Saturday, January 27, 2007

Why some flute brands and not others?

A question today from a parent about why I recommend certain flute brands for general reference.
Hi Jen,
I was looking at your Buying a Flute page as my teenage daughter is in need of a new flute. You mentioned that you felt that folks should stay away from Gemeinhardt and Armstrong flutes. These are both brands that my daughter has heard are reputable. Can you give me more information as to why you feel differently?
Thank you for any advice you have to offer. M

Dear M.
I get my information from the collective wisdom of the four different flute discussion groups that I read each day. For the last 6 years, the 1000+ flute teachers on those lists have been comparing student level, and pro-level flutes for longevity, reliability and sound quality.

Gemeinhardt flutes have come to be known as having "soft mechanism" in the past few years. This information is from professional flute repair people online.

Their company has evidently switched to a softer metal, and less precision in machining parts, which means that the keys, rods and mechanism bend too easily, and do not hold up under use.
They tend to develop key leaks, binding, and bent moving parts very quickly, and students have reportedly had to take them to the repair shop repeatedly, and become frustrated by repairs that don't "hold". They also have a slightly out-of-tune scale, as do many of my "not recommended flute brands." This is frustrating for the student, in terms of getting the flute to work fluidly, and creates more work to play in tune.

Armstrongs have a different problem; they tend to have headjoints that are stiff to blow, and not particularly suited to flute players above the beginner level. Intermediate students, working on tone and fine control over the headjoint, have found the Armstrongs too rough-sounding, and hard to control with the embouchure (lips), in order to play with finesse. I've personally found the keys and mechanism stiff and clunky; difficult to advance to fast, fluid, rapid playing.

Either flute would perhaps do for an average young beginner band flutist in their first year or two (the Armstrong probably is more sturdy than the Gemeinhardt for this use), but once the student is taking private lessons, and really "going for it" skill-wise, a better quality flute would then be sought, on the private teacher's advice.

I think it is a better financial investment for the parents to buy a single good-quality closed-hole student flute that will last for the first five years of the child's playing, rather than spend $600 on one, and then two years later, spend $1600 on another. A particularly bad idea is to buy one of the Armstrong or Gemeinhardt, or other band-flute company's "step-up" or so-called "professional" flutes.
These are the same stiff-to-blow, out-of-tune, poorly fitted, needing repair every two months flutes as the beginner flutes from those companies, but made of more expensive metals (solid silver or gold plate) and priced at over $1400. A very poor purchase; throwing good money after bad when trying to improve the student's poor quality band-flute.

As a point of interest, I had a 21 year old Dutch student last year, who was a tremendous player, who was still playing a closed-hole Yamaha 300-series after eight years, and didn't need to upgrade!!! What a great instrument for lasting that long, and playing at a high high level without trouble.

Additionally, you may want to consider that the resale value is better kept on the more desirable brands of flute, so that when and if you do upgrade to an intermediate flute, you receive closer to 2/3rds of your initial investment, rather than only a hundred dollars or so.
For this, Yamaha is probably the safest bet. Check out the prices of used Yamahas at and other used-flute sites to see how this works.
Used Armstrongs/Gemeinhardts sell for $150-$300. Used Yamaha student flutes sell for $450-$800. Have a look below for some sample ads on the usedflutes site.

Finally, in the world of internet shopping, and buying a flute without professional assessment: Parents today sometimes buy online, or from a local music store without a professional flutist enlisted to pre-test the flute. This is unnerving to the flute teacher/performer specialist, as not all "identical" flutes are in fact of equal value. And so I've recommended the name brands that I think are more likely to send out a decent flute, even if the flutes are not individually selected from side-by-side comparison.

In general, when making an investment in an instrument, it's best to have a private flute teacher with you to help play-test 5 to 20 "identical" flutes (for example) before choosing the best one.
In my opinion there would likely be a higher number of GOOD flutes (sturdy mechanism and good headjoint) among certain brand names than others. I know this from testing lots of 5-20 brand new "identical" flutes for my own students.

The brand names that are least likely to produce one good flute in 20 are listed in my "flute brands to be avoided" mental list (not published). The brand names that are likely to produce several good flutes in a lot of 20 are usually found in the brandnames that I recommend. See: Buying a Flute page

I suggest that for student satisfaction, ease of play, reliable mechanism, least repair trips, best headjoint, and good resale value, that a parent buy a Yamaha or Jupiter/DiMedici or Azumi.
If the student is serious about the flute (studies privately) have the private teacher help choose the model. If you can afford a $1600 flute for a seriously devoted young flutist, try out the AZUMI 3000 by Altus.
The lightweight AZUMI 2000 or Jupiter 511 would be fine for a younger student. The Azumi flutes are head and shoulders above the competition at the same price level in terms of ease of play.
But no one beats Yamaha 200-400 series for a flute that can be repaired multiple times because its parts are of high quality, and don't break down in student hands.

Hope this helps,
Jen Cluff


Good reading for students/band teachers:

Flute Care Article - How to care for your flute to avoid repairs
Flute Testing; How to test your flute for repairs. Article.
Previous posts of mine on this blog feature videos on flute assembly and flute care and cleaning videos that demonstrate how to avoid damaging a new flute. They are much viewed, it turns out, as many self-teaching amateur players were unaware of how easily a flute is damaged by not having a "how to assemble" instruction sheet with each new flute. :>)

NOTE: The comments below contained an old supposition that may have remained too long unsubtantiated. It was a non-fact checked opinion about Yamaha flute with A in the serial numbers, or "Made in Indonesia" written on the barrel.

Please do your own research and take the flute to a quality fluterepair technician to determine if your Yamaha flute needs key adjustments, is genuine, is solidly built, correctly finished and also is manufactured as a genuine brandname flute.
I can not know as much about the era and serial numbers as a flute seller, or the Yamaha flute company. I'm a flute teacher who only sees my own student's flutes.
So do go ahead and contact the company, and the top experts about the flutes with various markings on them from various Yamaha manufacturing plants.

Jen Cluff, added: Sept 2010
Comments (301)
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! Fortunately, I've been blessed with two wonderful flutes so far; a Yamaha 221 to begin on, and an Azumi 3000RBO to continue with. It really does pay off. Long ago when I was in school band for a year or so, I remember trying other student's flutes (Armstrong and Gemeinhardt mostly!), and thinking how difficult they were to play. At the time I just thought it was because I was used to playing mine - which I'm sure contributed to it - but I know now that was not simply the case. Thanks for the great reminder! :)

Monday, January 29, 2007 10:45:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen, Two years ago I was in need of a new flute, and for financial reasons ended up not buying my favorite flute but what I though was "the best value" flute, a Yamaha 600 series. I kept retutning to the store to try the models that I preferred.

Last month I finally realized that my flute had different qualities than my preffered flutes and that I actually own a fine instrument that will not hold me back for a very long time. I really love my flute now!

Sunday, February 04, 2007 8:28:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks Ava for your input.
I played Gemeinhardt in University, and upon graduation, my parents bought me a Sankyo Silver Sonic. I played it for years, and only now (at the age of 46!) do I realize that the Nagahara headjoint on the Altus 1107 body is FAR FAR FAR more agile and colourful and in tune than the Sankyo. I sold the Sankyo to pay for the Altus, and for awhile, I wished to have the Sankyo back---it was so reliable. But now, with the Altus recently totally made leak-free by an expert technician (it came with a few leaks, and I played the heck out of it for two solid years---in all, it had to go in for leak checks THREE TIMES!) I can now play all the truly difficult stuff I never could fully get control of before.
I think it's the same when Galway changed to Nagahara from Muramatsu.
Finally he had a flute that did everything he wanted it to do.
But you have to go completely through one good flute to get to another.
I no longer miss the Sankyo.
Thanks for your input everybody!
And note; one of the teachers on Flutenet just said that they found a good Armstrong, so go figure.
Anything is possible. :>)

Sunday, February 04, 2007 12:10:00 PM

Blogger skater said...

Interesting post. I have been playing my Gemeinhardt M3 open hole flute for over 30 years (I have never had a problem with this one) and recently purchased a 3shb model. I do not understand why Gemeinhardt flutes are
not recommended. Please reply.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 11:02:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Patricia,
Well, you may just have come across one of the best Gemeinhardts that they made 30 years ago.
Yes, they did make very good intermediate level flutes back then.
Then the company's quality control became less and less reliable over time; at least according to the flute technicians I've been reading on the internet.
The last good flutes made by Gemeinhardt were apparently 30 years ago.

And in speaking of best flutes for the type of flute work you do, there are, of course, a few things to consider:

1. The new scales on the flutes made now (Cooper, Bennett, etc.) are very different in physical design than the flute scales from 30 years ago. This is also why many professional flutists are selling their once-beloved and expensive, professional Haynes and Powell flutes from that era. The newer flutes play better in tune with less manipulation of the embouchure.

2. The pitch standard has changed; many international artists have to play at A440 one day in the U.S. and at A445 in Germany the next. A 30 yr. old Gemeinhardt is very unlikely to be as malleable as an A442 flute. Any flute tuned too flat to make these changes and stay in tune with itself, makes it difficult for today's flutist to study using European recordings, or to travel to Europe for classes and performances and play up to the new higher pitches.

3. In my opinion, the playing standard has tripled since 30 yrs. ago. In 1975 for example, there were only one or two outstanding recording flutists and quite a few orchestra jobs. If you listen to the orchestral flutists from the '60s and '70s, you'll find that many would NOW be considered below par in terms of tone, tuning and fluency.
Now, in 2007 there are dozens of outstanding flutists. Flutists today are performing professionally at much higher levels. And each year hundreds of excellent flute students graduated all over the world, all competing for very few solo opportunities and the shrinking number of orchestral jobs. Any young talented 18 yr. old flutist may be unable to truly compete with the Ibert Concerto or Rodrigo's Concerto playing a Gemeinhardt.
And if you make a side by side comparison of a Gemein. with an Azumi (for example) or to an Altus, Miyazawa, Muramatsu, or change to more carefully cut headjoints, you'll soon see the difference.
On a student Gemeinhardt the keys just don't move fast enough and the headjoint just doesn't play as well.

Ask yourself: On the Gemeinhardt, can you play the typical Prokofiev excerpts such as "Classical Symphony" or "Peter and the Wolf" in tune at the metronome markings suggested? Probably not as fast and as in tune, and accurately as on a $1700 Azumi with its Bennett scale and super fast keys, or a $3000 Miyazawa or Altus.

I think that these kinds of brand name and price-bracket flute decisions all depend on what standard of playing you're doing with the flute.
If you're just playing with a local group of musicians, you may not notice that the technological improvements going on in flute manufacturing have made playing at a higher standard very much easier.
Hope this helps explain.
Best, Jen :>)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 11:58:00 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

Has anyone ever heard of the flute brand 'Sterling'?

Monday, May 05, 2008 4:46:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am looking for a curved head joint flute for my daughter. She just began learning how to play the flute and has my old Gemeinhardt that I played through high school. I can purchase the head joint that fits this, but thought buying another beginner flute might be nice so that we can do duets along with having an extra flute for my other daughter who wants to learn. I found the following one on eBay. Can you give me your opinion on this flute?

Thank you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008 12:11:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Kim,

I have never heard about "Sterling brand flutes", but I did take a look at the Ebay photos and price. For under $300, with two headjoints, curved and straight, this price is far too low. It seems unlikely that it would be a truly good, sturdy, long-lasting flute (the key work may be soft metal; you won't know until your child uses it for a month or more, and then you take it to a repair shop and find out what the repair person has to say about it's fix-ability.) The price is far too low to tell whether this flute will stand the test of time.
If you order it and find it to be in good working order after one to six months, write back and let me know. Alternately, check with a big repair shop that sees many student flutes (phone around) and find out whether any reputable repair people have seen the longevity on these flutes.
Can't help without having seen one myself. Best, Jen

Thursday, June 19, 2008 9:30:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen
I have really enjoyed all the comments you have made about various elements of flute industry so to speak.
I own Muramatsu EX (may not be familiar ;with it since it is pricy but considered to be student model)which only has c foot. I am not professional but have been playing for more than 25 years on and off and this was an upgrade from my first and now 25 year old student grade muramatsu. I experienced althouth, in much smaller scale than you did when you went from one to nagahara, the beauty of the ease of playing and the braoder ability to express with my tone. It expanded my flute life immensely.

My brother and I took private flute lessons over 25 years ago and our teacher helped us with our first flute purchase. Shd and I recently met and discussed flute. I realized that she takes her time to assist every single one of her student's flute purchase. Just wanted to share my experience. She selected one for us, then assisted our head joint upgrade a year or so later.
I really enjoyed your input on recent Yamaha improvements. I will share this info with someone who is looking at an old Yamaha on ebay. It is, I believe potentially dangerous to trust the brand name without the knowlege of the age of the instrument.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 9:01:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen!
Thanks for a great website. I am in the market for a new flute. Miyazawa Boston Classic and Powell aurumite 14k (with gold inside/silver outside)sounded both great. Which one would have a better resale value? You didn't mentioned about Powell flute in your recommendation flutes. Is there a reason? Looking forward to your comments.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 6:24:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

I would ask a flute dealer which has better resale value. Personally, I would think the Miyazawa Classic would be a better purchase for resale value.
I've never tried a Powell flute that I found to give me the ease-of-play and the sound I like. So I don't personally recommend instruments that I don't find to be useful to ME. That is just one person's opinion, however. I'm sure that Powell lovers would say the opposite.
Good luck. Jen

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 8:40:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,

I have a new flute student who is 7 years old with no experience in music, and who does not yet have a flute. It is very clear that she needs to get a curved headjoint as she is very small. I have heard differing opinions regarding the Jupiter curved headjoints vs. those that Yamaha makes. Do you have any opinion on what to recommend? Also, the local music stores do not carry these young student models, and I am not sure where to direct her as to getting one. I am also relatively new to teaching flute, and have not had to work with student models before so I am not familiar with the quality of student models. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Saturday, August 23, 2008 11:08:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Charlie,
You'll have to playtest the Yamaha curved headjoint against the Jupiter. I haven't tested them and would be interested in hearing which sounds better, and which version is better balanced in the hands. Apparently it's a bit of a trick finguring out how to align the headjoint so that the j-shaped flute doesn't roll in the hands.
What I think is a far better idea is starting a small child on penny-whistle. For $20 to $40 you can buy a quality penny-whistle. The more expensive ones have moveable/tunable heads. If the child plays this instrument it's less investment, and the knowledge is easily transferrable. Yamaha Fifes are also around $25 and The Fife Book by Goodwin is the BEST for use of this simple, plastic, tiny little instrument. Highly recommended. Also, if the parents and child absolutely insist on a curved head flute, the Jupiter Prodigy model at $1000 approx. is the one that I've heard the most positive teacher-feedback about in the three flute discussion groups I belong to. That would be resellable to the next small student in time, when/if this current student trades up to a full sized instrument. That might help assuage the sizeable investment necessary. But if you try the Yamaha curved-straigh junior flute packqage, write again and send feedback about it. Thanks. Jen

Saturday, August 23, 2008 4:02:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

P.S. WHERE to buy curved head flutes for small children?
In the U.S: and both will give advice and service.

