Saturday, January 27, 2007

Why some flute brands and not others?

A question today from a parent about why I recommend certain flute brands for general reference.
Hi Jen,
I was looking at your Buying a Flute page as my teenage daughter is in need of a new flute. You mentioned that you felt that folks should stay away from Gemeinhardt and Armstrong flutes. These are both brands that my daughter has heard are reputable. Can you give me more information as to why you feel differently?
Thank you for any advice you have to offer. M

Dear M.
I get my information from the collective wisdom of the four different flute discussion groups that I read each day. For the last 6 years, the 1000+ flute teachers on those lists have been comparing student level, and pro-level flutes for longevity, reliability and sound quality.

Gemeinhardt flutes have come to be known as having "soft mechanism" in the past few years. This information is from professional flute repair people online.

Their company has evidently switched to a softer metal, and less precision in machining parts, which means that the keys, rods and mechanism bend too easily, and do not hold up under use.
They tend to develop key leaks, binding, and bent moving parts very quickly, and students have reportedly had to take them to the repair shop repeatedly, and become frustrated by repairs that don't "hold". They also have a slightly out-of-tune scale, as do many of my "not recommended flute brands." This is frustrating for the student, in terms of getting the flute to work fluidly, and creates more work to play in tune.

Armstrongs have a different problem; they tend to have headjoints that are stiff to blow, and not particularly suited to flute players above the beginner level. Intermediate students, working on tone and fine control over the headjoint, have found the Armstrongs too rough-sounding, and hard to control with the embouchure (lips), in order to play with finesse. I've personally found the keys and mechanism stiff and clunky; difficult to advance to fast, fluid, rapid playing.

Either flute would perhaps do for an average young beginner band flutist in their first year or two (the Armstrong probably is more sturdy than the Gemeinhardt for this use), but once the student is taking private lessons, and really "going for it" skill-wise, a better quality flute would then be sought, on the private teacher's advice.

I think it is a better financial investment for the parents to buy a single good-quality closed-hole student flute that will last for the first five years of the child's playing, rather than spend $600 on one, and then two years later, spend $1600 on another. A particularly bad idea is to buy one of the Armstrong or Gemeinhardt, or other band-flute company's "step-up" or so-called "professional" flutes.
These are the same stiff-to-blow, out-of-tune, poorly fitted, needing repair every two months flutes as the beginner flutes from those companies, but made of more expensive metals (solid silver or gold plate) and priced at over $1400. A very poor purchase; throwing good money after bad when trying to improve the student's poor quality band-flute.

As a point of interest, I had a 21 year old Dutch student last year, who was a tremendous player, who was still playing a closed-hole Yamaha 300-series after eight years, and didn't need to upgrade!!! What a great instrument for lasting that long, and playing at a high high level without trouble.

Additionally, you may want to consider that the resale value is better kept on the more desirable brands of flute, so that when and if you do upgrade to an intermediate flute, you receive closer to 2/3rds of your initial investment, rather than only a hundred dollars or so.
For this, Yamaha is probably the safest bet. Check out the prices of used Yamahas at and other used-flute sites to see how this works.
Used Armstrongs/Gemeinhardts sell for $150-$300. Used Yamaha student flutes sell for $450-$800. Have a look below for some sample ads on the usedflutes site.

Finally, in the world of internet shopping, and buying a flute without professional assessment: Parents today sometimes buy online, or from a local music store without a professional flutist enlisted to pre-test the flute. This is unnerving to the flute teacher/performer specialist, as not all "identical" flutes are in fact of equal value. And so I've recommended the name brands that I think are more likely to send out a decent flute, even if the flutes are not individually selected from side-by-side comparison.

In general, when making an investment in an instrument, it's best to have a private flute teacher with you to help play-test 5 to 20 "identical" flutes (for example) before choosing the best one.
In my opinion there would likely be a higher number of GOOD flutes (sturdy mechanism and good headjoint) among certain brand names than others. I know this from testing lots of 5-20 brand new "identical" flutes for my own students.

The brand names that are least likely to produce one good flute in 20 are listed in my "flute brands to be avoided" list. The brand names that are likely to produce several good flutes in a lot of 20 are usually found in the brandnames that I recommend. See: Buying a Flute page

I suggest that for student satisfaction, ease of play, reliable mechanism, least repair trips, best headjoint, and good resale value, that a parent buy a Yamaha or Jupiter/DiMedici or Azumi.
If the student is serious about the flute (studies privately) have the private teacher help choose the model. If you can afford a $1600 flute for a seriously devoted young flutist, try out the AZUMI 3000 by Altus.
The lightweight AZUMI 2000 or Jupiter 511 would be fine for a younger student. The Azumi flutes are head and shoulders above the competition at the same price level in terms of ease of play.
But no one beats Yamaha 200-400 series for a flute that can be repaired multiple times because its parts are of high quality, and don't break down in student hands.

Hope this helps,
Jen Cluff

Here are a couple of well priced Yamahas on sale at
I'm not connected in any way to the sellers, but they do look like good value.
Add the cost of a visit to a good quality repair person for assessment and tweaking.
Also consider offset-G as a better alternative to inline G unless the young flutist knows for a fact that inline is comfortable.

