The flute is a widely used member of the woodwind family that can be used in a variety of settings. Commonly found in any band, liturgical ensemble, marching band and symphony orchestra, the flute is widely used in jazz and Latin music as well. The flute is pitched in the key of C which allows one to choose from any literature written specifically for flute, violin, vocal, or guitar music, so the choices of compositions to choose from is endless!
There is a surprisingly large range of cost when it comes to choosing a flute. The prices can range from a very reasonable $200 to well over $60,000! Flutes can be made from a variety of materials and combinations there-of; nickel, nickel-silver, rose gold, gold, platinum and even titanium. The chosen material will affect the tone quality produced and generally speaking, the more silver content, the better. Silver is a more resonant material and allows the sound produced by the musician to travel further and with less effort. Student level instruments are commonly made of nickel, with silver plating. Intermediate flutes will generally feature either a Solid Silver headjoint, with a silver-plated body, or a totally silver instrument with either silver-plated or silver keys. Professional instruments are where the more exotic metals come in to play and the combination of these materials is nearly endless.
The percentage of an instrument which is assembly-line vs. hand-made can greatly affect the cost of purchase. Student level instruments are composed of machine-made parts with hand assembly, where intermediate flutes will feature hand-made components along with pre-manufactured ones. This popular combination of materials allows the musician to have a high content of silver on the headjoint, where most of the tone is produced, yet keeps cost down by utilizing a plated body and key system. Professional quality flutes are made and assembled entirely by hand and offer many customize-able options. If searching for a professional instrument, one should be prepared to spend $5,000 at a minimum and the sky is truly the limit in terms of pricing and customization options.
Beginner and Student Flutes
Benjamin Adams BFL-100
For your first time, beginner student, a very affordable option is the Benjamin Adams BFL-100 flute. Manufactured, assembled and adjusted overseas, this flute offers a way for the tentative beginner to dabble in the flute world without having to break the bank. As is standard for a student flute, this instrument is composed of a nickel body with a silver-plating. The Benjamin Adams flute outfit includes the instrument, case, cleaning rod and cloth.
Jean Baptiste JBFL290 Student Flute Outfit
A wonderful, quality, and affordable option in the student flute world is the Jean Baptiste 290. This flute is very-reasonably priced and plays with such ease, it is truly impressive. The most current iteration of the Jean Baptiste student flute, the 290 model, has a newly-designed headjoint that was carefully engineered with the beginner musician in mind. The headjoint construction allows for a free-blowing, dynamically controlled, balanced and projecting tone. A surprising and welcomed feature of the JBFL290 is the smooth and responsive key mechanisms. They are incredibly responsive with very little lag and little-to-no key noise. This flute outfit is manufactured of a nickel body with a nice silver-plating and includes a case with some storage space, cleaning rod and cloth, as well as white gloves.
Yamaha YFL-222 Student Flute Outfit
The most popular, teacher recommended student flute has to be the Yamaha YFL-222. This flute is a true workhorse that stands up exceptionally well to a student musician. A bit more of an investment, this flute offers its owner the quality of manufacturing one would expect from a Yamaha product. The 222 features French-pointed arms on their keys for more even wear of the pads and a neat aesthetic. The Yamaha YFL-222 includes Yamaha’s five-year manufacturer warranty, case, cleaning rod and cloth and a polishing cloth for its beautiful silver-plating.
When a flute player begins to advance in both their musical abilities and the discern of quality, they may want to explore the world of intermediate flutes. At a certain point in a flutist’s learning experience, they will require an instrument that can keep up with the demands of the difficult music they are playing. A truly intermediate flute will most often feature a solid-silver, hand-made headjoint, open holes, and a B-foot/Gizmo key. Open-holed instruments allow for alternate fingerings and fine-tuning of certain troublesome notes which can be extremely difficult or even impossible to play on student grade instruments. The choice to play with an in-line or off-set is completely individual and for comfort and ease of play. The breadth of models considered to be ‘intermediate’ level flutes is quite extensive, which will allow the budding musician to find the instrument that speaks to them.
Yamaha YFL-362H Intermediate Flute Outfit (Offset G)
One of the most popular intermediate flutes offered is the Yamaha YFL-362(H). This flute is offered with both an in-line G (362) and an off-set G (362H). Yamaha’s flutes offer a beautifully made Sterling Silver head joint, with a silver-plated body. This model boasts a bright tone quality with beautiful dynamic control and keys that are very free-moving and a rolled design on their open-holes that feel very comfortable under the fingers. When purchasing the Yamaha YFL-362H you will receive Yamaha’s 5 year manufacturer warranty, a French style molded flute case with velvet lining, a case cover, cleaning rod and cloth and a silver polishing cloth.
Pearl Flutes 665RBE Quantz Series Open Hole Flute (B Foot)
Another very popular option in the intermediate flute selection is the Pearl Quantz series P665-RBE. Holding very similar specifications to the Yamaha previously mentioned, Pearl includes the use of a Split-E mechanism on this model. A high-E on a flute is a notoriously difficult note to play easily and in-tune and Pearl includes a ‘fix’ standard in the split-E mechanism. This feature functions by the addition of a small, discreet lever that brings another key closed while fingering a high E, to assist in note production and intonation. All Quantz series Pearl flutes include a manufacturer’s warranty, a molded French-style case with velvet lining, a case cover, cleaning rod and cloth, and a silver polishing cloth.
Once you have advanced as a flutist and are either a serious high-school student, or going to pursue an undergraduate degree in music, it will be time to consider going for a professional instrument. A professional grade instrument will almost always feature a solid silver body (or other precious metals) and headjoint, the flute will be mostly, if not all made by hand and a variety of features will now be available that may not have been on student through pre-professional flutes. However much you may want to spend on a professional flute, you can, so being honest and clear about your budget is extremely important moving forward in your flute selection process.
Pearl Flutes 765RB Quantz Series Open Hole Flute (B Foot)
An easily accessible pre-professional flute is the Pearl Flutes 765RB Quantz Series Open Hole Flute (B Foot) which is the first instrument listed featuring a solid silver headjoint and body. The more silver content one can acquire in a flute, the sweeter the tone quality will be and the more easily sound will project. The P765-RBE also includes the split-E mechanism as well as a B-foot with a Gizmo. The addition of a B-foot on a flute lengthens the body of the instrument by about a ½ inch which brings the instrument in to pitch more easily. The access to the Gizmo key feature allows for some additional fingering options, especially in the upper register of the instrument. The Pearl Quantz P765-RBE includes a manufacturer’s warranty, a molded French-style case with velvet lining, a case cover, cleaning rod and cloth, and a silver polishing cloth.
Pearl Flutes 795RBE-CD Elegante Series Professional Flute
Offered from Pearl, the Elegante P795RBE-CD has every feature one would expect from a professional flute. This flute offers a solid-silver handmade Pearl Forza headjoint, a solid-silver body, silver plated keys, B-foot, split-E mechanism, off-set G, a C# trill key and a D# roller. This flute is, for lack of a better word, fully loaded. The addition of a C# trill key opens up a world of alternate fingering options as well as assisting in getting that pesky C# down in to pitch. Featuring a low D# roller allows for the right hand to access the pinkie keys much more comfortably. This beautiful flute features a manufacturer’s warranty, a molded French-style case with velvet lining, a case cover, cleaning rod and cloth, and a silver polishing cloth.