In the U.K.: or www.allflutesplus.

It's better to work through a flute specialty dealer or shop because you can get advice and have the instrument fully serviced before it is sent out. Companies like Woodwind/Brasswind online will not necessarily fully service new instruments, but can have a good return policy if there is a defect.
Check out and for more links and ideas.
I'd personally go for penny whistle or fife for such a young student. Then teach easy tunes by ear for awhile. Best, Jen

Saturday, August 23, 2008 4:07:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen, thanks for the wonderful website. I'm currently upgrading my student flute to an intermediate one, and your articles are helping a lot.

My teacher strongly recommends Amadeus by Haynes, but when I went to a local store and compared Yamaha 471 and Haynes Amadeus AF900E, I like Yamaha better. I wonder if I'm not good enough to know the difference of them. I haven't seen you mentioning Haynes and Amadeus in your articles. How do you think of Amadeus/Haynes?

Another famous guy recommends Jupiter 711, but I didn't find it outstanding either. I also tried DiMedici 1311, but it was not much better than the Jupiter. How do you think of Jupiter and DiMedici?

I will ask my teacher to test them for me, but before that, would you please give some advice? Thank you again!

Monday, February 09, 2009 9:08:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Francis,
I have not yet tried Amadeus by Haynes.

You know, in general, it's difficult to choose flutes just from name brands, as so many otherwise IDENTICAL flutes are not the least bit identical.
I've tried five Jupiters in a row, and only found one truly worthy one, yet all were "identical".
I've tried 12 Yamahas in a row, and only found three good ones, of which one was outstanding, and the other two just "good".
So it's really up to the person who is testing them to know which feels best in the hands, and which headjoint really suits their style of playing.
Also, as you improve in your flute abilities, you will be able to test flutes farther and more fully. That's why having a more advanced player or teacher test them with you is so useful.

Monday, February 09, 2009 10:44:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,

Thank you for replying so fast! It's very kind of you.

My plan is to request 5 Yamaha and 3 Azumi flutes from fluteworld and flutesmith and ask my teacher to test them out for me. It seems you can clearly tell if a flute is poor or good or outstanding. I hope my teacher can test play as well as you can. She is a falcuty in a local college, majored in flute -- maybe I should trust her. But I seem to trust you more:)

Thank you!

Monday, February 09, 2009 11:33:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Hopefully it won't be too expensive to have those two stores ship so many; I'm not sure what they charge for shipping each one.
Perhaps you might also want to have a large local music store bring in several to try also, and pay to drive to the local (nearby big city) store instead of so much shipping?
I wonder which is best.

It's funny that you trust *me* more than your live teacher. It must be because I talk so much! :>)
Youre teacher may well have just as much experience, but perhaps doesn't verbalize it.
Many good players know instinctively what they can do on a given flute (by feel) rather than through verbiage. So, as long as your teacher has a good tone, and advanced techniques (like playing top octave with good tone and fast fingers) as well as can attempt forte playing and sforzando accents on low notes, they should be able to test the flute's range very well.
Best, and let me know how it turns out.
Jen :>)

Monday, February 09, 2009 11:42:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,

I got my flute! I got a new Yamaha 674HCT from the exhibit of a flute festival today for $2650.

I cann't say I don't trust my teacher; she is a nice and reasonable lady. But since she is with Haynes and Amadeus, I don't really expect neutral and objective oppinion from her -- that's understandable for both her and me. So I finally gave up the idea of shipping trial flutes from fluteworld and flutesmith.

I think I have to rely on myself to figure it out. I was playing in bands and ensembles for a few years but stopped after year 2000. Since last month, I have been taking lessons and practising to allow myself to be warmed-up and regain my previous techniques so that I have some sense about tone and everything.

And there comes the flute festival. Fluteworld was there. I tried about 30 flutes. This Yamaha 674HCT seems a clear choice because it sings with me! I love the tone.

I would like to thank you very much, Jen, your information on buying was so helpful and I enjoy reading your other articles too.

I've got some infomation about Yamaha that I like to share with future buyers (may overlap with info from Jen): Yamaha has closed American manufacturing facility and opened in Indonesia. The flutes made in USA has the serial number starting with an "A". 500 series and above are made in Japan; 400 and below are assembled in Indonesia.

Another question for Jen: my new footjoint is a little hard to assemble. I found this after I got home because I didn't take them apart myself at the exhibit. I'm grabbing the smooth part of the body and the end of footjoint, which are really far from each other. I feel if I grab other parts, things would be easier, but I'm afraid of damaging the mechanism and dare not do so. Shall I apply some kind of oil? Or the body is deformed and I should contact the seller?

Thank you again, Jen. I really appreciate your kindness.

Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:35:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Francis,
So glad you're happy with your choice.
If the footjoint is stiff to put on, simply take the flute to a reputable flute technician and have them make it an easier fit. Should cost $5. Tight-fitting footjoints are not all that unusual. It's a quick fix.

Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:44:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Never put grease or oil on the connecting parts of a flute.
They attract grit and dirt (which will score,scratch and damage the tenons), stain your flute case fabric, and worst of all ,the oil or grease eventually make their way to the pads which eats the pad surfaces. J.

Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:45:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Jen. I'll do as you suggested.

Sunday, March 08, 2009 9:55:00 AM

Anonymous zabrina said...

I was just going to ask why you wouldn't recommend the barrington 229sp flute? Thanks
~Zabrina (will about to start studying the flute)

Thursday, July 16, 2009 9:01:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Zabrina,
I've never seen, played, or tried a Barrington.

Friday, July 17, 2009 9:37:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had 2 students who ordered Barrington oboes with terrible results. The metal was very thin which allowed the keys to bend at the slightest of pressure. Also, local repairshops found difficulty repairing these instruments due to their poor craftsman ship. I have not had experience with the flute, but I would deduce that the craftmanshipt could be similar

Monday, August 17, 2009 12:52:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks Zabrina from sharing this.
I only included Barrington in a list of "super cheap" band flutes on the recommendation of another teacher on the net.
It is not my choice at all.
Like I said: Haven't seen one or played one.
So thanks so much for this update on the oboes by this company.
Best, J.

Monday, August 17, 2009 12:59:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello my name is Abraham Smith.

I'm wondering what flute I should get that's under my budget of 2,500 dollars.
The brands I'm interested in are Nomata, Pearl, Altus, Yamaha, and Brio.

They all have solid silver head joints, and bodies but I have trouble with the high E, and I'm planing on getting the Split E mechanism, and maybe the C# trill key for the hard trills and some tremolo fingerings.

The Pearl has the open hole, french pointed keys, offset G, B-foot, and Silver head, body, and foot, with the options that I want, but people say those flutes aren't recommended. So I'm looking into the Yamaha, Nomata, Brio ,and Altus, but the ones they recommend(Yamaha, and Altus go way over my budget)
So I looked into Brio and the B1 model has a plated body and foot, with a Sterling Silver headjoint, and with the options, it runs into 2100.

The Pearl Flute has an additional 10k gold lip-plate and riser,and with the options, it runs into 1500
and have enough for a good quality piccolo.

I'm stuck but I don't want to be crticized by my teacher and band and orchestra conductors.


Saturday, August 29, 2009 6:43:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Abraham,
I have never tried Brio or Nomata. (Nomata is actually a brand I've never heard of before.)

You want the best possible flute for YOU, so get your teacher's help with trying out flutes over several months.

If you pre-order a particular configuration, such as C# trill and split E, you get that individual flute---no matter how it plays.
If you don't pre-choose the configuration, you may find a much much much better flute (better mechanism, better intonation, better headjoint) within your budget, which plays far better than a specially ordered one.

I'm serious.

No two flutes are alike.
It's really not about brand name at all.

So learn how to flute shop properly with the help of an experienced teacher.
A Pearl, a yamaha, a Brio, all might be fine, but the individual flute itself will either be a 100% flute, or a 62% flute.
No two are alike.

Personally, I would open your mind to a whole bunch of brands, as well as used flutes.
An Altus 1107, or a Muramatsu GX, or a Yamaha 481 might all be found for under $3000.

So keep shopping.

Best, J.

Saturday, August 29, 2009 8:21:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much.
I will keep shopping.

Monday, August 31, 2009 3:51:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Yes, keep shopping and get your private flute teacher's help.
I also think you should consider the $1800 range flutes such as Avanti and Azumi at and other places.
These flutes (especially the Azumi) I have found play BETTER than the $3000 priced flutes often.

Monday, August 31, 2009 5:11:00 PM

Blogger penguin person said...

Hi Jen I was wondering if you have every played on a STERLING flute its the brand not the color. I tried to find some reviews but apparently its not a very popular brand. The flute is really cool but my mom and I are worried because it's really cheap so we aren't quite sure what we should do. So can you help?

Thursday, October 22, 2009 4:08:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry, no, I haven't played "Sterling Brand" flutes, and I haven't heard any professional flute teachers and repair people send feedback on them, so they must be an obscure brand. Phone up the top U.S. repair-person for flutes that you find nearest, and ask the question there, perhaps?

If your budget is under $300 you should probably get a used Yamaha closed hole flute, second-hand and have it fixed up at a good flute repair shop, polished to look new.
The cheap flutes just don't play well mechanically; they wear out too fast, and may never play well.

Recently a flutist I know purchased one of these:

And said for $90 it sounded and played well. We''ll wait and see how it holds up mechanically, though.
Good luck,

Thursday, October 22, 2009 5:13:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great advice about helping a student choose a flute! When I was young enough to play student model flutes, my father always chose them for me. Once I moved to a professional, hand-made flute, I play-tested 5-6 before purchasing one. But since I hadn't ever chosen a student model, I wasn't quite sure what to recommend to a young student. It's great to see the pros/cons of each instrument.

Monday, October 26, 2009 11:35:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks for your kind comments! J.

Monday, October 26, 2009 1:31:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Gemeinhardt 2NP (student model, closed hold, "C" foot) is 23 years old, and i have only had 1 leak. This flute has also sat in the case for over 10 years not being played. i joind a community band, 15 months ago and since then have played my Gemeinhart every week (and it got the leak some time last year). When i was in the store having it fixed, another woman was there having her 40 year old Gemeinhardt cleaned so she could give it to her daughter. i am very happy with my Gemeinhardt and no other brand that i have tried even comes close, and Gemeinhardts can fit any budget

Sunday, November 01, 2009 2:46:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry, but as a professional flutist I have a completely different opinion.
Best, J.

Sunday, November 01, 2009 11:15:00 PM

Anonymous Floot Loop said...

Hello! I stumbled across your website and have learned alot from it!
I purchased a $100 Jollie from Ebay and it is JUNK, which I found out too late. I couldn't hit the mid-range d, e and f notes! I thought it was me not being a great player after returning to the flute after many years!
Turns out it WASN'T me!! Much to my joy and relief.
Thanks to your recommendations, I found THE flute for me --- an Azumi 2000RBO and it is INCREDIBLE! I sound so much better on it than the Jollie --- incomparibly better.
The Azumi was only $1040 which was alot for me but I felt it was OK to pay a few hundred more for the flute I really wanted (I almost bought an almost-new Pearl for $699). It has a solid silver head, too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 6:46:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Good for you. LOVE Azumi. They are truly fabulous, from all the ones I've tried in that price range. Good for you. J.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 9:11:00 PM

Blogger RML said...

After many years of not playing, I have begun to practice on regular basis and find my Gemeinhardt’s a bit unsatisfying. It is M3S (with a low B foot) and probably need some work after many years of sitting in the case. Living in Calgary makes it difficult to test some of the flutes mentioned on this blog. When I was studying flute in Boston, students who could afford a Haynes were very fortunate. Everyone else suffered with flutes made by Artley and Gemeinhardt. From what I can read an Azumi 3000 or the Muramatus EX might be a good instrument for someone at the intermediate level? Most of the music I play is by 18th and 19th century composers. I am looking for an instrument with a full tone that is a bit forgiving. The Gemeinhardt is a bit shrill in the higher register. Next time I can travel to a larger city on business I should be able to find a dealer who carries the Azumi. The closest Muramatsu dealer is Portland OR, which is an 8 hour drive from Calgary. I am certainly tempted by flutes on EBAY but fear the cost of rebuilding a badly treated instrument. The other day a Muramutsu GX (open hole) went for $1600. Any suggestions for someone looking for an instrument who is not going to be able to try out 10 or 20 instruments before they find one that works for them.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 1:47:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Richard,
You have two or three phone calls to make, and that's usually enough.
For starters, call Long&McQuade and let them know you want to try several major brand flutes, and ask what brands they have in stock, and what brands they can get.
They can bring in Azumi's by talking to their Jupiter Band Instrument representative. They may also have Muramatsus on hand.
105-58th 58 Avenue Southwest
Calgary, AB T2H 0A4, Canada
(403) 244-5555

Next, call up the biggest flute teacher or two in town, and let them know that you're interested in finding a good quality Mura or Azumi, or Altus, or Sankyo etc (other brands listed here: ) and have them take down your phone number if any of their students is selling a good quality intermediate instrument.

You shouldn't have to buy a flute in the $2000+ price range without a teacher helping you, so book a lesson or two, and get "in" with the big flute teachers in town.
They'll help you test instruments, and they'll know where all the good second-hand ones are in town.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 5:15:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

I've also purchased flutes online using and shopping at

If you use the search box at to find brands you like, (and can put in the word CANADA too) you might even find a used flute IN your city that you want!
As long as you're dealing with another flute student or teacher, chances are the flute will be in good repair.

