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:


http://www.usedflutes.com/

http://www.fluteclassifieds.com/

http://www.sideblown.com/sale.html

http://www.musiciansbuyline.com/flutes.html

http://www.musicalinstrumentsales.co.uk/flutesales.html

http://www.netinstruments.com/musical_instruments_for_sale/flutes/

For Used flutes being sold through dealers see:

http://www.fluteworld.com

http://www.justflutes.com

http://www.flute4u.com/

http://www.fluteworks.com/

http://www.allflutesplus.co.uk/2006/instruments/used.htm

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Atlantis/4015/fluteused.html

http://brassandwoodwind.ca/flutes.html

http://www.wichitaband.com/used.html#modern%20flute

 

Jen's Article on buying a new flute or a good used flute


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:
A brand new flute starts to drop in price the moment it's taken from the store, much like a car does immediately after it's been driven off the lot. A "used" flute's current value is determined by the condition it's in.
There's a lengthy article on this at:
http://www.musictrader.com/buyers.html

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
or professional run a gammut of tests on it to see whether or not it has a fatal flaw or a repairable flaw.

It's not a good idea to buy a flute without having it checked out
thoroughly....as the beginning or intermediate student can't possibly test for all the known flaws. And let me assure you that it is normal practice to take a used or new flute out of the store for a 7 to10 day trial period, so that the student can have their private flute teacher check it over.This saves dollars and time in the longrun.That being said...here's a wealth of flutey information:


Where to try out new and used flutes:

Locally:
At reputable music stores in your area. Try to phone ahead and assure yourself that the store has a wide variety of flutes to try. (Example: "We have; Yamaha, DiMedici, Jupiter, Trevor James, Miazawa, Powell, Sankyo, Muramatsu, Altus etc.)

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.
I like to coach students about how to test flutes, and certainly advocate getting your own teacher's advice before making up your mind as to what it is you want. You may be surprised to find that your tastes begin to change once you've tried a wide variety of flutes.

Other places to try:

Big cities:
If you can arrange a day or two to travel to a larger city center (having researched the stores there ahead of time) it can be fun to make a mini-holiday out of trying flutes at various large music stores.

Flute Conventions:
For adults and very motivated flute students, contact the British Flute Society (U.K.), Australian Flute Society, or National Flute Association (United States) and inquire about the annual flute conventions where there will be scores of flutedealers and booths and headjoint makers demonstrating and allowing trials on their instruments. The web address for the NFA in the U.S. is:
http://nfaonline.org/index.html

Private Dealers: Trying out new flutes sent by post/parcel
delivery from reputable dealers can be one way of testing various
brands, but can also be expensive in terms of shipping costs back
and forth, as you try out and reject instruments sent 'on spec.'.
A list of such dealers, however, can be found at:
http://www.harpsong.org/


For second hand instruments:

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:

http://www.linnkezer.com/fraud.htm

IMPORTANT:

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.


Price hunting:

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
reports and good service, in addition to perennial discounts on well known flute brands. They carry almost every make worth looking at, so I'd certainly check them out first to get to know prices.
Where to research prices for used professional flutes ($2000+):
http://www.flutes.com/ This is Ginger Hedrick's "Flute Exchange" and I've found Ginger to have a solid reputation for honesty and value.


Recommended flute brands and features:

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.
I'll update this information as soon as I can.]

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;
http://www.yamaha.com They're a reliable company, readily available, and very high quality for the price. They are basically mechanically and tonally consistent, and will always keep a good value during re-sale.

Yamaha headjoint options and special features are explained in full at this link.

---------------------------------------------
Jupiter 711 - Open hole, silver head, body & foot (offset G available), low B.
---------------------------------------------
DiMedici 911 or 1011- Open hole, silver head, offset G, low B. In-line G also available for those who prefer it.
-----------------------------------------------

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.

----------------------------------------------------
AVANTI Flute by Brannen. This is a new flute that has received rave reviews. Currently priced at under $1800 (like the Azumi by Altus) but said just as good as a semi-professional flute. Search for it at www.fluteworld.com

------------------------------------------------
Second hand models that I would recommend:
Yamaha, DiMedici, Sankyo, Miyazawa, Muramatsu, Altus, Jupiter made after 1999.