YAMAHA YFL 385-II Silver Head Open-Hole Flute USA - Saturday, January 13, 2007

My niece no longer wishes to play the flute, and this has only been used for a one semester in a junior high school band. Great condition and well-taken care of. This flute has a low B gizmo key, inline G, open hole sterling silver head, with silver/nickel body. Beautiful rich tone. Comes with cleaning rod, cloth, and the solid Yamaha original case. Original $1250, asking for quick sell for only $650! Buyer pays shipping and email me for pictures if interested!
YAMAHA YFL481 S. Silver Open Hole C Flute USA - Saturday, January 13, 2007

This flute has only been used for less than 10 times in a student band. It comes with a sleek black case and wiping cloth. Full price is at $1650, now at $850. Buyer pays shipping, pictures available. The YFL-481 intermediate flute comes complete with a durable case, polishing cloth and cleaning rod. The YFL481 offers the flute student open hole (French) keys that are light to the touch while the CY cut, sterling silver head offers a premium flute sound.
---------------end ads

Hi Jen,
Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. It is very informative and much appreciated. We are going to bring her instructor into the buying process, so I'm sure we'll end up with a fine instrument.
Again, thank you very much for taking the time to send us such a thorough response. I'm off to check out the Azumi!! Thank you. M.

Thanks for the thanks, and what a good idea to bring her instructor in on the purchase. There's nothing more frustrating than discovering 6 months down the road that a brand new, shiny flute is not worth the metal it's clad with. :>)
Hopefully the instructor is a very good flute player (and not a trumpet/tuba/clarinet playing band teacher.)
If you are in any doubt, enlist the help of the best flute teacher in town for several lessons.
Not only can you take 2-4 private lessons to help choose the flute (bring the flutes to the lessons when they're out on trial), but the lessons will be worth their weight in gold for teaching basic flute care, posture, breathing, and how to know when the problem is the flute and not the player.
I frequently test my student's flutes and find that they need some small tweaking every year or so, and when the flute is playing perfectly, the student then practices for HOURS all of a sudden, because it's all so easy for them to make a beautiful sound.
Let me know what you pick!
I tested six Azumis last year and found three good ones. That's a very high rate (since not all flutes are equal even if identical.)
Good reading for students/band teachers:

Flute Care Article - How to care for your flute to avoid repairs
Flute Testing; How to test your flute for repairs. Article.
Previous posts of mine on this blog feature videos on flute assembly and flute care and cleaning videos that demonstrate how to avoid damaging a new flute. They are much viewed, it turns out, as many self-teaching amateur players were unaware of how easily a flute is damaged by not having a "how to assemble" instruction sheet with each new flute. :>)

Thanks again for asking such a good question. This really is a much needed research topic for parents.
Best, Jen Cluff
Comments (55)
Anonymous Sheila said...

Wonderful post! Fortunately, I've been blessed with two wonderful flutes so far; a Yamaha 221 to begin on, and an Azumi 3000RBO to continue with. It really does pay off. Long ago when I was in school band for a year or so, I remember trying other student's flutes (Armstrong and Gemeinhardt mostly!), and thinking how difficult they were to play. At the time I just thought it was because I was used to playing mine - which I'm sure contributed to it - but I know now that was not simply the case. Thanks for the great reminder! :)

Monday, January 29, 2007 10:45:00 AM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Dear Readers,
Here's a brief conversation from another commenter:
G. wrote:
Yesterday's newsletter was especially interesting. I had been under the impression that my Yamaha was inferior to the Armstrongs and Gemeinhardts the other flute players in the band have.
Jen replies:
What gave you the impression that the Yamaha was inferior?
Is it in perfect working order?
Has anyone who plays professionally tested it for pad leaks or mechanical problems?
Or was it just "word of mouth"?
G: writes: I bought a new Yamaha in 2001 when I was living in California and hadn't played for 30+ years. I took 4 lessons from one of those teachers who just wants to play duets and he made disparaging remarks about the Yamaha flutes. He gave me the impression they were a cheap copy of some other brand, which I can't remember now. If you recall, I soon gave up on ever being able to play again and sold it. Then moved back to Indiana, found out about the Old Dam Community Band here, and bought a used Yamaha which was the very same model as the new one I had sold. The other four flute players in the band all have either Armstrongs or Gemeinhardts.
Jen replies:
Your band instructor in CA was misinformed.
Yamahas are copies of professional flutes from the '60s, and have been upgrading their design continually since then. They are excellent standard flutes.
Lately there have been some copies of Yamaha made in Indonesia, I hear, that are horrible. But they say "Made in Indonesia" on them, and the factory has since stopped making them. (I hear this from a flute prof. in Scandinavia, and he is to be believed.)