I've had them shipped from U.S. too, and have had good luck with this.
Liz at Winds101 who advertises on is also very good, I hear. She's a repair person and sterilizes and fixes up all used flutes of all kinds.
She has lots of good prices too.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 5:18:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see from your earlier post that you haven't personally tried the Brio flutes yet, but have the flute discussion groups you read daily discussed the Brio much? I would like to know if it has the same bad reputation for workmanship and reliability that other Gemeinhardt flutes have.

Monday, January 04, 2010 11:02:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry, no. I haven't heard anything more about Brio flutes.
Best, J.

Monday, January 04, 2010 11:45:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,

I plan on upgrading to an intermediate flute and buying it at the Flute Festival in February. My flute teacher also plans to go to the Flute Festival. My top choices currently are the Muramatsu GX and the Sankyo SilverSonic.I may also consider the Altus 1107 and Yamaha 674HCT.
I do have a couple questions though.
Are both the Muramatsu and Sankyo completely handmade?
On, the website mentions that the Sankyo has "NEL." What is NEL?

Your help will be appreciated.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:04:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone know of a reputable flute repairperson in Maryland?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:10:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Flute repair in Maryland:

John Lagerquist is excellent and very experienced. J.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 9:45:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry, I don't know about the hand-made attributes of Sankyo and Muramatsu. An email to their website might give you an answer.
An email to Fluteworld might tell you what NEL means, also.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 9:47:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

I googled Sankyo Nel, and immediately found this:
Sankyo have also introduced the ‘NEL’ as a standard option on all models. This is, in fact, an adaption of the ‘E Ring’ principle but incorporated in the tone hole design i.e. by making the tone hole of the lower G smaller the venting for third octave E is improved, giving an alternative to the traditional E mechanism. Sankyo offer several versions of this with both ‘normal sized’ G key and ‘small’ G key.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010 9:48:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments. I am wondering which of these flutes would have the best resale value: Muramatsu GX, Altus 1107, Sankyo Silversonic, or the Yamaha 674HCT. I'm guessing that the Muramatsu and the Yamaha would have the highest, since they are well known and because James Galway plays a Muramatsu. Another person on the internet said Altus isn't as well known as Muramatsu.

Looking forward to your comments.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 3:39:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

All those brands probably have an equal ratio of resale value to blue-book-price.
All are good, reputable brands.
Best, J.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 3:46:00 PM

Anonymous Morgan said...

My name is Morgan and this website has helped me A LOT.
I just have a few questions.
Well, Im in highschool and Ive been playing on a Gemeinhardt since my JuniorHigh days. At first, it had a 'good' tone and I didnt have any leaks. That next year, I noticed my flute just didn't sound the same. Ive been in advanced placement bands but, I think my flute has been holding me back from getting a better chair throughout the years. I graduate in 2011 and I want to major in music in college so, I think its time I upgrade. I looked up the brand Azumi and the reviews looked good. I want an awesome quality of a flute and my budget is 1,000 or a little more. I just want your input on what kind of flute I should get. Thankyou!


Friday, January 29, 2010 11:44:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Morgan,
ha ha! :>)
This may sound long-winded but I have to cover every possibility:
Jen's answer:
Firstly, take your Gemeinhardt to a good flute repair tech and have it looked over. You could very very easily be playing with a leaking cork and leaking pads.

When you start shopping, you want to be taking flute lessons so someone who plays well can test your new possible flutes. So find out which teacher in your area can give you a few introductory lessons, and let them know you'd like your current flute tested to see if its in good working order and get some tips of flute-shopping.

In generaly, if I were you, I'd look for a used good quality flute in the $1000 range that has *already* had a guarenteed visit to a good quality repair person and given perfect bill of health from a private flute teacher who has play tested it, and run it through its paces.

Most flute problems are because of a lack of repair. You wouldn't believe how much better some flutes are after they've been repaired properly!

You could also simplify the flute-shopping by directly contacting the private flute teachers in your area to ask about used flutes they may have among their students.
Phone and leave a message asking for a call back if any of their flute students might possibly have a good intermediate flute for sale in the $1000 range. Many good quality Yamahas are found this way.
You can also ask which is the best repair shop that these flute teachers use, and then phone that repair shop and ask if they have any used flutes for sale. When talking to the shop, ask for used Yamahas or similar quality as outlined in my article

Also, online you can check for these brands, using the search engine (white box) to see if there's a used quality flute in your area/state/country. I've purchased and sold two flutes through and ended up with flute teachers and flute parents who were quite near by. We used, and we shipped the flutes and paid for them no problem.
But buying any flute requires a visit to a good quality flute repair person as soon as it arrives, so start by finding out who that is and begin by trying to shop locally as shipping flutes add $30 to every try-out.
That's why it is smarter to start by inquiring of the flute teachers where you live.

If you want to simplify the purchase of an online, used intermediate flute, look for winds101 which is a repair shop that uses the listings at
Other flutists have said that winds101 has a good guarentee, will work with you over the phone, and will stand behind the mechanical reliability of the repairs they do prior to shipping you your used flute of choice. Having a knowledgable flute repair person directly sell you the flute means that you know it's in top working order when you get it; unlike a large mail-order house for new flutes, where no flute technician may have "tweaked up" the flute for leaks prior to shipping.

Your Gemeinhardt may still be very salvagable if you had taken it once a year, "COA" (clean-oil-adjust) to a good flute technician in your area.
The cost of repairs that you likely now need on your Gemeinhardt may have to be weighed against its fixability.
It's possible that a $200 repair job might make your Gemeinhardt great again, and keep it going for another year while you try flutes and wait to find the one you truly think is great for your budget.
Buying a flute is a process.
Don't rush it.
Deal with professionals, and get their advice hands-on.
Take lessons and use the year of lessons to get help with buying a flute from your own teacher. That's a better use of the money in the long run.
(I played a Gemeinhardt 3m until the age of 23, and played third year University recital on it---I"m not kidding.)

Friday, January 29, 2010 1:54:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ordered three flutes for my daughter to try out: Azumi 2000, Brio B1, and Yamaha461. She tried them out and took them to her flute teacher to play. After playing all three without looking at the brand names guess which one stood out heads above the others? The Brio. You just don't know until you try. The Azumi and the Yamaha went back to the store and she's playing the Brio.

Sunday, February 07, 2010 2:45:00 PM

Blogger Erin said...

I have a young 4th grade student playing an Armstrong. Her parents are willing to buy her a new flute whenever she needs one, but I am unsure what to tell them.

Would it be best to have her buy a beginner Yamaha or other suggested brand, then another better model in 5 years?

Or would it be better to have her play the Armstrong for a few more years, then buy a better Yamaha or other suggested brand?

I don't want to tell the parents to run out and buy her a new flute now if she really doesn't need it, and if she is just going to need yet another one in the future. But if it's worthwhile to do so, then I'd let them know so that they can gauge her interest and decide.

So far, she is doing very well with her lessons and has been playing for about a year. Her tone is pretty good for such a young girl.

Also, are Yamaha's that are roughly 20 years old decent flutes or was the reputation back then not so good?

Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:34:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Erin,
I wouldn't urge parents to buy a new flute until the current flute starts to hold the student back, or starts to require more repair than the instrument is worth. If the Armstrong works well, it should take the student to grade 6 Royal Conservatory (see: to see grade levels.)
Usually a good flute student needs a better flute for grade 8 when tone colours, refined dynamics, and fast finger speeds are required.

As far as I know, all Yamahas from any decade are fairly sturdy and well enough made to suit any student.
The "grey market" or "fake" Yamahas should be avoided. But 20 year old Yamahas just need new pads and lipping down for sharp C#s.
Should be a fine basic flute for any student or teacher to use as backup. Therefore always worth buying a used Yamaha if you teach a fairly large number of students; it will always re-sell.
Best, Jen

Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:46:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It very interesting to read about the articles you written about flutes. As i am going to buy one for my son as a beginner to try flute not sure how long he will go furthur , could you let me have idea about conn-selmer prelude flute whether it is good flute to buy or not because i don't want to buy expensive items for his second musical instrument.Za

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 1:32:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry, have never tried conn-selmer-prelude, but my opinion is that the best financial investment is a flute that is sturdy enough to be repaired many times, and then resold for a similar price that you bought it for. That's why I recommend used Yamaha 200-series.

You don't lose as much on the resale, as there is always another beginner/and parent who want a sturdy re-saleable flute.

Buying newer, less reliable brands actually wastes your investment, as you don't know the quality and can't guess the resale value.
But a good Yamaha 200 will serve well, and after each annual repair visit can be sold again for what you paid for it, so you're only out the repair-visit money which is mandatory on any flute.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 8:51:00 AM

Anonymous Adam Robinson said...

Hi Jen,

First thanks for a great website.

I am a 49 year old bass player (electric bass and rock / jazz / folk music originally, but now studying double bass and playing orchestral as well as my other gigs). Having wanted for years to learn flute I bought an Artley off eBay and am taking lessons with a local teenage girl who is a good flautist, but at this stage lacks the experience of an older musician. So I am coming to you for an experienced second opinion on my thoughts.

First, my teacher says the flute is not a disaster but not brilliant (and I know you don't recommend Artley). But the pads are ok, the keys all work and so on.

At this stage I don't think the flute is holding me back because I can't play fast enough to hit the limits of its action - don't know that I ever will - and I don't yet get a consistent tone from it. So I am expecting when I can get a consistent, controlled tone that I am not happy with, it is time to consider upgrading. Does that seem reasonable? If not, what signs will tell me I have outgrown my flute? I want to put off upgrading as long as possible since what I want might change as I learn about the instrument.

Next, my main uses for the flute will be to play a few jazz or folk standards during a gig as a change from bass, or hymns in church. I may join a local amateur band for the practice, but don't anticipate serious orchestral study. I am therefore expecting that an intermediate flute might be all I will ever need - something like a Yamaha 371 or 471. Does this seem reasonable? And how big is the difference between 371 and 471 in your view?

Leaning towards the Yamahas because they are more common than the other brands you mention, at least here in Australia. Therefore I assume easiest to get spares for. My impression is that the 200, 300 and 400 series are basically the same flute, except for the metal that is used. Is this accurate or are there other differences?

My impression is that open hole requires better technique than closed hole, and a B-foot requires better technique than a C-foot. Therefore a C-foot closed hole may be more forgiving for a player who is never going to spend enough time to perfect his tone. Is this right or wrong?

I've been told I really need open hole for jazz and celtic folk, but noone can tell me what I can do with open hole that I can't do with closed, aside from getting quarter tones. Anything you can point out here?

Thanks for any comments you might offer.


Friday, March 18, 2011 7:49:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Adam,

When you get enough technique and tone that you pick up another flute (or try your teacher's flute, or another colleague's who plays flute well) and that person's flute is BETTER than yours, and you really notice a difference, you will know for yourself that you've reached the limits of the Artley.

But if you try other "better" flutes and they feel and sound moe or less exactly the same as your Artley, then you are probably not ready for a better flute.

Any of the Yamahas are fine.
If you get a closed-hole C-foot that's fine too.
I believe my article on open-holes is easy to find; just use the search box at: for open-hole vs. closed hole to read more.

If you find a flute that plays well that happens to be open hole, just plug the holes with hole-plugs (Armstrong arcylic holeplugs $5) until such day as you need to unplug one or two for a given piece of music.

You won't even notice a B-foot if you don't need to play a low B. It feels almost identical to a C-foot. Just position it so that you don't hit the farthest pinky key unless you intended to. So no worries there.

In general, every individual has to decide these things from experience, and you can't know for sure unless you've played a variety of flutes experimentally.

Best, Jen

Saturday, March 19, 2011 12:03:00 AM

Anonymous Adam Robinson said...

Jen thanks for the uber fast response. Particularly given what time of day it is in Canada.

Followup comment for the sake of others who may read this exchange.

My teacher's flute is, I am told, a $12,000 flute and I paid $28 for the Artley second hand. I can hear a difference already :-) But I have a budget, and it ain't $12,000 or even close.

My struggle is where to draw the line on compromising with quality vs price in all this. And I don't want to stay with the Artley for too long and develop bad habits as a result.

Without in any way undermining your recommendations on brands, I specifically targeted Artley because the resale was so low compared to Yamaha. I bought knowing worst case the flute might be useless, and by sheer luck I got a flute that was playable, though I would expect a Yamaha is better.

Saturday, March 19, 2011 3:51:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Adam,
What you're describing is really super common. The simple answer is something like this:
Set your budget, and try flutes in your price range.

There will always be $20,000 flutes and $2000 flutes.

However, $27 flutes are usually the least desireable, and $2000 flutes are good for rapidly advancing players after about 2 yrs.

Sorry for all the numerical alliteration, but it's the general rule of 2. Best, Jen

Saturday, March 19, 2011 9:58:00 AM

Anonymous Rachel said...

dear jen.
I was thinking of taking up the flute and saw some brands online like the elkhart 300 and the paolo mark.

Which brand would you recommend that is durable and has a nice tone.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 6:57:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Rachel,
Go to:

Best, Jen

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 8:37:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Rachel,
For example, here is a used Yamaha on for $300:

Yamaha Flute - Fort Collins, CO USA - Sunday, April 03, 2011
I have a silver plated Yamaha 225SII student flute for sale for $300. It has been adjusted and repaired by my local repair man, so it's in great condition and plays great. I can ship it anywhere in the U.S and Canada for a reasonable fee. I can also take Paypal or a credit card. Email or call for more information and pictures.
-------end listing

The above would be far better than a $150 new flute of unknown durability/functionality.
A Yamaha 200 will hold its value and be easily repaired over time.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011 8:50:00 AM

Anonymous KateD said...

Very interesting information. My dad bought me a brand new "Gemmie" 3SB in my sophomore year in high school (mid-1990s), with which I gained state-ranking (Texas) for those three years. I really loved playing and was very talented.

But I struggled with a lot of the tasks that you've described as common with Gemeinhardt flutes. For example, I often struggled with hitting the lower notes without putting excessive pressure on the keys. I also struggled with rapid keying. Intonation was a problem, as well, and sometimes the sound would be airy. I always thought it was just me, and I'd practice 5-6 hours a day to try to "fix" those no avail. My parents couldn't afford tutors, so I did my own research and tried to correct my own bad habits.

