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Step Up Flute Shopping

So you’ve outgrown your student model flute. The keys just can’t keep up with you, and you know your tone could sound a lot better. Now what?

First off, don’t sell your old flute. Keep it as a back-up for when things go wrong (and they will if you’re practicing). It’s never good to be without an instrument.

What Should I Be Looking For?

There are many categories of flutes that are above the student model, and the sky is the limit for what you can spend. For an intermediate French open-holed model, expect to spend between 2k and 4k.

Here are your must have requirements:

  • Solid silver headjoint AND body
  • Low B foot

French open-hole keys: drawn or soldered keys, imo, do not make any difference if you’re not a professional player. And if you use a good flute technician (I know one if you need one), it’s a moot point. Here’s a link that explains the difference: Musical Instrument Hire

Bells and whistles (in order of most liked by me):

  • D # roller key: This is really nice to have, cuts down on the stress of the Right Hand pinky.
  • Offset G key: This has become pretty standard, it all depends on what your student model flute had, inline or offset. If you can get used to offset, it’s good for easing hand stress.
  • Split E mechanism: Yes, your high E will now be in tune. But your high F# is now out of tune. And it’s one more mechanism screw to go out of adjustment. Don’t pay extra for it, but it’s a neutral thing to have.
  • C # trill key: I live just fine without it. Comes in handy for very advanced pieces.
  • Gold covered lip plate: It’s cosmetic, it will wear off with time. It does NOT change your tone color. Solid gold lip risers will change your tone color, but are normally only found on professional flutes or custom made head joints.
  • Pointed key arms: Bling for your flute. Aesthetically pleasing, but does nothing to improve mechanism function.

What brands do you recommend?

This list evolves with time. Companies get bought out, quality sometimes goes down. Date of manufacture is important. A used flute does not necessarily mean low quality, sometimes quite the opposite. New companies begin, and need some time to be vetted by the flute community. I try to stay on top of the trends, and discuss quality levels with flute technicians. But just because you don’t see a brand listed here, does not automatically mean it’s not good, just ask my opinion. My favorites that I have play tested and have passed my durability standards:

  • Azumi Trevor James
  • Sonare Pearl
  • Yamaha Amadeus

Where can I buy these flutes?

This is a big purchase, and each flute will sound different depending on who is playing it. What sounds good for me will not necessarily sound good for another. So play testing a few different brands is very important. I recommend setting up an appointment with a flute shop, plan on spending a few hours there, and trying out as much as you can. It’s ok to not make a decision the day that you go.

Go prepared to play long tone exercises in all registers, an easy and a hard scale to test mechanism speed and response, and 2 repertoire pieces that you are very acquainted with, one lyrical and one upbeat. If you tend to lean towards a genre other than classical, make sure to play that style, too.

Have a trusted friend, family member, or your teacher listen to your playing to help you make a decision.

Here are some flute stores that have great reputations:

And most importantly, have fun in the process! There’s nothing quite as exciting as getting a new flute.

For piano lessons in Bucks County, flute lessons, or piano lessons in Doylestown, please get in touch.

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