess time flies when you're having fun...

I took a serious look at going last year, but it wasn't in the cards. Maybe I'll take a serious-er look at next year. Lots of folks I'd like to meet, and lots like Michael I haven't seen in a long time...

Mike


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Geoffrey   


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Post #10

QUOTE(Mike @ Sep 10 2017, 10:25 AM) *
Has it been two years already? I was thinking that it just happened this past summer. I guess time flies when you're having fun...

I took a serious look at going last year, but it wasn't in the cards. Maybe I'll take a serious-er look at next year. Lots of folks I'd like to meet, and lots like Michael I haven't seen in a long time...

Mike


No, just a year :-) But it will be two years by the time it gets here! I had to drop out last year because I had booked the NFA convention right on the heels of it and as the time approached it became clear that I couldn't do both of them. Hoping to follow through in 2018...


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rocksncactus   


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Post #11

I hope my life is a little less chaotic by next summer so I can go.


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Rick McDaniel   


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Post #12

I probably will never do WFS again. I don't fly anymore, and it is simply too far to drive, at my age. Hope to see MGA in FL next spring, if Irma doesn't tear up that area too badly.


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Northern Lights   


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Post #13

A little late but I'll throw in my two cents. They are. They may not be the best choice for a beginner owing to the spacer, which adds another factor to the learning curve. My first CO was only my third NAF flute and at first I found it to be fiddly. No matter how tight you tie the straps, things move a bit - and a bit on a CO flute makes a difference. And, in the beginning I was taking the block off every time I played, so getting it back on on and in the optimal location took effort I wanted to spend actually playing.

But over time as I played more and my abilities expanded the very thing that I found frustrating became what I most appreciated about Michael's flutes. The spacer and the options it gives you as to sound flexibility is enormous. I also find that the longer the flute is played and "warmed up" the better the sound gets to my ear.

The other thing I'll add is that I think Michael's NASF are a little less forgiving any slight air escape in covering the finger holes will not be overlooked. Again, I think that this is more of an issue for beginners than for someone who has played for awhile. A player with some experience can even use that to great effect. I find that his flutes half hole nicely and because they are sensitive they allow good use of ornaments that some other flutes kind of muddy. For me at least, there was a "warming up" period with Michael's flutes, a process of discovering how they were different and how to utilize what they offer. As others have mentioned, you will need to decide if you like the sound of his flutes, which is a little more reedy, but I can also confirm that there is excellent consistency among his flutes. As Lisabeth said, Michael is still making flutes and if you are willing to wait a bit, you likely pay less than on the secondary market (although bargains can still be had). If you can try one in person, that would be the best way to judge if you like the way they play and the sound before actually purchasing one. Though, I suspect you'd not be disappointed. Stephen.


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Jeremy in SC   


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Post #14

Thanks for all the helpful responses. I'll keep an eye out and will probably try to get one next time one is available.

Jeremy


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Rick L   


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Post #15

I would support what has been posted. Several years ago Michael made an E flute for me. I would say it is the most demanding NAF I have, but it absolutely rewards the effort put in. Depending on how you set the spacer, it can be very sensitive to breath pressure and attack. These can be used to create much more expressive music than many other flutes that are designed to be very forgiving.

If you want it to play easier, you can set the spacer so that it is more forgiving, but for my flute, at least, I find the richness of tone and uniqueness fades with such settings.

Bottom line for me, if I could only keep one NAF, this would probably be it.

Rick


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Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 25th September 2017 - 01:44 AM