Jen Cluff ~ Used or New Flute Shopping
Canadian Flutist and Teacher
Shopping for a good new or used flute for beginner to intermediate flute students
To find used student level flutes online ~ private sales, and used flute dealers here are some links:
For Used flutes being sold through dealers see:
Buying a flute for $400 to $1800 for serious amateur beginners, and intermediate flute students:
Looking for a new or used flute that will take you through the intermediate level? First, let's talk about the value of flutes:
If you're determined therefore to save money by buying a used flute, the BEST person to buy a used flute from is a flute teacher or advanced flute player (who's selling their old one) who can be 100% honest about the condition of the flute and what work has been done on it over the years (re-padding etc.) And the best way to test a new flute is to have a flute teacher
It's not a good idea to buy a flute without having it checked out
Where to try out new and used flutes:
Note: It's best to try out a huge variety of flutes even if you have your heart set on seeking a particular brand or a particular price range.. If you do try them all you can be assured that you'll develop a sense of what you're looking for. Some will have huge sounds, some will have small sounds, some will be easy to play but sound thin, some will be harder to play but have more colour when you add breath support.
Other places to try:
Private Dealers: Trying out new flutes sent by post/parcel
Very careful shoppers may want to keep an eye on their local "Buy and Sell" newspaper or online website. Even with a very small population base, here on the west coast islands of Canada, I have found some incredible prices on used flutes. Example: Yamaha 481 intermediate, solid silver flute for less than $1000 Cdn. (!)
Most second hand flutes need to see a top flute technician or repair person before the sale is finalized. All used flutes need to be play-tested by a professional flute player or teacher.
Some folks also have luck with Ebay purchases, but "buyer beware". An example of an honest seller becoming involved in a recent flute selling scam is documented here:
Always have a professional flutist, professional flute teacher,or reputable repair technician test instruments before paying in full for new or used flutes.
Please do NOT surprise someone by buying a flute student a flute that has not been pro-tested by a professional teacher or competent flutist. You'll soon realize that flawed flutes are difficult to re-sell, expensive to repair, and frustrating to the flutist whom you wanted to surprise. If the youngster or adult beginner cannot yet play the flute allow a professional to fully test any flute before you pay for it.
Where to research prices for flutes: www.fluteworld.com http://wwandbw.com/index.html These are both American companies, for exmaple, that offer payment plans, discounts, and are very reliable for top-level service. The first one, Fluteworld seems to have consistently good
Intermediate to Advanced level flutes under $5000.
I recommend the following brands. Multiple models of each to be play tested by a professional flutist and the student flutist together:
New or Used
Miyazawa, Muramatsu, Sankyo, diMedici, Altus (including Azumi)
For Beginner to Intermediate flute brands that are under $2000:( good for an adult amateur, dedicated teen or rapidly progressing student of any age.) Be sure and play-test multiple models with your private teacher assisting you to avoid "lemons":
The following brands are readily available in most major cities or can be mail-ordered:
TOP PICK: Azumi 3000 model by Altus at www.fluteworld.com
General brands worth looking into:
Yamaha student flutes; 200 series: Closed hole, plated silver. C-foot.
Yamaha 365 - Intermediate flute, open-hole, off-set G, silver head, plated body, B-Foot
Yamaha 461H - Intermediate flute, open-hole, offset G, silver throughout, low B foot.
[Note: Yamaha has recently changed their model numbering system.
To view the standard types of flute options they have at the Yamaha Co. website and their new numbering system of various models go to;
Altus AZUMI: I've most recently tried these open-hole B-foot flutes, and they are fabulous for the price. The Azumi 3000 is around $1700 U.S. and is solid silver. An EXCELLENT flute all around. Seee www.fluteworld.com and click on Azumi.
If it were a question of a serious adult amateur, or a 13 yr. old, dedicated student, I'd suggest a DiMedici, Altus, Miyazawa, Muramatsu or Yamaha 300 or 400 series flute, and upgrade the headjoint again in first year University.
