The Gemeinhardt 2SP is by far the world’s top selling flute. Made for almost 25 years, no other model of flute by any maker has ever risen to the fame of the 2SP, a flute that has dominated the market to such an extent. In fact, it is the world’s second top selling band instrument, now producing and selling almost 50,000 per year. Every 10 minutes, a Gemeinhardt 2SP is sold. About a million 2SP student flutes have been made since its introduction, and can be found in virtually every student band in America.
History of the Gemeinhardt Company
Founded by Kurt Gemeinhardt, a 4th generation flute-maker in Germany, the company was established in 1948, 20 years after Gemeinhardt’s immigration to the United States. Initially crafting only very fine hand made flutes for professionals, the company expanded in 1952, moving to Elkhart Indiana to produce all levels of silver flutes. Beginner student flutes were developed at this time as well. It was these flutes that eventually became the bread and butter of the corporation, as Gemeinhardt’s reputation for fine beginner flutes became a hallmark of the industry.
History of the 2SP
One of Gemeinhardt’s first beginner models was the M2, developed during the 60’s. Many of the standard features found on all beginner flutes can be traced to this model of flute. In its time, it was a great beginner flute, but perhaps not the best available.
In 1981, the M2 was radically redesigned using the highest technology of the day. A new flute was created, the 2SP. Instantly, the 2SP became a hit with students and teachers alike. With improved tone, response, intonation, and mechanical quality, the 2SP was designed with the young student in mind. The mechanism was strengthened, and the flute became more rugged. These improvements lead to a flute that could survive decades of use and abuse. Many of even the oldest 2SP’s still play beautifully, and are in fact highly sought after.
However, the most recent Gemeinhardt 2SP flutes are superior in every way to their older brothers. Gemeinhardt continues to modify their design continuously, and the only way to ensure the most recent advancement is to purchase a brand new flute. A brand new Gemeinhardt 2SP will play better than any older one, even in good condition. In the competitive world of the band flute section, having the latest and greatest technology will help a student to succeed!
Gemeinhardt has now posted their own serial number list. It is available online at the Gemeinhardt website.
There are 4 different major design generations of the 2SP, each corresponding to a different headjoint (mouthpiece) design. Here is info on each basic design, although keep in mind that each generation may have some minor variations within the same basic design scheme. This method of classification is my own invention, not Gemeinhardt's. But I feel it simplifies the slight changes made over the years. There are major differences in sound and playability from generation to generation.
The first generation design is found on flutes in the D and very early E serial numbers, putting the dates of manufacture to 1981 to 1985. This design is characterized by a more square shaped embouchure hole, measuring 10.1 mm by 12.0 mm. The sound is very full, due to the large embouchure hole, and usually quite loud. These flutes in the hands of a professional can produce amazing tone that rivals much more expensive flutes. However the intonation and mechanical quality is not as good as the newest generation. These flutes are relatively rare, perhaps accounting for only 5% of the total market of 2SP’s. For collectors, this is the most sought after 2SP.
Other characteristics of this generation are a black rectangular case with blue velvet, with the metal cleaning rod stored in a slot located in the middle of the case, not at the front. On most of the early ones, the Gemeinhardt logo on the case is in gold paint, not silver.
Gemeinhardt redesigned their headjoint in the middle of 1985. This gen 2 design is found on flutes with the serial numbers starting with E, F, G, H, I, and some J. This was the design used most by Gemeinhardt, and it is the design most thought of when discussing most older 2SP’s. The sound tends to be very warm and perhaps a bit "ethereal". Since the blow hole is smaller, it will take slightly less air to play. The tone has been criticized by some as airy or fuzzy.
Other characteristics include a rectangular black case with the Gemeinhardt logo in silver with blue velvet interior. The tuning rod is usually black plastic (though are often replaced for a metal one) and is stored in a groove at the front of the case.
The more recent incarnation of the 2SP occurred in 1999, when the popular J1 headjoint design, previously only made for Gemeinhardt’s professional line of flutes, was offered as an optional upgrade with the 2SP. Eventually, the silver plated J1 headjoint was included standard with the flute, starting with the J serial numbers. This headjoint features modern under and over cutting, which focuses the air better, allowing for a stronger tone without using too much air, and without any resistance to the air stream. This headjoint design has continued to be used today. This generation could be considered modern, but the flutes were still pitched at A440 (tends to play flat) and the mechanism still resembled older generations.
Even later on, additional changes were made to the case, which was made with rounded edges. Black velvet was used on the inside, and a stronger tuning rod was included. A copyright symbol is sometimes seen next to the silver Gemeinhardt logo on the top of the case.
The current generation of Gemeinhardt 2SP flutes, today's new flutes, started production in the late 2000's. The mechanism was redesigned to be stronger and more ergonomic. The headjoint is the J1 design previously introduced. The flutes are pitched at A442 which improves the intonation and prevents flutists from playing so flat. These new flutes are the most technologically advanced, and perform the best. They are easy to play, with good response and intonation. Individuals who have disliked Gemeinhardt flutes in the past should try this new design. It has much improved.
Other Names and Variations of the 2SP
Over the years, several different special editions and variations on the 2SP have been made by Gemeinhardt. Most of these versions differ very little from the basic 2SP.
-2NP (nickel plated instead of silver)