Flute review: Trevor James 5X3:09, 21st August 2019
The August issue of Music Teacher has a woodwind focus, so we are bringing you this review of the recently released Trevor James 5X, which has been designed as a ‘younger sibling’ to the 10X model, as a companion piece to the magazine.
The flute arrived nicely packaged, with the case slotted snugly into a cardboard box which had then been swaddled in bubble wrap. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of the case as it has a synthetic feel to it but as this is a beginner instrument – with a commensurate price tag – it is understandable that the case would be like this. Indeed, it is common to see manufacturers reduce costs where possible to focus on the instrument itself. For a beginner though, it is fine, with a robust-feeling shoulder strap that can be easily adjusted to suit students of different heights. I like to wear mine quite close to my body when I’m carrying it to avoid bumping it off things and it felt very comfortable to wear this way thanks to its movable rest. The stitching at the joins felt very strong and I would have no qualms using either the shoulder strap or handhold for long periods of time. The Trevor James logo on the front is tasteful and the white stitching contrasts nicely with the black case.
The flute also comes packaged with a full cleaning kit, consisting of a beautiful wooden cleaning rod, as well as a gauze cloth and polishing cloth, all tucked neatly into a front zip compartment – and all the zips are of a good quality and feel like they will stand up to a lot of usages. There’s enough room in the pocket that the material is not distended when the cleaning supplies are in the pocket, something you occasionally see, and which then tend to dig into the side when you’re carrying it.
Opening it up, there’s a lovely fleece lining – white in colour which may not stay that way for long! – surrounding the hard case. This case looks very elegant, bolstered by the lovely purple trim on the inside when you crack the case – I did find that the catch was a bit stiff at first but this seems to have just been a ‘fresh out of the box’ problem as it worked brilliantly after that. Well designed and hinges nicely, and I think it would stand up well to even the most dedicated of players!
I’ve previously reviewed the Trevor James 31CF-E and was bowled over by the beauty of its design and playing. I was therefore very pleased to find that the same level of craftsmanship and care had clearly been taken with the 5X. The Trevor James logo is discretely engraved on the headjoint and each joint has a delicate patterning to it which I liked. It all fits together nicely and comes apart with each. There is a nice weight to it, and it feels very nice beneath the fingers. The keys were easy enough to play around with as I flexed my fingers to warm it up before bringing it to my lips. The mouthpiece feels nice under the lip and it was quite easy to achieve good embouchure without feeling strained – I find that occasionally with beginner flutes they need to be put together in a very specific way or else the sound is terrible. Not so here and I was able to produce a nice sound having twisted everything to where it feels comfortable for me. From the first note, it was clear that this was an amazing flute – the sounds that were coming out of it were more akin to a step-up flute and it was a real joy to play. I had no difficulty reeling off scales and taking it through some punishing tunes. While playing, I found out that it trills a charm – I really cannot understate how lovely it sounds. I was genuinely quite sad to pack it away and send it back!
A wonderful flute that is perfect for the beginner. If the student’s budget stretches this far, I would definitely make a strong case for spending the extra money now as it will be fine for a grade or two more than cheaper models.
Lip Plate: Silver-plated
Body: Nickel alloy silver-plated
Foot Joint: C
Tone Holes: Extruded
Keywork: Closed hole
Offset G: Yes
E Mechanism: Split E
The review instrument was kindly supplied by John Packer and can be purchased from its website here: johnpacker.co.uk/prod/trevor-james-5x-flute