But in all that time, since the '70s, Gemeinhardt and Armstrong have NOT made the improvements to flute making that Yamaha has made.
You've done well to take flute up again.
I'm sure you'll find a teacher, and/or a duet partner, or small folk group.
Seek them out. You'll have respite from the cares of the world when you're immersed in music. MUSIC jiggles our chromozomes back into place, as my friend once said; and she was so RIGHT!!!
Good luck and have fun! Jen

Monday, January 29, 2007 11:29:00 AM

Anonymous Ava said...

Dear Jen, Two years ago I was in need of a new flute, and for financial reasons ended up not buying my favorite flute but what I though was "the best value" flute, a Yamaha 600 series. I kept retutning to the store to try the models that I preferred.

Last month I finally realized that my flute had different qualities than my preffered flutes and that I actually own a fine instrument that will not hold me back for a very long time. I really love my flute now!

Sunday, February 04, 2007 8:28:00 AM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Thanks Ava for your input.
I played Gemeinhardt in University, and upon graduation, my parents bought me a Sankyo Silver Sonic. I played it for years, and only now (at the age of 46!) do I realize that the Nagahara headjoint on the Altus 1107 body is FAR FAR FAR more agile and colourful and in tune than the Sankyo. I sold the Sankyo to pay for the Altus, and for awhile, I wished to have the Sankyo back---it was so reliable. But now, with the Altus recently totally made leak-free by an expert technician (it came with a few leaks, and I played the heck out of it for two solid years---in all, it had to go in for leak checks THREE TIMES!) I can now play all the truly difficult stuff I never could fully get control of before.
I think it's the same when Galway changed to Nagahara from Muramatsu.
Finally he had a flute that did everything he wanted it to do.
But you have to go completely through one good flute to get to another.
I no longer miss the Sankyo.
Thanks for your input everybody!
And note; one of the teachers on Flutenet just said that they found a good Armstrong, so go figure.
Anything is possible. :>)

Sunday, February 04, 2007 12:10:00 PM

Blogger Patricia said...

Interesting post. I have been playing my Gemeinhardt M3 open hole flute for over 30 years (I have never had a problem with this one) and recently purchased a 3shb model. I do not understand why Gemeinhardt flutes are
not recommended. Please reply.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 11:02:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Hi Patricia,
Well, you may just have come across one of the best Gemeinhardts that they made 30 years ago.
Yes, they did make very good intermediate level flutes back then.
Then the company's quality control became less and less reliable over time; at least according to the flute technicians I've been reading on the internet.
The last good flutes made by Gemeinhardt were apparently 30 years ago.

And in speaking of best flutes for the type of flute work you do, there are, of course, a few things to consider:

1. The new scales on the flutes made now (Cooper, Bennett, etc.) are very different in physical design than the flute scales from 30 years ago. This is also why many professional flutists are selling their once-beloved and expensive, professional Haynes and Powell flutes from that era. The newer flutes play better in tune with less manipulation of the embouchure.

2. The pitch standard has changed; many international artists have to play at A440 one day in the U.S. and at A445 in Germany the next. A 30 yr. old Gemeinhardt is very unlikely to be as malleable as an A442 flute. Any flute tuned too flat to make these changes and stay in tune with itself, makes it difficult for today's flutist to study using European recordings, or to travel to Europe for classes and performances and play up to the new higher pitches.

3. In my opinion, the playing standard has tripled since 30 yrs. ago. In 1975 for example, there were only one or two outstanding recording flutists and quite a few orchestra jobs. If you listen to the orchestral flutists from the '60s and '70s, you'll find that many would NOW be considered below par in terms of tone, tuning and fluency.
Now, in 2007 there are dozens of outstanding flutists. Flutists today are performing professionally at much higher levels. And each year hundreds of excellent flute students graduated all over the world, all competing for very few solo opportunities and the shrinking number of orchestral jobs. Any young talented 18 yr. old flutist may be unable to truly compete with the Ibert Concerto or Rodrigo's Concerto playing a Gemeinhardt.
And if you make a side by side comparison of a Gemein. with an Azumi (for example) or to an Altus, Miyazawa, Muramatsu, or change to more carefully cut headjoints, you'll soon see the difference.
On a student Gemeinhardt the keys just don't move fast enough and the headjoint just doesn't play as well.

Ask yourself: On the Gemeinhardt, can you play the typical Prokofiev excerpts such as "Classical Symphony" or "Peter and the Wolf" in tune at the metronome markings suggested? Probably not as fast and as in tune, and accurately as on a $1700 Azumi with its Bennett scale and super fast keys, or a $3000 Miyazawa or Altus.

I think that these kinds of brand name and price-bracket flute decisions all depend on what standard of playing you're doing with the flute.
If you're just playing with a local group of musicians, you may not notice that the technological improvements going on in flute manufacturing have made playing at a higher standard very much easier.
Hope this helps explain.
Best, Jen :>)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 11:58:00 PM

Blogger adelaide said...

Has anyone ever heard of the flute brand 'Sterling'?

Monday, May 05, 2008 4:46:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

A google search for "Sterling" brings up too many hits for "sterling silver flute" (as in the kind of silver.)
Are you sure this is a brand name? If so, can you send a link to my email account, so I can have a look? Usually brands that have that kind of name are cheap, bendable flutes that don't play correctly. Consult a flute teacher for reputable brands in your price range, locally.
Best, Jen

Monday, May 05, 2008 5:16:00 PM

Anonymous Kim said...


