“ Woodwind instrument „
With so many beginner flutes on the market it can be hard to know where to start. With years of experience in playing, teaching, buying and selling flutes we have accrued a good understanding of the models available and the needs of the beginner flautist. This guide has been written in view of the first time buyer in the hope of offering independent information and advice. If you find this guide helpful, please vote below so that more of our guides will be visible.
The Yamaha, Japanese made YFL211 is the most popular student flute on the market and for good reason. Designed with the beginner student in mind, it is extremely responsive and has excellent intonation. Built to last, the 211 is constructed of high quality materials, giving longevity to both the mechanisms and pads. This is a highly versatile instrument recommended for grades 1-6, though it is known for players to even reach grade 8.
As with the majority of entry-level flutes, the 211 is silver plated (the 211N - nickel plated - is available but not as highly recommended). Silver is used as it a very dense metal and consequently produces a soft tone. More advanced players may want to upgrade to a flute with a solid silver head-joint, which again produces a greater quality of tone. Silver, however, is both expensive and soft and therefore we would not recommend purchasing a solid silver flute, new or second hand, for a young beginner. Not only that, but solid silver flutes are initially harder to master, reaching lower and higher registers may be difficult for a beginner. The 211 maintains its value due to the quality of its construction - it is very durable and can withstand a certain amount of mistreatment by the younger player. It stands at the top end of the entry-level market but compared to cheaper models, and if taken care of, is the best investment long term. The YFL211 has a 'split-E' mechanism, which helps players to reach the 3rd octave E, as well as on 'offset-G' helping smaller hands reach these keys. The majority of flute teachers in the UK recommend this offset-G and split-E configuration and will insist on beginners purchasing the appropriate flute. Please be aware of new "YAMAHA" 211 flutes from China sold on Ebay, these are generally counterfeit goods and of very poor quality.
The Trevor James 10x is also a highly recommended beginner instrument, with the same key configuration. Trevor James (TJ) are English flute makers known for their delicate construction and highly responsive flutes. It is often said, and we agree, that Trevor James flutes have a much sweeter tone than Yamaha flutes. The TJ 10x is the beginner model and is silver-plated. Trevor James have an innovative plating system whereby they use a cupro-nickel alloy plating underneath the silver to prevent damage. This is why second-hand Trevor James flutes often appear to have better plating. Trevor James also make the TJ Privilege, a step-up flute with a solid silver lip-plate. This makes it a cheaper option than buying a flute with an entire solid silver head joint, while providing a denser metal at the first point of contact with the airflow.
The Jupiter 511-ESSC is also a very good beginner flute. Jupiter is a Taiwanese company, though their beginner instruments are made in China. Even so, the JFL511 is very well made and has just won the Music Industry Association (MIA) award for the best woodwind instrument of 2009 beating the YFL211, TJ10x and others. Critics still maintain however that the Chinese made Jupiter flutes are not as durable as the Yamaha or Trevor James flutes. There are plenty of other well known flute makers such as Pearl, Germeinhardt, Buffet and so on. We have not discussed them here as they are not as popular as those described above in the UK. Pearl flutes are of a very high quality, with smooth and unique pinless mechanisms. We highly recommend them for the advancing student and their solid-silver flutes are very well regarded. Germeinhardt flutes are very popular in the USA and are of high quality.
Thea and Tim
The flute is a woodwind instrument which is played by blowing down the air hole, and pressing different combinations of keys to change the produced note. The principal behind this type of instrument has existed for tens of thousands of years, and flute like instruments made of bone have been uncovered. The modern flute is made of metal, and can be bought in various metallic colours. Major producers of flutes include the Jupiter company.
The flute can be bought we either a straight head or curved head (my Jupiter model actually came either both). The curved head's purpose is to enable children who cannot play a full length flute to play since the head curves into a U which make the mouth piece closer to the main body of the flute. The straight head does not have this bend. The flute is split in to three sections, the head piece, the main key piece (the longest section), and the end piece which has a few keys on it (this is the shortest section). When assembling the flute, the length can be adjusted depending on how tightly the sections are pushed together, and this is how a flute is tuned. The tuning note for flutes is middle A. Small screws keep the rods that hold the keys in place steady.
