On the beginning of 2015 I bought my first High Spirits flute. It’s not the last flute from Odell Borg that I’m going to purchase, but my budget is limited at the moment. So I did some shopping, and I would like to share my experiences and opinions with you, along with video samples of flute’s sounds. This is not a sponsored post – nobody paid me to write this, it’s purely a personal and honest opinion.
I purchased an F#4 aromatic cedar flute, that came up with a bonus G5 aromatic cedar flute. I also received an intermediate DVD with a booklet and instructions. This was actually the second Native American style flute I purchased in my entire life. My other flutes were made by myself.
Shopping and Delivery
I was planning to purchase the High Spirit’s F# for almost a year. For some time, I considered their G4 flute, but as time proved to me, my preferences go to A4, F#4 and bass flutes. While I was planning to purchase High Spirit’s song books both to have fun and have them reviewed, my budget decided these songbooks will have to wait.
The flute was shipped quickly, within two weeks it was already in my home – and I live in Poland, EU. If I can get the package here so quicly, then I think you should have no time to wait if you live in USA or Canada. The package was very well secured with a lot of bubble foil and paper in a huge box. Trust me, different stories go around Polish Post Service that include a lot of words like “damaged”, “destroyed”, or “gone and sold on an auction five years later…”. But nothing bad happened with the flute which is awesome.
Though I have to complain, I would be much happier with the purchase if the local tax office wouldn’t ordered me to pay 23% of VAT tax on delivery… Custom tax is very small, about 0.5%, but the VAT…
The biggest issue for most people shopping for flutes, especially the beginners, is to find a right flute at a right price from a right seller. No one wants to be cheated, or pay for an instrument that doesn’t play, and lose the money. Fortunatelly, in case of High Spirits, there’s no worry. Their payment system is well secured, and the company has rightfully earned their reputation. Choosing a flute from High Spirits is a reasonable decision.
Few Words on High Spirits Flutes
At the time of writing this article, Odell Borg celebrates 25 years of flutemaking under High Spirits brand. During that time, the company earned the respect from musicians and flute players all around the world. It’s a respect well earned. High Spirits tune their flutes to the standard A=440 Hz pitch.
They make drilled flutes. This means no glue to fail, which is great! They make all sort of flutes, from small high keys through medium and popular A, G or F#, to bigger bass flutes. They also make a second brand called “Spirit Flutes”, that are Native American style flutes in different tunings, that reminds us of Japanese or Arabic sounds. In addition, they sell flute accessories, music and even drums :). But their main product are Native American style flutes.
The first thing that caught my attention was the size of the F# flute – it’s over 63 cm long, which is probably the biggest flute I ever seen (until I’ve build my branch F4, that is…). Of course, before that I had to take out a lot of protective paper from the box. Which is a good thing. And then I had to unpack the bubble foil, too. Then, this came – the Golden Eagle flute, made of aromatic cedar in the key of F#.
The inlay that High Spirits burns within the flute’s body is very characteristic. By the look of things I suspect their use some kind of laser burner.
And the smell of the aromatic cedar is wonderful and mystical – I was so shocked (in a positive sense) that I went on-line right away to look for aromatic cedar incenses. I couldn’t find one, so if you know where to shop for them, please let me know :).
The aromatic cedar turns out to be remarkable lightweight. Its sound is wonderful, warm and fresh. Check the sample below.
I played a couple of flutes before in my life, but High Spirits’ F# made of aromatic cedar is the first flute, of which sound actually vibrates through the entire room. Maybe it’s just me, but the sound cannot be “just” heard, but it can also be felt all over you.
What I had to get used to was the pressure of the air required to make clear sound on the upper notes of the pentatonic scale. It’s something different from all the other flutes I played, and it takes some time to get used to. I think this may happen only to people who got used to other flutes in the past. Also, I was a bit surprised with the sight of additional plate on the splitting edge, the air channel build into the block, and the chamfer cut into the True Sound Hole.
The photos on the High Spirit website never showed the additional splitting plate, but as far as I understand the way Native flutes works (and as far as I understand my hobby as a flute maker), some flutes just need it ;).
The second flute was a bonus one, a small pocket flute in the key of G5 made of aromatic cedar. It’s a fun little flute, great to fit in a small pocket in your backpack, with a sharp high voice. But, I’m still not a fun of high tone flutes – A4 is as far as I go. Nevertheless, it’s a fun flute to play. Check the sample:
Both flutes are well-crafted – it is clear the the makers have a lot of experience and developed their abilities to a very high standard.
Music and Booklets
In the package, I’ve found the ordered instructions booklet (a bit more than 70 pages) – it came with a DVD, in which Odell Borg teaches some more advanced techniques on playing the flute. I like the professional approach with the professional printing of the booklet and burning the DVD – both came in a DVD box and actually taught me few things about playing Native American style flute that I haven’t knew before.
The final piece of the package was a bonus CD with flute music by Naomi Littletree. Check one of her songs below, through SoundCloud.
In the end, is it worth it? The sound of High Spirits flutes is wonderful, the flutes are well-tuned and well-made. They are definitely worth their price. The shipping is fast and safe. Based on my experience, I suspect that any order from High Spirits should give you nothing but positive feelings. In the end I have this feeling of professionalism, experience and value that comes with shopping for High Spirits flutes.
I’m looking forward to ordering more things from Odell Borg. I just have one thing to complain about… why don’t you make the Shakuhachi, Odell?
Do you own a High Spirits flute, or have you ever played one? What’s your personal opinion about this brand of Native flutes? Share your thoughts in the comments below, please.