Buying Your First Flute

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Buying your First Flute

This little guide to buying your first flute will help you get started as you begin your journey. There is much, much more to consider that what is written here – please contact us for expanded advice!

Below the guide is a list of new and (sometimes) second-hand flutes – perfect for the beginner.

New, Second-hand, or Rental?

There are two main concerns when it comes to the condition of a flute:

  • Issues with the build quality at the manufacturing level
  • Issues with how the instrument has been treated over the years

New Flutes

The first thing to get your head around is this: Almost all manufacturers (despite what they might say) release flutes with quality issues.

Some manufacturers are consistent, e.g. Yamaha and Pearl flutes often have unlevel toneholes in the exact same areas. Other manufacturers release instruments with random problems. This may sound terrible, but manufacturers who produce hundreds of flutes a week cannot give each one the hand-finishing it needs to be perfect.

This is something you must accept when buying a new flute. It is also why buying from a repair workshop like Vanguard is a smart idea! A workshop will be able to set up a new instrument; it will bend, level, and adjust the things that need to be bent, levelled, and adjusted.

A new flute is a wonderful thing. The pads are snappy, all the mechanical bits work as they should, and the player does not have to fight the instrument.

Important: if you want to enjoy playing the flute, do not buy a cheap new one. On TradeMe (as of this writing) you can buy a new ‘Gabriel’ flute for $250. Make no mistake: this flute will undoubtedly be terrible. It will discourage anybody who attempts to play it.

Second-Hand Flutes

Tread carefully in the minefield that is the second-hand flute market. As well as the potential issues remaining from the manufacturer, an old flute might have been neglected. The pads could be growing a green mould which, although potentially impressive to mycologists, would not make for a healthy instrument.

If your budget only allows for a second-hand instrument, please consider the following:

  • Buy a brand that you have heard of

‘Yamaha’ or ‘Pearl’ are brands you have heard of. ‘Gabriel’ or other vaguely angelic names are not brands you have heard of. Google if unsure.

  • Check the flute first

Bring your potential flute into a workshop (e.g. Vanguard Orchestral) to get it checked if possible. It is not fun buying a $200 Pearl flute from 1924 and then learning that it needs a $1500 overhaul.

  • Buy from a workshop

Some workshops (including us) sell instruments on behalf for people. These will generally be in good playing condition or will have the repair cost built into the price.


Renting is a great, affordable way to start playing flute. It can let a new player know if they want to pursue the flute without committing to buying one.

Rental instruments have usually been around the block a few times and may not be in the greatest condition. Your rental shop should keep their instruments serviced to a reasonable standard. If in doubt, bring the instrument into a workshop to get it checked over.

A bad flute can discourage a player. A good flute can give a player years of joy!

We have several good student-level instruments available for the beginner: