How to buy a new flute?

How to buy a new flute?

Buying a new flute

The process of testing, choosing and buying a new instrument (in our case the flute) can be a difficult and stressful process. With all the options available today in terms of materials, technologies, manufacturing processes and brands, it can be really, really challenging.

Time constrain is also one of the big issues related to any flute purchase: We usually do not have many instruments available for testing over weeks or months, rather for days or hours. The time to make a decision is very short, and yet we are choosing the instrument which is going to be our companion for many years ahead. So, how to compare effectively instruments and make smarter decisions during the testing process?

General tips about buying a new flute:

  • Bring in some help, but not too much! Having your teacher or a fellow student give you advise on which instrument sounds best is a very good idea. Consider the fact, that the sound you hear from the instrument, may sound completely different a few meters away. And, since we make music for listeners, who sit a few meters away from us, their experience is essential. Also, there is no better way to evaluate how the flute projects the sound.
  • What am I looking for? Ask yourself this simple question: what do I want from my flute? What kind of sound am I aiming at? What is missing on my current instrument? This aspect may be important to tailor down which brand, material and price range you are actually looking for.
  • What are my strengths & weaknesses? No instrument is perfect. Each flute, mostly depending on brand or material used, has its own characteristics. Some things come out easily (can be staccato, legato, volume, flexibility, etc.) and some things really hard, compared to your current instrument. The key here is to find an instrument which balances out your weaknesses. Find an instrument which is strong on the aspects you currently struggle the most or which your current flute does not help you out with.
  • Get smart! – What are Straubinger pads? What is Rose Gold? What are drawn tone holes? Split E-mechanism? Learn about all the options available and understand their differences. Find out what you like most or are familiar, too. Try to figure out how much particular option really affect the sound, rather than the price.


1. How much is a new Flute?

The cost of a new flute can vary widely based on many factors such as the material it's made from, the manufacturer, and the specific mechanical features it includes. Here's a general breakdown of the price ranges you might expect:

  1. Student Flutes: These are typically silver-plated instruments and designed to be easy to play and maintain. Prices for new student flutes generally range from $100 to $800. 
  2. Intermediate Flutes: These often feature enhancements such as improved key mechanisms or silver headjoints, which offer better sound quality and playability than basic student models. Prices for intermediate flutes can range from $800 to $2,500.
  3. Professional Flutes: These are made from higher quality materials such as solid silver, gold, or even platinum, and may include specialized features like handmade mechanisms and additional keys. Professional flutes can range in price anywhere from $6,000 to over $80,000, with some custom models costing even more.
  4. Alto and Bass Flutes: They typically start around $2,000 and can go up to $20,000 or more, depending on the quality and the specific features.

It's recommended to try different flutes within your budget to find one that suits your playing style and needs the best. Today there are also many valuable options to upgrade your instrument. Considering to buy a new head-joint instead of a new instrument, is a very good way of getting used to a new material, such as gold and its higher resistance. Today also many sound enhancing accessories are available to enhance the sound of your flute and upgrade it. Woodify Sound Rings are a good way to boost the sound of your instrument. You can discover more about Woodify rings here.


2. Flute Testing Guide:

This guide will give you valuable inputs and informations on how to proceed in this journey. Embarking on the journey of buying a flute can feel like navigating through a maze of choices. With a huge variety of makes and models, persuasive sales tactics, and tempting second-hand deals, knowing where to begin can be overwhelming. This guide aims to alleviate some of that stress by offering insights, answering questions, and steering you in the right direction. Each flute is unique, and finding the perfect match involves careful evaluation. So we provide you with some practical information on all the different options available and what might be more suited for specific user cases. 

Disclaimer: The following tips are relevant mostly for flutists, who seek to find an instrument for themselves. In case you are a parent looking to buy a flute for your child, then many of the advises here might be too specific. Seek assistance from your local music store to find the best options for beginner flutes.

We also share with you here a practical flute testing guide, which you can use, when trying out different instruments:


3. What material are flutes made from?

Flutes are crafted from a variety of materials including copper-nickel, silver, gold, platinum or wood, each imparting distinct sonic qualities. Even within the same material category, variations in sound quality and timbre arise from differences in material thickness. Thus, the interplay of material quality and thickness significantly shapes the instrument's character.

Copper-nickel, an alloy known for its durability, yields a clean response with a well-balanced sound and clear timbre across all registers. Silver, favored by Theobald Boehm in the nineteenth century, is renowned for its quintessentially "flute-like" timbre. Silver flutes come in various weights: standard models provide a rich and warm timbre, lightweight versions maintain richness with excellent resonance, and heavyweight designs produce a deeper, darker timbre that resonates in harmony with the performer's strength. 