The flute is part of the traditional western orchestra and can be used to create other styles of music such as jazz. It is becomingly increasingly popular among children for reasons unbeknown to me.
I have played this instrument for nearly ten years (from the age of 8) and although I have gone off it recently and stopped taking formal lessons. However, I would definitely recommend this instrument to anyone interested in taking up an instrument, because once you get over the first hurdle of learning the proper mouth position, it is a joy to play. The instrument is versatile in the types of music you can use it to play which means the instrument can adapt to your changes in music preferences. The flute can be packed down in to a small case which is extremely easy to carry places; another advantage of this instrument.
I've been playing the flute for about 11 years now and the piccolo for a few less, and have to say, the best student flute I have had is a Yamaha 311. It's solid silver lip plate and head joint is far better than the silver plated 211. It gives a fantastic tone and sound quality, even in at a top C and beyond! I have even been able to play top notes quietly, unlike other brands of flutes. I got it for £711 but only because she shop price matched, so although fairly expensive for a student flute, definately worth the money and felt better to hold and play than other flutes available when I brought mine! It has lasted me up to grade 8 standard and A level although may not be a diploma choice, and hasn't compromised the standard of performance. Definately the ideal student flute to go for regardless of standard or age.
When I was eleven years old, my Dad asked me if I wanted to learn an instrument. At that time, there was a girl in my class who was already grade 3 on the flute, and I thought she was amazing, (she was, she got a dploma when she was 15!) I wanted to be just like her. It didn't take much thinking for me to decide, so that night, I went home and told my Dad I wanted to play the flute. It was the best decision I ever made.
At first my Dad wouldn't buy me my own flute, because he believed I would give up after a week or so once I had started. (Thats what my brother did, two weeks after my Dad bought him a brand new £300 clarinet). But in the end we found a cheap second hand one, for £80. It was old and an antique, but I liked it, and it was ok for a beginners flute.
A year went by, and I was ready to take grade 2. I wanted to upgrade my flute before the exam and so for my brithday that year, my Dad bought me an Armstrong flute. It was a make it had never heard of before, but the people in the music shop I bought it from assured me it was a good make. The flute didn't come with a solid silver head, but my Dad paid extra for it. Buying an Armstrong flute was a big mistake and I wouldn't reccommend anyone to get one. Stick with the well known brands such as Yamaha or Trevor James. Armstong had a poor tone and I had loads of problems with it. I ended up sending it away to be serviced every couple of months (and thats not cheap - your looking at £40 a time)
Over the next few years, playing the flute helped me alot, every time I felt lonely or down, i'd play and i'd forget about everything, I found the flute to be an escape and to be honest I would say playing an instrument is better than any councelling or therapy, as you can get lost in the music.
2 years after grade 2 I took grade five, this is when I started learning piano as well. Then grade 7 and finally 8 This was when I discoverd I loved modern 20th Century music. I played poulenc's sonata for grade 8 along with a piece by Edwin York Bowen. This was when I decided to get my current flute. I was fed up with Armstrong and decided to turn Yamaha. I bought the Yamaha 311, and I would reccommend this flute to any intermediate player. The flute has a Solid Silver head joint and a Silver plated body, but it makes a lovely tone, they retail at about £800 but if you shop carefully you should be able to get one cheaper than that. (I part exchanged my Armstrong and the 311 was in the sale when I bought it, and it worked out at around £450) This flute saw me through grade 8 and through the beginning of my diploma. I would like to upgrade now, but the upgrade to the YFL411 is way more expensive and I am afraid out of my budget.
Overall, I found the flute to be an amazing instrument, and I would highly reccommend it to anybody. I always find, everybody who hasn't learned the flute always says to me that they aren't able to play, because they can't get a noise out of it. Well to be honest it took me almost a week to get a single note, but everyone can do it, and practice makes perfect! I promise its rewarding. All the way through school, I was in the Orchestra and I even had my own flute quintet. I found it most rewarding to hear the applauds after we played. After I finished my A-levels, I decided to learn Sax, I now play in a Jazz group at my uni, as well as in the orchestra. I have managed to teach myself this instrument in only a couple of months, because the finger patterens are roughly the same as the flute. Jazz flute is awsome too. I have limited experience in it, but would love to learn.
