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Best Flutes For Beginners: What Is The Best Student Flute

Updated on September 23, 2014

If you've been renting a flute for a year or two, and you think your child is going to stick with it, it might be time to think about buying a good student model flute.  If you know what to look for, a brand new or gently used flute will look and sound better than that old rental. It will probably also spend less time in the repair shop, and might even make practicing more fun.

Buying a high quality student flute is important. Cheaply built flutes tend to be harder to play, and produce a poor sound quality. For most kids, that means that music isn't fun and they quickly lose interest. Here's a quick guide to help you pick out the right flute to keep your kids excited about music, and ready to learn.

The Top 3 Flutes For Beginners Combine Quality Materials and Impeccable Craftsmanship.
The Top 3 Flutes For Beginners Combine Quality Materials and Impeccable Craftsmanship.

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True…

If you've never shopped for a flute before, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the number of brand names and the huge range of prices. So you log onto eBay and lo and behold! You find dozens of listings for brand new, "High Quality" flutes that are "Band Director Approved!" And here's the best part: They're all under $100! If you think that sounds too good to be true, then you're already ahead of the game. Most of these unbelievable deals are cheap, Chinese imports that will probably not last the whole school year. They're usually made of substandard materials that, when they're damaged (and they will get damaged), are often impossible to repair.

Best Student Flutes

Crafting a flute is an acquired skill that takes years of training and practice to perfect. That's why you pay more for a flute from a respected manufacturer than for an import that was built by unskilled, poorly paid employees. Retail prices for the most popular student model flutes range from $600 to around $1000. That's the price you pay if you order directly from the manufacturer, or buy from some of the pricier music stores and websites. If you do some shopping, you can find these same flutes for much less money. Usually about half of the retail price.

Top 3 Flutes For Beginners

When it comes to Flutes, there are a lot of respected names and quality brands. These are three of the models that are most often recommended by music teachers and musicians alike.

Yamaha YFL-221

Yamaha is the largest manufacturer of musical instruments in the world. They've built a premier name in the industry, and have some of the highest quality flutes for all levels of musicians. Yamaha enthusiasts swear by the brand, and have even built Yamaha flute fan sites and blogs. The YFL-221 model offers durability and very good sound quality at a reasonable price.

Brand New Yamaha Flute

Gemeinhardt 2SP

There's not a flautist in the world that hasn't heard of Gemeinhardt. They're the largest flute manufacturer in the world, and their model 2SP has long been the flute of choice for dealers and music teachers. Their quality standards are among the highest in the world. The model 2SP is made specifically for beginners. It has outstanding durability, and the offset G key is easier for small hands to reach than standard models.

New Gemeinhardt 2SP

Jupiter J-511

After suffering quality setbacks in the late 90's, Jupiter has regained its place in the student instrument market. Their Model J-511 is perfect for the beginner, and is available in an open hole model for students who have been playing for a few years.

Open Hole Or Closed Hole?

Most intermediate to advanced players prefer open hole flutes. It's said that they offer better response, slightly better sound quality, and more options for alternate fingerings. They're also a little more difficult to play because the holes in the keys are sometimes a little tricky for small fingers to seal completely. Most student model flutes are closed hole flutes, but for a little more money, you can step up to an open hole model. If you choose to go this route, you can also buy silver plugs that attach to the keys. They cover the holes and generally make things a little easier until you're ready to move to the next level.

Do Your Homework

There are plenty of other trusted brands out there, but these three are among the most respected names in student model flutes. If you still can't decide which model is best for you, most music stores will let you try out different brands to get a better feel of the characteristics of each.  You may have to go to a few stores to try all the brands that interest you; but it's always a good idea to make an informed decision on an investment like this. It can make the difference between a happy music student, and one who gets frustrated and quits.


Submit a Comment
  • profile image

    Liam Green 

    9 years ago

    I have been working in a music shop both repairing and selling for few years now. I very much agree with your choices written above, I am however very shocked to find that the Trevor James 10X wasn't mentioned.

    Over the years testing and seeing what instruments end up coming back for repairs I feel these have the same sound quality of a 211 & are equally durable yet cost considerably less.

    Nailsea Music Shop

  • rmr profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Livonia, MI

    Hi Pamela. Those cheap flutes are terrible, aren't they? When I worked in a repair shop, I saw them all the time. Some of them still brand new but completely useless.

    Thanks for coming by and commenting. I'm glad you approve of my choices!

  • Joyful Pamela profile image

    Joyful Pamela 

    9 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

    Yamaha, Gemeinhardt, and Armstrong student flutes are the ones that I usually recommend to my beginner and intermediate students. Thanks for your article, hopefully it will keep young players and their parents away from the flutes under $100.

  • rmr profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Livonia, MI

    Hi Chris, thanks for the comment!

    You're right. The flute isn't a traditional rock instrument. But Ian Anderson is a legend to rockers and flute players everywhere. A lot of people don't realize that during the 70's, he played most of his performances on student model flutes. His original was a Selmer, but he had something like 20 Artley flutes,(a staple in school band programs) that he used.

  • Christoph Reilly profile image

    Christoph Reilly 

    9 years ago from St. Louis

    When one thinks of the flute, Rock and Roll doesn't come to mind. I remember seeing Juthro Tull in Concert when I was in high school. What a show. The world need another Ian Anderson! Another fine article!

  • rmr profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Livonia, MI

    Bundy is a very good name for saxes. Anything from Conn/Selmer is a safe bet. They're the largest manufacturer in the US, and are responsible for a LOT of major brands.

    Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  • Seen On TV profile image

    Seen On TV 

    9 years ago

    This hub brought back memories. I went through this when I started playing Sax. I went with the Bundy II. I think Bundy had the most popular student model flutes at the time too.


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