Flutes are available in a bewildering array of different configurations, but the instruments can largely be divided into different levels. If you're an advanced player currently using a beginner or intermediate flute, you're almost certainly aware of its limitations.
Upgrading to a professional model will let you play at your true ability level and develop your style, but top-of-the-range flutes don't come cheap. As an investment in your musical career, it's more than worth it, but it can difficult to budget for if you're just starting out and can't get the money together for a top quality instrument.
While you're never going to get a professional flute for cheap, there may be a few areas where you can save a bit of money. But beware – don't cut costs where it really matters.
Of all the factors involved in a flute's final price, the material of its body is what makes the most difference to the sound quality. Professional level flutes are made from solid precious metals – most often silver, particularly at entry level, with gold and platinum flutes also manufactured.
This is one place where you won't want to cut corners, but there is one way you can sometimes save a bit of money. If you can't afford a flute entirely made of silver, you could look at models with a silver headjoint and a plated main body. The headjoint has the biggest impact on sound, and while it won't quite compete with entirely silver flutes, it will still be a step up from cheaper instruments.
A lot of professional flutes have open holes, yet they're not strictly necessary for all players. Open holes allow more expression and some interesting effects, but this is most useful in modern styles and some jazz.
If you play more traditional music, open holes can actually be a hindrance, and there are plenty of successful flute players who use closed holes. If you find a cheaper flute with closed holes and this suits you, it's worth going for.
The most expensive flutes are handmade, which means they have excellent attention to detail and carefully-built components.
If you can't stretch to a fully handmade instrument, however, look for one with some machine-built and some handmade parts. This still gives you extra precision where it most matters.
A final option that can save you a significant amount is opting for a pre-owned flute rather than a brand new one. If you choose this route, make sure you buy from a reputable dealer who has particular expertise in flutes, or you risk buying a substandard instrument at an inflated price.Share