I recently came across the Gemeinhardt 30SB flute for sale, and spent a bit of time playing on it when I was trying to find a buyer for it. The Gemeinhardt is a well known brand in the flute world, and produces student, intermediate, and professional level instruments. This particular model, the 30SB, is no longer produced, but you can come across a used one that is only a few years old seeing as production was not stopped on these models all that long ago. The current model that is comparable to the 30SB is the the 3SB, which has the same features as its predecessor.
French key mechanism (open holes)
solid silver headjoint and body
silver plated key mechanism
stainless steel springs
offset G and A keys
Gemeinhardt always makes quality instruments that are built to last. The particular flute I came across was approximately 5 or 6 years old. It was sitting around for a couple of years, and thus some of the keys needed adjustment and pads replacing. This is simple maintenance that is to be expected out of any instrument that has been unused and not maintained on a regular basis. After it came back from the shop all fixed up and back in playing condition, it played beautifully. I have no doubt that this instrument, given routine maintenance, will see many years of playing.
I brought this flute to a couple of my private students to try out. Being upper junior high students, they did not immediately notice a change in their tone quality, even if I did. The solid silver headjoint and body lends itself to a richer and more centered sounding tone. Comparing this flute and a student model I play on a bit, it also becomes more noticeable that the Gemeinhardt seems to be a bit less edgy than the student model. Even more, the tone quality of the Gemeinhardt is more even across all registers, and it becomes easier to not play so shrill in the high register.
It is probably worth being stated here that I am not a professional flute player, and that flute is simply a secondary instrument. That being said, I probably struggle more in trying to control the pitch while playing flute, than I would on my primary instrument. However, it’s not impossible for me to play in tune, and the Gemeinhardt still has certain pitch tendencies on some notes, just like any flute. But this is not anything that is way out of the ballpark. No instrument is ever built to play every single note perfectly in tune.
While playing, the keys do seem to respond a bit smoother and quicker than that of the student model I play on also. In addition, some of the fussier notes seem to respond a bit better also. These aren’t groundbreaking improvements that might be seen going between a student and professional model, but it is still noticeable.
The Gemeinhardt 30SB is a solid intermediate (or conservatory as Gemeinhardt calls it) flute. When looking to upgrade from a student to intermediate flute, the things you want to most look for are open holes, solid silver headjoint, and a B foot joint.
The open holes correct hand position, allow for extended techniques, make adjustments in pitch (if needed), and allow for extended range fingerings.
The solid silver headjoint improves the tone quality, and Gemeinhardt does even better by providing a solid silver body on top of it. You may be able to find headjoint with a gold lip plate also.
The B foot joint extends the bottom range by a half step. While some may find this an unnecessary extra when moving to an intermediate flute, I feel that if you are spending the money on an intermediate flute then you should opt for a B footjoint. When looking at new models of intermediate flutes that offer a choice between a C and B footjoint, the price difference is nominal (no more than $20). For that cost, I feel it is worth having the B footjoint in case the player comes across it in the music.
The Gemeinhardt offers all of these key features you would look for in an intermediate flute. In addition, you have a reliable and durable instrument that will last your for years to come.
While the new model (Gemeinhardt 3SB) is often offered at a price of a little over $1000, you can find the used Gemeinhardt 30SB for somewhere around $500 in playing condition. As I said before, these instruments are no longer offered new, but I feel that it can be of an even better value when bought used. There is no doubt that if these instruments are maintained, they will give you many years of service.