flute buyers guide

Finding the perfect flute is about bringing your passion for music to life. In order to help you find the best flute suited to your specific needs and budget, we have outlined a host of important flutey things to consider when buying a flute. Whether you choose to shop for your flute online, in order to access a world of selection (as well as a great deal on your preferred instrument!) or prefer to shop right in your own community, you’ll find that our helpful quick guide will give you the information that you need in order to make a wise and informed decision as a consumer.


Top Rated Flutes

To get started, here are some of the best selling student, intermediate and professional flutes. Click the links provided for more information about each flute and to get current pricing.

Flute

Grade

Editor's Rating

Price Range

Where to Buy

LJ Hutchen Flute

Student

$

Check Price

Gemeinhardt 2SP Flute

Student

$$

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Yamaha YFL-221 Flute

Student

$$

Check Price

Pearl 665 Quantz Flute

Intermediate

$$$

Check Price

Yamaha YFL-461H

Intermediate

$$$$

Check Price

Azumi AZ3 Flute

Intermediate

$$$$

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Muramatsu DS Flute

Professional

$$$$$

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Haynes Custom Flute

Professional

$$$$$

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Powell Conservatory Flute

Professional

$$$$$

Check Price


Who Will be Playing the Flute?

In addition to flute type, you’ll need to consider who will actually be playing the instrument. In other words, will the musician be a student who is new to the world of flute-playing or will he or she be an intermediate or expert flute player? There are flutes designed for each type of musician, from total “newbie” to concert soloist…therefore, settling on which flute will be best for each level of skill will be a good way to decide on budget and features…

Student Flutes

These beginner’s models are designed to be affordable options for new flute players, such as young students who are starting the process of taking lessons. Student flutes generally cost between one and eight hundred dollars, depending on features, materials and quality, so it may be possible to find a fairly affordable instrument of this type, when it is compared to the higher cost of instruments for intermediate or professional players.

Intermediate Flutes

Less-expensive versions of professional flutes. Designed for advancing students, they often feature sterling silver head joints and silver-plated keys. However, actual materials utilized in intermediate designs will vary. Prices for these designs usually range from about eight hundred dollars to two thousand dollars.

Professional Flutes

Designed for those who wish to perform publicly, professional flutes have all of the metaphorical “bells and whistles”. Typically accented with precious metals, such as solid silver and gold, these luxurious designs may range in price. However, most new instruments from quality manufacturers will cost between two thousand and five thousand dollars (and sometimes a lot more!). These instruments are designed to offer the purest intonation for a truly superlative, concert-quality sound.

Shop for Student Flutes | Intermediate Flutes | Professional Flutes


Types of Flutes for Sale

There are different styles of flutes available, so you should have no trouble finding a design that you can afford. In order to assist you in discovering the different types of flutes, let’s take an in-depth look at some popular styles. By isolating your preferred features and the best flute type for your budget, you’ll be able streamline the comparison-shopping process before you even begin to browse different makes and models! Bear in mind that despite flute type, prices will always vary widely. In other words, the materials featured in a particular flute, as well as its level of craftsmanship (the reputation of the flute manufacturer will also factor in) will be prime determinants of retail price.

However, you will always have options, from basic and affordable styles to mid-range designs to high-end flutes… Of course, utilizing the power of the World Wide Web will be a great way to see what’s out there, so we definitely recommend checking out different flute styles online. In fact, choosing to order the flute of your dreams online may be a perfect way to save money on your favorite instrument, as online retailers typically offer their products for lower prices, since they have lower overhead to pay each month.

Side Blown Flutes - These flutes may also be described as transverse-style flutes, and they are held in a horizontal, sideways fashion.

End Blown Flutes - With this type of instrument, you’ll play by blowing air into one end of the flute. You may choose from rim-blown or duct-style flutes, which both fall into the end blown category. The rim-blown styles feature notches which divide air up as it enters the instruments, whereas duct types funnel air through channels, without the usage of notches.

Bass Flutes in C - These old-school styles were developed during the Roaring Twenties, in order to function as substitutes for sax instruments, usually when jazz was being played. With this type of flute, the pitch is lower than is typical with conventional flutes, in order to give the instrument’s sound more richness and dimension on the low end.

Alto Flutes in G - For over a century, these styles of flutes have been utilized in order to deliver distinctive and appealing sound. With an Alto Flute in G, sound is transposed. Therefore, sheet music which is created for this instrument alone features a pitch which varies from the flute’s actual sound. To put it another way, notations are written a fourth above what the sound really is.

Tenor Flutes – Known as the “flute of love”, this instrument was in usage during the medieval period. With a lower pitch than the Bass Flute in C, this flute produces a romantic tone which is very soothing to the human ear.

Concert Flutes in C – When you select this form of flute, you’ll find that its C pitch extends to a full 3 octaves, beginning at middle “C”.

Soprano Flutes in E Flat – These flutes also feature extensive range, much like concert flutes in C. However, they are pitched differently, in E flat, so they do produce a markedly different musical effect.

Treble Flutes in G – This type of flute also features three octaves of range, beginning at the first G. Typically, this flute is utilized in order to play melodic elements of compositions. In other words, it plays a major role, by delivering the tune’s most important element (the main theme/melody). This flute design also functions as a transposing flute, with a pitch that is one fourth lower than its authentic sound.


