Flute Buyers Guide

Makes to look out for:

  • Budget: Trevor James, Jupiter, Yamaha, Just Flutes, Windcraft
  • Intermediate: Yamaha, Pearl, Altus, Miyazawa, Azumi, Powell
  • Professional: Muramatsu, Miyazawa, Powell, Sankyo

The most common type of flute is the C flute with a split E mechanism. Some beginner flutes are now available with a curved mouthpiece to make them easier for children to play but you should consider this a transition to a straight flute as the player progresses. Most beginner flutes are nickel silver or silver plated. More advanced players should consider open hole flutes as it allows you to play more repertoire because they enable half hole covering. Open hole flutes can also drastically improve the players technique as they learn to cover the holes in the keys, centralising their finger to the key cup and allowing fast and direct action. It is common for a silver head joint to be purchased separately and used with an intermediate level flute to improve the sound production. Once a player progresses to more advanced levels then a completely solid silver flute should be considered.

Priority features: Split E mechanism, silver plated body and keywork, progressing to solid silver head, body and foot.

Nice to have features: Solid silver headjoint. B foot joint will enable the flute to play down to low B.

Note: Some professional flutes, mainly Powell and Muramatsu, have hard backed rigid pads like Straubinger pads. These are specialist pads and not all technicians will be able to work with them.

Play test: If you are new to playing then ask an experienced player to play the flute for you or take advice from your local NAMIR repairer or teacher. Allow enough time to become accustomed to a head joint. There are different cuts in the head joint lip plate of some manufactures (e.g. Pearl) which may be more suited to some players.

Common problems – things to look out for:
Evidence of dents, joints not fitting nicely, scratches or wear on silver plating. Check all keywork moves easily – especially under the right hand. Visually inspect all the pads – look for splits/holes or dark patches where the flute has not been properly dried after playing. Check for lost motion in keywork – pressing keys that have play in them before engaging other keys. If you are unsure, check with an experienced player, your teacher or a local NAMIR repairer.

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