what to buy

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what to buy

Post by wkssmiley » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:32 pm

i have a daughter who will be a freshman in high school and her band director says with her talent she needs a high end flute, not the basic student one she has now. i know nothing about flutes, one store says buy this one, another store says don't boy that one...am so confussed...
can anyone help me decide what she should have and where i might find one on a fixed budget?

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Re: what to buy

Post by Treemotan » Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:04 pm

Oi, I know your pain! Finding a good, high-end flute can be a rather confusing ordeal, mainly because of all of the different brands and options! Really, though, it all boils down to the player and what's most comfortable for them.

In general, the more silver there is, the better the tone. In particular, you want the headjoint to be made of solid silver, since that's where most of the resonance in the instrument occurs. A silver body and footjoint are nifty as well, but the headjoint and embouchure are most important. Note that silver flutes must be taken care of much more dutifully; they will tarnish if they aren't cleaned regularly. This applied to both the interior and exterior of the instrument. Avoid flutes with pigment added (I.E., a pink flute) like the plague. Did a run-through of Flight of the Bumblebee and the thing was literally bent when I was finished.

Open-hole/French model flutes are the way to go if an advanced player is stepping up; once a player gets used to covering the holes properly, they can easily tweak the pitch or tone of a note by adjusting their fingers. Furthermore, if your daughter is more advanced, sometimes a B footjoint can be a nice addition, since it allows an extra note and can help with hitting other low notes and the Gizmo key really helps with high C, but if you're tight on money note that it does add to the price.

One thing you'll see mentioned frequently when looking for flutes is offset/inline G. Offset G means that two of the keys on the main body of the flute don't line up perfectly with the rest, whereas in an inline G they are arranged in a perfect line. The only thing this really affects is finger placement and how the flute is held, so check to see which G key placement your daughter's flute has and if possible try to get a flute with the same setting. This is generally more of a comfort thing, and from personal experience I can say that switching between the two can be awkward, particularly if the new flute is open-hole. It's possible, just slightly awkward until you get used to it. As a note, most student models tend to be C flutes with an offset G and a C footjoint. If your daughter may want to learn piccolo in the future, an inline G might be good since piccolos are structured with inline keys.

Another thing you might want to take note of is the springs, since they can be made from a myriad of materials- most commonly copper or stainless steel, though more expensive flutes will oft utilize gold or white gold. The type of wire and its thickness affects how it feels to play and how the keys respond. The lighter materials respond to a lighter touch, while copper or stainless steel provide a bit more resistance. Really, it's a ll a matter of what's comfortable to the player, and even then the tension of springs can be manually adjusted. So really, the material isn't crucial in regards to playing. It does, however, pretty heavily affect maintenance. While gold or white gold springs might provide nice and responsive keys, they are a softer metal. This means they wear out much more easily than the others, and the flute will have to be taken in for maintenance much more frequently. White gold in particular is very high-maintenance in comparison with the others.

The brand of the flute is a relatively minor factor, however the best-quality flutes I've played have been Gemeinhardt, Yamaha, and Pearl. Jupiter flutes are also quite good, and can be custom-made, though my personal favorite is Gemeinhardt for its rich sound. However, this is entirely personal preference. The most important thing in purchasing a flute is to have your daughter try them out first and figure out what feels most comfortable for her and which one sounds the best to her. Most if not all stores that specialize in musical instruments will let you try the instrument out in-store. Local stores in particular are usually good about this, though their selection tends to be a lot smaller. Believe me, trying out the instrument is the most important part of the selection process.

As for budget, I myself had to purchase my own instruments on a tight budget. Don't shy away from refurbished or used instruments; you'd be surprised at the quality some of them are still in! Just make sure the previous owner or whomever you're purchasing it from has had all of the necessary repairs or maintenance done and allows your daughter to try out the flute first. Ask for the specs: if they don't know or refuse to tell, avoid purchasing it. Know what you're buying!

On that note, with one exception, avoid purchasing flutes online. Aside from one particular site, which I will mention shortly, it is nigh-impossible to test out the flute before you buy. A friend and fellow flutist purchased a very expensive, brand-new, solid silver Yamaha flute over the internet without having ever trying it, and it ended up being a waste of money due to the flute simply not being right for her. Her tone actually ended up worse! So if you do consider purchasing over the internet, be sure your daughter can actually try the instrument first.

As for a nice place to start looking for flutes, I highly recommend Flute World, particularly if you live in or in a state near Michigan. They have a massive selection of flutes spanning the entire skill-level spectrum with equally varying prices, and sell both new and refurbished flutes. Perhaps the nicest thing about them is that you can try literally any instrument on the site, even if you don't live anywhere near them! You can order any flute for a free 7-day trial, and there's no limit to the amount of instruments you can try. They also frequently have sales or discounts going on, so that can be nice if the flute your daughter's interested in happens to be discounted. Even if you ultimately don't end up purchasing from them, they're great as a starting point to figure out which direction to go.

Hope this helps!

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Re: what to buy

Post by fluteguy18 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:19 pm

I'm not even going to begin debunking a lot of the advice just given because it would take far longer than I would like. I strongly suggest reading the FAQ suggested by Piedpiper on the other thread you posted.

And no offense intended by that comment Treemotan, just a lot of flute mythology that most flutists have derived from tradition and retailer 'spin' so to speak is what I see but a lot of great advice too. Reading the FAQ would be a good idea for anyone! Excluding myself from this comment, but a lot of really knowledgeable people wrote it and it's a gem to read.

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Re: what to buy

Post by FluteMonkey » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:25 am

I'd strongly suggest you engage the help of a flute teacher or accomplished adult flute player to help your daughter select a flute. If your daughter doesn't currently take private lessons, consider find a good teacher at least for the short term to assess her needs and guide you both through the process. Check out the following links for advice on buying a flute:


You may also want to check out Jennifer Cluff's website. She has some great articles on all aspects of flute playing.


Hope this helps.

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