I am looking for a curved head joint flute for my daughter. She just began learning how to play the flute and has my old Gemeinhardt that I played through high school. I can purchase the head joint that fits this, but thought buying another beginner flute might be nice so that we can do duets along with having an extra flute for my other daughter who wants to learn. I found the following one on eBay. Can you give me your opinion on this flute?

Thank you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008 12:11:00 AM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Dear Kim,

I have never heard about "Sterling brand flutes", but I did take a look at the Ebay photos and price. For under $300, with two headjoints, curved and straight, this price is far too low. It seems unlikely that it would be a truly good, sturdy, long-lasting flute (the key work may be soft metal; you won't know until your child uses it for a month or more, and then you take it to a repair shop and find out what the repair person has to say about it's fix-ability.) The price is far too low to tell whether this flute will stand the test of time.
If you order it and find it to be in good working order after one to six months, write back and let me know. Alternately, check with a big repair shop that sees many student flutes (phone around) and find out whether any reputable repair people have seen the longevity on these flutes.
Can't help without having seen one myself. Best, Jen

Thursday, June 19, 2008 9:30:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen
I have really enjoyed all the comments you have made about various elements of flute industry so to speak.
I own Muramatsu EX (may not be familiar ;with it since it is pricy but considered to be student model)which only has c foot. I am not professional but have been playing for more than 25 years on and off and this was an upgrade from my first and now 25 year old student grade muramatsu. I experienced althouth, in much smaller scale than you did when you went from one to nagahara, the beauty of the ease of playing and the braoder ability to express with my tone. It expanded my flute life immensely.

My brother and I took private flute lessons over 25 years ago and our teacher helped us with our first flute purchase. Shd and I recently met and discussed flute. I realized that she takes her time to assist every single one of her student's flute purchase. Just wanted to share my experience. She selected one for us, then assisted our head joint upgrade a year or so later.
I really enjoyed your input on recent Yamaha improvements. I will share this info with someone who is looking at an old Yamaha on ebay. It is, I believe potentially dangerous to trust the brand name without the knowlege of the age of the instrument.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 9:01:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen!
Thanks for a great website. I am in the market for a new flute. Miyazawa Boston Classic and Powell aurumite 14k (with gold inside/silver outside)sounded both great. Which one would have a better resale value? You didn't mentioned about Powell flute in your recommendation flutes. Is there a reason? Looking forward to your comments.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 6:24:00 AM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

I would ask a flute dealer which has better resale value. Personally, I would think the Miyazawa Classic would be a better purchase for resale value.
I've never tried a Powell flute that I found to give me the ease-of-play and the sound I like. So I don't personally recommend instruments that I don't find to be useful to ME. That is just one person's opinion, however. I'm sure that Powell lovers would say the opposite.
Good luck. Jen

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 8:40:00 AM

Anonymous Charlie said...

Dear Jen,

I have a new flute student who is 7 years old with no experience in music, and who does not yet have a flute. It is very clear that she needs to get a curved headjoint as she is very small. I have heard differing opinions regarding the Jupiter curved headjoints vs. those that Yamaha makes. Do you have any opinion on what to recommend? Also, the local music stores do not carry these young student models, and I am not sure where to direct her as to getting one. I am also relatively new to teaching flute, and have not had to work with student models before so I am not familiar with the quality of student models. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Saturday, August 23, 2008 11:08:00 AM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Dear Charlie,
You'll have to playtest the Yamaha curved headjoint against the Jupiter. I haven't tested them and would be interested in hearing which sounds better, and which version is better balanced in the hands. Apparently it's a bit of a trick finguring out how to align the headjoint so that the j-shaped flute doesn't roll in the hands.
What I think is a far better idea is starting a small child on penny-whistle. For $20 to $40 you can buy a quality penny-whistle. The more expensive ones have moveable/tunable heads. If the child plays this instrument it's less investment, and the knowledge is easily transferrable. Yamaha Fifes are also around $25 and The Fife Book by Goodwin is the BEST for use of this simple, plastic, tiny little instrument. Highly recommended. Also, if the parents and child absolutely insist on a curved head flute, the Jupiter Prodigy model at $1000 approx. is the one that I've heard the most positive teacher-feedback about in the three flute discussion groups I belong to. That would be resellable to the next small student in time, when/if this current student trades up to a full sized instrument. That might help assuage the sizeable investment necessary. But if you try the Yamaha curved-straigh junior flute packqage, write again and send feedback about it. Thanks. Jen

Saturday, August 23, 2008 4:02:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

P.S. WHERE to buy curved head flutes for small children?
In the U.S: and both will give advice and service.

In the U.K.: or www.allflutesplus.