Flute Features

There are a number of flute features that distinguish student, intermediate and professional flutes. One of the most important is the type of metal used to make the various parts of the flute. In general, professional grade flutes tend to have more precious metal such as gold and silver. Precious metals not only look nicer they tend to produce a richer tone and in some instances are more durable. The table below summarizes some of the features you will commonly find on student, intermediate and professional flutes.

Headjoint Material

Student

Intermediate

Professional

Gold

X

Solid Silver

X

X

Nickel-Silver

X

Body & Footjoint Material

Student

Intermediate

Professional

Gold

X

Solid Silver

X

X

Nickel-Silver

X

Footjoint Style

Student

Intermediate

Professional

B-foot

​X

X

C-foot

​X

Key Arm Style

Student

Intermediate

Professional

French (pointed)

​X

X

Standard

​X

Key Cup Style

Student

Intermediate

Professional

French (open)

​X

X

Plateau (closed)

​X

Key Material

Student

Intermediate

Professional

Gold

X

Solid Silver

X

X

Nickel-Silver

X

​X

Key Spring Material

Student

Intermediate

Professional

Gold

X

Stainless Steel

​X

​X

Tonehole Construction

Student

Intermediate

Professional

Soldered

X

Drawn

​X

​X

Special Keys

Student

Intermediate

Professional

Off-set G

X

X

X

Split E-Mechanism

​X

​X

X

C# Trill

​X

​X

High E Facilitator

X

D# Roller

X


Best Flute Brands

Brand names for flutes abound the web. Knowing where to start and which brands are reputable can be confusing and overwhelming. Choosing a reputable brand for the lowest price is one big white elephant staring at you from your screen, not to mention the models, metals, and features that cause flutes to run the gamut of prices. Yikes! B.I.G. has found many different brand names around the web. Here is a list of 25 alone!

Armstrong

Brannen

Galway Spirit

Lyric

Sankyo

Altus

Burkhart

Gemeinhardt

Miyazawa

Sonare

Amadeus

DiMedici

Guo

Muramatsu

Trevor James

Azumi

Emanuel

Haynes

Pearl

Williams

Brio

Emerson

Jupiter

Resona

Yamaha

Be An Informed Customer

When buying any instrument, be an informed consumer. A buyer should be cautious if one has researched a brand on the web and has not seen any information it. If you’re buying one that cannot be found off the internet, bypass it. Most quality flutes have a well-established reputation and is backed up by professional testimonials. If the buyer has an opportunity to test an unheard brand, and liked it, take the flute to a repair shop and get their recommendations. If the repair shop gives it a thumbs up, go for it!

Are Mass Manufactured Flutes Any Good?

Machine-made flutes are an affordable way for the beginner flute player to get started. Mass manufacturing have switched to inexpensive, but softer metals. All parts are machine-made, making the manufacturing of a flute more time efficient.

While this makes a flute economical, this could mean more trips to the repair shop. Keys, rods, and posts bend more easily and won’t hold up to normal wear and tear. Different fine metals will change the tonal color of a flute; softer metals have a tendency to flatten a flute’s tonal color.

At the elementary level, it may suffice to buy a machine-made flute, but these flutes are often poorly fitted, out of tune and lack flexibility in the headjoint. Intermediate models may have a sterling silver headjoint or solid silver tubing, but they are manufactured by the same process as the entry level models.

If the student decides to become a skilled player, about a year or 2 of playing with instruction, plan on spending more money on a reputable, hand-made brand. The budding flutist will need a soundly built flute that gives a good sound and keeps its key adjustments. Unfortunately, the resale value of a machine-made flute only decreases after use.

Are Hand-made Flutes Worth the Money?

At all levels of flutes, hand-made flutes exhibit fine craftsmanship and superior quality. Keys are individually hand-shaped and fitted to tone holes. The craftsman ensures a key’s consistent contact with tone holes, increasing a flute’s stability and sensitivity.

A craftsman applies each key with professional level pads and meticulously levels each one. Custom headjoint styles also affect the tonal color, flexibility, and precise response of a flute. Often, options such as gold or platinum risers that expand the color palette and enhance projection, are offered to the discerning flutist.

The reputable, hand-made brands will have a considerable larger upfront cost, but the quality and ease of playing these flutes will provide years of enjoyment.  Hand-made flutes also have much better resale value than mass manufactured flutes

How to Choose the Best Brand of Flute

It is a simple matter of doing your homework. Write down your findings for brand names and you will find a pattern of complaints as well as complimentary recommendations for different brands. Band Instrument Guide recommendations looks for the best quality for the student level, intermediate level and pro levels. BIG hopes to help point consumers toward flutes that are known for their longevity, reliability, and sound quality for the best price.


Frequently Asked Questions

Should I buy an Open-hole or Closed-hole Flute?

Should I buy a flute with a B or C Footjoint?

Should I buy a flute with Inline or Offset G Keys?

Are French Arms better, or do they just look nice?

What's the difference between Stainless Steel and Gold Springs?

What's the deal with flute Adjustment Screws? Good or Bad?

What's the difference between Drawn and Soldered Toneholes?

What's the difference between thin, medium and a heavy wall flute?

What is a Split E Mechanism?

What is a High E Facilitator?

What is a C# Trill Key?

What are D# and C# Rollers?

What is a Gizmo Key?

How do I Clean my Flute?

What's the Best Way to Lean How to Play the Flute?