The 10 Best Flutes

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Whether you're a veteran flautist or a student new to the instrument, having a good flute in your hands can make a significant difference in your playing experience. We've evaluated some of the best models on the market for amateurs and seasoned musicians alike, and ranked them here by considering their clarity of tone, quality of construction, comfort, and overall value. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best flute on Amazon.

10. Moz Silver-Plated C

9. Mendini MFE-SB

8. Lazarro Professional

7. Glory Closed Hole C

6. Hall Crystal Inline

5. Gemeinhardt 1SP

4. Jean Paul FL-220

3. Gemeinhardt Model 3OB

2. Yamaha YFL-222

1. Pearl Quantz Series

Special Honors

Altus 807 This handmade beauty features silver-plated mechanisms, drawn tone holes, stainless steel springs, and an S-cut headjoint. It's certainly not a flute you'll grow out of quickly, and as far as durability is concerned, it'll last a lifetime. Further, thanks to its overall quality, it'll retain its value well should you decide to resell it later on. altusflutes.eu

Muramatsu EX The EX is the company's most affordable model, but at ~$4000, it's nothing to sneeze at. Ideal for the intermediate flutist with intentions of pursuing a professional career in the future, this one offers superior construction materials, precision crafting, and as a result, absolutely brilliant tonal expression. Its sweet brightness lends it well to classical music, though it is quite versatile. muramatsu-america.com

Editor's Notes

May 23, 2019:

Deciding to play the flute can be one of the most expensive decisions you'll ever make. Eventually, that is. As a beginner, there are plenty of options that'll suit your needs for under $100. Our #8 pick, the Lazarro Professional, as well as the Hall Crystal Inline (#6) would serve you well if you're a bit skint.

However, assuming you're a beginner that wants to invest a bit, you'll benefit greatly by paying a bit more. The Gemeinhardt 1SP (#5), Jean Paul FL-220 (#4), and the Yamaha YFL-222 (#2) all offer excellent value for the cost. They're constructed well enough to endure a little roughhousing, should you be a bit careless with your instrument at the start.

If you have any tendencies towards neglect or carelessness, you'll want to ask yourself if you're ready to jump up a tier to intermediate-level models. The Gemeinhardt Model 30B sits right at the bottom of that price tier, but it's a fabulous flute. The Pearl Quantz Series, valued a bit short of $1000, will last you a long time, should you care for it well.

Once you're considering professional options, you're looking at boutique flutes that can cost as much as a new car. Haynes, Trevor James, Powell, Muramatsu, and Sankyo are just a few flutemakers who make world-class, handcrafted instruments. In making this list, we decided that those interested in flutes in such a price range will likely not need guidance from us, and thus we've excluded such models from our ranking.

Defining The Flute

A reed instrument produces sound by focusing air into a mouthpiece and causing the wooden reed to vibrate.

Regardless of the instrument played, music serves to entertain, inspire, and soothe the soul. A musical composition is much more than simply notes on a page. Similar to the way genetics is passed on to future generations, so too is a musical composition as it transcends the ages. Each note represents an element of musical DNA. Music is an artistic reflection of history and the mood of a particular location at a given time. It is an evolving snapshot, meaning that the overall form of the original composition stays the same from a funadmental perspective with respect to its anatomy, but the piece can still change with mood and invoke a variety of emotions depending on where a person is when they're listening to it. Each instrument plays its own part in that reflection over time, hence using the concept of music as an element of historical overview. The flute is no exception.

The flute is a member of the woodwind group of musical instruments. Woodwind instruments are classified into two distinct categories that include reed instruments (i.e. the clarinet and saxophone) and flutes. The difference between a reed instrument and a flute is observed in the way each sound is produced. A reed instrument produces sound by focusing air into a mouthpiece and causing the wooden reed to vibrate. By contrast, a flute's sound is produced when a player blows a focused stream of air across the edge of a hole in a cylindrical tube, which causes the air inside the tube to vibrate. In order to change the tone of the flute's sound, a player must open or close holes that are built into the body of the instrument. Performing this action changes the lenth of both the flute's resonator and resonant frequency.

Flutes are either open or closed. With an open flute, an airstream is blown across a sharp edge where it is split, and finally acts on the air column contained inside the flute's hollow tubing. Using a closed flute requires the player to blow an airstream into a separate duct. The duct then channels the air into a sharp edge where it is split, thereby causing the air contained within the flute to vibrate and produce sound.

The most common modern flute is the Western concert flute, made from nickel, brass with plated silver, and even gold for the most professional of musicians.

Finding The Right Instrument

Two very important qualities one must consider when purchasing a flute are the materials the instrument is made from and its intended recipient. The materials will greatly influence the quality and tone of the instrument's sound. Students, for example, need a dependable and sturdy instrument that they can use while learning how to perfect their skills. Student instruments don't have to be made from premium materials (like silver and gold) to get a rich sound. Brass with silver or nickel plating is usually a good option.

Students, for example, need a dependable and sturdy instrument that they can use while learning how to perfect their skills.

Responsive and easy-to-play keys are also important, particularly if you're just starting out with the instrument. It should be easy to get a good sound out of the flute without too much effort. It's also a good idea to ensure the keys have some type of padding to ensure a proper seal over the holes when playing.

Definitely spend time to find the right head joint, as this part of the instrument gives the flute its musical personality. You may have to try several different head joints before you find the one that produces the most rich and velvety sound specific to your instrument.

Finally, if you're a professional flutist, you might want to find an elaborately-decorated instrument for show and performance purposes. Such decoration also gives the flute its individuality.

An Evolving Musical Species

The flute is considered one of the earliest extant musical instruments dating as far back as paleolithic times, somewhere between fourty-three and thirty-five thousand years ago. Some of the earliest flutes have been found in the Swabian Alb region of modern-day Germany. One of the earliest flutes recovered is made from a vulture's wing bone that is perforated with five finger holes. This type of crafting suggests that modern humans adopted music into their culture and used it as a form of human bonding among large groups to allow the species to expand.

Boehm's fingering system has also been adapted to both the oboe and clarinet.

Flutes were also used by both the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians, some having been preserved in tombs over the centuries. The Egyptian flute was vertical in design with two to six finger holes. By the second century BC, the transverse (horizontally-oriented) flute was used in ancient Greece as well as India, China, and Japan. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the flute had almost completely disappeared from Europe until the Crusades brought about contact between Europeans and Arabs. This contact spread the popularity of the vertical flute throughout Europe as far as Spain and France by the fourteenth century.

Throughout the Renaissance, most transverse flutes were cylindrical in shape and made from boxwood. By the late seventeenth century, the Hotteterre family was credited with making several design changes to the transverse flute that included the addition of a head joint, a body, and a foot joint as opposed to a single cylinder.

The German inventor and musician credited for perfecting the design of the modern Western concert flute and its fingering system was Theobald Boehm. Boehm's fingering system has also been adapted to both the oboe and clarinet.

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Daniel Goldstein
Last updated on May 28, 2019 by Daniel Goldstein

Daniel is a writer, musician, and frequent traveler with a bachelor’s in creative writing from the State University of New York. In recent years, his writing chops have developed alongside his musical skills, thanks to a rich double life. During the day, he apprenticed with “Rolling Stone” journalist and critic Will Hermes, and when the sun set, he and his NYC-based, four-piece band gigged at high-end venues across the northeastern United States. His affinity for sharing things he's passionate about has culminated in nine years of experience as a music teacher at elementary schools, where he honed his ability to simplify and elucidate concepts to the uninitiated. All considered, he feels most at home writing about instruments, audio electronics and backpacking gear.


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