It's better to work through a flute specialty dealer or shop because you can get advice and have the instrument fully serviced before it is sent out. Companies like Woodwind/Brasswind online will not necessarily fully service new instruments, but can have a good return policy if there is a defect.
Check out and for more links and ideas.
I'd personally go for penny whistle or fife for such a young student. Then teach easy tunes by ear for awhile. Best, Jen

Saturday, August 23, 2008 4:07:00 PM

Anonymous Francis said...

Dear Jen, thanks for the wonderful website. I'm currently upgrading my student flute to an intermediate one, and your articles are helping a lot.

My teacher strongly recommends Amadeus by Haynes, but when I went to a local store and compared Yamaha 471 and Haynes Amadeus AF900E, I like Yamaha better. I wonder if I'm not good enough to know the difference of them. I haven't seen you mentioning Haynes and Amadeus in your articles. How do you think of Amadeus/Haynes?

Another famous guy recommends Jupiter 711, but I didn't find it outstanding either. I also tried DiMedici 1311, but it was not much better than the Jupiter. How do you think of Jupiter and DiMedici?

I will ask my teacher to test them for me, but before that, would you please give some advice? Thank you again!

Monday, February 09, 2009 9:08:00 AM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Hi Francis,
I have not yet tried Amadeus by Haynes.

You know, in general, it's difficult to choose flutes just from name brands, as so many otherwise IDENTICAL flutes are not the least bit identical.
I've tried five Jupiters in a row, and only found one truly worthy one, yet all were "identical".
I've tried 12 Yamahas in a row, and only found three good ones, of which one was outstanding, and the other two just "good".
So it's really up to the person who is testing them to know which feels best in the hands, and which headjoint really suits their style of playing.
Also, as you improve in your flute abilities, you will be able to test flutes farther and more fully. That's why having a more advanced player or teacher test them with you is so useful.

Monday, February 09, 2009 10:44:00 AM

Anonymous Francis said...

Dear Jen,

Thank you for replying so fast! It's very kind of you.

My plan is to request 5 Yamaha and 3 Azumi flutes from fluteworld and flutesmith and ask my teacher to test them out for me. It seems you can clearly tell if a flute is poor or good or outstanding. I hope my teacher can test play as well as you can. She is a falcuty in a local college, majored in flute -- maybe I should trust her. But I seem to trust you more:)

Thank you!

Monday, February 09, 2009 11:33:00 AM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Hopefully it won't be too expensive to have those two stores ship so many; I'm not sure what they charge for shipping each one.
Perhaps you might also want to have a large local music store bring in several to try also, and pay to drive to the local (nearby big city) store instead of so much shipping?
I wonder which is best.

It's funny that you trust *me* more than your live teacher. It must be because I talk so much! :>)
Youre teacher may well have just as much experience, but perhaps doesn't verbalize it.
Many good players know instinctively what they can do on a given flute (by feel) rather than through verbiage. So, as long as your teacher has a good tone, and advanced techniques (like playing top octave with good tone and fast fingers) as well as can attempt forte playing and sforzando accents on low notes, they should be able to test the flute's range very well.
Best, and let me know how it turns out.
Jen :>)

Monday, February 09, 2009 11:42:00 AM

Anonymous Francis said...

Dear Jen,

I got my flute! I got a new Yamaha 674HCT from the exhibit of a flute festival today for $2650.

I cann't say I don't trust my teacher; she is a nice and reasonable lady. But since she is with Haynes and Amadeus, I don't really expect neutral and objective oppinion from her -- that's understandable for both her and me. So I finally gave up the idea of shipping trial flutes from fluteworld and flutesmith.

I think I have to rely on myself to figure it out. I was playing in bands and ensembles for a few years but stopped after year 2000. Since last month, I have been taking lessons and practising to allow myself to be warmed-up and regain my previous techniques so that I have some sense about tone and everything.

And there comes the flute festival. Fluteworld was there. I tried about 30 flutes. This Yamaha 674HCT seems a clear choice because it sings with me! I love the tone.

I would like to thank you very much, Jen, your information on buying was so helpful and I enjoy reading your other articles too.

I've got some infomation about Yamaha that I like to share with future buyers (may overlap with info from Jen): Yamaha has closed American manufacturing facility and opened in Indonesia. The flutes made in USA has the serial number starting with an "A". 500 series and above are made in Japan; 400 and below are assembled in Indonesia.

Another question for Jen: my new footjoint is a little hard to assemble. I found this after I got home because I didn't take them apart myself at the exhibit. I'm grabbing the smooth part of the body and the end of footjoint, which are really far from each other. I feel if I grab other parts, things would be easier, but I'm afraid of damaging the mechanism and dare not do so. Shall I apply some kind of oil? Or the body is deformed and I should contact the seller?

Thank you again, Jen. I really appreciate your kindness.

Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:35:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Hi Francis,
So glad you're happy with your choice.
If the footjoint is stiff to put on, simply take the flute to a reputable flute technician and have them make it an easier fit. Should cost $5. Tight-fitting footjoints are not all that unusual. It's a quick fix.

Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:44:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Never put grease or oil on the connecting parts of a flute.
They attract grit and dirt (which will score,scratch and damage the tenons), stain your flute case fabric, and worst of all ,the oil or grease eventually make their way to the pads which eats the pad surfaces. J.

Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:45:00 PM

Anonymous Francis said...

Thank you so much Jen. I'll do as you suggested.

Sunday, March 08, 2009 9:55:00 AM

Anonymous zabrina said...

I was just going to ask why you wouldn't recommend the barrington 229sp flute? Thanks
~Zabrina (will about to start studying the flute)

Thursday, July 16, 2009 9:01:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Dear Zabrina,
I've never seen, played, or tried a Barrington.

Friday, July 17, 2009 9:37:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had 2 students who ordered Barrington oboes with terrible results. The metal was very thin which allowed the keys to bend at the slightest of pressure. Also, local repairshops found difficulty repairing these instruments due to their poor craftsman ship. I have not had experience with the flute, but I would deduce that the craftmanshipt could be similar

Monday, August 17, 2009 12:52:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Thanks Zabrina from sharing this.
I only included Barrington in a list of "super cheap" band flutes on the recommendation of another teacher on the net.
It is not my choice at all.
Like I said: Haven't seen one or played one.
So thanks so much for this update on the oboes by this company.
Best, J.

Monday, August 17, 2009 12:59:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello my name is Abraham Smith.

I'm wondering what flute I should get that's under my budget of 2,500 dollars.
The brands I'm interested in are Nomata, Pearl, Altus, Yamaha, and Brio.

They all have solid silver head joints, and bodies but I have trouble with the high E, and I'm planing on getting the Split E mechanism, and maybe the C# trill key for the hard trills and some tremolo fingerings.

The Pearl has the open hole, french pointed keys, offset G, B-foot, and Silver head, body, and foot, with the options that I want, but people say those flutes aren't recommended. So I'm looking into the Yamaha, Nomata, Brio ,and Altus, but the ones they recommend(Yamaha, and Altus go way over my budget)
So I looked into Brio and the B1 model has a plated body and foot, with a Sterling Silver headjoint, and with the options, it runs into 2100.

The Pearl Flute has an additional 10k gold lip-plate and riser,and with the options, it runs into 1500
and have enough for a good quality piccolo.

I'm stuck but I don't want to be crticized by my teacher and band and orchestra conductors.


Saturday, August 29, 2009 6:43:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Dear Abraham,
I have never tried Brio or Nomata. (Nomata is actually a brand I've never heard of before.)

You want the best possible flute for YOU, so get your teacher's help with trying out flutes over several months.

If you pre-order a particular configuration, such as C# trill and split E, you get that individual flute---no matter how it plays.
If you don't pre-choose the configuration, you may find a much much much better flute (better mechanism, better intonation, better headjoint) within your budget, which plays far better than a specially ordered one.

I'm serious.

No two flutes are alike.
It's really not about brand name at all.

So learn how to flute shop properly with the help of an experienced teacher.
A Pearl, a yamaha, a Brio, all might be fine, but the individual flute itself will either be a 100% flute, or a 62% flute.
No two are alike.

Personally, I would open your mind to a whole bunch of brands, as well as used flutes.
An Altus 1107, or a Muramatsu GX, or a Yamaha 481 might all be found for under $3000.

So keep shopping.

Best, J.

Saturday, August 29, 2009 8:21:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much.
I will keep shopping.

Monday, August 31, 2009 3:51:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Yes, keep shopping and get your private flute teacher's help.
I also think you should consider the $1800 range flutes such as Avanti and Azumi at and other places.
These flutes (especially the Azumi) I have found play BETTER than the $3000 priced flutes often.

Monday, August 31, 2009 5:11:00 PM

Blogger penguin person said...

Hi Jen I was wondering if you have every played on a STERLING flute its the brand not the color. I tried to find some reviews but apparently its not a very popular brand. The flute is really cool but my mom and I are worried because it's really cheap so we aren't quite sure what we should do. So can you help?

Thursday, October 22, 2009 4:08:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Sorry, no, I haven't played "Sterling Brand" flutes, and I haven't heard any professional flute teachers and repair people send feedback on them, so they must be an obscure brand. Phone up the top U.S. repair-person for flutes that you find nearest, and ask the question there, perhaps?

If your budget is under $300 you should probably get a used Yamaha closed hole flute, second-hand and have it fixed up at a good flute repair shop, polished to look new.
The cheap flutes just don't play well mechanically; they wear out too fast, and may never play well.

Recently a flutist I know purchased one of these:

And said for $90 it sounded and played well. We''ll wait and see how it holds up mechanically, though.
Good luck,

Thursday, October 22, 2009 5:13:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great advice about helping a student choose a flute! When I was young enough to play student model flutes, my father always chose them for me. Once I moved to a professional, hand-made flute, I play-tested 5-6 before purchasing one. But since I hadn't ever chosen a student model, I wasn't quite sure what to recommend to a young student. It's great to see the pros/cons of each instrument.

Monday, October 26, 2009 11:35:00 AM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Thanks for your kind comments! J.