Gold flutes exude a special brilliance, with a lustrous timbre that carries even in pianissimo passages, making them a preferable option for professional flutists. Gold flute options range from standard thickness for balanced resonance to heavyweight models for enhanced resistance and resonance, with some brands offering a slightly thinner tube for expanded tonal possibilities and rich resonance.


4. Split-E mechanism

So, what exactly is the Split-E Mechanism? Well, it's a clever addition to the standard flute design that enhances the playability and sound quality, particularly for high E notes.

Here's how it works: Normally, when you press the G key on a standard flute, two keys close simultaneously—the G key and the adjacent key to the right. However, with the Split-E Mechanism, an extra rod is introduced, linking the E key to the second G key. This separation allows the second key to close independently, specifically for the high E note, which would typically remain open on standard flutes.

By enabling this independent closure, the Split-E Mechanism improves the response, sound clarity, stability, and intonation of the high E note, particularly in the third register. It's a clever enhancement that can greatly benefit flute players.

 However, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Firstly, incorporating the mechanism adds weight to the flute, which some players may find noticeable. Secondly, it comes with a price tag, making it a somewhat costly upgrade. Additionally, it's important to note that once a flute is made, the Split-E Mechanism cannot be retrofitted onto it. As a result, many flute makers only offer this feature on models with offset G keys, meaning if you prefer an inline G, you might not have the option to add the Split-E Mechanism.


5. What's the difference between an Open vs. Closed hole flute

Conventional wisdom suggests that beginners should start with closed hole flutes. These instruments feature keys that fully cover the holes with metal and pads, simplifying the learning process by allowing students to focus on pressing the correct keys and reading music. Closed hole flutes are particularly beneficial for younger players or those with petite hands, as they may struggle to reach and cover open holes accurately. Although closed hole keys are standard in student models, they are also found in flutes across all levels, including high-end professional models.

 To ease the transition from closed to open hole systems, the holes can initially be plugged. By playing the flute with the holes plugged, students can familiarize themselves with tone production before gradually removing the plugs one at a time to train their fingers. Advanced players often find that open holes encourage better hand positioning, leading to improved playing posture.


6. Soldered or drawn tone holes


Pearl - Dranw vs. Soldered Tone Holes

In the construction of a flute with soldered tone holes, the craftsman produces the tone hole separately from the flute body and then solders it onto the flute body. This process involves the use of additional metal to fuse the tone hole into the designated spot on the flute tube.

A notable advantage of crafting the tone hole separately from the flute body is the ability to achieve a nearly flawless shape. Consequently, the flutist experiences reduced likelihood of key leakage. While wear and tear on the pads inevitably lead to some degree of leakage over time, a better-fitting key and tone hole combination enhance the pads' ability to fully close the keys promptly in response to the player's commands.

Typically, soldered tone holes are favored in professional flutes due to their individual crafting, ensuring greater consistency compared to drawn tone holes. This consistency yields a sound with more resistance and depth, slightly veering away from a pronounced brilliance. Advanced players often favor this characteristic as it facilitates consistent and agile playing without overwhelming the flute.

Conversely, drawn tone hole flutes exhibit greater flexibility, sacrificing some power for a brighter and more expansive sound. This option appeals to those seeking a vibrant and open tonal quality in their playing experience. The sound is generally very open and can seem brighter than the flutes with soldered tone holes.

Crafting drawn tone holes involves shaping the flute's metal body while it's hot, forming the hole and pulling up its edges from the existing flute tube. The edges are then rolled down for a smooth surface where the key rests. Despite the craftsmanship, ensuring a perfect fit between the pad and the tone hole can be challenging, though adjustments are made as necessary. Flute manufacturers argue that drawn tone holes produce a brighter tone color, adding to the instrument's appeal.

In order to better compare instruments, it is important to know and remember the different specs of an instrument. This allows you to better compare instruments and judge instrument- or brand-specific differences. 

Use our short PDF guide when testing flutes and keep track of each aspect. 

How to expand the lifetime of your flute:

Did you know that Woodify Rings are an excellent way to upgrade your current instrument? If you are deciding whether to buy a new flute or still wait, then we have you covered! Woodify Rings are a great way to upgrade your instrument. These wooden rings change the vibration mode of the instrument and increase resistance, projection and improve staccato and sound attack. 

Find more about Woodify Rings here


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