Unfortunantly, I also have limited experience with Piccolos or Alto flutes. But I'm hoping soon to get a yamaha piccolo. My advice to anyone who wants to buy a flute is make sure you buy a well known brand like yamaha or Trevor James. If your a beginner, most people go for the yamaha YFL211S which is a student flute and is fairly cheap. It doesn't have a solid silver head and is completely silver plated. If you are an intermediate flute player and want a Yamaha flute, go for the 311 or even better the 411, which is made of solid silver. However, to get this flute you are looking at £1400, and advanced flutes start at £1500+. If you are looking for trevor James try the V2 Virtuoso, for advanced players, the C2 Cantabile for intermediate players and the Privilage P1 for beginners. I have heard that Trevor James flutes have a better tone than yamaha, but I cannot comment on that, because I have never had a Trevor James, and I have never had problems with my yamaha. The Headjoint on a flute, is the most important part, this is because it is the main part of the flute for tuning. If you are small or a small child wants to learn, I would reccomend getting a curved headjoint, these are much easier to play for people who can't reach very well!
I've been playing flute for many years now and have my grade 8. Although I find that when im stressed I turn to my piano, I think I spend some of my most creative hours playing flute. I love modern flute music, it is crisp, exciting and emotional (just look for Poulenc, Debussy or Ravel). Jazz flute is also incredible, a style I think that many sadly miss out on.
As for types of flute, I have played piccolo, flute and alto-flute. My favourite is alto-flute, it has a resonant mellow tone which I have not found in any other instrument. As I frequently play in groups, it is often a requirement that I play piccolo; piccolo is fun but I do not like the sound. Personally, I own an ebony yamaha piccolo which after trying many picc's I found created the warmest sound. (retails at abut £800)
When I first began playing flute, I had the usual student 211S yamaha flute, this (with a silver headjointed added before grade 6) was my instrument until just before grade 8. This instrument is fantastic for students and with a silver headjoint you can play on it for evermore. Yamaha student flutes come at a price of around £600 - £800 pounds and are sold in all good woodwind retailers. However I found myself doing more and more performing so I decided to get a professional model, I now am a proud owner of a Sankyo Artist, this flute is solid silver throughout with open tone holes and retail at about £3900.
If you are a student you cannot go wrong with a yamaha flute but I cannot say the same for other student models. As many of my friends have had problems with other branded student flutes.
If you are an intermediate player with a good quality student flute, I would recommend investing in a decent solid silver headjoint.
If you are an advanced player then there are several good brands available, including: Sankyo (my favourite), Miyazawa (creates a fantastic tone) and the popular Maramatsu.
Finally, if you don't think you are cut out for playing a classical instrument; just give it a go, afterall its the same fingering as saxaphone :P
I have been playing the flute on and off 20 years and been the proud owner and renter of several. Out of all the flutes I've owned, my favourite manufacturer is Trevor James. Their student flute produces a fantastic sound and you get a lot for your money. I also own a Trevor James Cantabile flute, which is even better. If you want to buy a student flute which is robust and will last for years, I would recommend a Yamaha 211 (their student clarinet is also superb). I rented a Yamaha flute out of curiosity and was seriously impressed with the quality of the instrument. However, I still think that the Trevor James student flute sounds better, but I guess that is personal taste. For those on a budget, I would recommend Arbiter instruments. One of my flute teacher's other pupils plays an Arbiter flute. Apparently, it sounds brilliant. I own an Aribiter clarinet myself and it compares very well with other more expensive brands. Am looking to upgrade to a Miyazawa or Muramatsu. Would be very interested to hear about those.