Monday, October 26, 2009 1:31:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Gemeinhardt 2NP (student model, closed hold, "C" foot) is 23 years old, and i have only had 1 leak. This flute has also sat in the case for over 10 years not being played. i joind a community band, 15 months ago and since then have played my Gemeinhart every week (and it got the leak some time last year). When i was in the store having it fixed, another woman was there having her 40 year old Gemeinhardt cleaned so she could give it to her daughter. i am very happy with my Gemeinhardt and no other brand that i have tried even comes close, and Gemeinhardts can fit any budget

Sunday, November 01, 2009 2:46:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Sorry, but as a professional flutist I have a completely different opinion.
Best, J.

Sunday, November 01, 2009 11:15:00 PM

Anonymous Floot Loop said...

Hello! I stumbled across your website and have learned alot from it!
I purchased a $100 Jollie from Ebay and it is JUNK, which I found out too late. I couldn't hit the mid-range d, e and f notes! I thought it was me not being a great player after returning to the flute after many years!
Turns out it WASN'T me!! Much to my joy and relief.
Thanks to your recommendations, I found THE flute for me --- an Azumi 2000RBO and it is INCREDIBLE! I sound so much better on it than the Jollie --- incomparibly better.
The Azumi was only $1040 which was alot for me but I felt it was OK to pay a few hundred more for the flute I really wanted (I almost bought an almost-new Pearl for $699). It has a solid silver head, too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 6:46:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Good for you. LOVE Azumi. They are truly fabulous, from all the ones I've tried in that price range. Good for you. J.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 9:11:00 PM

Blogger Richard said...

After many years of not playing, I have begun to practice on regular basis and find my Gemeinhardt’s a bit unsatisfying. It is M3S (with a low B foot) and probably need some work after many years of sitting in the case. Living in Calgary makes it difficult to test some of the flutes mentioned on this blog. When I was studying flute in Boston, students who could afford a Haynes were very fortunate. Everyone else suffered with flutes made by Artley and Gemeinhardt. From what I can read an Azumi 3000 or the Muramatus EX might be a good instrument for someone at the intermediate level? Most of the music I play is by 18th and 19th century composers. I am looking for an instrument with a full tone that is a bit forgiving. The Gemeinhardt is a bit shrill in the higher register. Next time I can travel to a larger city on business I should be able to find a dealer who carries the Azumi. The closest Muramatsu dealer is Portland OR, which is an 8 hour drive from Calgary. I am certainly tempted by flutes on EBAY but fear the cost of rebuilding a badly treated instrument. The other day a Muramutsu GX (open hole) went for $1600. Any suggestions for someone looking for an instrument who is not going to be able to try out 10 or 20 instruments before they find one that works for them.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 1:47:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Dear Richard,
You have two or three phone calls to make, and that's usually enough.
For starters, call Long&McQuade and let them know you want to try several major brand flutes, and ask what brands they have in stock, and what brands they can get.
They can bring in Azumi's by talking to their Jupiter Band Instrument representative. They may also have Muramatsus on hand.
105-58th 58 Avenue Southwest
Calgary, AB T2H 0A4, Canada
(403) 244-5555

Next, call up the biggest flute teacher or two in town, and let them know that you're interested in finding a good quality Mura or Azumi, or Altus, or Sankyo etc (other brands listed here: ) and have them take down your phone number if any of their students is selling a good quality intermediate instrument.

You shouldn't have to buy a flute in the $2000+ price range without a teacher helping you, so book a lesson or two, and get "in" with the big flute teachers in town.
They'll help you test instruments, and they'll know where all the good second-hand ones are in town.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 5:15:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

I've also purchased flutes online using and shopping at

If you use the search box at to find brands you like, (and can put in the word CANADA too) you might even find a used flute IN your city that you want!
As long as you're dealing with another flute student or teacher, chances are the flute will be in good repair.

I've had them shipped from U.S. too, and have had good luck with this.
Liz at Winds101 who advertises on is also very good, I hear. She's a repair person and sterilizes and fixes up all used flutes of all kinds.
She has lots of good prices too.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 5:18:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see from your earlier post that you haven't personally tried the Brio flutes yet, but have the flute discussion groups you read daily discussed the Brio much? I would like to know if it has the same bad reputation for workmanship and reliability that other Gemeinhardt flutes have.

Monday, January 04, 2010 11:02:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry, no. I haven't heard anything more about Brio flutes.
Best, J.

Monday, January 04, 2010 11:45:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,

I plan on upgrading to an intermediate flute and buying it at the Flute Festival in February. My flute teacher also plans to go to the Flute Festival. My top choices currently are the Muramatsu GX and the Sankyo SilverSonic.I may also consider the Altus 1107 and Yamaha 674HCT.
I do have a couple questions though.
Are both the Muramatsu and Sankyo completely handmade?
On, the website mentions that the Sankyo has "NEL." What is NEL?