After high school, I quit playing because I thought I couldn't match the fluidity and intonation I saw in my college peers (still thinking my Gemeinhardt was the best flute ever).

Fast forward 11 years later, and I wanted to pick up playing again. My Gemeinhardt needed a couple of new pads so I took it in. While I waited, I played a few of the on-display flutes. UNBELIEVABLE! I sounded better and had better keying ability (after an 11 yr hiatus) than I EVER had in HS/college!!

It makes me wonder what could have been different if I knew better...

BTW: I tried a Yamaha and an Altus...was totally in love. :-)

So...even though I *thought* my Gem was a gem and even had some major achievements with it, the piece held me back quite a bit, I think.

I had to share my experience with parents out there with budding flutists.

Sunday, October 16, 2011 8:29:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks KateD for sharing your story.
This happens all too often, and the flute teachers are the ones who usually witness it first hand several times each decade. Glad to let the parents know in advance. Thanks again. Jen

Sunday, October 16, 2011 9:02:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been looking at the dimedici flute series for a while now and i was wondering what your thoughts were on that brand. Are there any brands that would be better quality and around the same price range as the 1211 and the 1311? Please reply ASAP! Thank You!

Sunday, December 18, 2011 7:37:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry to say I haven't tried DiMedici in over eight years, so can't recommend any new models. If you have $2000 to spend, I recommend an Azumi 3000. If you have $5000 to spend I recommend more brands here:

Muramatsu, Sankyo, Altus all good in that price range (especially used and well-kept).
Best, Jen

Monday, December 19, 2011 12:38:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jen .. if i "m planning to buy new flute for future investment, what kind of brand you suggest (in you need to choice only one). I still don't have any budget though. Well need to plan it 1st at least. I played selmer omega and i feel a lit bit disturb. Hope you can mention one brand so i will pplanning to buy tht one.

Sunday, January 22, 2012 1:55:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anon,

The flutes that don't lose their value, and can be resold at 2/3rds to 3/4s of their original price are:
$5000 range:

$3000 range:
Yamaha 500 or 600 series.

If you have less than $2000, buy an Azumi 3000 flute.

Good luck,

Sunday, January 22, 2012 8:03:00 AM

Anonymous SID said...

Dear Jen,
I'm a flute band student in high school, and I use two flutes. One loaned from the school (yamaha) and my own (Conductor).

My conductor flute is really tarnished all over the head-joint, I presume because I havent used it in three years. So I polished it, wiped it with microfiber, windex...I managed to get the black off, but it still looks like copper.

Will isopropyl alcohol turn it silver again?

Friday, February 10, 2012 5:15:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear SID,
I would not use windex on a headjoint. Alcohol won't take the tarnish off. Alcohol takes off gunk and sticky residue. Silver polishing cloths (ask your band director) will turn a copper-coloured tarnish back to silver-colour, but I wouldn't mess with it.
Have your older flute repaired and cleaned when you're ready to either use it again, or sell it.
As far as I know, there are no copper headjoints. So the colour must just be oxidization.
Best, Jen

Friday, February 10, 2012 8:46:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear Jen
i am wanting to get a black and gold dc pro
my question is what do you think of the brand

Friday, February 10, 2012 9:59:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Coloured flutes are usually inferior mechanical quality, soft metals, and tend toward having their plating worn off, or chipped off.
Serious flute students have their flutes purchased from brands with longevity, that have good resale value for when they upgrade again, that are guarenteed for workmanship by a reputable company, and that are known to hold their repairs over time.

I wouldn't waste good flute money on a coloured flute. It will need to be upgraded within a year, due to not being repairable.

Best, Jen

Friday, February 10, 2012 11:06:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anon,

I searched on google for DC-Pro black and gold flute and found that it's "on sale" for $388. This is a ridiculous price! There is no decent playing flute in the world that sells new for a price like this, so therefore, there's something wrong with this brand.

Plus, I see that it's made from an unusual black-nickel. That can't be good. About 5% of students have a severe nickel allergy, and it's best to avoid nickel because it is slippery and somewhat dull in sound, and is unlikely to have been finished to correct specifications for a working flute.

So don't buy this flute:

It would be a moderately-expensive novelty "desk lamp" if you ran a cord through it and put a lightbulb and shade on it.

Seriously, don't expect to become a good flute player by buying a "not-for-real" flute.
Best, Jen

Friday, February 10, 2012 11:59:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you my director will not talk to me about flutes it
is his first year and i never had to get another one my mom just brought one home one day she had got it from my old director and i was not going to get the black and gold flute from dominics music a member in my band offered me his extra flute witch looks a lot like that one he wanted to sell me it for 1,000-1500 $
i looked at it but was not sure if it's color would effect it and i never herd of dc flutes before and i did not think it was worth up to 1,000 - 1,500 something did not fell right so came here to ask

Friday, February 10, 2012 9:22:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anon,
Well I'm very glad you're not going to get a "cheapo' flute. The most useful flutes to own are all listed here:

If you suddenly find you need a used flute, used Yamahas usually hold their repairs quite well.
Good luck.

Friday, February 10, 2012 9:58:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been learning a great deal from your blog in order to help my daughter.

I was able to get my sister's selmer omega to replace my daughter's 1st year flute as the foot joint became too loose, but need hole plugs. I bought some from the local music store, but they are just to big to fit. I have googled around and called bu i have no luck finding anyone who has plugs for a selmer omega, let alone the silver ones like it originally came with. I might be able to get some gaudy black ones but that would really detract from the silver/gold combo. Maybe the problem is we are in Texas, idk!!

Could you direct me to some where that might have the right size plugs? Thank you in advance for your help.

Monday, February 20, 2012 1:10:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Chris,
You probably bought the rigid plastic, "mushroom shaped" hole plugs (top is larger than cylinder) when you actually need the smaller diameter silicone straight cylinder type of plug, (if the Selmer Omega has small finger holes.)
The silicone plugs are sold for $6 for a set of five, and your nearest flute specialist is; Carolyn Nussbaum in Texas

See silicone plugs and other accessories; Nussbaum gives measurements of finger holes for all kinds of plugs:

Also, footjoint looseness is a common and inexpensive-repair. It's caused by angling the footjoint into place when first assembling the flute. It costs about $15 to have it repaired; I wouldn't change flutes just because of a loose footjoint.
Any reputable flute repair technician will fix that and any other repair needs up in a trice.
So don't avoid repair visits.
They are required every six to twelve months, regardless of the newness of the flute, as oiling and shimming pads that may be leaking are an annual necessity.

Good luck with the new plugs; hope they fit.
Best, Jen

Monday, February 20, 2012 1:39:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Carolyn Nussbaum's company can also be contacted by phone or email; and you could also measure the holes with a millimeter ruler before calling.

I see that they have the silver-coloured "Plug-Os" by Powell. (Although they may not fit your flute; but the staff at Nussbaum's will know that from your measurements.)

Best, Jen

Monday, February 20, 2012 1:44:00 PM

Blogger Denzie said...

hi jen! I just got a used signet selmer special edition openhole flute with coin silver head and body and inline G with silver plated keys. I was just wondering which is better, an Olds openhole flute with silver plated head and body or the one that I have? also, would you be able to provide me info re the Olds openhole flute and the Selmer Signet flute that I have right now? Many thanks in advance!


Thursday, April 19, 2012 9:21:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Dennis,

The person to ask would be a flute dealer who has play-tested several of each of these brands.
To my mind they are very old band-flute brands that are no longer worth owning if you want to improve quickly.
They are not flexible enough in intonation, tone colour, or key mechanism for my uses.
These are not flute brands I would recommend for my own students.

Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:23:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,
I'm trying to find my 14 year old niece a flute. She has been playing for little over a year but she is around level 6 intermediate according to your scale and practicing about 2 hours a day. Currently she is playing on a $50 flute and her teacher said that she needs to upgrade ASAP. She went to some flute conference and tried many flutes and she really likes Haynes Q2 which is US $4,100 and there were no intermediate level flutes to try. Her teacher said that she needs C# trill also. I'm trying to find locally used Yamaha 361 for her to try first. That one does not have C# trill but just want her at least try. Our budget is US $1000 and we may stretch to $1500 if we really have to. At first I was in shock that her teacher would let her entertain idea of buying $4000+ knowing there is no budget for that. In the last few days I found your website and it helped me a lot to understand about flutes. In case she really needs that C# trill I found new DiMedici 1011 that has that feature for $1500 and though the store is not local but they do spend an hour or two setting up new flute and play test it and offer free shipping both ways in case it will not work for her. I was wondering if this situation sounds normal and if we moving into a right direction in our decision-making and if you have any other advice. Thank you for your help.

Thursday, April 19, 2012 10:07:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Aunt,
All sounds very reasonable.
Given the choice, I would go for the DiMedici 1011 for $1500. Sounds good. The store that sets up a flute prior to shipping sounds very decent and reliable. Go for it. If you have a chance to play-test two or three "identical" flutes (the store may have several 1011s) then that would be optimal.
Let me know how it turns out.
Best, Jen
P.S. $4000 *is* a little high for a student who has only played a year, but not too high for a future goal price three or four years from now. The student can help save for it too.

Friday, April 20, 2012 9:12:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a piano teacher and started taking flute lessons 10 years ago. I bought myself an Altus model 907. I would just so much like a flute with a real real dark sound. The Altus sounds so bright to me. My teacher can't even get a darker sound from it. But her Miyasawa sounds great. Do you have any recommendations?


Friday, April 20, 2012 12:06:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Didi,

You might want to find a flute dealer or flute store that sells multiple brands of headjoints and see which fit your Altus 907.
As I recall the Altus have slightly smaller sockets for headjoints, but would fit at least 60% of the headjoints you'll try, including, likely, Miyazawa.
It is not unusual to be "headjoint shopping", and to give yourself 1-2 years of shopping around until you find the headjoint that really gives you the sound quality and ease-of-play you like.
Headjoints are usually in the $800 price range.
Many flutists go through 2-3 over twenty years, looking for some sound they want.
It's "a journey" as they say.
Just investigate where you can try a multiple number of headjoints. There are no two exactly alike.
Best, Jen

Friday, April 20, 2012 12:20:00 PM

Anonymous Jocelyn said...

Dear Jen, hi i am looking for a flute to buy i have never laid my hands on a flute and will be a beginner is there any specific good, fast keys, durable, easy to play flute brands i should buy?
i have experience with music i can already play tenor sax would it be hard to adjust to a new instrument?

Friday, April 20, 2012 4:47:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Jocyln,

A good sturdy brand is Yamaha.
They have a closed hole student flute that you can find second-hand or new. You can even rent them from music stores. I suggest getting a few lessons. Many sax players double on flute.
Lots of info. on buying a sturdy beginner flute with good re-sale value here:
Best, jen

Friday, April 20, 2012 4:54:00 PM

Blogger Babika said...

Where can I get some information on OLDS flute?

Thursday, April 26, 2012 8:39:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Olds is "F.E. Olds Co." and was bought out some 30+ years ago by another U.S. band instrument company, (either Armstrong or Selmer, cannot recall.
They are not valuable flutes, and usually need a tremendous amount of repair in order to restore them to a basic level of playability.
This would not be a brand I'd recommend for serious students.
Perhaps seek out a knowledgable flute dealer who has some background in old band flutes.
Look up "Flute Dealer, U.S." using a search engine.
Best, Jen

Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:53:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you think of the Selmer brand and the Hallelu brand?

Tuesday, June 05, 2012 8:42:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry to say I've never heard of Hallelu, so cannot be of help there.
Selmer is typically a band flute for beginners:
Heavy, difficult to play quickly, non-flexible headjoint cut, and only good for the first year of playing, after which the student should upgrade to a lighter, faster, more flexible flute.
Best, Jen

Tuesday, June 05, 2012 9:13:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen!!
Im Jess and I started flute in year 8( Im year 9 now ) and I had a YAMAHA 221 rented from school, which cost my over 200 annually. So my aunt gave me her ARMSTRONG 100 from over 20 years ago and with a silver head joint, we even got it fixed!! I was so excited at first, but after a bit of researching I found out that it wasn't very good. I played between the two of them and they do feel different but Im not sure which one is better. Im doing grade 4( in Australia) next year and wondered if my flute will be fine, what do you think??
p.s your website is sooooo helpful!

Saturday, August 04, 2012 3:35:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Jess,

An Armstrong that's well-repaired is fine for grade 4. When you get to grade 6 or 7 you might want a faster mechanism or a more flexible headjoint cut.
A used Yamaha can be had for about $400 or less. Why don't you return to the store you rented from, explain that you spent $200 a year, and ask why they didn't "rent to own" which would have allowed you to own that flute you rented after a few years?
Also, see "How to buy a good used flute" at . It should be possible to save up enough for a better flute if you start saving now, and wait three years. Your Armstrong should be fine until then. Check with your flute teacher too; she/he might know of a better flute coming up for sale from among their other students. Best, Jen

Saturday, August 04, 2012 8:25:00 AM

Blogger MacKenzie said...


I am currently a college music major and am looking to upgrade my flute. For the past two years, I have been playing on a solid sterling silver head, body, and foot, open hole with b-foot, and in line G Emerson flute. I have really liked the Emerson, but I had been renting it from my private teacher. I feel it's time for something of my own and an upgrade. I've really been looking into the Pearl 795 Elegante Series and have heard mixed reviews. I'm looking for something with an open hole, b-foot, sterling silver head, body, and foot, split E mech., and possibly c#/d# trills. I do favor the french style keys and the Pearls seem to have everything I am looking for including the ability to sustain a stronger sound as I am used to playing with. I was really considering a Yamaha Allegro but don't have the $$ for them. Is there anything you could tell me for some sort of deal breaker or any advice towards it? I'm looking to get one asap!


-MacKenzie :)

Sunday, August 05, 2012 3:27:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Mackenzie,
Sorry have not tried that Pearl model, nor have I tried "Allegro".
Get hands-on advice from your teacher.
In general:
If you have $2000 to spend, I recommend an Azumi 3000. If you have $5000 to spend I recommend more brands here:
Don't forget used flutes.
Using escrow, and plus a good repair person can give you a quality flute for much less, usually.
Best, Jen

Sunday, August 05, 2012 4:47:00 PM

Blogger MacKenzie said...

Thanks!! I'll keep looking!! :)

Monday, August 06, 2012 3:26:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Mackenzie,
Don't forget that you can also:

- rent to own a flute (although the final price will be higher)

- save up for a year or more with odd jobs, to pay more for a decent flute ($2000 min.)