I am, for my sins, a flute teacher. I am mainly a flute player, but I do teach as well. There are many flutes available for a beginner. I started off with a nickel plated yamaha. This is a VERY basic model, but I even used this flute when doing my qualifications. I have taught people with Trevor James, Buffet, Pearl, Yamaha, Aultos (yes they made your recorders too) and Jupiter. The Yamaha Company has been in business since 1887 and, without doubt, their student flutes are the best selling in the world. Yamaha have invested in the best technology and materials and, coupled with an excellent quality control, produce consistently reliable and popular flutes. All shops stock the Japanese made instruments (as opposed to the US assembled range, which, in my opinion, is inferior in quality), and always have in a large stock. Pearl is a Japanese company with a Taiwanese factory for their student range who entered the flute making business in 1968. The factory, based in Taichung, assembles the parts made in either Japan or Taiwan and carries out the superior standard hand finishing work under the supervision of Japanese management. One of the particular attractions of the Pearl design is that it uses a ‘pinless’ mechanism, making the instrument less prone to seizing up and easier to maintain and repair. These are stocked in less shops, but you can always get hold of them by post from any large music shop. In my opinion Jupiter produce the best of the Taiwanese made instruments. In the last decade they have spent a lot of effort improving materials and design and now produce a reliable, robust beginner flute at a reasonable price. In 1998 a new model of the '5' series has been introduced which has a solid chimney or riser. This model has replaced the existing silverplated JFL511ES. In 1998 the Jupiter factory introduced a range of flutes called 'Di Medici' to the United Kingdom market. These are
a higher quality flute than the student Jupiter range with a better quality mechanism and embouchure design aimed at the more advanced player. They are realistically priced too being between the student and mid-range in cost. These are available in solid head and solid tube models. All have pointed key arms, giving a professional look to the instrument. Student instruments are generally designed to make learning easy for a beginner. When a player has progressed to a certain level of proficiency, an upgrade may be needed, but it may not be necessary to upgrade as far as the mid-range instruments. There are two options available from shops in the upgrading of student flutes. Option 1 Both Pearl and Yamaha silverplated instruments have sufficiently reliable mechanisms to ensure a long lifetime of use. The head joint design is biased towards the needs of beginners and so a cost-effective way of upgrading is to change the head joint only. A lot of shops offer an option of a ‘Mid-Range’ japanese flute head joint, such as Miyazawa or Altus, fitted to a flute in the silverplated range. This is sold at the same price as the equivalent student flute with a solid head e.g. a Yamaha YFL211SII fitted with an Altus head will be the same price as a Yamaha YFL311II. Option 2 If you already own a flute from the silverplated Yamaha or Pearl ranges then a further step would be to select a separate hand made head joint for your flute, giving you the biggest improvement in sound and flexibility. Have a look at 'Flute Head Joint' sections in flute catalogues for a listing of the new head joints they stock. See also their current 'Second Hand List' for stocks of used head joints. It is, of course, advisable for the player to try both options to make sure they find the most suitable upgrade. Remember, seek the advice of your teacher, and try everything. I did infact put a very expensive hand made silver
head joint onto my nickel flute, an the diference was amazing! It gave me an extra five years before I had to buy my new flute, which was £1000 instead of £6000!! Of course you do not need to go for such an expensive instrument, or upgrade. My only reason for doing so was that I was going into the profession! You can buy flutes from most music shops, but the best ones to try are the major flute shops in London. I use Top Wind, which is a three minute walk from Waterloo station. You can find them on www.topwind.com I often mix this in with a trip to London. Shopping!! Not that I like shopping or anything! Also there is Just Flutes, which is in Croydon. I have not been there since they moved but they are very close to Ikea! I mix this with my regular trips to Ikea. Shopping!! The other big flute shop in London is All Flutes Plus. I tend not to use this shop because it is awkward to get to and is more expensive than the other two. If you want my advice, it is best to try flutes in whatever shop you happen to go to (I know that in Basingstoke we have Modern Music, and they sell a large range of flutes) and then have a phone round to see where you can get the best deal. Also if you buy the flute through your school, you can get a sizeable discount. All flute shops can be found on the internet. For all beginners I find that the Yamaha is the most popular for easr and quality of sound, as well as for being the longest lasting. I have not known them to break down as often as others, although I had a nasty accident with mine and it did play up a bit afterwards. I still have my little yamaha now and I find it does perfectly as a spare flute! You will be looking at spending £200-£500 on a beginner flute. This is quite expensive, so make sure your child relly does want to play before you buy the instrument Trying a friends or renting may be a suitable alternative to start with- we all know how children want to do one thing one mintue and another the
next! I hope this helps you in buying flutes for starters. If you want to know about buying flutes for the more experienced player, leave me a comment and I will dooyoo and op on that too! Just remember: THE FLUTE IS ONE OF THE ONLY INSTRUMENTS TO SOUND REAONABLE FROM THE BEGINNING! SO IF YOU SOUND POO, YOU HAVE GOT THE WRONG FLUTE!! KEEP LOOKING!
