...my only regret is that I didn't mention this all to the list sooner!!!!
I have played a Healy since 2000, and my first one, which came to me keyless and underwent a series of custom modifications with the addition of a C thumb hole and special keys was an awesome flute. I have played hundreds of concerts with it and recorded several CDs. It had a fabulous tone and a great scale. I have been a loyal attendee of Skip's Wind on the Bay weekend since its inception (except 2008, another long story) and every time, I would of course, play the newest stuff Skip was turning out. When he came up with the key design of this new Open C flute for a friend of mine, I tried it and decided it did everything mine had been modified to do, but in a much more efficient way PLUS it had a long F key, which I frankly had been missing. Also, Skip's head joints kept getting better and better. So in October 2007, at Wind on the Bay, I chose a head which TOTALLY rocks through all three octaves (uh, I am not an Irish trad purist) and can play as softly and sweetly as the night breeze. Skip also custom set the seven tone holes on the body to fit my hands perfectly. This was such an awesome instrument keyless that I hated having to leave it in Rhode Island when I left, but I eagerly awaited it coming back to me with Skip's nifty new key design. When it came in February, I hardly had a chance to play it as I was dealing with non-flute life issues, but I have had the pleasure of playing it almost continuously for the last several weeks in holiday concerts with orchestras around the country and in the studio working on a new CD. It is utterly fantastic and my only regret is that I didn't mention this all to the list sooner!!!!
But maybe my timing was providential - Skip wasn't kidding when he mentioned his recession buster prices!!!!!! I paid a lot more for my flute (and it was worth every penny!!!) and this is a FANTASTIC deal. If you are looking for a great flute, check out Skip's new web site (which is really nice, bravo!) and go for it. It'll give you a MUCH better return than your 401k.
Prof. Andra Bohnet Mobile, Alabama U.S.A.
...also a philosophical mindset..
I have a fully keyed Healy flute in D and I have been absolutely amazed
at the quality of sound and its playability. But, I agree with Andra that you need to keep your embrochure in top shape (if I go a few days without playing I have to re-adjust to get good air control). Skip's flutes also leave plenty of room for the advancing player to develop a stronger tone as their technique improves over time. My flute has a real "growling" low d (when I hit it right) and it plays in tune all the way through the two octaves that I play (and a third if you are able to like Andra).
Also keep in mind that Skip is a master flute player and he approaches his flute making from both an understanding of the physics involved, but also a philosophical mindset. These flutes are not just copies of the old models, but rather well thought out changes to the design to take advantage of everything we have learned about the peculiarities of the instrument.
I highly recommend his flutes to everyone I meet and the prices he is offering are certainly a great bargain. If I had the money I would be ordering a custom made low flute...but alas I still have to pay the mortgage.
Will Hare, New Haven, Connecticut U.S.A.
PS The only "con" I can offer is that my playing still hasn't brought out the best of the flute's ability. Something to look forward to......
...REWARDING instruments to play!
The first thing you will notice about Skip's flutes is how beautifully they are made. Every detail is first class. The blackwood is turned thin, the feel is light, the keys feel solid and precise, and all the joints slide together snugly. They are jewels to hold and play. They are also difficult to put down. I always want to play one more tune, or see how it sounds if I try something else.
In a word, Skip's flutes are REWARDING instruments to play.
I have a 6-key D and a 10-hole F. The D is a great session flute. I have been to several workshops and often we trade flutes around. Two things struck me: 1) people tend to sound the same no matter what flute they play; and 2) the pros can play any flute about twice as loud as the amateurs. The first item made me believe that our personal embouchure dominates the flutes and the second item made me believe that our personal +embouchure dominates the flutes. Right, there is a single message here. Conall O'Grada played Suki's 1820's boxwood flute at one workshop and he sounded much louder than most of us amateurs sounded on our big Pratten pattern flutes. Conall said the difference was not more air but a more focused embouchure. After playing Skip's flutes for awhile I realized that Skip's flutes insist on a focused embouchure. My old Pratten pattern flute would tolerate a fairly sloppy embouchure. Skip's will teach you a focused embouchure.
As I have loaned my D flute around at sessions I realized that some flutes are truly different. Most of the people that played my D were much easier to hear over the rest of the session when playing the Healy. It was like the Healy would cut through the sound of the other instruments and be heard whereas most flutes tend to get lost in a session.
The 10-hole F goes everywhere with me. It is only two pieces so it slides together quickly. Because it is chromatic without keys it is easy to play and ornament in any key. I understand that some 19th century flute makers had a goal of making a keyless chromatic D flute. Their problem was that human hands are only so big. So Skip did it in F so mortals can actually play it.
