What Is The Difference Between a Student Flute and a Professional Flute

You might find my answer to the question of ‘what is the difference between a student flute and a professional flute’ kind of surprising.

I consider a professional flute to be the flute that is owned and played by a professional (someone who gets paid to play). Haha, that’s probably not the answer you wanted, but here are more specifics that will help you especially if you are in the shopping quest for a new flute of a higher level.

Student model flutes usually have these attributes:

  1. Less expensive
  2. Made of nickel and plated by silver or some other shiny color
  3. Usually have the offset G key
  4. Usually have only a C foot
  5. No fancy extra keys or designs

Even with the above list, it’s important for you to know that even Intermediate, Advanced, or Professional line flutes can have the offset G, less fancy extra keys, and a C foot.

There are also flutes made of all sorts of materials nowadays. I’m always surprised when I attend the national flute convention and see flutes in all rainbows of colors and material makes. It’s kind of fun to see the creativity!

Professional model flutes can (and usually) have these characteristics:

  1. More expensive
  2. Way more expensive
  3. Can be found in either offset G or inline G
  4. Usually have a B foot joint
  5. Found with all the bells and whistles,… or not
  6. The silver or even gold content % is much more than any student model
  7. Oftentimes hand-made by a flute ‘craftsman’ rather than stamped out in a factor

Playing the flute is one of those hobbies that carries over the generations.

All of this being said, you do not need to be an actual paid professional to own and play a professional line flute. So, if you have the money and resources to get a diamond-studded golden flute… go for it! But, remember that your actual playing ability won’t be enhanced by the fancy plating on the instrument. At all. Sorry. You still need the skills of a professional flutist to sound like one.

Playing the flute is one of those hobbies that carries over the generations, and is really awesome. Like golf clubs, flutes can get as fancy and expensive as you want. Take the advice from a great flute instructor, and practice like crazy. A higher level flute will reflect your efforts unlike a student flute will.

This would be a great place to discuss this subject of the difference between a student flute and a professional flute. What do you think?

Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller
Get Flutie with us! Learn and enjoy every musical minute.

4 thoughts on “What Is The Difference Between a Student Flute and a Professional Flute?”

  1. Hello Rebecca
    Get a quality instrument… which is defined as? gold, silver, smaller bore, longer instrument, good is what? the B foot allows for one lower note and very little music uses a low B, so?
    is the lip plate different? hole cut differently, different bevel,–quality has NOT been defined yet.
    I suspect Mr Galway could make ANY flute sound great.
    I have had a selmer with sterling head joint and plate, low C, had a Chinese made flute that was surprising good in tone and playablility, now have a flute with a B-foot , silver plated and open or closed holes. sounds better that my selmer in the low register but after not playing for some years my LIP is shot. We haven’t talked about teeth, lips and other things that help produce the sound and are maybe more important than the metal. Heard Lizzo play a crystal flute at LC that sounded really awesome, and of course flutes in times past were made of wood. are the dimensions of a handmade flute different from “factory” made flutes ? any comment?

    1. Rebecca Fuller

      Hi Dave,
      Thank you for your comment! Choosing a new flute can be an overwhelming task sometimes because there is so much information out there. Lucky for you, I have created a resource page for students just like you to help gather information and find what you are looking for in a new flute. I call it my “How to Choose A Flute” page. Here is the link with all the info: https://learnfluteonline.com/how-to-choose-a-flute/
      Now to answer your questions: The metal of your flute does change the sound of your instrument slightly, the more silver-the brighter the sound, the more gold- the darker the sound. Which one is better- that depends on your personal preference. The low B does not come up very much in your music, it’s true. The lip plates can be different, however most flutes tend to be the same unless you decide to have one specially designed. High level flute players (such as Mr Galway) can make any flute, in good condition, play well. However you can definitely tell the difference from a low level student flute and a high level professional flute. In general, the high level flutes receive a lot more specialized care in the building process than most factory flutes.
      Take a look at my resource page and email me with any questions you have. I would love to help you choose a higher level flute if you are ready to find one. And as far as your teeth, lips, and overall sound. I have hundreds of learning videos to help! Don’t worry. I hope to hear more from you soon.

  2. Ok.. here is my opinion regarding student/intermediate/professional/begged/borrowed/found in the attic.. or, in my case, bought at a garage sale, flutes.

    For a long time, I wanted to learn to play the flute. .. simply because I love the sound of it. It can sound haunting.. like early morning fog over a bog in Ireland.. or jazzy.. I once argued this point with a friend of mine.. Jazz flute? Naaah… I took him to YouTube.. introduced him to Hubert Laws.. ‘nuff said. It can sound happy, playing jigs and reels.. It can be unbelievable.. listen to any of the classical show pieces. When that music was new, the flute players of those days had to be considered total rock stars! LOL … and, yes… Mr. Anderson even managed to bring the flute to that format, making it sound completely down and dirty in his performances with Jetho Tull.

    So, I can say without any reservations, there is absolutely no limit to what one can do when it comes to making music on a flute. ….. provided one has a good instrument to begin with.

    I bought my first flute at a garage sale. They wanted $50.. I offered $20.. the lady said, “Sold!’ .. and so began my journey. It looked pretty.. it was nickel plated.. closed holes.. C foot.. looked like it had never been played.. I had a local teacher play it for a minute.. no leaks.. pads look ok.. her advise: “Play it for a bit. See if you like it. Definitely worth $20”

    So, I did. I played the heck out of it! I loved my $20 flute. Always will.. simply because it was the first one. I hooked up with Rebecca’s site. We bounced some emails back and forth.. where she is very well educated, and knows her stuff.. I was/still probably am, a hacker. : ) But, we hit it off ok.. we both love playing the flute. (although she is waaaaaay better than me! LOL)

    About a year into it, my flute began to develop some issues. I discovered my spit is completely super toxic.. it burned through the plating on the lip plate in no time. The keys began to get a little noisy. I got a tuner, and discovered I simply could not play the flute in tune. And my tone was…. Unique? That’s pretty “PC”.. but, I’m old.. us old guys never really fully grasped the whole politically correctness thing.. my tone was awful.

    And THAT is the danger of starting off with a flute that is not what it should be. Because here is what goes through the mind of the student…… “I must not be cut out for flute. I practice and practice, but, I do not see any improvement. I still sound terrible.” …. In short time, the flute ends up in the attic.. or a closet… and the joy of making music goes up in smoke…. NOT because the student didn’t have the ability.. but, because the flute was not what it should be. .. and that is almost sinful.

    So, I did a lot of homework.. and more emails back and forth with Rebecca.. fast forward to today… now, I have a very nice Lyric flute. I bought it used. It has a sterling silver head joint and lip plate.. so, no more ugly stains. It’s open hole.. silver plated body.. B foot joint.. offset G.. lovely French pointed tone arms.. no more noisy keys….. and, guess what? The very first time I played it, I sounded better than I ever did before! … my love for the flute restored.. and, while I am still a beginner (with definite hacker issues!), at least now I have a quality instrument to learn on.

    The lesson in all this.. and the reason I have taken the time to reply? For the first few months, any old flute will do.. like the local teacher said.. Play it for a bit. See if you enjoy it. If you do.. and the music stirs up something wonderful inside.. do some homework.. talk with anyone you can.. figure out how much you can afford to spend.. and be willing to spend a few dollars more if you have to. Get a quality instrument… and you’ll have a good friend that will serve you well, as you enjoy your musical journey.

    That’s my two cent’s worth… : ) One day, I must learn to exercise some brevity! LOL I’m familiar with the theory……. but, it’ll probably never happen.

    Be well..

    1. Thanks for this ‘brief’ comment. haha, I love it!! You’re so right, and there are so many who will benefit from your story here. Thanks! ~Rebecca

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Step 1 of 3

Choose which best describes your flute level:

Step 2 of 3

Where should I send your lesson info?

*Step 2 of 3

Where should I send your lesson info?