I've had a Gemeinhardt for four years now. (I believe it is a 3SH model intermediate, but I'm not entirely certain.) I would NEVER say this is a bad flute. It's served me well up until now, but I'm beginning to feel like I'm outgrowing it, as in I feel that I play as well as I will ever play with this flute and I need to step up to a pre-professional/professional flute to further improve. I might be able to get a new flute early next year, and I've been looking online for some possible brands to try. I've heard good things about Azumi, Avanti, Jupiter, Pearl, and Yamaha flutes. But most people online seem to agree that Gemeinhardt flutes are to be avoided.
I'm not arguing either way for Gemeinhardts. I'm more interested in WHY these flutes get put down so much. I mean, I've had virtually no problems out of mine, despite the stress I put it through with marching band and my less than perfect cleaning habits. I'd say it has a clear, intermediate quality tone, if not the best key action. While I'm trying to keep my list of brands fairly short for less hassle, I would really like to know why Gemeinhardt should stay off the list.
My primary flute is a 14K Brannen-Cooper and I have a Haynes (soldered toneholes) as a backup flute. But I also have a Gemmy 3KSB (purchased in 1999 - silver body, plated kyes with pointed arms, gold springs) as my outdoor, camping flute. Granted, it doesn't have the nice action of a Brannen-Cooper Brögger Mekanik™ flute, but it is not bad.
Nothing is absolute when referring to flutes. There is no real reason why you should not buy a Gemeinhardt, if you find one you feel it is the right one for you.
It is only partially true that they have fallen out of favour, many people use them and are happy with them. But one reason of the bad press they sometimes receive could be that they might not have evolved as much or as quickly as other brands have done. Possibly their headjoint design is not the best for a student and even less for a professional.
I made all my initial flute learning with a M3 Gemmie (a very old model, probably mid of the 70's design). After 4 years it had mechanical problems and I replaced it with an intermediate level YFL674 Yamaha. It was a big change and of course considerable money was involved.
But recently, I received a student level Yamaha 211 as backup flute, a model probably at the same price level of an equivalent Gemeinhardt.
I can only compare with my old M3, but I can say the difference is very important in favour of the 211.
I started with a Gemienhardt and still love it but in the past couple of years i guess they have moved their hq to China and they are not as good any more. ( Nothing against the Chinese or China btw) . I guess that it is cheaper there and they are using sheaper materials.
my little sister went to buy a flute from our local music shop this year ( she started 5th grade) and the man there said not to buy a Gemienhardt. He said that they had moved to China and were not good anymore.
Gemeinhardt is an odd company. Their older stuff was as good as any of the others. But that was 20-30 years ago, and honestly, a Yamaha new 300 series today out-plays most everything from the 80s. The reason they get a bad rap is because while the rest of the industry embraced computers and high-tech analysis in their designs and re-tooled for higher precision, Gemeinhardt kept doing the same thing as it always had, the same old way. If we were talking about cars, Gemeinhardt would be a Crown Victoria. Same as forever and while it's a good vehicle, it's sorely outdated at this time.
Is there anything wrong with them? No, and in fact, used, they can be a great deal. Just stay away from Chinese made ones in any case. Two years means they're either too new or jobbing out their production line to another maker and putting the Gemeinhardt label on it. Just like in the U.S. most of the flutes in China are made the same city/area. With quality control so lax on export models, it's dicey at best. ie - like it or not, the U.S. gets the "seconds" of most everything China produces for their own market. The only exception seems to be a dedicated factory, but you usually only see that in computers and similar electronics.