Your help will be appreciated.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:04:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone know of a reputable flute repairperson in Maryland?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:10:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Flute repair in Maryland:

John Lagerquist is excellent and very experienced. J.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 9:45:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry, I don't know about the hand-made attributes of Sankyo and Muramatsu. An email to their website might give you an answer.
An email to Fluteworld might tell you what NEL means, also.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 9:47:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

I googled Sankyo Nel, and immediately found this:
Sankyo have also introduced the ‘NEL’ as a standard option on all models. This is, in fact, an adaption of the ‘E Ring’ principle but incorporated in the tone hole design i.e. by making the tone hole of the lower G smaller the venting for third octave E is improved, giving an alternative to the traditional E mechanism. Sankyo offer several versions of this with both ‘normal sized’ G key and ‘small’ G key.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010 9:48:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments. I am wondering which of these flutes would have the best resale value: Muramatsu GX, Altus 1107, Sankyo Silversonic, or the Yamaha 674HCT. I'm guessing that the Muramatsu and the Yamaha would have the highest, since they are well known and because James Galway plays a Muramatsu. Another person on the internet said Altus isn't as well known as Muramatsu.

Looking forward to your comments.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 3:39:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

All those brands probably have an equal ratio of resale value to blue-book-price.
All are good, reputable brands.
Best, J.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 3:46:00 PM

Anonymous Morgan said...

My name is Morgan and this website has helped me A LOT.
I just have a few questions.
Well, Im in highschool and Ive been playing on a Gemeinhardt since my JuniorHigh days. At first, it had a 'good' tone and I didnt have any leaks. That next year, I noticed my flute just didn't sound the same. Ive been in advanced placement bands but, I think my flute has been holding me back from getting a better chair throughout the years. I graduate in 2011 and I want to major in music in college so, I think its time I upgrade. I looked up the brand Azumi and the reviews looked good. I want an awesome quality of a flute and my budget is 1,000 or a little more. I just want your input on what kind of flute I should get. Thankyou!


Friday, January 29, 2010 11:44:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Morgan,
ha ha! :>)
This may sound long-winded but I have to cover every possibility:
Jen's answer:
Firstly, take your Gemeinhardt to a good flute repair tech and have it looked over. You could very very easily be playing with a leaking cork and leaking pads.

When you start shopping, you want to be taking flute lessons so someone who plays well can test your new possible flutes. So find out which teacher in your area can give you a few introductory lessons, and let them know you'd like your current flute tested to see if its in good working order and get some tips of flute-shopping.

In generaly, if I were you, I'd look for a used good quality flute in the $1000 range that has *already* had a guarenteed visit to a good quality repair person and given perfect bill of health from a private flute teacher who has play tested it, and run it through its paces.

Most flute problems are because of a lack of repair. You wouldn't believe how much better some flutes are after they've been repaired properly!

You could also simplify the flute-shopping by directly contacting the private flute teachers in your area to ask about used flutes they may have among their students.
Phone and leave a message asking for a call back if any of their flute students might possibly have a good intermediate flute for sale in the $1000 range. Many good quality Yamahas are found this way.
You can also ask which is the best repair shop that these flute teachers use, and then phone that repair shop and ask if they have any used flutes for sale. When talking to the shop, ask for used Yamahas or similar quality as outlined in my article

Also, online you can check for these brands, using the search engine (white box) to see if there's a used quality flute in your area/state/country. I've purchased and sold two flutes through and ended up with flute teachers and flute parents who were quite near by. We used, and we shipped the flutes and paid for them no problem.
But buying any flute requires a visit to a good quality flute repair person as soon as it arrives, so start by finding out who that is and begin by trying to shop locally as shipping flutes add $30 to every try-out.
That's why it is smarter to start by inquiring of the flute teachers where you live.

If you want to simplify the purchase of an online, used intermediate flute, look for winds101 which is a repair shop that uses the listings at
Other flutists have said that winds101 has a good guarentee, will work with you over the phone, and will stand behind the mechanical reliability of the repairs they do prior to shipping you your used flute of choice. Having a knowledgable flute repair person directly sell you the flute means that you know it's in top working order when you get it; unlike a large mail-order house for new flutes, where no flute technician may have "tweaked up" the flute for leaks prior to shipping.

Your Gemeinhardt may still be very salvagable if you had taken it once a year, "COA" (clean-oil-adjust) to a good flute technician in your area.
The cost of repairs that you likely now need on your Gemeinhardt may have to be weighed against its fixability.
It's possible that a $200 repair job might make your Gemeinhardt great again, and keep it going for another year while you try flutes and wait to find the one you truly think is great for your budget.
Buying a flute is a process.
Don't rush it.
Deal with professionals, and get their advice hands-on.
Take lessons and use the year of lessons to get help with buying a flute from your own teacher. That's a better use of the money in the long run.
(I played a Gemeinhardt 3m until the age of 23, and played third year University recital on it---I"m not kidding.)

Friday, January 29, 2010 1:54:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ordered three flutes for my daughter to try out: Azumi 2000, Brio B1, and Yamaha461. She tried them out and took them to her flute teacher to play. After playing all three without looking at the brand names guess which one stood out heads above the others? The Brio. You just don't know until you try. The Azumi and the Yamaha went back to the store and she's playing the Brio.

Sunday, February 07, 2010 2:45:00 PM


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