Qualities and Levels of Flutes

Student, Intermediate, Advanced, Professional

What’s the difference?

Video Transcript:

Well, hello, I’m Rebecca Fuller. And today in this video, we’re going to be discovering even more about how to choose a flute. I will be helping you through talking about the different qualities and levels of flutes as well. So let’s get started here because we have so much to learn.

Now first of all, it’s important for you to understand that like most products out there in the world, there are varying quality levels. And as far as the flute goes, it’s definitely true. There are very very low quality flutes, in fact I call them FLOs. Not to be confused with LFO which stands for Learn Flute Online. Sometimes I call it that here. But an FLO is a Flute Like Object.

Now I’m saying that kind of in a cheeky way because really I’m sure that most flute makers are attempting to make the best flute that they can. But there are some flutes that just are so subpar that they don’t really even play – hardly at all. And I try to stay away from those. 

I’ve actually seen quite a few of these and I’m always surprised that a maker could spend all that time and energy to go through making a flute and have it be something that is for example may be like an odd-shaped head or the little hole in the lip plate sometimes will be square or completely such a funky shape that your airstream can’t even go in and split properly. There’s an angle that your airstream hits on.

If you take your flute (if you have one right now anyway), and you look at the angle that is on the inside of the outer edge of the hole in your lip plate, you would notice that there’s a definite angle and some of the flute makers make those on such a wrong angle that it’s really difficult to even play. So that’s one of the first things that I look at.

Another thing with these FLOs or these Flute-Like Objects, is that sometimes the keys will be assembled, crooked at the factory when they’re sent out. And I’ve actually seen this quite a few times when student will order from somewhere online for super super low price. And the flute will come and the keys aren’t even covering the holes because the whole mechanism is, I don’t know, stamped out in a factory or something and not actually designed or lined up mechanically correct.

So I don’t see the point of having a flute when you push the button if it doesn’t even cover the hole because if you’ve learned anything about flute playing so far, you would know that we would make no noise at all.

So those are some of the issues that I see. Now there are varying degrees of quality of metals also that are used in these FLOs. And some of them aren’t really not that bad. I mean you could have a flute made up of nickel and silver (we see a lot of silver flutes) or gold. And of course, if we go back down to the nickel level or silver level, there are different degrees of qualities of silver or nickels as well. And those affect our tone. And our tone is what we sound like. And what we sound like is everything because when you play an instrument like the flute, the whole point is to make the sound, right?

Anyway, let’s just move on from that and get the idea that there are some really low quality flutes out there and I don’t recommend any of them. And to sit here and put a list out  of every single brand that falls into this category is actually kind of impossible because nowadays, with production coming up, it must be getting more and more affordable to rent a factory in a place like China or something, because there are more and more new brands popping up that are kind of subpar.

But I’m under the impression that they’re all trying and that things are going to get better and better as they go. Just trying to make a more affordable flute that works well for everybody. And later in this series, I will go through a few of these brands specifically and I will show you them. I have a few of them and I have had actually some makers contact me and I will be doing some reviews and I hope it all works out great.

But for now, let’s move on from that lowest level and let’s talk about the next level which I would call the Lower Band Level. Now, when I say “band”, what I mean is there are a whole set of instruments that are kind of marketed to the grade school, junior high, and maybe lower high school band market. And these instruments are also not always my favorite, but I will tell you it’s what I learned on. And the instruments that were made a long, long time ago may be before 1970 or so, or even 1980 I think now, they are different from what you get now. So some of the brands are getting better and better.

So, anyway, I’m going to get into more of this later. Again like I said, these videos, the reason I decided to make this series is because there’s so much to talk about. So that band level, there’s kind of like the lower end, there’s the medium end in the band market, and then there’s a little bit of a higher band market. And these are generally the brands that you see all the time marketed because they are very good. Those companies are very good at marketing to everybody and telling them that they are the best instrument ever – which is always debatable of course – but they are definitely higher quality than the super cheap ones that you might find online that come up with a lot of problems.

After the band quality, I would say we would go into the quality student model. And the student model is usually a closed-hole flute, like we’ve been talking about these lower end flutes. Usually a closed-hole, C-foot. And these quality ones would actually be of higher price range than the band instruments and that’s because they’re made of more quality material.

For example, the silver would be higher quality, thicker, maybe a thicker plating on it. Most student model flutes are made out of nickel and then they’re covered, plated with silver. I don’t know if you knew that. It’s true. Anyway, so that would be kind of like the next higher level would be that quality student level and they’d be higher priced.

Then we’d go into the step-up flutes. And the word step-up just basically means we’re stepping up from the student model and going into an intermediate level. You don’t have to be an intermediate level flute player to play an intermediate flute, just the same as you could be an advanced or intermediate flute player and still play on a student level. You could play on them, it just depends on what you could learn and we’ll get into more about that as well in this series, so don’t worry about that.

But in this intermediate level, usually you’ll start seeing more features like a B-foot – I’ll explain this so don’t worry about these things but you may see different features on the flute and higher quality of silver again. The quality that the metal is, and the mechanism and how if it’s standard or stamped out of a factory or if it’s hand checked or handmade those kinds of things all affect the price range and the quality and the playability of course.

Now after that intermediate level, we would go into the advanced level flutes. And then again, we’ll come up with more different features on the flutes. For example, you’ll see french-tipped keys – they’re even making those for the lower level flutes now too. But there are a few different features and options I guess, I could say, that I’ll go through later in this series that you might find on those flutes as well.

After the advanced line of flutes, of course, they would be higher quality and you may even find some silver and more gold on the head joints, then we get into the professional line. In the professional line, they’re pretty much like the advanced line but the price really goes up a lot higher and we start finding a lot more fancy features on those that make it a little bit more fun to play if you know how to do it.

Okay, so let’s just end off this video with one more little level that I thought of just now. And that’s because I go to some trade shows and some conventions where I see some flutes that are more art than they are playable, does that makes sense?

Sometimes, they are a really advanced flute made out of really fancy rose gold or something like that and they have doodles all over them and somebody has spent years and years putting and pouring their soul and their artwork onto the actual flute. They’ll be designs and it will be fancy in little flowers all around it. And they are gorgeous! But as far as playability and functionality, they’re not usually considered in the professional line. They would be more on the artistic side.

So there you have it. There’s kind of like an overview of the kinds of flutes that you’ll see out there, the different qualities and that kind of thing. Now in the next video, we’ll get into more. So don’t worry, I’m going to keep going here. Thanks for being here! Hopefully you’d have a time to check out more of the site and come in for a lesson. We always invite you. It’s a great time here, full of a lot of really great flute learners just like you and the community is fabulous.   We’re learning a lot! Thanks.

Don’t forget to ask me your questions.

Check out the comments section here because I’m sure there are lots of questions and I’ll do my best to answer those in this series.

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