- ask friends and relatives to donate together to help to pay for a better flute

- buy a used flute, and then eventually resell it for what you paid for it, plus repair costs.

If you're investing in a flute that needs to play at a high level and last you for six years or more, it's better to buy a quality flute that's been picked from among many "identical" models. If you keep it in good repair you can resell it and put the money toward a better flute in the future.

Best, Jen

Monday, August 06, 2012 4:44:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen
I am a high school student looking to upgrade to a professional flute for university. What would be a good brand/model for someone like me? I have a price range of between $3000-5000 (used). I kept getting mixed response from professional players, and that really confuses me. For example, my flute teacher hates Powell (2100 in particular), but others prefer it; she doesn't like Muramatsu, something about too soft; Haynes with poor projection. She likes Altus and Sankyo.
Another professional flute player (from Edomonton) absolutely loves all of the above, except for Altus… He absolutely loves Muramatsu.
So, I was wondering, what would be good brand/model to go for? What kind of features I should be looking for and how much money I should be spending? Is there anything that you would recommend? I aiming keep it for at least 10 years.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 7:39:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anonymous,
I've heard the most solid results from flutes made by Altus, Sankyo and Muramatsu.
See my buying advice for this price range here:

Good luck.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 7:51:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen
I have a few more questions that I could use a third opinion on. I am the previous Anonymous by the way. :)
Firstly, is it a good idea to buy a flute with soldered tone hole with thin wall? Some people say that it's completely normal, while others say that I should never consider a thin wall. Is soldered tone hole a must have, or is it more of an option. I have found very few used flutes within $5000 that have soldered tone hole. (Except Yamaha, which I feels is like a million miles away from the term "quality instrument".)
Secondly, is Powell a good brand? I know they got the pad problem, and besides that, is there anything majorly wrong with Powell? I just heard this Aurumite thing for Powell. Is it a good idea to buy a Conservatory Model with 9k Aurumite? I heard that it combines the deep penetrating sound of gold and resonance of silver. Is there something in equivalent to Aurumite in other brands such as Sankyo?
Thirdly, in regards to William Haynes before they remade their entire line up, does it actually have poor projection? All I can tell is that it sounds a bit different, perhaps weird.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 8:12:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Rene,

If you need "thin wall" because you require a light weight flute, due to wrist-arm problems, then yes, soldered tone holes are likely required. The drawn tone holes are drawn from the main body cylinder. With thin wall they might not be sturdy enough.
However I don't buy flutes because of their specs, I buy them because they sound and feel outstanding to me when I play test them.
I've never played a Powell I like, though I've found every Sankyo I've played to be very good.
The gold-silver debate is endless. I don't think bonding the two materials together does a whole lot to the sound if the flute is clunky, has a poor scale, or has a badly cut headjoint.
You need to try before you buy.
Good luck,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 9:24:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen, I am an intermediate flute player going into my fourth year of playing on my flute. My current model is Jupiter 570 closed hole. I'm looking into buying an Altus Azumi 2000, but people have said that Sonare models are better. Which do you think is better?

Sunday, September 09, 2012 8:20:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anonymous,

I prefer the Azumi *3000* to the 2000.
I don't prefer Sonare at all.

Best, Jen

Sunday, September 09, 2012 10:31:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey All!

I've been looking for a flute to replace my Yamaha 211 (It's an amazing instument, and I highly recommend it to anyone)

I don't want to spend over $2000

After months of reading about flutes, playing a few, and hearing some, I came to the conclusion that I'll never be able to buy a flute without a little regret (for not buying the other ones!)

My preference brands are Yamaha, Altus, Azumi and Dimedici

I'm really thinking of buying a Dimedici 1311.

Does anyone of you have any experiences with this flute?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 12:25:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anonymous,
You might get more answers about kinds of flutes people have tried and liked by writing to one of the flute groups. Not enough people are likely to read your comment here, compared to a group with 1000+ flutists.
Try Yahoo Groups:
Galway Flute Chat

Or FLUTE the listserv.

Best, Jen

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 6:28:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion. And while I agree that some brands that were once very good have declined overtime due to changes in the company. I can't agree that buying with the expectation of getting 2/3rd of your money back is a good idea. As you note changes happen over time. I have an old top of the line Gemeinhardt sitting in a closet that will was never going to be worth 2/3rds of its price even if I'd have sold it decades ago when Gemeinhardt was considered much better than it is today... In the end should never purchase a new flute with any expectation that it will have much value when you sell it...just go look at Ebay and you'll find a plethora of Powell flutes that have no bids. 25 years ago they would have been snapped up at prices higher than they are listed now, but today they have no bids.

Find a flute that suits the player and expect to keep it forever, then you wont be disappointed when you find its more valuable as a conversation piece on a shelf than as something you can sell on ebay.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 8:11:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thanks for your input. You are so right.
The 2/3rds price would, of course, be if you purchased a good quality beginner's flute, and upgraded it again, within a few years of purchase.
Thanks. Well put.
Best, Jen

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 8:53:00 AM

Blogger tomsaway said...

Dear Jen, again, a great site, thank you for the valuable input. As many of the other commenters have shared, i too, have a Gemin M3S from 30 years ago that i purchased through my flute teacher. A year or so after that she recommended a Shaul Benmier (i'm sure i'm spelling that incorrectly) head joint that really brought out my sound. It has served me very well over the years. I stopped regularly playing about 10 years ago and recently decided to reengage and for some reason my sound is better than ever but my flute needed some repairs. So, i found out that an overhaul would be very expensive and cost more than the value of the flute. So, i've checked out flutes at the next level. and found the Haynes Q2 to really "sing" for me. It hadn't occurred to me that i've out grown my instrument until i played a number of these "level" flutes. The Haynes costs $4000. I'm okay with the price but because i'm likely to never buy again so i want to get a really good one and wanted your advice as to this level of instrument. it seems that as they get more expensive it's really about the precious metal(s) they use in varying stages of the instrument. How would i know if I'll out grow the Haynes?? I don't plan on doing anything more than playing at church or weddings, etc. and with friends. I can afford an even more expensive model, but I don't really want to IF it's not really adding to the sound (#1) or playability. I hope this isn't a confusing question. thanks for any advice. Tom

Sunday, October 07, 2012 9:30:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Tom,

I've heard that some overhauls cost up to $1000, but I have never paid that kind of price myself.
An overhaul would include:
- complete re-padding with new pads
- replacement of corks, felts kickers, and possibly some springs
- clean, oil and adjust.
- overall mechanical tweaking (re-threading stripped screws, soldering, straightening etc.)
Is this the kind of work you were told your Gemeinhardt needed?

I've found that I can get the price down by having a trusted technician do only the work that is immediately required, and spread the pad-replacements out over a period of five years. Worst pads are replaced first, and then gradually, as needed.

This should bring you down to a price you can afford, say $450 for a repair job that will allow the flute to play well enough for you to get back into flute playing, and then sell the Gemeinhardt for about the price of the repairs, when you find a better flute that you like. So you essentially get the repair money back again when you sell the flute.

Continued next post.....

Sunday, October 07, 2012 9:37:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Cont'd Part 2:

When considering a new flute in the $5000 and under range you want to take a year or more to decide on the sound you want, the flexibility and ease of play that you want, and the overall characteristics of a flute.

You need time and many trial flutes to make these decisions well.

My advice would be to try many; take each for a ten day trial, and really work it through its paces.

You can't always do a good job of fully testing a new flute until your skill lever is at its highest. So often taking flute lessons is a good investment at flute-buying time, because:
a) your skills will be higher with lessons
b) your teacher (if they play well and are good flute testers) will be able to perform on both your current flute and the new one that you're testing to show you in live sound, how they differ.
You can record these sessions with both you and your teacher playing both flutes (new and old).
From this you'll have your own experiences recorded to listen to later, as well as your teacher's, and can truly hear a difference between the qualities of each flute you play on trial.


Sunday, October 07, 2012 9:41:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Cont'd Part 3:

Talking of old Gemeinhardts; when my Gmein broke down in third year University Performance (it was from the '70s) back in 1985, it had taken only ten years to ruin its own RODS. The long screw-in rods that hold the keys on had mechanically broken down so that they would have to be replaced, and re-fitted, and the repair expert told me it just wasn't worth it. Yes, the flute had an amazing sound, but it also had the "old" scale, and that meant sharp C#s, flat low RH notes, and un-even intervals through the chromatic scale. All of which meant that I had to over-correct using "lipping".
When I switched to a new $4000 Sankyo Silver Sonic back then, the then brand new Japanese flutes had better scale, more robost moving parts (mechanism) and a more refined tonal pallet.
I have kept with Japanese flutes ever since.
The Sankyo Silver Sonic was the most robust flute I ever played, not requiring as many yearly visits to the repair shop as the Altus flutes that I've since switched to in the past 20 years.
I highly recommend that flutists look avidly for Sankyo Artist and SilverSonic models for this reason; more robust, and very versatile.
You can find them on USEDFLUTES.COM from time to time.
(use when trialing used flutes).

Apart from these, which are often in the $2-3k range, used, I recommend the Azumi 3000, as you'vfe probably read at: or Muramatsu, or other Japanese well-made, long lasting flutes. However these rarely come up for sale used, as players tend not to re-sell them.

I avoid any flutes that have:
- not play-tested well
- not received praise from a wide number of experienced teachers and performers
- not been on the market long enough to develop a quality reputation
- not recommended by repair technicians (as they have a common flaw, or known issue, or poor workmanship that requires excessive "tweaking" each year at the repair shop.

So in all, I would get a good quality repair job done on your Gemein, and then spend a year or more testing and trialling flutes until you feel that the flute really is worth 3-4 times as much as the flute you already have.
Then sell the flute you have and get your repair money back.

However, if you seriously play the flute every day for 2-3 hrs, as I do, you will find that repairs on two instruments (I have two flutes and a piccolo) costs between $100-$400 a year, anyway, and has to be done annually, or sooner if you intend to sell that instrument and upgrade.

Hope this helps explain.
It's a topic full of minute details.
Best, Jen

Sunday, October 07, 2012 9:52:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

P.S. Part 4
I just re-read your post, and I hadn't answered the last paragraph: How will I know if I've outgrown my new Haynes?

This can be a chimera (imaginative figment) or it can be factual. So that's the first thing to find out: is my sense of outgrowing a flute, REAL?

When you out-grow a flute, providing it's not malfunctioning (leaking pads, poor connections) you can record testing methods on a recording machine and listen to the difference for scientific proof.
To double the proof, have your teacher or another pro-player make the same tests and record that too.
Then you can have absolute proof that one flute is better suited to you than another.

Every single flute is different. Even two identical Haynes, or more, if you have the luxury of trying ten when they come in at a dealer's, demonstrate that one will be better than the other.
If you've found a flute that really speaks to you, and you've compared it to multiple "identical" models, then you've done the best job you can in eliminating those "identical" flutes which aren't quite as easy to play. Some will have slighlty better key action, some will have better headjoints. If you're lucky, you can actually switch the best two headjoints around on several bodies and find the ultimate match.

But this is a process that goes on for decades.
Every ten years or so, you're likely to find that some flute out there plays better or more easily than the one you have, and you'll want to upgrade again.
That's why Julius Baker walked around selling bags of headjoints to students; that's why James Galway has over 20 flutes.

It can be a trap, because we're always looking for the best flute.
On the other hand, it can be very fun, because you often find that if you're good at saving up money, and keeping each flute in perfect repair, that you can trade off a $2500 used flute for a $3500 flute every decade or two.
Personally, I wouldn't go over $5000 as the resale value "game" won't work.
If you buy precious metals (I have a colleague with a $24,000) flute, you often cannot resell it without losing a great deal of your investment, because there are very very few buyers in this price range.

Also, there's no proof that precious metals actually make the flute play better; sometimes it's just the workmanship quality that makes gold play better than silver.
Sometimes the gold does not make the flute play better.
So avoid thinking about precious metals as a bonus. They are less valuable in real flute playing factors than the workmanship is.

So, if you want to buy the Haynes, go ahead, but do some real comparison shopping to prove that its the best you can afford. That's my advice.

Then, if later you find an even more suitable flute, if you've kept the Haynes on a good repair schedule, you should be able to resell it for 2/3rds of what you paid for it several years down the road, and upgrade again.
Welcome to the world of flute shopping.
It's usually fairly safe to invest if you have corroboration from both an expert technician and several other pro-players that the flute you've chosen is mechanically robust, flexible in sound, and sophisticated in use.

Good luck,

Sunday, October 07, 2012 10:07:00 AM

Blogger tomsaway said...

Jen, holy cow! Thank you so much. This is great advice that i'll take to heart. I'm located in the Chicago area, so if you know of any outlets here, that would be great. again, thank you. my best, Tom

Sunday, October 07, 2012 11:14:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Tom,
I'm pretty sure there is a Chicago Flute Club from which you could locate an expert flute teacher and ask:
a) who the best repair person is in town
b) whether you could book a single lesson to have your Gemeinhardt and the loaned-out Haynes play-tested to get their opinion.

Then you pay for one lesson and get all the best information from someone who can see and play all the flutes you're trying.
And you can record the play-tests with both you and the teacher examining the instruments.

Who knows? Maybe the Haynes is a good instrument. So you can get a hands-on opinion from someone who can test it to its limits.
Lots of flute teachers in Chicago too who might have seen Haynes new flutes among their students and would know the longevity and repair needs over time.
Best, Jen

Sunday, October 07, 2012 1:36:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Also a local Chicago flute teacher will know who the best local dealers are for flutes used and new, and what level of flute you need, and where the best selection and prices are nearest to you.

Sunday, October 07, 2012 1:46:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Cont'd from part 4 (out of order)

Part 5 - List of used flutes from


I just quickly perused and found all these flutes in your price range.
These brands are known for long-lasting mechanical soundness.
They are more or less from low to high price.
Use escrow to play-test.
I recommend Sankyo if you want a long-lasting purchase.
Try them with your existing headjoint (use plumber's tape to make it fit if too small; if too big, won't work at all.)
And try them with the headjoint they came with.
For each escrow ten-day trial you'll have to pay shipping, but it's not that expensive ($30 per flute per travel).
Personally, I'd go straight for the Sankyos, and test them against the Haynes you have in mind.

