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Kirya

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Recently there was a thread about the difficulty of finding a good bansuri though an online shopping where I had detailed my bad experience with One World flutes and the poor quality of some of their flutes.

The best way to judge is to play the whole scale SRGMPDNS' S'NDPMGRS 'N'D'P and even some alankars and listen for even tone and balance throughout the whole set of notes.

The discussion had drawn some very useful suggestions and feedback from Jeff Whittier who is a master flute maker himself, who had basically suggested that the best way to get a bansuri is to go and try them out. The only way I know to do this is to go to the AACM in Berkeley (or a decent music store in India) and try some out and find one that works for you and feels right.

I plan to do this the next time I am in Berkeley but somebody just alerted me to a site that looks interesting in that they purport to make high quality bansuri which are expensive but may be of a guaranteed quality unlike One World where there is no option for exchange or dialogue.

Jeff had also provided some feedback about some popular flute makers whose flutes may not be so great and he really stressed the point of trying it our first.

Has anybody had experience with this maker: http://www.anubodh.com/bansuricare.htm ?

Hopefully Jeff will chime in again and provide guidance for anybody interested in finding a good bansuri.

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Kirya
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Hamletsghost

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Reply with quote  #2 
Friend Kirya,

After all the discussion and helpful advice from the previous thread, why don't you just contact Jeff directly and buy your bansuri from a recognized, respected, and trustworthy master? This is not to say the site you posted is not trustworthy, or that a trip to AACM wouldn't be a great experience, but from reading your previous posts on this subject and seeing the prices at the site referenced, obviously you are ready to part with some serious coin to get the best. You know Jeff will supply the best he has, and will move heaven and earth to ensure your satisfaction, so I think you are tilting at windmills considering any other path, ( except as you say AACM or finding yourself in India).
As I and many others have said before, buy the best your budget will allow.

Hamletsghost 8)

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jignesh142

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Reply with quote  #3 
Please see the following link where the comparison of the one good player, it is also a good source of the answer of your questions related to bansuri

http://www.bansuriflute.co.uk/p/where-to-buy-bansuri.html
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Kirya

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Thanks Hamlet and yes great advice. I have already decided based on Jeff's previous comments that I am getting one or more of his flutes and I will go to the AACM store as he suggested. I am not sure he sells anything directly.

I shared the link above as it was sent to me but not as a serious option for me. I am interested in C and C# flutes (to play along with the sitar) and Jeff really does offer the best options for my needs on that. I cannot really handle the large bass flutes so I am going to look for a 18-24'" one. However, he suggested I try them out first so that is what I plan to do at the AACM

He actually gave lots of other advice in the posting that was removed and really my only intent with this thread was to provide his key advice on getting a flute which can be summarized as:

-- Most of what you get online is dubious including several brand "names"
-- Try the flutes out before you buy them if at all possible which means you need to go to a store that has several that you can play
-- Play scales and listen to response and tone over the whole range rather than get focused on sexy low range tones
-- Don't expect a great sound for cheap and Jeff's flutes are very fairly priced from what I can see compared to much of the Indian high-end which are often rejects in the local market.

My advice would be to avoid One World Trading as a source for flutes.

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Kirya
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Kirya

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The link above is a good one and also suggests that you try it out or go with a teacher if at all possible. The advice is quite consistent with Jeff's.

I recall several unfavorable comments on both Subash Thakur and Anand Dhotre flutes in the previous discussion.

It is interesting the link above says that Anubodh is good but very expensive.

Based on everything I see so far Jeff's flutes at the AACM seems to be the way to go as the people at the AACM are pretty knowledgeable about Indian instruments and I am sure there are good reasons for them not carrying some of these Indian brand names.

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Kirya
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naad_brahma

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Reply with quote  #6 
I'm not sure where you're getting your info but Subhash Thakur makes fantastic flutes. I was in his workshop in Khanpur about a month back and bought dozens of flutes from him. The trick with bansuri is to pick them out and better yet bring your guru along if you are not a competent player yet. There are many many good makers, you just have to go and pick a flute that feels right for you. Another option is to make your own, I buy some and then I also make them when bamboo is available. For this you have to be a seasoned player as its impossible to tune a flute if you can't play it in tune. But please don't speak unfavorably about makers if you have not seen their work first hand.
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Kirya

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Sorry about the reference to Shubash Thakur - I am not sure who made it but it is possible for things to slip when you are doing things in high volume and as you suggest going there with your teacher is the best way to avoid that.