Flute Brands to Avoid due to inconsistent manufacture, stiff blowing headjoints, clunky mechanism, or history of need frequent repairs:
Do not buy any flutes from Costco or Walmart or other large department store. These are wall-decor, not instruments. They are apparently not repairable, and have metal defects, binding parts, soft, bendable mechanism and have pad leaks within the first week.
Also avoid (IMHO):
When shopping for used professional flutes, be aware of the background behind the inexpensively priced Haynes or Powell flutes that are from the 1980s or earlier. The prices are low because often these flutes are too mechanically worn to play easily without major repair work, and that many modern flute players find that the flute's "old scale" takes extra embouchure work to play easily in tune by modern standards.
1. Open holes (also called french style keys)
You can read about all these items at:
and there's a glossary of terms at Fluteworld.com
But I'd also like to give a few words on each special option:.
1. Open holes are only truly necessary for playing very contemporary music where you might need to "half-hole" or place your finger only partially across the hole in a key. This type of "extended technique" music will not show up until the advanced flute levels. However some flute teachers insist on open-holes in order to very quickly correct sloppy hand position (if you do not cover the holes exactly, air will leak through the holes in the keys, and the notes will not come out clearly). However, as we enter the new flute-teaching era where we understand that some hand sizes and shapes do not allow complete open hole coverage, flutists, professional and student alike are beginning to accept that often a hole or several holes in the keys will require plugs to ease hand position.
So having open holes is useful if you ever need them, but plugs can be used until that time.
I suggest for the same reason that parents do not buy open-hole flute for a beginner unless you are sure that they will need it, and that they can cover the holes easily with their hand size and configuration. Consult with the private teacher.
Open-holes are also easier to reach for most hand sizes, if the flute also has "off-set G". Consult with the private flute teacher before deciding, and try an open-hole "inline G" and "offset G" for several months before making up your mind as to which fits your own hands better.
If you would like to read all the current debates about open and closed hole flutes (the arguments are constantly being made on either side) go to:
2. In-line G key vs. Off-set G
In-line G means that for aesthetic reasons of design, and speed of production, that the G key is *not* off-set so that it is easily reached by the left hand ring finger when playing the note "G". Instead it requires a stretch of the left hand, in order to achieve the visual aesthetic of having all the flute's left hand keys in an artificially (non-ergonomic) straight line when you look at the flute. Unless the student feel that the inline G is MORE comfortable, I always advise them to get "offset G" which is more ergonomic, and more easily repaired mechanically.
The pro-flute-players I've met who are comfortable with in-line G usually have shorter, wider fingers, and small hands. Their hands easily reach to the inline G without twisting the left wrist into a contorted position. Their left wrist is usually straight and free of strain. Those with long fingers, thin fingers, large hands, long palms, delicate wrists and difficulty with left-hand-ring-finger stretch usually prefer off-set G.
Stores may only have "in-line" in stock, and you may have to wait for them to order an off-set G....but the comfort of your hands is certainly worth it.
3. Handcut headjoint
As the fluteplayer matures, as it would be smart to buy an intermediate flute at first, and then later upgrade the headjoint if they continue to excel in flute playing.
4. Low B natural key (the extra key below low C) with a gizmo:
It is very much a question of personal preference.
5. Precious metals (gold plating etc.)
To read an article about gold vs. silver and how this argument too goes on indefinitely :>) Click here for "Do I need a gold flute?"
Students may be attracted to gold-plated flutes but unfortunately the gold does not keep well, as a plating, and will wear off over time. Gold plating can be the answer to those with certain skin allergies, however.
Solid silver is a solid choice for good price, quality wear and tear, and pure tone quality. Test many headjoints "blind-folded" before looking at the colour of the metal, is my advice.
For high school students with small budgets, no time to travel, nowhere nearby to shop and try out new flutes:
Some teachers also have had success with Trevor James and Pearl, although, personally, I haven't come in much contact with these flutes.
For information on buying used flutes click here.
To see pictures of more flute options, gizmos and how they work and why go to either:
or you can click on the links to "flute thing a ma gigues" at my flute care page.
Hope this is a helpful bunch of info. for first time shoppers.
Copyright © 2007 Jennifer Cluff