I have had my Yamaha flute for 8 years now and have not had to service it once, although it is recommended to get a service done once a year. As I play in a concert band it is extremely important that I have a good reliable instrument to play and I have to say this has been of excellent standard. When tuning in band my flute is never out of tune and does not lose its tone, which saves time on tuning before a performance. With previous flutes, I have had to get the pads and corks revamped fairly often but never once have I had any problems at all with the Yamaha. Even though it may be more expensive than other brands look around and you may find a good bargain, look in second hand shops as that is where I bought mine from, you really can not go wrong with Yamaha. It is silver plated and good even for beginners, it is truly worth that little bit extra cash as it gives you such a clear sound and is easy to hit the notes. It does not need much looking after although it should be cleaned after use. I would recommend the Yamaha to any flautist of beginner or advanced standard, it certainly is a pleasure to play.
Buffet silver flute. A quality silver headed flute. Suitable for beginners and advanced players alike this flute can cost anything from £600-800 from quality musician’s stockists. It is supplied in a resilient hard case with a cleaning rod. Our flute was originally played by me in my teens at school, and then put away as I grew older. Just under year ago, my eldest daughter expressed an interest in learning to play the flute, and as she was eight, her grandmother and I decided that she could use my old flute. Although very expensive, it had stood the test of time well, and only needed a general service to restore it to its former glory. My daughter has a flair for this instrument and is more than capable of creating beautiful music with it. She finds it “easy peasy” to reach the lowest C, and equally easy to reach the higher notes of the scale. I am not certain whether the flute is the reason for the lovely music, but I certainly feel that a quality instrument makes learning much easier. It has a mellow but bright tone, and when compared to more inferior brands of musical instruments, it stands out in a class of its own. Unfortunately my daughter is rather clumsy and has dented it several times, however a good woodwind repairer can easily remove the dents from it, as has my daughters flute teacher. If it wasn’t for the fact that this is such a beautiful instrument and produces the most wonderful tone, I would buy my daughter a cheaper less sentimental instrument, but I would be inclined to stick with what I know and maybe buy another Buffet, this time in the lower end of the scale.(LOL;0) I would recommend it to a friend, but would also encourage them to acquire adequate insurance to cover this very expensive instrument.
I bought this Armstrong flute second hand and even then it cost me £200 (it was only 10 months old), I managed to get a private sale through a local music shop. Brand new it costs approximately £400 - £450. It was worth every penny, I would definately recommend it, having spoke to my music tutor he told me it is one of the best (and most expensive) flutes you can buy. I played for a large band when I was at school and my flute seemed to have such a softer, nicer tone than some of those I played with. It is now five years old and sounds as good now as it did when I got it. I have never had to have any pads replaced and it has never had to go in for repair. I have never had it serviced, though I should really, so considering this it is still in very good condition, and plays as well as it did the day I got it. My sister had a different make (not sure what it was) and when she didn't clean it you could tell. I admit I have neglected mine a bit and don't clean it all the time, but I have never had any problems with it, or the tone it produces. This is definately the best make I have ever come across, and I am sure it will last be for years to come (if I remember to have it serviced regularly!)
I started playing the flute 17 years ago, I was bought an Emporer made by Boosey & Hawkes - its a modest flute, a perfect studnet starter. You should expect to pay no more that £100 for a new one these days and there are some great retail stores that offer a deal that allows you to rent for three months at a time for up to a year and then after the year choose to pay a minimal about to purchase the instrument out right or to give bcak the flute. These are greate schemes especailly when dealing with children because flutes aren't suited to everyone and as children mouth change shape as they grow dso the ease of difficulty in playing occurs - a year is a good period to judge. The Emporer flute will be good enough, if well cared for, to last through until about grade 5-6 although it has been known for these flutes to be so robust that they will take a studnet thought grade 8. However, in my experience paying the extra for a better quality flute will pay dividends in the high grades. After grade 7 I purchased a Japanese flute called the Miyazawa - its costs about £1000. This was a far supreme instrument but obvioulsy so was the cost! There are certain flute specailty stores where these can be purchased and that will allow you to cahnge the head ot the foot to suit your need. If you are thinking about getting a mid range flute like this you may also consider the mecahnics of the instrument. For example, all studnet flutes come with closed holes and a G key that is off set from the others for ease of playing. Studies suggest that playing an open hole flute with an inline G Key will improve your technique. The best thing to remember is to get the opinion of an experienced player like a teacher - you can often call the Incorporated Society of Musicans who will direct you to an affiliate teacher.