The 10-hole is more comfortable to play in different keys than a keyed flute because every time you lift another finger you move up a half-step. The 10-hole F has very large holes and so is extremely responsive. Slides and 'hard' notes work great. It is also a lot of fun for blues and jazz. The 10-hole plays easily to B3 so it can play in the key of D over the same range as a D whistle. My only word of advice for the 10-hole F is to be patient. Covering 10 holes is harder than covering 6 holes and your fingers will tend to stress out if you don't relax and take it slowly.
Alfy Riddle, California U.S.A.
...flutes are universally in tune with themselves
Skip's flutes have a very vibrant character to them--in other words, they are just plain LOUD! And I like that. They are very carefully voiced to allow for maximum volume, even in the low registers.
Second, the flutes are universally in tune with themselves--i.e, the scale is correct and the intervals are all good between each of the notes on the scale--no out of tune individual notes like you find on many antique flutes.
Third, Skip can probably ship you an instrument the day you order it--little or no waiting time.
Fourth, Skip is great about turning the flute around for any repairs, and is also good with advice. These flutes are capable of a rich sound that will carry, a full sound that sounds good even in the hands of players who aren't that confident. In the hands of a confident player, the sound is just great.
Bruce Singleton, Seattle, Washington U.S.A.
...clear, solid and loud tone throughout the range.
I purchased Healy flute #73 directly from Skip when he was in town one year. I selected a head joint designed for a moderate loudness and ease of playability. The serial number of the flute by chance matched my Suttner concertina #73, so it was a good omen. The flute had a clear, solid and loud tone throughout the range. Some months later, I temporarily traded head joints with a friend who also had a Healy. Because of the precision in manufacture of the head joints and flute bodies, they were perfectly interchangeable. We both liked each other’s head joints enough that we made the trade permanent. Result? We were both happier. I got more power.
The next time Skip was in town, I got a few private lessons and also tried his personal flute. He said, “Do you like it? I’ll take your head joint back with me, work on it and send it back to you. It might be a bit harder to control, but I think you can handle it. Are you willing to take the chance?”
To make a long story short, the flute was gone for three days. The next time I walked into a session and pulled out the flute and started blasting. You know you have power when in session both the banjo and bodhran players take notice.
In private, I sometimes go up the chromatic scale to third-octave A because I can. None of the tunes I play go up there, though, so I’m not well practiced at playing in that range. But it’s good to know the notes are there if I need them.
Lest you think I blast away on this flute all the time, I really don’t. I usually play at 50 to 60 percent power. After all, I have to listen to myself practice. At medium power, the flute still sounds great. But it is nice to know that the power is there.
Kevin Gow, Seattle, Washington U.S.A.
...a flute that pleases me completely.
My new flute, HFC #68, arrived safely here by Express Mail yesterday morning. I had the pleasure of making its acquaintance yesterday. I would describe that process as "love at first sight."
The flute is beautiful in every respect: the design is clean, practical, and aesthetically very much to my liking; the craftsmanship is impeccable; the silver-to-silver tenons fit together tightly, with no hint of wobble or instability; the large tone holes allow the instrument to speak in a commanding way; and the keywork is magnificent.
The combination of the customization that you did in off-setting three of the tone holes with the customization of a few of the keys that Mark did for me has resulted in a flute that fits my hands like a fine pair of well-fitted gloves. What's ahead for me now is the pleasure of breaking it in.
Altogether, this new flute is everything I have been dreaming of over these past three years - ever since I purchased HFC #18 without keys. The marriage of your craftsmanship in designing and making the keying of the instrument seems to be one made in Heaven, as it were. The result of yours is what I consider to be the finest simple-system keyed flute available today. Period.
I am grateful to you for your interest in making for me a flute that pleases me completely, and for your willingness to customize my instrument to that end. The whole process--from start to finish--has been a delight!
With thanks and best regards,
Sandy Davis Boston, Massachusetts U.S.A.
...the best made flutes you'll find on the market.
I think Skip's flutes are quite amazing instruments. They are definitely the best made flutes you'll find on the market. They are very well in-tune with perfect intonation and the metal-to-metal joints mean that they will never leak and give you an instant perfect seal as soon as you start to play. They have a powerful tone through the entire range.
I was in Washington, D.C. for the Ceoltas convention and Patrick Olwell had his stand there. I played all the flutes he had there. I spent about three hours going through his flutes and I liked them a lot. But then I ran into someone whoe had a Healy flute and he let me play it. I immediately recognized the tremendous value his instrument had. It surpassed the Olwells in craftsmanship, playability and even just plain looks. Then there is the waiting period. You'll have to have to wait for years to get a flute from Olwell. I don't know what the waiting period is for a Healy flute now but you may be able to get one in a matter of just a few months.
I own several flutes but once I got used to my Healy flute I hardly ever touched the other ones except to prove to myself that the Healy flute was far superior to anything else.
Den Vykopal, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania