Old or New Flute - does it matter?

Let’s find out..

Well, hello again! I’m Rebecca Fuller here at Learn Flute Online where that is exactly what we’re doing. We’re learning flute using the online resources that we have. So welcome here to this video series where we are learning all about how to choose a flute. Now, I’ve already kind of given you some background and so today, in this exact video, we’re going to be talking about the age of the flute. Now, you may be renting, buying, borrowing.  You may have found a flute like I did my very first flute.

And you may be wondering: is a new flute better? Is an old flute better? Those kind of things. We’re going to answer those questions today for you. So let’s get started by talking about first of all, you may have heard that the older the violin, the better right? That the wood ages with time and just makes a really sweet tone – on a violin. Now where that may be true, it’s actually only true if the violin was of super high quality to start with. That makes sense right? It does. Of course!

So, let’s talk about now, a flute, instead of a violin because I have a lot of people who tell me that they hear that instruments are better with more age. And I am here to set the records straight. It is not true for flutes – at all! Because of how the flute is set up, what it is made out of, and the mechanism and different things that we have, they’re not worth more, they’re not higher quality the older they get. Now, with the exception, there are some really old flutes from antique years (we would consider nowadays), and their quality of silver that was used is usually really good. But the mechanism and the different things that are on the flute are usually out of date.

So there have been quite a few advances in the technology world of flute making and over the past few years they are just getting better and better – if you buy a quality flute, that is I could say. So, just so that you know – an old flute is not a better flute. And let me tell you a few reasons why.

Number one, I’ve mentioned the mechanism and if you look at a flute and you noticed all these little rods and all of the little pads. If we took the rods apart and found out what was inside them, you would see that there are important little technicalities in there, little mechanisms I can call them, that make the flute work. There are springs and all sorts of different things, and especially the pads.

Now, when these get older, they get really gummed up and really full of tarnish and dust and dirt and whatever it takes even if it’s been put away, it just seems to happen and it slows down the mechanism. Now, these older flutes can be taken apart and the can be restored with a lot of hard work by a technician. And the better the technician, the better the outcome would be.

But I will tell you right now, that on a lower quality flute, for example a student model flute, it is not worth the price or the time to have it taken all the way apart and put all the way back together. It is very, very expensive, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars to fix a flute that may not be worth anything even when it’s finished.

So, if you have a chance to use an older flute, and I’m talking prior to 19, I don’t even know how to tell you because it depends on the flute, but I would say something prior to 1990,1985. Then, if it’s a low quality flute, for sure it’s not worth fixing. But that again depends on the year and just know, I guess I’m answering this question a point blank answer for you, is that a new flute – the newest possible and in the best quality and condition as possible, will be your best bet to learn on. Even if you know how to already play a little bit. You’ll struggle with different things because of the make.

Okay, whew! I hope that answers that question. A new flute is way better than an old flute. Of course, it always depends on the condition. We can get a brand new flute that has been used in a junior high band for the last 6 months and it could be completely trashed.

That’s completely understandable. You could an older flute from 20 years ago that could be in mint condition, it would need work because the pads dry up over time and it would have to be replaced. And a full pad overhaul on a lower quality flute is also very expensive and usually not worth doing. In fact, if the flute is of super low quality as far as the metals go, that are used in the springs and in the mechanism, there are many technicians who will refuse to work on it and they will tell you to buy a new one. 

So, these are things to think about. I know good technicians can fix anything to a playable level. But of course, we’re striving to be as good as possible here. So, hopefully that answers a bunch of your questions there.

Let’s move on to the next video, where we’ll learn even more.

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