Buying a Flute

I so often get asked – “what’s a good flute to buy for my child?” Once the parent of a student heard a particularly advanced student at a studio recital and said, “I want to buy the brand of flute she plays.” While that’s a compliment to the student’s efforts, it’s not the best way to find the right instrument! In short, there is no best, but there is a process you can follow.

Let me say right here that I am not going to recommend any brands. If you’re interested in discussing that, just contact me!

There are several considerations:

  1. Set a budget. Without this, you’ll be lost in the myriad of choices. Set a budget and be firm about it, especially if you’re buying for a school-aged child. While it’s great that they’re excited about playing and you want to encourage it, they may make other choices and you’ll feel bad having spent more than you wanted. I’ve seen it too many times.
  2. There is no one brand that is “best.” It’s like buying a car. There are several brands in your price range that are good, and your decision is based on several factors, some of which are personal and instinctive. I always remind people that part of the flute is our body. Every mouth, chest, hands are different, and the flute will feel different for each person and sounds different. So, no, there is not one “best” flute. There are those that are made better than others, so that’s worth asking around about.
  3. The flute can be made from different metals such as silver, gold, platinum and those differ in cost. If you are upgrading from a student model flute, at minimum, it’s best to get silver in the headjoint. That’s the initial area that has an impact on tone, so precious metals (that student flute is only silver-plated), improve the tone.
    • Keep in mind that the flute must be in good mechanical condition. Without this, no amount of fine metal will really make a difference.
  4. Try out several brands. Have someone else there to see what kind of differences there are.

I’ll put in a plug for used instruments, especially if you buy from a reputable dealer. They’ve worked on the instrument to ensure that it’s mechanically sound. People don’t always sell their flute because there’s something wrong with it. I’m fond of saying that flutist like shiny things – we might move on to another flute because it’s giving us a different sound that we want to work with.