The NFA Convention in Charlotte, NC this August provided us with an occasion to open our doors and invite the commercial members of the NFA to attend an informal open house at the J.L. Smith workshop. We were thrilled that over 60 of the world’s top flute professionals boarded our shuttle van or made the short drive, giving us an unprecedented opportunity to show them where, what and how we do all the things we do.
Those who arrived early saw the production floor operating at full speed with our team creating the handcrafted tools, pads, parts and accessories that supply the world’s leading flutemakers and woodwind professionals. Those who came later saw the majority of machines still for the night and their sounds replaced with the music of Project Trio and Thelonius Monk.
We were tremendously pleased to see how many friends from the flute business came away from the evening with a greater understanding of the scope of products that J.L. Smith produces, and a solid appreciation of the level of research and craftsmanship that goes into everything we make. Even some of our most devoted long-term customers were shocked to learn that when we say a Valentino or a J.L. Smith product is “made in the USA” and guaranteed by us, it means we design, test, prototype, manufacture, quality control and stand behind every item with our name on it, right here in one of the world’s most demanding brass and woodwind specialty workshops.
The convention itself was exceptional for us. We had 5 full booths to fill and home court advantage (no need to ship things across the country) so we brought an extensive inventory of flutes, piccolos and headjoints. We also brought along a good selection of flute accessories and cases.
After an amazing NFA convention, J.L. Smith and Chris Abell hosted an unofficial summit of leading flutemakers and distributors from around the world. The gathering was a welcome moment to relax and socialize after the demanding four-day NFA event and to exchange knowledge and perspectives on the art of flutemaking, and equally rarified art of pairing the flute perfectly with the artist.
Days spent touring Chris’ workshop and evenings spent on the terrace of the legendary Grove Park Inn, were punctuated with wonderful dinners and lunches and a gorgeous drive and hiking expedition to the summit of Craggy Mountain overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway. While we were there I took the liberty of getting some rather good portraits of the attendees.
Our great thanks to everyone who attended.
A former apprentice to the legendary flutemaker Dana Sheridan, Tobias Mancke has grown to become one of the leading figures in the world of headjoint design and manufacture. From his high-tech workshop in Speicher, Germany, Mancke produces some of the finest handmade headjoints in the world.
Every element of a Manke headjoint is carefully considered and that consideration is in evidence at every angle. Each and every example we’ve seen displays an exceptional quality of craftsmanship, exquisite geometric details and a stunningly beautiful finish indicative of a true masterwork. These headjoints are so profoundly beautiful and well made that you can easily fall in love with them on purely aesthetic grounds without ever even having heard them play. Of course, once you’ve heard them play, or better, played one yourself, you’re likely to find your love turning to complete obsession. So be forewarned because the combined effect of each particular element on the color and responsiveness of his headjoints is just short of miraculous... but the effect they have on flutists is just short of mania.
Mancke offers designs in a wide variety of materials including precious metals, wood and combinations of wood and precious metals. The diversity of materials and the flexible design offer musicians a broad selection of tonal and dynamic possibilities to choose from. As one of the few dealers in the US authorized to sell Mancke headjoints were pleased to be able to present a great cross section of Tobias’ work including exceptional examples in solid grenadilla wood, wood-lipped and solid gold. Call us today to try them for your self. You’ll be amazed at what a Tobias Manke headjoint does for your sound.
Used Flutes Wanted
Are you thinking about selling your flute? Thinking about upgrading but need to free up some cash first?
If so, you should absolutely send your instrument to the experts at J.L. Smith and let us show it to thousands of customers every week. We can get the highest price for your flute and save you all the headaches and time involved with listing, showing and searching for the right musician to love your instrument the way you have. We’ll show your flute at every possible opportunity, in-house, at flute shows and major conventions, in addition to listing it on our high-traffic website for maximum visibility. We have dozens of customers everyday looking for high quality used flutes and we know how to find the perfect musician for your instrument. We’re currently seeking top condition flutes in all price ranges, so don’t wait; call us at 800-659-6073 or email us at email@example.com to get more details about our used flute sales program.
