Buying a beginner flute can seem daunting at first. For such an apparently simple instrument there are many things to consider.
Firstly, flutes for beginners should be easy to play. This usually means they will have closed holes and an offset G layout and a C foot joint. Secondly, they should be as durable as possible without badly affecting tone quality. We should be looking for the much stronger nickel-reinforced alloys as well as stronger y-arm key attachments.
Finally, student flutes should be offered at a reasonable price. True, you will mostly get what you pay for. But there’s no reason a student should ever be paying more than $2000 for their first instrument. Particularly if you’re not sure the new hobby will stick. Conversely, too cheap an instrument will never be in tune and could put a prospective player off for life!
We took at look at the 5 best beginner flutes on the market today. Scroll down to find flute reviews and further information.
Disadvantages of Cheap Starter Flutes
Parents are often quite shocked upon learning the price of flutes. It’s hard to make a value decision on something that is not in your realm of expertise. Especially when you’re unsure how long your child will pursue this particular new hobby.
It’s no secret that having the best flute possible (within reason) will help them greatly. Here are some major disadvantages of buying cheap flutes (i.e non-branded / Chinese copies).
- They can be hard to play in tune
- You need to constantly visit the repair shop due to misaligned parts and soft metal
- They can have slow, uncomfortable keys that frequently get stuck
- Their headjoints are not well made and can distort the breath and sound
- They can be clunky and heavy
Beginner Flute Reviews
When compiling a list of starter flutes to review, we sought to choose from established, dependable brands.
There are several reasons for this. The first is it’s possible to get a good bargain by purchasing on-line. However, buying an inferior brand is risk as maybe 15 flutes out of 20 will be different. With the more recognized starter flute brands this percentage is improved to around 4 out of 5.
I’m not going to lie to you. Taking your flute teacher to the music store and having them play say 20 flutes is a good way to get the best flute. Sadly, this is not always possible.
Some other advantages to buying a more recognized brand is they are cheaper and easier to repair. Providing you treat them well, they should maintain a high resale value, too.
Here is our list of the 5 best starter flutes for 2017.
Yamaha YFL-221 Student Flute Review
Ask any professional musician what words come to mind when they hear the name Yamaha. You’ll be sure to hear the words quality and consistency more than once in response.
Yamaha aren’t famous for making the absolute best instruments in the world. What they are famous for is making consistently great instruments that inspire 100% confidence among buyers. And the Yamaha YFL-221 fits that pattern.
This flute has an offset G. This is especially nice for players with smaller hands. It makes hitting the G key and many fingering combinations much easier. It also has closed-hole keys. This makes hitting notes with tough fingerings considerably easier albeit with a slight reduction in tonal quality.
It also has a C foot joint. Beginners love this because it makes holding the flute for long periods much easier. Both head joints and foot joints can be replaced if later as you advance. Also its said the Yamaha flute is built like a tank. The solid nickel alloy construction gives it a durability and strength not found in higher end flutes. This means it can take the beatings middle school players often dish out to their instruments.
One downside is the lack of a split E mechanism. This can make playing the high E harder, but isn’t generally a big concern with starter flutes. Overall this flute is a fantastic value for the price and also adaptable to upgrades as the player progresses.
- Offset G
- Closed hole keys
- C foot joint
- Durable nickel alloy construction
- Fantastic value
- No E mechanism
The Pearl 505E1R is beautiful flute both in sound and look that you’ll love to play. It features an offset G key which is great for kids or people with smaller hands. The offset G allows for much easier fingering for many players.
However, some players with longer fingers actually prefer the inline G configuration. This flute also has a split E mechanism which allows for a crisper, more beautiful sounding high E note.
The flute has an overall exquisite tone quality. Pearl instruments have a reputation among flutists as being a dream to play. Their entry-level flutes are crafted with the same meticulous skill as their more expensive offerings. Players are often blown away by the tremendous quality.
This flute is silver plated but constructed of nickel-silver alloy. That means it’s very durable, able to withstand the hard rigors of student use. It still makes a sweet, resonant sound though. Also with such a high-quality instrument the head joint can be upgraded at any time.