The person who made the unfavorable comments was speaking from direct experience as I recall.

Buying a flute cold over the internet does not seem to be a good way to do it.

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Kirya
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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #8 
I have gotten a couple of flutes from Jeff and I am very happy with them, they arrived well packed ad not rattling in the shipping box like the One World flutes.

They have a much richer and fuller bodied tone and I think are also more pitch accurate than the One World flutes I had gotten previously.

Jeff is available if you have any questions and was helpful in responding to some of my questions.

In discussing the various flutes I have noticed that the best flutes are much more precise on the size and placement of the holes (the One World flutes all have MUCH bigger holes - both blow hole and finger holes). Interestingly his flutes sound more bassy and fuller than ones from OW that are larger.

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Kirya
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Danielmorgan

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Reply with quote  #9 
i've surfed through the link given here .. as i like all sorts of Indian music so hoe can spare the divine rhythm of this wood instrument .. the same site is full of all the aspects of flute with suggestions.. if anyone interested must go through it.....
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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #10 
After several months with the flutes from Jeff Whittier I am happy to say that my playing is improving and I can now even make the crappy flutes I got from One World sound somewhat acceptable, except for the really bad ones that are just not playable by anybody who does not have giant fat fingers.

Given that a very good quality bansuri from Jeff can be had for about $70 -- there really is no reason to go to a place like One World and hope for the best. You will probably do as well with the 18 flutes for $90 deals on eBay as you would with One World.

It does take some time for one to settle with a flute, not sure the differences are so clear in a 2 minute test, but they are very clear if you play for an hour and feel the ease with which a better quality flute responds.

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Kirya
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ahirbhairav

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Kirya"
After several months with the flutes from Jeff Whittier I am happy to say that my playing is improving and I can now even make the crappy flutes I got from One World sound somewhat acceptable, except for the really bad ones that are just not playable by anybody who does not have giant fat fingers.

Given that a very good quality bansuri from Jeff can be had for about $70 -- there really is no reason to go to a place like One World and hope for the best. You will probably do as well with the 18 flutes for $90 deals on eBay as you would with One World.

It does take some time for one to settle with a flute, not sure the differences are so clear in a 2 minute test, but they are very clear if you play for an hour and feel the ease with which a better quality flute responds.
Can we get a sound byte?

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Jeff Whittier

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Reply with quote  #12 
There's one thing that nobody mentions, apparently because the vast majority of people are ignorant as to what factors actually make a good bansuri. Most of the flutes coming out of India now are made for left-handed play. Both the blow-holes and the finger-holes are off-set for left-handed playing. Every Subash Takkur flute I've ever seen in person, and 95% of Harsh Wardhan's, are made for left-handed play, and this includes one made recently for one of my students who specifically requested a right-handed one. I've seen several traveling, touring Indian artists who were peddling left-handed flutes to right-handed students, more or less as a con job to make some extra money. They always say, "This flute has a great (or "special") tone" or some other come-on line while trying to sell you a flute that they literally do not want to keep for themselves. I now tell people if a guy tries to sell you a flute, ask him, "If it's so good, why are you selling it?" Then look at the flute he's keeping for himself and try to buy that one. These scams are really, really common, and at least 2 of the websites mentioned as references in this very thread are run by people who do that stuff regularly. Rip-offs are extremely common in the bansuri marketplace, and I could go on and on for pages of text with all the stories I know about that. Like the bansuri street vendor who said to my student's relative, "Let me wrap that up for you" and when she got home, she found that she had a wrapped piece of raw bamboo.

One of the basic problems is that the vast majority of bansuri sellers are people of low character who prey on beginners, and this statement applies to many famous bansuri sellers. Beginners are always offered junk, and only if they have a discerning ear and reject the first-offered flutes will they ever get to see anything actually worth buying. This is true for other Indian instruments as well including tablas and sitars. In India, it's always, "Let the buyer beware." I call it "the brother-in-law effect." Like the monkeys in statistical heaven who will eventually write the works of Shakespeare, Indian flute wallahs do sometimes make a good flute, but that won't be the one you're offered. You'll get offered the junk ones left behind after some more discerning customer has already cherry-picked the good ones. With our bansi-wallah and his one good flute out of many, that's the flute he'll save that for his brother-in-law. It definitely won't be the one offered to you. Most of the people who will read this post don't have the skill to tell the difference, even though many they think they do. It actually takes years of riaz to develop the discernment necessary to accurately judge flutes, and most people now-a-days don't have the patience for that. They do however have really big egos and love to pontificate about things of which they know little. I've tried over the years to educate people about what makes a good flute, but many beginners think that they know more than I do, and even talk down to me. I've come to believe that such people deserve to be ripped off by crooked Indians and their Western minions, so I now pretty much keep my knowledge to myself, for my students, and for my customers. People with big egos actually deserve their karma, and let them play on junk. I'm fine with that.
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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Can we get a sound byte?


This is a very spontaneous improvised jam with a friend who had just written this song and wanted to record it before it was lost -- i,e, forgotten and asked I play along to help lock the melody down.

I had only heard her sing it once before we recorded it, and I am not an accomplished flute player by any means so this was a spontaneous response to her melody idea. The melody I played was improvised in the instant and played on a Jeff Whittier C# flute. (yes I know it needs work and needs more rehearsal).

I have noticed that my breathiness improves when I practice a little more than I did on this track as i certainly need 15-20 minutes to warm up with scales before I play anything together with others. But anyway it still gives you a sense for the very nice bansuri. For some reason I am much more comfortable with the slightly larger C flute I got from him but I could not convince the singer to do it in C and it would have been too many half notes for me to handle in the C bansuri.

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Kirya
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vlngr7

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Whittier
There's one thing that nobody mentions, apparently because the vast majority of people are ignorant as to what factors actually make a good bansuri. Most of the flutes coming out of India now are made for left-handed play. Both the blow-holes and the finger-holes are off-set for left-handed playing. Every Subash Takkur flute I've ever seen in person, and 95% of Harsh Wardhan's, are made for left-handed play, and this includes one made recently for one of my students who specifically requested a right-handed one. I've seen several traveling, touring Indian artists who were peddling left-handed flutes to right-handed students, more or less as a con job to make some extra money. They always say, "This flute has a great (or "special") tone" or some other come-on line while trying to sell you a flute that they literally do not want to keep for themselves. I now tell people if a guy tries to sell you a flute, ask him, "If it's so good, why are you selling it?" Then look at the flute he's keeping for himself and try to buy that one. These scams are really, really common, and at least 2 of the websites mentioned as references in this very thread are run by people who do that stuff regularly. Rip-offs are extremely common in the bansuri marketplace, and I could go on and on for pages of text with all the stories I know about that. Like the bansuri street vendor who said to my student's relative, "Let me wrap that up for you" and when she got home, she found that she had a wrapped piece of raw bamboo. One of the basic problems is that the vast majority of bansuri sellers are people of low character who prey on beginners, and this statement applies to many famous bansuri sellers. Beginners are always offered junk, and only if they have a discerning ear and reject the first-offered flutes will they ever get to see anything actually worth buying. This is true for other Indian instruments as well including tablas and sitars. In India, it's always, "Let the buyer beware." I call it "the brother-in-law effect." Like the monkeys in statistical heaven who will eventually write the works of Shakespeare, Indian flute wallahs do sometimes make a good flute, but that won't be the one you're offered. You'll get offered the junk ones left behind after some more discerning customer has already cherry-picked the good ones. With our bansi-wallah and his one good flute out of many, that's the flute he'll save that for his brother-in-law. It definitely won't be the one offered to you. Most of the people who will read this post don't have the skill to tell the difference, even though many they think they do. It actually takes years of riaz to develop the discernment necessary to accurately judge flutes, and most people now-a-days don't have the patience for that. They do however have really big egos and love to pontificate about things of which they know little. I've tried over the years to educate people about what makes a good flute, but many beginners think that they know more than I do, and even talk down to me. I've come to believe that such people deserve to be ripped off by crooked Indians and their Western minions, so I now pretty much keep my knowledge to myself, for my students, and for my customers. People with big egos actually deserve their karma, and let them play on junk. I'm fine with that.


There's no way I'm buying a Bansuri from someone who does so much trash talk.
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dejohnspence

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Reply with quote  #15 
It does take some time for one to settle with a flute, not sure the differences are so clear in a 2 minute test, but they are very clear if you play for an hour and feel the ease with which a better quality flute responds. 
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