Valentino Makes a Stand
Almost every flutist or clarinet player has a horror story about watching in nightmarish slow motion as their instrument (for lack of a proper place to rest it) tumbled or tipped from a chair, table or some other precarious perch and wound up on the floor, bent, bruise, battered or broken altogether. It happens more often than anyone would care to admit, but it doesn’t have to if you’ve got a reliable stand. Of course most stands really aren’t that solid and we can tell you about a whole lot of musicians who’ve had the same slow-mo nightmare watching their instrument stands going over with an accidental kick or bump. It gives us the willies just thinking about it, so the product development team at J.L. Smith decided it was time to develop an elegant, versatile stand that musicians could rely on to safely hold and protect their instruments from accidental disasters.
After considerable development and testing we’ve created The Valentino Instrument Stand: the ultimate stand for flutes, piccolos, alto and bass flutes and clarinets. Of course, we had to give it the extra features and flexibility that would make it worthy of the Valentino brand, so the Valentino Instrument Stand comes in two sizes (the smaller is configured for one or two instruments and the larger holds up to three) and each has interchangeable pegs that can be arranged according to your needs for a single instrument or any combination of two or three. The piccolo peg is designed to hold your piccolo at the same height as your flute, so you don’t have to hunch over to reach it. Best of all, the stand is sturdy and secure with a solid metal base that helps prevent accidental tipping and machined Delrin™ pegs that won’t scratch or dent your instrument. Don’t wait to have your own horror story to get one of these fantastic stands. Order yours today and see just how nice it is to go nightmare free.
In the past years we’ve seen incredible advances in the quality and consistency of Haynes flutes and we’re incredibly excited about the direction the company has taken. We’re equally enthusiastic about the results they’ve achieved after a serious reorganization of the company and a 3- year effort to reexamine each and every aspect of its production systems to identify the very best methodology for each stage of product development and manufacture. In speaking with Steven Finley, the company’s Vice President of Artistic Development and Quality, we learned a bit more about what the Haynes team has been up to as they embark on a true Renaissance of this legendary American flute brand. Finley described the company’s recent move to a modern facility, and spoke about the concerted effort Haynes underwent to completely retool and upgrade it’s machining technologies for advanced, precision manufacture, and a complete upgrade of the raw materials they use. He also spoke in glowing terms about the amazing staff the company has assembled, consisting of 8 leading flutist and some of “finest artisans and machinists the industry has ever seen”. He then went on to explain how they’ve developed an entirely fresh team approach to the custom built flutes, that utilizes the strengths of the company leaders: Zu Feng Le, Sandra Ragusa and Finley himself. “After listening to each flutist’s style of playing, and analyzing their technique and unique body mechanics,” he explained, “each flute is made to carefully match the optimum resonance of the precious metals used with the particular flute. After a flute is chosen in this method, the mechanics are custom adjusted to the individual musician.” Just as important to the overall quality of the flutes produced has been an intensive focus on the legendary Haynes sound: the trademark silky legato that has always been the most important characteristic of the Haynes flute and one the company has diligently preserved and cultivated through the generations. Another essential facet of the latest evolution of the flutes is a thoughtful and well-received redesign of Haynes’ most important headjoints, the P style (the most popular) and N style (specifically designed for the orchestral flutist). These versatile headjoints nurture and articulate the classic Haynes sound while offering the proper playing characteristics for each individual flutist. An important aspect to consider for those of us here at J.L. Smith is the establishment of a system of quality checks throughout the entire flutemaking process. We’ve seen quite a few of the finished flutes and have some spectacular examples in stock and we’re truly impressed. These flutes represent a rare and profound combination of cherished age-old traditions with the latest technology in manufacturing. It truly is a renaissance for this great flute company and we’re proud to have these beautiful instruments and offer them to our customers. Go Haynes!
Please feel free to contact us with any questions about any of our products or services at 800.659.6073 or check out our web site at www.jlsmithco.com.