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So many flute options: Where do you start?

Modern flutes have seemingly endless options – you can quickly feel overwhelmed by a torrent of jargon. This guide lists all the flute options we can think of and explains why they exist. Hopefully, after reading this, you can amaze* your friends with your extensive flute knowledge.

*information not guaranteed to amaze

Click on each ‘option’ for expanded information.

Beginner Flute Options

(click here for a guide to buying your first flute)

Entry-level flutes are silver plated, closed hole, C foot instruments. The metal underneath the silver plating is nickel silver. If the metal has been power forged, the keywork should be quite strong – ideal for a beginner instrument in the hands of a novice.

Silver plating is superficial and makes no difference to performance.  However, silver plating protects the player from the more porous metal underneath, especially on the lip plate. It protects the skin from any kind of allergic reaction. If you are looking at second hand instruments, DO NOT purchase an instrument where the silver plating on the lip plate is in any way NOT PERFECT.

The beginner flute can also come with a curved headjoint that brings the flute body closer for shorter arms.

The options you may have to consider on entry-level flutes are:


When you have been playing a flute for 2-5 years it really is time to move on to a more advanced instrument. Here is where it starts to get complicated with many options.


If you have reached the level of heading to university level study then a semi-professional flute is a must and a minimum.

In addition to the options in the intermediate flute, the semi-pro has the following options:

Professional Flute Options

The professional flute is characterized by all the qualities of the Semi-professional flute and some of the following:

This guide was originally written by Elaine Ward – a ex-technician at Vanguard Orchestral who now works at Backun in Canada. This guide has been updated, but the bulk of the information (and residual opinions) is attributable to Elaine.