How To Choose A Flute -Second Hand-

Used flutes can be a great option… Maybe.

Transcript from Video:

Well, welcome back again here! I’m Rebecca Fuller, here the instructor and owner at Learn Flute Online. Where in this video series, we’re going to learn even more about how to choose a flute and how to know what you have or what you are getting. It’s one of my most common questions I get in my inbox!

And so, I’m always trying to type out as fast as I can and answer everybody with these questions but it’s becoming so frequent that it’s taking a lot of time from me to answer and I don’t feel like I can be very thorough on an email. So, I’m going to refer people to this page when they ask these questions from now on.

So here we go, in this video, we’re going to be talking about when you find a second hand flute or you’re borrowing one, or gifted a flute I guess you could say, or found a flute I always have to say. What should you be looking for as far as visibility to know if the flute is in good condition because maybe you are a brand new flute player and you don’t know how to play it anyway, so how do you know what you’re getting. Well, let’s talk about a few things.

First of all, you’re going to be looking whether it’s put together or not. Probably it shouldn’t be. It should be in a case, right? It should be in a case taken apart into 3 pieces and what you will be doing is looking over the body of the flute, and the head joint and the foot joint. And the first thing to look for are dents.

If the flute has been used in a band program before, it’s very possible that you’ll see a lot of dents in this part of the flute right here. And that comes from the students sitting too close to their music stands and suddenly the conductor says it’s time to play, and they bring their flutes up really fast and it clunks on the bottom of the music stand and  causes the dents.

That happens is probably one of the most common little accidents that happens in band. And we don’t want that to happen, but those flutes, after the year, are turned back into the store if it’s rented and then the store in turn tries to rent it back out or sell it. So the first thing you’ll look for are dents and where are they and how deep are they. Now if it’s a surface dent, it’s not really that big of a deal.

So, the way you can know is if you take the flute apart, and you look inside, look inside the barrel, can you visibly see the dent? Did it come all the way through? If it did, then you know that it probably will affect tone. Because we need a super smooth clean interior to the flute to make really good tone. Did you know that? Yeah, i think some people didn’t know that. So that’s important right there.

Also, you can look for scratches. Scratches and dents are an indication as to how well the flute was taken care of before you got your hands on it. And so, scratches often times come from people wearing rings, and watches, belt buckles, those kinds of things while they’re playing the flute. And of course there are other scratches for other reasons – music stands is one of the common reasons for scratches and dents so you could watch for that.

The next thing you want to look at are the pads. Now, some of the pads are different colors. You’ll see white pads and that’s the actual squishy part that’s underneath each key. That’s really important, in fact, that’s really what makes your flute play well. Or not, not well. I’d say it’s probably the leading cause.

So there are white pads, there are yellow pads, and there are pink or reddish kind of orangish tinged pads nowadays. And they all are of varying quality. They are from different makes and you want to look and see if they look nice and flat. In fact, I should give you a close up look of the pads on this flute right here. And then you’ll know what you should be looking for whether they are white, yellow, or reddish they should be flat and brand new looking. Not big and puffy and cracked or shredded.

There should be no “fluffies” coming out of them. Those cause huge problems – huge huge huge problems. And they would have to be replaced. Now replacing a couple of pads is not a big deal. Replacing every single one is very expensive. So, let me give you a look at what these pads look like here.

These pads are in great shape. They’re not dirty, puffy, ripped, cracked.

Great, so the next thing you can look at is how much tarnish or black goo you see inside the mechanism area of your flute. If you see a lot, you can bet that your flute is going to have troubles with the spring action. Meaning, if I push down on the key and then let go, does it pop back up quickly? Or is it so gummed up inside the rod that it’s slower. If it’s slow then you’re going to have a lot of problems playing the flute. Couldn’t play anything faster than a super slow hot cross buns probably. So that’s something else to watch for.

The next thing is you do want to find out the make or the model of your flute that you’re looking at, or that you have or you found or gifted or whatever or you’re renting or buying. So, just so that you know, on the bottom of the head joint, oftentimes there could be the indication of the model there. But usually, on the body of the flute at the top, we kind of have this little band at the very top of the flute. Let me show this to you. This band right here.

Oftentimes, most of the time in fact, I would bet to say all of the time has the actual brand name, where it’s made, and the model of the flute. Yup, I would say all of the information is there for me here. But there’s a couple more places on your flute you’ll want to look. The exact number, the serial number of your flute is found somewhere different. And so on this flute, if I look right here underneath the first rod, there’s a set of numbers stamped into the plate on the body.

So, you have to look really closely. And if your eyes are failing you a little bit, you might want to get either somebody really young to look for you or you can get a magnifying glass and you can look all through your flute and find it. In fact, in this particular flute, I see 2 different places where there are numbers stamped right on the flute. These things are important if you are insuring your flute, if you have an expensive flute and you want to insure it. Or if you’re labeling out for any reason at all. So, let me give you a really close up look on where to look for these things on your flute.

Can you see right in there? There are numbers stamped right on my flute. And of course, right here on the top is where you’ll also find the models and the makes those kind of things.

Great things to know about your flute, yes? Well, the last thing I want to ask you is if you already have a technician to have check over the flute. If you don’t, then you’re probably like most of the people in the world because it’s not a very common thing that you just happen to know a flute technician.

Well, we’ll get into more of that here in this video series where I’ll give you a few hints and tips of questions to ask and things to do. Anyway, whew! That was a lot of information. Thanks again for being here! Let me know how it’s going and i’ll see you in the next video.

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