This instrument comes with a case. The closed-hole key design is something many intermediate to advanced players will not like. For beginners, this is actually a big plus.
It makes cleaning the instrument easier as well as making certain fingerings considerably easier and less exacting. You won’t be disappointed with this flute. It’s among the finest in its price range and one of the best beginner flutes.
- Offset G
- Split E mechanism
- Silver plated
- Case included
- Closed hole design
Gemeinhardt 2SP Flute Review
The Gemeinhardt 2SP is a beginner’s built by a world-class flute maker. This instrument has the feel and sound of flutes that cost hundreds more.
The 2SP has an offset G for ease of fingering. As always this is a very nice feature for flutists with small hands. The last thing you need as a beginner is to come across a fingering that’s physically impossible for you to play. The offset G makes that very unlikely.
For ease of play, the Gemeinhardt also has closed-hole keys. This makes playing difficult sequences of notes easier to hit.
Another interesting aspect of this instrument is its triple silver plating. Most beginner flutes use a nickel-alloy material to ensure high strength and durability. This flute achieves it through triple silver plating instead.
A potential downside to this is that the instrument should be wiped off after every use. But one thing you’ll love is that when cared for silver finishes can stay looking brand new for decades!
The key action is very nice, having the feel of a more expensive flute. Another great thing about flutes with respected manufacturers is that the resale value is going to be high. However much initial enthusiasm you may have, it’s really hard to tell if you’ll have the time and dedication to keep playing.
Buying an instrument that will hold its value can take a lot of risk out of the purchase. This is a great starter flute at a great price, you won’t regret buying one!
- Offset G
- Closed hole
- Triple silver plated
- Nice key action
- High resale
- Silver requires careful handling
Armstrong Model 102 Student Flute Review
The Armstrong Model 102 is a durable, beginner flute for a good price. It’s made of a strong nickel-silver alloy allowing it to take
It’s made of a strong nickel-silver alloy making it more durable than sterling silver. This beginner flute has convenient top mounted adjustment screws making it super easy for novices to tune and repair your flute. It also features an offset G which is great for younger flutists or those with small hands.
The model 102 has a traditional straight head, but the very similar model 104 comes with a curved head. You might want to go with a curved head design if you or your child has short arms. For those with short arm spans playing with a straight head joint can be difficult or even impossible.
This is a very durable instrument that’s constructed specifically for rough treatment students use entails. In addition to strong materials, it uses sturdier y-arm connectors and the less complex C foot joint.
One unavoidable downside of nickel alloy plating is that it will show some wear after years of use. That’s true even with optimal care. If you need an instrument that will look new after decades of use you might consider a sterling silver model. But if you want a solid workhorse of a flute that will keep going year after year the 102 is a great choice.
- Strong nickel-silver alloy
- Top mounted adjustment screws
- Offset G
- Model 104 has curved head joint
- Very durable
- Nickel plating shows wear
Jupiter Offset G 511s Review
The Jupiter Offset G 511s is a beautifully made instrument with a quality look and feel. It has a really nice tone, helped in part by a silver coated head joint and high nickel content in the body.
Jupiter is a great flute brand for people who feel that Yamaha is overpriced – and there is an argument for that! It’s hard for parents to find north of $500 for their child’s student flute. Especially when they don’t know if they will take to the new hobby or not!
Some find the keys on the Jupiter to be flatter and smoother than the keys of the Yamaha 221. This makes it easier to play and that’s a big factor when selecting a beginner flute.
Another good feature of the Jupiter 511s are the hidden adjustment screws. Adjustment screws should only be adjusted by professional technicians. Hiding them stops accidents from happening and improves the aesthetics of the instrument.
The 511s denotes Jupiter’s “Standard” model. There is a “511 ES and this is a “Split E” flute. The theory goes that if a flute is well made it doesn’t matter if it has a “Split E”. After all, many professional flutes don’t have this feature. However, a split-e can improve the playing sound of the “Top E” and you can find more information about that here.
- Inline G
- Silver plated headjoint
- Smooth, flat keys
- Hidden adjustment screws
- Hard case with should strap
- Cleaning rod & polishing cloth included
- Not as durable as more premium brands