Di Zhoa handmade? Just not sure about them...

Performace Tips, Advanced Technique and More

Moderators: Classitar, pied_piper, Phineas

Post Reply
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed May 02, 2018 7:08 am

Di Zhoa handmade? Just not sure about them...

Post by martinspoons »

I recently tried 2 different handmade Di Zhoa silver flutes, the DZ D-SP $3,400, and the DZ-S $9,500 on a strong recommendation from a local east coast dealer. The DZ-SP, silver body + head w/plated keys was initially amazingly good. Having a great sound, easy high register, open low register... but oddly the flute had a rather bad leak making some notes almost unplayable. Hey! This is a brand new flute and it's leaking? The dealer said it must have been damaged in shipping. I looked at the packing for signs of abuse but the packing was good so... maybe it's true.

One thing i noticed was the flute body did not exactly fit in the case as i would have expected, i.e. the posts were closer to the case hinges on one end than the other by a couple of degrees. To me it just seemed like a sloppy fit. Anyway, i sent back the D-SP and accepted the shipping damage explanation and asked to try the step-up handmade DZ-S solid silver head+body+keys, 14k gold riser+lip plate, a $10,000 instrument. BTW, I have to mention the rosewood case of th DZ-S is stunningly beautiful, but it is very heavy at almost 2 pounds when empty whereas a typical French style flute case is just 0.8 pounds. When I tried this D-S instrument it did not have the responsiveness and refinement of sound you might expect from a professional flute. After a few minutes playing this professional grade flute, i found that it too had some out-of-adjustment problems where some notes were a bit dull. I spent a few sessions, with breaks in between to confirm my suspicions about adjustment problems and that i was not negatively projecting from my first experience. Seriously, this flute too needed adjustment but not as severe as the D-SP did. Wow, another brand new Di Zhoa handmade flute out-of-the-box and out-of-adjustment. This just can't be a coincidence.

I have now concluded that the handmade Di Zhoa flute key mechanisms are either very fragile or just not up to snuff when it comes to staying in adjustment over time. It speaks to me as future extra costs for COA servicing as the instrument ages especially under constant playing conditions. At $200 a pop minimum for a COA this could get expensive.

Lastly, when I first read the Di Zhoa story on their website, I thought, "This is Great stuff!, a little guy takes on the big names and prevails, it's the American dream!". But after further scrutiny, I find that the Di Zhoa flutes are actually all made in China, but shamelessly Di Zhoa has "Boston" engraved on the barrel. I don't like this. It's a kind of deception. In Flute making, the Boston tradition means something. When it says Boston on the barrel I expect American made quality, not some quasi-mass produced Shanghai Powell knock-off.

Also from experience as a machinist it is common knowledge that Chinese metals tend to have far higher impurities which tends to weaken the metal overall. Perhaps this is a problem with adjustments not holding? I can't say for sure but it does make me think. Lastly it is known that Chinese metal plating does not seem to hold up well mechanically over time so i would expect on silver plated key models, that the plating will likely wear off faster.

Bottom line, I am clearly old-fashioned expecting quality, and durability from my instruments. I would rather spend my money, even if i have to pay a bit more, for a solidly built real Boston flute made with top quality materials that will hold it's value. While I was initially very impressed with the Di Zhoa handmade flutes, from my recent experiences i will steer clear.

Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:35 pm

Re: Di Zhoa handmade? Just not sure about them...

Post by new2flute »

Sorry to hear about your bad experience with these high end Di Zhoa flutes. My own experience with them is with an intermediate model DZ-400. After a year of daily playing it held up nicely and when looking for a step up flute I tried other brands/models that were two or three times the price and yet I did not offer much of an improvement mechanically or with respect to playability and sound quality. That includes a DZ-700 that I tried and thought the DZ-400 was the better of the two.

I don't think your expectations are out of line when you're talking about spending $10K professional flute. My understanding is every flute is suppose to be play tested before it leaves their Boston facility. Of course there is no way to know how many times the flute has been out on trial but even then I would expect the seller to give the instrument a thorough going over before sending it out for trial again.

As a last resort you might what to share your experience with Di Zhoa directly. Maybe they can shed some light on the situation. It will also be a test to see how far they are willing to go to gain a satisfied customer.

Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:30 am

Re: Di Zhoa handmade? Just not sure about them...

Post by dddiam »

I once auditioned a couple of Di Zhoa flutes -- a 400 and a 600.

They arrived by mail, in impeccable condition. They played beautifully right out of the box!

I did not buy them, but that was a matter of personal taste.

IMO, they have the best action in the world. Low (minimum travel) and quick. To me though, the sound was a little thin for my taste. I prefer the older style flutes with thicker walls and a richer low register.

I packed them up as expertly as they came, and returned them with my gratitude for the audition.

David D.

Post Reply