Best, Jen

List from today: (will take this list down in 72 hours - I'm not related to any sellers)
List now removed; contained:

Yamaha 200-400 series flutes
Sankyo Silver Sonic and Artist flutes
Muramatsu & Miyazawa flutes.......

Tuesday, October 09, 2012 10:49:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,

I found your excellent site and blogspot and I'm really excited with all the information there.
I used to study the flute in the early 1980s. I gave up for a couple of years and came back for 2-3 years in the Early 1990s. For nearly twenty years, I rarely blowed my flute. But lately, I decided to start over again. I'm trying to study for at least half an hour daily.
My question is regarding an upgrade of my old flute. It's a Yamaha YFL-225S bough in 1981 - yes that's 30 years old, but actually it has played for about 6-7 years. It is still in a very good condition and has been repaired once (adjustment and new pads). I feel I would like to get a newer one and my options are either a Yamaha YFL-311 or an entry level Azumi (AZ-Z1 - AZ-1000).
Could please give me your advice?
Thank you

Sunday, October 14, 2012 9:06:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Evangelos,
If you're rushing to buy a new flute, you're less likely to be satisfied.
I would keep the Yamaha in tip-top repair and spend at least two years saving up for and trying new flutes.
The Yamaha should be a good tool for the first five years of improved playing at the very least.
When you're ready to upgrade, you'll want to upgrade to an Azumi 3000 or a Yamaha 400 series, in my opinion.
Until then, the 200 series should be fine.
Alternately, you could just upgrade the headjoint ($500-$900) which could transform the tonal command you have over the flute, but keep the same body/key-work.

Get help from an experienced flute teacher when trial-ing flutes and headjoints.
Best, Jen

Sunday, October 14, 2012 10:06:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,
Thank you very much for your response. I feel your advice is valuable.
I was too thinking of upgrading the headjoint. Any suggestions regarding this? I know that it's difficult to recommend a specific item, but here in Greece the market is very much confined and trying several headjoints is a rather limited option. Looking on a dealer's/repairman's site, I can see listed the following headjoints:
- Altus 1607
- Sankyo GS-1
- Sankyo RS-5

I will search further though.


Sunday, October 14, 2012 10:56:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Evangelos,

Is it possible to order headjoints to try by using a specialized flute company like in England, or another company nearer to you?
Sometimes they can ship three at a time by special delivery, if you're dealing with the flute dealer/shop owner on the phone, and giving a credit card number for the deposits.
Alternately, there may be a flute dealer in Greece who will have headjoints shipped to their studio directly, where you can try the headjoints, and select one.
I'll try and look up flute dealers in Greece.
I would want to try both those Sankyo headjoints. Sankyo is good!
Best, Jen

Sunday, October 14, 2012 11:53:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Also, when you are talking to flute dealers about headjoints, let them know you have a Yamaha 200. Not all headjoints fit all sockets.
Although I think Yamaha would fit the slightly smaller diameter Japanese headjoints like Sankyo, I'm not 100% sure about the cylindrical measurements for matchign heads to bodies.
Best, Jen

Sunday, October 14, 2012 11:55:00 AM

Blogger Bloomer said...

Hi, Jen: I have a 30 year old Muramatsu flute that I've been playing for a little less than a year (let's just say life intervened in my efforts to learn to play the flute). I'm interested in your comments about 30-year old flutes--would I be better off with a more current model? I paid about $400 for my Muramatsu. Thanks. - Cindy.

Friday, November 30, 2012 5:21:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

HI Cindy,
A 30 year old Muramatsu should still be quite good. Just make sure it's tweaked up by a good technician.
Nothing wrong with Muramatsu. Great flute. Best, Jen

Friday, November 30, 2012 7:19:00 AM

Anonymous Seaweed said...

Hi Jen! Would the funny headjoint problem apply to old Armstrongs? I have an old Armstrong Elkhart 104,and I'm guessing nits from the 80's or older. It's in need of repair, and several keypads need to be replaced. I was planning on just buying another Armstrong (but this time open-holed) until I read your post. I've been happy with my flute, but I'm moving from beginner and intermediate and can't really tell the difference between a good flute and a mediocre one. What do you think? Thanks! :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012 6:43:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

You might as well just spend on getting your old Armstrong fixed up by a truly good repair technician.
With new pads, new adjustments, new felts, corks and a new headjoint cork, it could be just fine. You don't need to go to an open-hole flute unless you're going to use the open-holes for extended technique (super modern half-holing quarter-toning.)
Why not just spend on fixing up the flute that has worked for you.

You only need to upgrade when you can clearly hear the difference when playing on a better flute.
Otherwise, repair repair and prepare to be amazed.
Best, Jen

Sunday, December 23, 2012 7:53:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi i wanted to buy a new flute but i'm only going into high school but then there's the fact that i'm in a marching band that has nothing to do with my school and we play music some people might see in college. i have my flute which i got from my cousin who got it from the school system were kids got to play the flute everyday for almost ten year's. this summer i am going to Portugal with the marching band were we are going to be representing for my state. i'm also on a very tight budget my dad said he could buy it for me but he also said the price range is less then 500$ i have been looking into Yamaha flute's and can't find any less than 700$. please help i need a new flute before i go to Portugal because my flute is always out of tune and the pads are now falling out.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013 3:48:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anon,

A very high quality flute teacher posted this yesterday in a flute discussion group:

"If you have less than $800, go ahead and look at a Di Zhao DZ-300 model flute.
This is a sterling silver with handcut hj, semi-handmade sterling silver body and fj, silver plated mechanism, B-foot, open hole, offset G, with pointed keys.
I have to admit, I was very skeptical about these flutes but they really do play like a professional model. If something happened to both of my Powells I would not hesitate to play on this flute. It is my understanding that these are made by someone who used to work for Powell. I tried one at a Fall Flute Fling at UWV last year and could not believe the quality for this low price. Have her contact The Flute Loft, Bill Hutzel, or call 908-500-6690 right away."

If the Di-Zhao is too expensive, look on for a used Yamaha that's under $500 and use to hold the money until you've had the used flute shipped to you for a play-test. You want a flute that has been tweaked up by a good flute technician, oiled, adjusted, and has no pad leaks.

Hope this helps.

Best, Jen

Wednesday, January 02, 2013 4:18:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ms. Cluff:
Just drop a note to say THANK YOU! I'm 50 years old & haven't played my flute since high school. I picked it up again because my brother plays the guitar and we decided to play around doing Celtic duets. I had a Armstrong student flute and that did not cut it. I bought a new Azumi 3000 and I never played so well...even in HS when playing every day. It is a JOY! I hadn't heard of them until I read about them on your website. While we play just for the fun of it, it is unbelievable how good we sound. I liken switching to the Azumi as switching from a manual typewriter to an electric. Thank you so much for having this information so easily accessible to everyone.

Friday, February 15, 2013 12:35:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

What a happy story!
Yay yay yay!
I'm so pleased to hear this!


Best, Jen

Friday, February 15, 2013 2:07:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen!

I've learnt a lot from your website and I am ever so grateful for all this wonderful flutetastic knowledge!

I am currently a flute player studying at a performing arts school. Last year I bought a new flute, an Altus PS - Beautiful.

Their is one thing I still feel I seriously lack when performing which is a free blowing low register. I quite often find that my low register does not have the same dynamic capacity as my higher registers and I often have to compensate my preferred clear/light tone for something darker that has a bit more bite.

This is not my preferred kind of sound but sometimes I find, for now, that I have to play with this dark sound in the low register to be heard in Orchestra/recital/chamber group settings.

I wanted to ask if this is a problem purely with me and developing my embouchure or if you have found any issues with this flute brand?

A few things I've noticed. First thing in the morning is when I have the fullest low register, my lip is plump and rock hard with plenty of resistance but as the day goes on I lose some of this resistance. Should I be looking for a different headjoint to unlock more choice in my low register? - It's a very irritating problem because having a fab sound for one or two hours in the morning just isn't gonna cut it if I want to be a professional, also I do love my middle and high register, projects well, lots of dynamics and tonal colours - its just my low register...

Thanks for taking the time to read this any advice would be much appreciated.

Graham :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013 12:08:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Graham,

There are several things that jump out at me from your description.
1. It's fairly easy for you to go to your teacher and get them to try your low register and find out whether they feel it has the same level of dynamic flexibility that their own flute headjoint does. It's likely that your flute is fine, especially if you can get professional corroboration and hear it for yourself what the low register sounds like when your teacher compares your flute to their flute.
2. Since you *do* get the sound you need in the mornings, then it's obvious that something is changing throughout the day, and the problem is not with the flute, but something you're doing with your embouchure later in the day. Your teacher could help you pin-point this.
3. The low register of the flute rarely has any projection or large fortissimo as the high register or middle register; so perhaps you're expecting too much. Your teacher can cover this with you as well.
Chamber groups and orchestras usually blast over the flute's low register, and that is typical.
So hope this helps.
Get local assistance and record other professionals comparing low registers.

Best, Jen

Saturday, February 16, 2013 5:39:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a bunch Jen! It's good to have your ideas confirm what was already going on in my head.

That's a great idea to let my teacher try my flute!

Thank you very much!

Graham :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013 9:09:00 AM

Anonymous Sophie said...

Hello Jen,
So I have been playing my flute now for two years. I'm borrowing my teachers YAMAHA 221 closed hole flute. Sadly, I won't have this flute for much longer as this flute belongs to a school. I'm thinking of getting a YAMAHA -YFL 371G. I don't know where I'm supposed to post this so if I post this in the wrong section, I'm terribly sorry.
So should I get the YAMAHA -YFL 371G? Please Reply!

Monday, March 04, 2013 7:31:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Sophie, I've never played the 371G, but I'm imagining that it has off-set G key, like the 221?
Then great!
Other brands used and new that I think are equally good are all listed here:

Good luck.
Best, Jen

Monday, March 04, 2013 8:03:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen, my name is Ariel. I am a Junior Music Education Major with a performance emphasis in Flute, and I am also principle flute player in my College's Wind Ensemble and Orchestra. I have been playing on my student model Gemeinhardt for 11 years now since day one. My advisor/lesson giver has been strongly suggesting since last Fall that I upgrade to a Intermediate/Professional level instrument, so that I may not be held back in my continuing studies of the instrument. Until recently I have not been financially capable of considering purchasing a new flute. Even now, although I am more financially able I have a fairly small budget and am hoping to find a worthy instrument priced $2000, give or take a bit.

My lesson giver is a saxophonist and so I am not completely sure if I want rely soley on his recommendations. He continues to recommend Yamaha to me. After trying several Yamaha's out personally at local retailers I am not convinced that Yamaha is the brand for me. On all the Yamaha's I tried I felt like the upper register was difficult to manipulate and I had to work too hard to get it to speak clearly. I had better more consistent results from the Intermediate models of Accent and Amadeus, which my professor strongly recommended to avoid buying. With this I am unsure of what to consider purchasing. What brands would you recommend that might also fit my limited budget?


Tuesday, March 05, 2013 6:36:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Ariel,

I really like Azumi 3000 flutes.
They are under $1900.
They are sold at several major flute stores in the U.S.
Try in Michigan and in Texas if they're not already at your local stores. All the other brands I recommend are here:

And remember to try lots of Yamahas. Some companies offer your choice of five different headjoints with Yamahas. Some are easier and more flexible with high registers than others. So ask about headjoints when you buy Yamahas.
Best, Jen

Tuesday, March 05, 2013 7:44:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is definitely a good thing to know. Up here in North Dakota the local music stores don't have alot of options offered. Ekroth mainly only offers Yamaha's. I haven't seen any Azumi's up here.
Recently I have been looking online and found a Instrument Shop based out of I think Las Vegas, called Kessler and Sons. They have several different models offered diMedici, Azumi, Di Zhao, Pearl that are in my price range. I was most interested by their diMedici 1311 series. Do you know anything about that model?


Tuesday, March 05, 2013 8:30:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

I've heard some flute teachers say something good about each of those brands, but have not tried them all myself.
Be sure to have a good quality flute teacher to test-trial the flutes (not just a doubling woodwind player.)
Good luck. Jen

Tuesday, March 05, 2013 10:48:00 PM

Blogger Courtney westcott said...

Ariel, is in Minneapolis area. A bit of a road trip but might be worth it for good things to try and good advice.

Sunday, April 14, 2013 10:04:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks for the help, Courtney! Jen

Sunday, April 14, 2013 11:35:00 AM

Anonymous Gabriela said...

Hello Jen,

I am going to start music university and my professor says I need a new flute because mine is holding me back. I can't test any flute here in Brazil, therefore I'm looking for a flute online, but I really don't know which I should get... Do you think the silver headjoint flute is enough for someone who is entering music school or I should look for a silver headjoint and body flute? Are there a lot of differences between the Muramatsu, Haynes, Azumi, Yamaha flutes? Thank you. Gabriela

Thursday, April 25, 2013 8:16:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Gabriela,
The best would be for the new professor to help you choose a flute, by suggesting brands to try and then, when they arrive, play-testing them with you and FOR you.

In my opinion the Muramatsu are the best of the brands you name, followed by Azumi, then Yamaha.
But you may prefer others, as may your professor. Can you ask them for help?

Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:30:00 PM

Blogger Yana said...

Hi Jen,

I'm looking for a new flute, and frankly I'm more than a little overwhelmed with the insane numbers of brands and models, so I'd appreciate some advice.

I'm not planning to go professional, nor do I take flute lessons; I play flute as a hobby and as part of a cadet marching band. What I need is a flute that has a reasonably good tone (reasonably for a casual player) and relatively durable. The flute I started on cost 170$ and was a Cecilio, but I wasn't expecting it to last long. Lo and behold, over the past two years its tone has gotten progressively more breathy despite my improving embouchure, it's been repaired 5 times, and I've heard from the repair people that the metal of the actual flute itself is far thinner than it ought to be.

So, I need to replace this (awful, I nearly failed a cadet music evaluation because of the Cecilio's octave jumps and squeaks) flute, but I don't have the money for an expensive one.

Are there any passable brands/models around the 500$ benchmark? I know it seems far too little to pay for a flute, but I honestly don't have the funds to pay more. I'm not against buying used, but only when certain that the flute is durable enough to be used and not be destroyed already.

Any advice would be great!

