7 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a Flute

Tone Quality - How Good Can It Sound?

The quality and value of a flute is determined by the potential it has for making a beautiful sound. The more capable it is of delivering music that can bring tears to the eyes and wonder to the hearts of listeners, the more valuable the flute is.

Several factors influence the quality of sound that a flute can make, and the most important of these are the materials from which the flute is constructed.

  1. Reliability - How Long Will the Flute Last?
2. How to Spot a Forgery?
3. Extras - Which are the Ones You Need?
4. Tone Quality What Makes a Flute Sound Good?
5. New vs Second-hand
6. Design, Features and Options
7. The Best Brand


The Better the Metal, the Sweeter the Sound
The more expensive the materials, the better the sound.

The cheapest metal from which to make a flute is cupro-nickel, which is an alloy of copper and nickel. This is what many coins are made from. The cupro-nickel alloy is then coated with silver, nickel, or paint.

The next best substance is silver, which delivers a pure sweet tone, that can be light, fluid, and expressive.

The best substance to make a flute from is gold. The reason for this is that a gold flute, in the hands of a skilled player, can produce a tone that is more warm, mellow, sweet and rich than any other substance.

So to have a flute that will sound the best, we would all like a solid gold flute. Sadly, the price of a gold flute is about the same as that of a new family car, so it is usually necessary to compromise.

In my opinion, the following list grades the quality of sound from fine to magnificent:

  1. colored flute, made of cupro-nickel, and painted in the color of your choice;
  2. silver-plated head, middle and footjoints;
  3. solid silver headjoint, silver-plated middle and footjoints;
  4. solid silver head, middle and footjoints;
  5. gold headjoint, solid silver middle and footjoints;
  6. gold head, middle and footjoints:.

There are many variations of the above combinations, but I have listed the most common ones.

If a flute has pieces that are made of solid silver, the manufacturer usually marks each piece with an engraving that specifies the compostion of the materials used.

Sterling Silver Headjoint

The headjoint in the photo above is inscribed with the words “SILVER925.” This means that it is made of 92.5% pure silver, sometimes known as sterling silver, or solid silver.

Can You Hear the Difference?

I have recorded an F Major scale and the song Danny Boy on four different flutes. Click here to listen to the comparison, or visit andrewscottmusic.com/flutes/samples.html

Avoid Nickel

Sometimes flutes are nickel-plated, as a substitute for silver-plating. These instruments sound OK, in my opinion, but I don’t recommend them because nickel plating feels slippery to hold. As well as that, I’ve never seen a well-made nickelplated flute. They usually require frequent adjustment. You can recognise a Yamaha nickel-plated flute by the model number. There will be an “N” after the number, eg, YFL 221N.

My recommendation:

A silver plated flute is a great instrument to start with, but colored flutes sound almost as good.

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