I was given a Boosey and Hawkes flute about 8 years ago now, and although it is a beautiful instrument, I really want a yamaha flute! I can no longer justify the expensive though as it is not played very often. Hopefully one day I will take private lessons as I had lessons at school, but when I left school that was the end of it. I must say though that my flute has been a pleasure. It hasn't been serviced in quite a while (only because I keep forgetting!) but it is o.k, the only problem being the cork is wearing away. I would recommend this make of flute for anyone especially a beginner. It is middle of the range and is a very popular brand. I have no problems with it even though I do not always clean it. Watch where you send your flute to for servicing, some people are excellent and others leave a lot to be desired, but I suppose this is the same with anything!! I you are new to the flute and are looking for a reputable brand, but not top range you would be suited to a boosey and hawkes.
Yamaha flutes are definitely worth the extra pennies. I have had my flute for 22yrs now and it is still going strong. My Parents initially purchased a Boosey & Hawkes which was great for the complete beginner, but as I progressed I needed a flute with a more mellow tone and my music teacher had a friend selling this Yamaha. It had sat untouched in a cupboard for approximately 3 years and was offered at the bargain price of £100. I have no real idea of its current value but 22years later I am still playing the instrument at least once a week. It has had no major repairs, and still has original pads and corks. Great Buy at the time!
I play traditional Irish music (Riverdance type stuff, for those of you who don't know what it is). The flute I play is made of black wood and has open holes. It's the same concept as a concert flute, but has a more harsh, full-bodied tone - allows you to bang out notes with a wide range of possibilites. About 3-4 years ago I was searching for a flute. Trad. flutes are not like concert flutes in that you can go in to a music shop and just buy a really good one. That doesn't happen. The flutes (from here on, a flute is a traditional wooden flute) in the shops are rubbish. So you have to order one from the makers of the flutes. Some people you have to wait 4-5 years to get a flute, so choice is critical and they can be very expensive. I played a Sam Murray flute. He is from Belfast and has been making flutes for a long time now. I was quite impressed with how this flute played. It had a nice loud tone and had the flexibility to reach in to the 3rd octave, if required. So I ordered one. Waiting list was about 1 year, but to make that 1 year stick, you must call him and pester him and tell you have gigs to play and so on, otherwise you will wait for a lot longer. I got it eventually, and have been playing happily with it for a while now. It has given me good service, and play beautifully. It needs regular service though. The pads on the keys need to be changed a lot and the timber needs to be soaked in almond oil every now and then. Overall I am very happy with the flute. It has a great punchy sound. I was not to happy with the key design. It took several months to get used to their positioning. One downside is that it takes a lot of air to fill the flute, so if you cannot blow lots of wind, you won't get full effect. Although Sam will make the flute to suit your abilities. One thing about this maker though is his customer service. Expect none. It is a pain in the neck to keep chasing him for b
its and pieces. Oh and one small piece of advice. If you own a flute and have one of those wooden cases, throw it away. Go to a camera shop and buy a camera case. Cut out the shape of the flute in the foam and slot in your pieces. It will be so much safer in there. I kept breaking keys in my old wooden box. Camera case cost 30 quids!
I bought a yamaha flute 6 years ago now and although at the time it was slightly more expensive than some of other brands, I have to say it was worth the extra money. The tone of the flute originally was much better than some of the other brands and it has kept its tone really well, also I have had no disintegration of any of the pads or cork on the flute even though sometimes I've forgotten to clean it. As with all flutes its worth getting them serviced every year to keep them working well, but the yamaha really benefits from a bit of tender loving care. Many retailers offer a free or discounted service if you take the flute back to them for servicing once a year so its worth checking that out when you buy the flute as it could save you loads of money in the long run.