Sunday, May 12, 2013 4:33:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Yana,

See this article:

You'll be fine with a Yamaha 200 series flute. Plenty are available used in the price range you're suggesting. They last well through years of repairs and have the quality you need.
Look for Yamaha closed-hole 200 series at
Best, Jen

Sunday, May 12, 2013 8:52:00 PM

Anonymous Sarah said...


Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge with aspiring flutists everywhere. I recently stumbled upon your website in search of my next flute, and I have not been able to stop reading. VERY helpful information you've provided!

I am embarassed to say that I am 28 years old, and I have been playing the same Geneinhardt SP2 since 6th grade. I played flute up through college (although, I did not major in music) and I am now a member of a very active community band in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Even though I have not taken formal lessons for quite some time, I am somewhat upset that NO ONE with higher knowledge of flute-playing ever recommended that I upgrade...I am clearly long over-due! For years I was disappointed in my sound. I have been told a few times that I have beautiful vibrato (strong at times too...I sing, so I often play as though I am singing), but I always felt like I was failing at having a GREAT sound consistently. My notes were often airy and broken. I have felt that I wasn't good enough, and it was very frustrating, because I loved playing and making music. Then, I borrowed another flute while mine was getting repaired and could not BELIEVE how good I sounded on it! That is when I realized that maybe my bad sound quality wasn't entirely my fault after all...and I knew it was time for another flute.

I've been talking to one of my friends that plays and teaches flute. She feels that some of the sound problems I've noticed were most likely "symptoms" of me "out-growing" the thin wall of my headjoint, and my flute in general. Would you agree with this?

Along with that, I am aware of some of the models that you recommend for intermediate/advanced flutes. Are there any features that you recommend I look for (i.e. headjoint - height of riser, wall thickness, shape of embouchere, etc.) that would help me get some of my sound issues under control? Or do you think a general upgrade should just do the trick? (I know you recommend taking a lot of time when purchasing a new flute but I am looking for an upgrade FAST...)



Thursday, May 23, 2013 6:41:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

A general upgrade should be fine. I actually don't recommend any specifics other than try before you buy, and stick to brand names with good substantial reputations.

I recommend Azumi 3000 (now called 3z?) SEe recommendations at

Have fun shopping.
I outgrew my student Gemeinhardt too when I was in my twenties. ha ha. (way too late; 2nd year performance!)

Best, Jen

Thursday, May 23, 2013 8:04:00 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

So is the Di Zhao DZ300 really worth buying? I want to upgrade my old flute and this is the flute I had on mind. What Yamaha flute would you think this is the closest to? Thanks for helping out if you could!~

Saturday, June 01, 2013 6:57:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Sophia,
I've never tried a DiZhao flute. I've heard one other teacher recommend them on the net. Only one. The main question is, with a flute in this price range: how long do they last for how well do they play, and how do their repairs hold?
For that you need to ask someone whose students played DiZhao for a decade or more. It's too new to know. Yamahas last 20 years and are endlessly repairable. It's safer to buy a Yamaha.

Saturday, June 01, 2013 7:54:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo Jen, What do you think about conn selmer prelude flutes are they worth the price is it durable enough for 5 years use

Tuesday, June 04, 2013 8:32:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anon,
Sorry have not tried them. But resale value is much higher on a used Yamaha 200 after five years, so a better flute, a more repairable, refurbishable flute is a better financial investment.
Then when you upgrade, you get a bigger proportion of your investment back on resale.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013 9:47:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo Jen, Yamaha 200 is a little bit to expensive for me my budget is up to $500. What other flute brands would you recommend that will fit my budget (not used)? Thank You for responding

Thursday, June 06, 2013 7:24:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Yo Anonymous,

You can find lots of USED Yamaha 200s for under $500 at used flute sale sites like

There are no decent flutes under $500. The Yamaha can be resold for what you paid for it, and all you'll have to pay for is the repairs for the time you use it.

Best, Jen

Thursday, June 06, 2013 8:26:00 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Jen, I am a high schooler looking to upgrade to an intermediate level flute. I have been playing for 6 years, and feel that I am ready for something more advanced, but don't want to spend a lot of money. I found a used flute at a local music store and was wondering if you think it is a good deal/would recommend it. It is a YFL285H, with a gold lip plate and inline g, and they will give it to me for $750. When I looked at it, it was in good shape with no dents and minimal scratches. Would you recommend that I go ahead and buy this flute, or should I keep looking? -Jura

Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:28:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Jurate,
Usually you will be better off in the long run if you compare a variety of flutes to eachother.
If you're going to spend in the $1000 range on a used flute, there are certainly other flutes to try.
Take them to your teacher, and record your teacher play-testing them, and yourself play-testing them. Then listen back and analyse what each flute is capable of.
That way you'll truly know what you've spent your money on. If you don't have a teacher, take lessons during the purchase period for this very reason.
Also, only get inline if you're already sure that you're comfortable with inline. It has no benefits if it doesn't fit your hand.
Best, Jen

Thursday, June 13, 2013 2:16:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really need help, i can't decide wether to get a pearl quantz coda flute or a azumi 3000 the model for azumi that i want has a boot offset g c sharp trill and split e, so does the pearl flute do to your knowledge of flutes, and if you know anything about yamahas 500 series please inform me....thank you. btw i am an advanced player,should i get a muranatsu ex

Thursday, June 13, 2013 7:23:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anon,
You should have a local high quality flute teacher assist you in choosing among several flutes; you really can't decide by brand name alone.
Yamaha 500 are usually good, and Azumi 3000 are very good for the price. If you're an advanced player, both those might suit you better than Muramatus EX, but you can't know without playing them and hearing them played by a professional in a lesson.
Good luck.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 11:06:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an Armstrong flute! I love it. It's a beginner though. However, I don't have an interest in upgrading, as I'm probably not going to be playing it after high school. It has lasted me 5 years, going on 6, WITHOUT ONE PROBLEM! I love my Armstrong! I am afraid to use a polished cleaning cloth (one with chemicals) on my flutes exterior). Should I get a non-polished one?


Wednesday, June 26, 2013 7:45:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Hannah,
You can use a "micro-fibre" cloth for fingerprint removal ($5). These cloths are sold in music stores and are launderable. If you want tarnish removed it is not at all expensive to have a flute repair shop properly clean the tarnish off for you while they do their annual "clean, oil and adjust" ( which needs to be done every year anyway because of the need to "oil and adjust".) To prevent tarnish you use 3M anti-tarnish strips in the flute case. (Also about $5 for a five year supply). Happy fluting. Jen

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 8:14:00 AM

Anonymous darryl said...

I switched from trumpet to flute in 1987 and after 9 months on a Gemeinhardt 2SP my teacher moved me to a Gemeinhardt KGB Special open-hole, in-line, B-foot instrument...which has had no repairs, just slight adjustments while I took private lessons, played in church ensembles, the Southern Seminary Churchestra, and other venues. For a couple of reasons (but mostly since I'm hauling the instrument around a lot more recently and playing more,) so this month I got a "backup" instrument...another KGB Special which seems to be identical except the old one is an M headjoint and the new one is the H1 headjoint. My teacher also checked this one out for me and I'm fairly happy with it.

My goal back when I started was to achieve college performance major skills and have fun, so while I'd like a Muramatsu or even a 14-karat gold flute I'm not and will not be a Nina Perlove or a Sir James Galway playing in the rarified circles of the virtuosi. But I'm still having fun with it. Oh...I'll be 61 this year.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 11:39:00 AM

Blogger Jeffrey Smith said...

Dear Jen,
I've enjoyed taking in your very insightful info recently and just have a question or two for you. So I will be a High School Senior in a month, and for the past seven years, i have been playing a very unknown flute brand by the name Sonatina. Anyway I've just began taking private lessons with a teacher and she said my flute had a major leak and was a horrid flute. ouch... and so my mother and I agreed that because I feel I want to pursue this career in college, i could finally by my step-up flute.

So I'm obviously not experienced with what kind of flutes are out there for me, because i haven't really been able to explore and test out flutes, and unfortunately,i probably won't be able to explore and test out flutes. This means I am confined to internet shopping. I also agreed personally, since the money is coming out of my savings account, I should spend no more than $1,500.

Now my teacher recommended that I look into Yamaha flutes (duh) and also pearl flutes. Fortunately, I was able to try my teacher's daughter's Pearl 505 student model. Now I'm not sure if it was just because i was used to playing my horrible flute or what but the Pearl really did sound amazing. Now that you know my story here are the questions.

1. I've narrowed my selection of intermediate flutes down to three:
-Pearl 665 Quantz series flute for $1,202
-Yamaha YFL-361 series for $1,244
-Azumi 3000 by Altus for $1,979
Obviously the Azumi is quite a bit out of my price range but since you talk so highly of them i thought I'd think about it. Anyway I would just like your input and advice on which one would be best to consider purchasing in my case. And also, I am leaning towards the Pearl right now. the three links are below.

2. I've noticed you haven't really recommended or talked about Pearl flutes too much so I was just wondering how come.

3. My old flute didn't have any b foot joints or Split E keys and stuff like that, so I was curious what you had to say about all those attachments and what you think about their necessity to the flute.

Thank You so Much for your time and input, it is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 9:37:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Jeffrey,
I find the Azumi flutes to be well worth the extra investment. But all three brands would be fine.
Go ahead and try them out.
You don't need any of the extras, but B-foot and split-E are both useful if they happen to already be on the flute.
Good luck. Best, Jen

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 11:38:00 PM

Anonymous Laney said...

Hi there,
I'm a student and I own a student Gemeinhardt 2sp flute which I have played for almost a year. When I went to buy the flute, my music teacher recommended the flute and said it was good quality. It was used, and the case must have been dropped because the inner part that holds the flute was reversed, so the keys were bent. I was frustrated when it was about a month and I still couldn't properly play the first note when everyone else could. When I showed it to my music teacher, he sent it to the music store to get it fixed. I later discovered that the reason why it was so difficult to play was because someone had reversed the case and caused the keys to get bent, I found this out when I was rushing to put back the flute in to it's case when I miss placed the foot joint and one of the keys bent causing the notes to not come out right and clear. I showed it to my music teacher and he bent it back in to place, he also told me if that ever happens again I can just carefully bend them back in place. Could This all be because Gemeinhardt flutes are poorly built?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 1:14:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Laney,
Some repair specialists stated that the newer Gemeinhardts have a "soft mechanism" which means that the metal is softer and more bendable than a flute should be. This means they're using cheap metal that is unsuitable for the job of flute playing. If you are whacking the case shut repeatedly on a flute that is put wrongly in the case, then, yes, you could bend some keys or levers; and that would be an expensive repair. Not worth it if you keep bending keys. But if you only gently closed the lid ONCE, with the flute sticking out, and the keys bent with very little pressure, then I guess the metal is way too soft for a good quality flute.
Ask the repair person by going to their shop and showing them the flute. Your band teacher may be trying to help, but no flute students should EVER have to spend time bending keys back and forth trying to make their flute play. That's ridiculous. That's like playing baseball and having to use a banana for a bat; the game won't last long; it won't be a game you can become skilled at, because the tools are wrong, and you might even hurt yourself. Don't bend the keys. Get a better manufactured flute with harder metal. Best, Jen

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 1:28:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello Jennifer I was wondering if you think Trevor James Privilege II (open hole and low b) is okay for an intermediate flute player.
It's like 450-600$

Thursday, July 11, 2013 6:34:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry, haven't tried Trevor James in about 14 years, so I can't say.
Good luck, and check with your flute teacher when play-testing.
Best, Jen

Thursday, July 11, 2013 7:02:00 PM

Anonymous Karen said...

Hi Jen,so I'm a flutist and I found a di zhao I heard from lots of people that they are great!! I also found a pearl and I heard it was okay from others. Please respond I'm having a hard time choosing.please respond thank you

Friday, July 19, 2013 1:28:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Karen,
One cannot truly choose based on a brand name; but on the quality of the individual instruments. Take possible purchases 'on trial' for ten days, and take to a professional flute teacher. Record them play-testing both instruments and listen to the recording. Only a player at a higher level than yourself can truly play-test to the extremes that the flute is capable of. Best, Jen

Friday, July 19, 2013 8:09:00 AM

Anonymous Laurel said...

Hey, I found a Trevor James but it has a Grenadilla lip plate so does that mean it affects the tone?

Monday, July 29, 2013 6:53:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Laurel,
Grenadilla is a hard, dark wood. Microscopically it is less smooth than silver. So if the lip-plate is wood, then it will be less slipperly.
The part that affects the tone is the RISER. This is the chimney that is around the blow hole. If the riser is made of silver, then you will have a silver-headjoint like tone. If the riser is made of grenadilla, you will have a wooden-flute like tone. But the modern grenadilla headjoints with lip plate and riser made of wood, on a silver headjoint tube (I tried this combination in a Nagahara headjoint) was very silver-like, and just slightly woodsy, because of the density and smooth finishing of the wood used, and the very fine craftsmanship. Trevor James may or may not have finely finished this lip plate and riser. You should hear it played by a more advanced flutist than yourself and record the headjoint's sound to listen back to see if you think it sounds too wood-like for you. Jen

Monday, July 29, 2013 8:20:00 PM

Anonymous Peter Smith said...

Hi Jen, have been very blessed to read your site and comments while trying to figure out a next step for my Daughter. Im in Australia and while we have some great Flute shops, distance can be prohibitive for trialling and costs can be high. My Daughters teacher wants to be part of the process but we cannot get together with her all that often and the current flute is now nearly dead, so a decision has to be made relatively soon (and She is pushing Pearl). I have heard you mention WInds101 as being reputable, and they have a very slightly used Demo Azumi3000RBE for what seems like a reasonable price. Would you suggest I could rely enough on their reivew of the Flute to trust their opinion and buy it anyway, or should I really stick to the guns and find a way to test other FLutes here in Australia ? Many thanks in advance for your time and advise. Peter

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 10:31:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Peter,
Well that's a 50-50 proposition.
It's possible that the used Azumi is excellent and that Winds101 can be trusted with their opinion, but you won't know until it arrives. Mind you, it's also not difficult to find a second buyer for an Azumi 3000 if you ever sell it on. It's also likely to keep its value. On the other hand, there are no two flutes exactly alike, and the best way to truly test flutes is to utilize the teacher, and many different "identical models" within a brand, if you're a serious flute player, trying to buy one flute to last at least a dozen years. So it's truly a 50-50 split on which is better. I'd go ahead and give the Azumi a try at least as a start.
Hopefully by the time it arrives you will be able to test it against the teacher's flute, as well as maybe one or two of that teacher's student's flutes, if you have no others to compare it with.
Best, Jen

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 11:34:00 PM

Anonymous Peter Smith said...