--------------------------------------

Summary:

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):
Gemeinhardt, Emerson, Buffet, Artley, Armstrong, Selmer,Bundy, Vito, Winston, Lark, little known brand names that are mass produced in the orient. (Lark, Shiny Happy Flute etc.)

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.

______________________________________________

Notes on special flute options:

______________________________________________

The intermediate level of flutes feature several options that are important to know about and to try out.

1. Open holes (also called french style keys)
2. In-line G key
3. Handcut headjoint
4. Low B natural key (below low C) with gizmo
5. Precious metals (gold plating etc.)

You can read about all these items at:

http://www.jbwflutes.com/buying.asp#jump3\

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.
Some of the very famous and great flute musicians played closed hole. It's up to the flutist (and their teacher) to decide whether they're desireable.

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:

Open Hole vs. Closed Hole Article.

2. In-line G key vs. Off-set G
There is terrific controversy over "in-line G" in that it has been sited as one of the chief causes of tendonitus in the left hand and other left-arm problems.

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
Handcut headjoints cost between $700 Cdn.and $2500 dollars all by themselves. The cut of the headjoint is what makes a flute's tone absolutely fantastic. It is not the body where the keys are that create the great tone.
When a budget-minded student is serious about going professional, they'll often keep their high-quality flute body, and simply go "headjoint" shopping, adding a "handcut" headjoint to their existing body.
This is something to keep in mind for the future. I recently had an adult student merely upgrade her headjoint for $1000, since the closed-hole C-foot flute body she was using was in fine shape, and she saved the expense of buying a whole new flute.

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:
There are just over 70 pieces of flute music that require this note of "low B" and the accompaning feature called "The Gizmo" is a tiny lever that you must push down to close the B key when playing very high notes such as high C and C#4. Plenty of flute professionals simply play a flute with a low C which was the standard of the 1800s and 1900s, and when a low B is written in solo music, take the "ossia" and play this single low B note up an octave in a given piece. They prefer the low C-foot version flute because it is less weight overall, and allows the arms to do less work holding the instrument up. Low C also makes the high register brighter and slightly less resistant to being blown.
Others argue that the low B allows the highest notes of the flute
to be more mellow and "darker". This argument will continue indefinitely in flute circles, I'm sure.

It is very much a question of personal preference.
If the flute you decide to buy has a low B, sure, go ahead and get it....but don't think it's necessary. For a list of pieces containing low B,
click here. As I said: there are not many, but as low B becomes more the norm in flute purchases, more contemporary composers are using it. So the incidence of low B in flute music *IS* increasing steadily.
I personally DON'T use my low B flute except for maybe one in every hundred pieces that I play. But recently I've been coming across more and more modern pieces that sound well with the low B in the flute part, and I'm happy to have the option of playing them as written.

5. Precious metals (gold plating etc.)
Gold and platinum have been added to very expensive models in the past, and the trend has been to start adding them to intermediate flutes as well, to attract buyers to upgrade to the "flash" of precious metals.
In truth, they affect the sound less than 1%. If the precious metals are merely plating (which they usually are on student flutes) the effect on the tone of the flute is less than a tenth of 1%
99% of flute players tend to play on solid silver. And the best flutes generally have solid silver headjoints, and if you can afford it, solid silver bodies as well.

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.
______________________________________________________
Summary:

For high school students with small budgets, no time to travel, nowhere nearby to shop and try out new flutes:
My policy is to trust Jupiter, DiMedici, Altus and Yamaha flutes that were assembled in Japan (the Yamahas assembled in the U.S. a decade or more ago have an "A"in the serial number, and apparently were poorly assembled.). Try each of these and decide for yourself which you prefer and which suits your budget.

Some teachers also have had success with Trevor James and Pearl, although, personally, I haven't come in much contact with these flutes.

For all my brand name suggestions in the under $5000 and under $2000 range see brands listed above, or read more lists of flute item suggestions at "Flute Equipment Recommendations."

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:

http://www.yamaha.co.jp/english/product/winds/product/wood/flute/flute_option/main.htm

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.
Jennifer Cluff. Principal Flute of the Vancouver Island Symphony
________________
Back to Jen's homepage


 

Copyright © 2007 Jennifer Cluff