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Toby, Brian, thanks for your input. You both gave really good explanations, and may even have taught my stubborn a$$ a thing or two
Dude, there is nothing wrong with buying old flutes! I've always loved old things, just because they are old. I bought a four-hundred-year-old tea bowl for my wife because I thought it was just so cool that the thing had seen so much. My wife, who is into tea ceremony, took one look and said, "Thanks, I guess we can make it into an ashtray.
The main point is to be careful and not to overpay just because some old hunk of bamboo with holes is 150 years old. Japan is full of old stuff. The bowl I use for my salad is 200 years old, and it cost about the same as a decent new bowl ($25).
Toby, I feel the same way. I'd love this old flute, even if it didn't make a sound, just because of how old it is, and the history of it. If it sounds and plays well, that would be a bonus. I'm almost done with the bindings.. I'll post a clip of it as soon as it's done, and maybe some of the experts here could tell me if it sounds okay.