Dear Jen,
I just wanted to say a big thank you for taking the time to respond to my post and also for not taking a Judgemental approach in dealing with us "Uneducated" parents.

In the end I was able to arrange a meeting with a representative from the Wholesaler here in Australia for Jupiter flutes, who were looling to move some of their Medici range which is now being discontinued as Mr Tanaka has set up with Azumi.
My Daughter did play many different flutes and I saw exactly what you mean now when you describe how even same model flutes can be different.
In fact, even though we were able to test very expensive flutes we ended up buying slightly lower spec model because it actualy sounded just right and my Daughter just loved the action, it just flowed. Even her teacher is impressed with the selection, so we must've got it right.
Anyway, I wouldnt have been so particular and been armed with the information I had if it werent for you and your site, so I just wanted to personally thank you again.
Best regards

Monday, September 16, 2013 4:38:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Peter,

Now THAT'S a true reality check.
I'm absolutely THRILLED!
Wow. Thanks so much for sharing this!
You make my day! :>) Jen

Monday, September 16, 2013 6:29:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Shona wrote: (quote)
>>In the end, I never got rid of my Armstrong. I was giving lessons to very young beginners and playing in community bands. So I never felt the need to upgrade...or have the feeling it was holding me back. If I do buy another flute someday, my top price would be $1,500. For sure, that will not buy the best flute that there is, but it will serve my purposes (hobby playing) just fine. If there is any advice at all I can add, it is to buy the best, most reliable flute that your budget allows, and not to get so hung up on brand names!
Dear Shona,
I read your longer comment, from which the above is quoted, with some interest. It seems there's a large difference in perception of flute qualities from students who are "hobby" players, vs. students who are serious players, and you explain details about the former.
However, when we are speaking from the point of view of serious players (grade 9 flute and up as seen on the grading chart: ) it becomes really notice-able whether a flute is refined enough to actually play the tone colours, dynamics and filigree passage work. So, as you explain, since most readers of these advice articles are not there yet, they tend to argue with the serious advice.
That's the nature of knowledge. The more you know, the finer the details.
Best, Jen

Friday, October 04, 2013 9:52:00 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Jen, I am a practicing physitian in Sto Dgo, Dominican Republic and a flute fan most of my life. Your insight and advice is just awesome. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

Saturday, October 19, 2013 7:48:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Thank you Igor.
Glad to help. Jen :>)

Saturday, October 19, 2013 10:59:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

P.S. Also, saying that Armstrongs create a "niche sound due to its freestyle ability" is not a meaningful communication. It sounds like a car-ad. When you actually teach classical flute for a living, such sentences literally have no meaning. You're not selling used Armstrong flutes are you? If so, you'll need more convincing arguments.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 7:12:00 PM

Anonymous Nino said...

Hi Jen,
I'm new here. I'm Nino, from Italy and hope to receive some suggestion to solve my question.
In anticipation of stopping my Muramatsu ST of the early 80 for a total overhaul and repadding, I purchased a used like new Powell-Sonarè 601 to replace it during the period of absence.
I must admit that the Powell-Sonarè is a worthy replacement of my Mura, I would say that i's a sin to keep it as a reserve instrument ... It has a nice sound, the mechanics is fluid, it is B descending (an option that my Mura does not have) ... I have to say that I'm satisfy of purchase. Ma .. unfortunately the lip-plate of the headjoint has a different design from that of the Muramatsu which is slightly concave, while the Powell's one is right.
This difference leads me several days to get used to transition between a head and the other ... and I would prefer a headjoint that would allow me an immediate switch between the two, without adaptation problems.
I thought of some solutions:
1) Use the headjoint of the Mura on the Sonarè ... but these do not fit perfectly, and then annoys me leave unused the Powell head that is the strong point of the flute.
2) Search for another headjoint with similar characteristics to those of the Mura, but would remain the problem of point 1.
3) Replace the Sonarè with another flute which has concave lip-plate similar to that of the Muramatsu ...
I think the easiest solution is the latter ... but what flute to have the features I need? I cannot try out several flutes... and the search would be among used instruments...
Unless any of you have any other advice to give me.
Thanks for help.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 8:06:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Nino,

As a professional performing flutist, when one flute is in the repair shop, I cannot afford to take the time to adjust to a new headjoint and body; I have to have two near-identical flutes, and a headjoint that fits both of them. As soon as one flute needs to go to repair, I put the headjoint on the backup flute, and go straight back into performance. That's how I handle it: Two Altus bodies that feel nearly identical (1007 and 1107) and my best headjoint (Nagahara) fitted to both of them using layers of teflon tape (plumber's tape, which makes too small headjoints fit).
When I did have two flutes of two different brands, the new and different headjoints took six months before I was able to play the flute with the same colour and pitch. So taking that six months to get used to a new headjoint, and then changing back again, is mostly a waste of time. I couldn't do it and still have reliable performances. So, if you are a serious performer you'll want to be completely comfortable with switching between your two flutes. If you are a student who is less developed, then stick to your best flute, and have a backup flute that fits the same headjoint.
Best, Jen

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 10:44:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

P.S. In body and mechanical "feel" I find the Powell Sonare line very very different from the Japanese flutes. Why not have a Japanese backup flute, like an Azumi?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 10:45:00 AM

Anonymous Nino said...

Thanks so much Jen,

I'm a jazz player and for me the transition between one instrument to another is difficult but not traumatic ... so I thought that a full backup instrument could be a good choice. Now even wanting to follow your advice to use the Sonarè head on the Muramatsu I should try to use the Teflon tape to couple them.
But since someone has already offered to buy my Sonarè, I could put myself in search of an Azumi as you say it has the lipsplate similar to Muramatsu ... or you could facilitate my search suggesting some other flute brand ... As you say it seems the concave lipsplate is typical of Japanese flutes.
Thanks again,

Thursday, October 31, 2013 12:27:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Okay, good luck.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 1:04:00 PM

Anonymous Nino said...

Thanks Jen.
I decided to follow your advice and change the headjoint of the Sonarè with a similar to that of Muramatsu. This is because my repairman wants to work on the intere Muramatsu, so I need another head.
I received some exchange proposal but unabling to taste the headjoints offered me, I'm very indecisive: I would not have another "hard" head for my habits.
In exchange for my Powell I've been offered these heads:
an Altus, silver 958
a Miyazawa MZ-7, silver 925
a Yamaha EC, silver 925
a Yamaha, AC silver
a silver Lafin
and a goldplate Haynes...
What of these do you think could have same Mura characteristics?
Thanks again for help,

Monday, November 04, 2013 12:14:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Sorry Nino, I can't possibly advise you on headjoints; one because I cannot play them, and two because I don't play a Miyazawa.

Monday, November 04, 2013 2:29:00 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I have an Armstrong Flute that I have used for 53 years. Had it padded twice. I love it!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 11:13:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Sally,
YOu're right. A few of the very old ones were very strongly built and work fine, providing you don't have to play at the very very tip-top levels of technique. Good for you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 11:58:00 AM

Blogger Hilary3 said...

I just purchased a Di Zhao 700, after trying several other recommended brands, including the Azumi AZ3. Found the Di Zhao easiest to play, and the only one with a great sound in the high register. The mechanism is smooth and fast, with a light touch. When I was growing up, Yamaha was just coming on the scene. My guess is Di Zhao will attain the same status as Yamaha in the coming years.

Saturday, January 04, 2014 5:09:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen,
having decided to upgrade my Yamaha YFL-311 I went into a music store and I tried 4 flutes, 3 new ones: a Yamaha 614, a Powell-Sonarè 605 and an Altus 907; and a used one: an Altus 1007. All four flutes have about the same price.
I must say that during the test I was more comfortable with the Yamaha, but I think probably because I came from another Yamaha ... the headjoint of Sonarè gave me some problems at first, but with the passing of time I liked it more and more ... Among the two Altus I did not notice a huge difference, maybe because the headjoint was very similar if not the same.
I do not know in long-terms what might be the best choice, they all seemed good flutes ... But in addition to having a good sound I want my new flute would be very sturdy and does not make me crazy with continuous adjustments: I do not go very light on the keys ... and there are no adjusters near my home.
Do you have advices and opinions about the flutes in question?
Thanks for help and happy new year.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 6:50:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Beatrice,
I play Altus 1007 all the time; and it's really reliable. But no two flutes are identical even when they are the same brand and model number. I find Altus and Yamaha more suitable to me than Powell Sonare. But you should find the flute that "speaks to you" because you're the one that will notice all the fine differences. Good luck, Jen

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 8:52:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen,
I was thinking of buying an Elkhart 100fl, are they any good. I don't really want to spend more than £150, as I don't have the money. My school buys this flute, and it sounds ok when I borrowed it. I would love to hear you opinion.
Thankyou, Kath

Saturday, January 18, 2014 3:57:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Kath,
Sorry but I've never seen or played this particular brand of flute. Cheap flutes usually don't keep their functionality very long; and often have soft metals that don't take repair well. You need a a sturdy instrument that can keep up with how fast you learn; not one that bends and becomes unrepair-able. For the same price you could get a used Yamaha 200 series and get it repaired and oiled/adjusted. I would avoid cheap flutes that have no track record for reliability. Ask your school band teacher how long Elkharts stay in repair. Ask your local flute repair person how easy they are to repair. Then ask your local flute repair person and local flute teachers to keep a lookout for a used Yamaha 200 for around the same price.
You'll get a better quality flute with some durability if you do your research. Price isn't everything; durability and playability reduce long term frustration.
Best, Jen

Saturday, January 18, 2014 8:43:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone heard of a sun hanand made in japan flute?

Saturday, February 15, 2014 10:48:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anonymous,
I don't think this is the place to ask that question; this is a blog not a listserv, nor a discussion group or posting board.
To ask a question such as this you need to ask a group of flute teachers, such as can be found on FLUTElist or Yahoo Flutenet. By asking 1000 flute teachers, you'll find at least one who has heard of an obscure brand of flute, or maybe tested it, or maybe seen one among their students. If you ask flute technicians (people who repair flutes) you may find one or two who have repaired an obscure brand of flute and might comment on whether it is well made, or whether it tends to have manufacturing defects.

I wonder whether you've spelled the brand name correctly, also.
Is it "Sun Hanand"? or is it "Sun - Handmade in Japan"? Neither of these terms comes up in a google search.
Perhaps you'd post a link of a page that describes the flute or a place that sells the flute instead of just a name like "Sun".

Also, if you've never heard of a flute brand, and neither has anyone else, then don't buy it. Many obscure cheap flute brands appear and disappear in the market, without ever being proper, real, playable flutes. They all have names like "Sun" and "Jolly" and "First Place".
They are usually really poorly made. Good luck. Jen

Sunday, February 16, 2014 1:26:00 AM

Anonymous Ben said...

Hi Jen,

I've been reading all the information on your website. Thank you very much for all the useful information. I just wanted to get your input regarding a Yamaha 461H. I am currently on the hunt for an intermediate level flute. Before reading from your website, I had my heart set on a Gemeinhardt 3SB or 3SHB. But now, I think that has changed to a Yamaha 461H.

However, after my visit at a Yamaha dealer, I found out that the 400 series model and below are made in Indonesia. No offense meant to the country of origin, I know it is still Yamaha and quality standards should still be the same but I want to get your opinion if this is okay or should I try considering a different brand?

The YFL-461H is currently for sale at $1,995. The salesman told me about a sale on their professional flutes YFL-584 for $2,195 and the YFL-684 for $2,795. I know the 584 doesn't have solid silver body and footjoint as oppose to the 684, but does that matter a lot as far as tone? Like would it be a big difference from the 461H vs 584? The professional models are both made in Japan.

Sorry for lots of questions. I am being very careful before I invest my money to it. I am not a professional player but I am looking to get a quality instrument that would serve me well in the coming years.

Monday, March 10, 2014 10:11:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Ben,
If you're going to shop in the $2000 range then go straight to the Azumi flute.
See the Azumi 3Z at
They are the best at the price.
It's hard to know about the Yamahas without play-testing them.
I've had all my students go for the Azumi and they are by far the best.
Best, Jen

Monday, March 10, 2014 3:05:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen...
I'm playing a Geminhardt rental and it seems a little "off" and was curious since yours and a few others have dim opinions of Geminhardts, wold it be advantageous to just return it and rent another brand? I know this sounds petty, but...

Sunday, March 23, 2014 5:53:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Anon,
I don't think it's petty to exchange a rental flute for one that works better. It's not just the brand, in the case of rentals, it's how often they are repaired (an expense paid by the shop.)

You can find out what's wrong with the flute by having it checked by a flute teacher (who play-tests it) or by a flute technician (who checks it over for leaks and mechanical needs) if you want to find out exactly WHAT needs repair on it. You shouldn't have to just wonder whether it sounds "off", you should be able to find out "is it the flute? Or is it me?" ASAP.
Since you're renting, you could ask to test another few rental flutes that they have. Often a music store that rents flutes has ten or more that they are renting. Of those ten, some will be Yamahas, some will be Gemeinhardts, some will be other brands; just ask to play-test one or more of their others that have just come back from repair (freshly repaired) and then rent the one that is the easiest and best to play. You're not stuck with a single flute, unless all the other rentals are all rented out (then you have to wait.)
Meanwhile, find out what's wrong with the one you have.
Best, Jen

Sunday, March 23, 2014 8:57:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

P.S. My dim opinion on Gemeinhardts come from the fact that their quality went way down after the 1970s. They are not "professional" instruments. They're just run-of-the-mill band instruments for beginners. They are less robust for wear and tear that kids in band put onto them.
If you are a beginner you will not notice as much as if you are an intermediate. If you don't take lessons, you won't notice as much as when you do take lessons. There are very fine differences in the response of the flute, and how well it "holds its repairs" over time.

Sunday, March 23, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this very informative blog!!! I have found it really useful!!! If I have $2500-43000 budget- should i go for a azumi 3z or yamaha 500?? Cheers, Lyndell

Sunday, March 30, 2014 1:36:00 AM


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