Flute opinion.

I am thinking of teaching myself to play the flute. Or try anyhow. I don’t have alot of money to spend on it though ($150 tops). I love the sound of woodwinds, but I am not sure of the differences in flutes.
I thought of Pan-Pipes, but they look funny, and some are outright huge. They look hard to learn also.
I see a few American Indian flutes for sale on Ebay for within my price range, but I am not sure how much they are capable of playing. (Limited range of notes?)
I have not seen any wooden flutes aside from the American Indian ones. Are the sounds different?

Please help me decide which flute to choose.

What kind of music do you want to play? I would recommend a different flute if you were looking to play say Irish traditional music vs. classical or modern music.

Based on your post it sounds like you are interested in a simple style (no keys) flute for traditional type music. Easily one of the best flutes for this is the line of bamboo flutes made by renowned maker Patrick Olwell.
Dale Wisely , who runs the best and most informative tinwhistle site on the planet has similar views here. There are also some good links and a message board which has some very informed people.

Um, if you’re going to learn to play flute, why don’t you get an honest to goodness 18 (or is it 16?) hole classical flute? It’s the most versatile out of the choices, really. And I’m sure you can find a used one for cheap. Definitely go for inexpensive, in case you give up. Come to think of it, maybe someone who knows about used instruments can give advice. I would assume that you can find a better instrument for cheaper if it’s used, but that might not necessarily hold true. And believe me, quality is important. I had the great privilege to blow a few notes on a custom-made flute from a local maker. It’s easier, and the sound was gorgeous. However, I think the $15,000.00 is a little out of your price range. Sorry ;).

Check the pawn shops in your area. I know a couple of the ones here have a pretty substantial stock of used musical instruments. When I got the urge to play the clute again a couple of years ago, I bought a nice Gemeinhart, similair to the one I had in school, for a whopping $35.00.

MikeG: Folk music is the main reason I fell in love with the flute. Irish music and Native Americian flute music is wonderful. I wouldn’t mind playing those, but I also want the versatility to play other musics. Amazing Grace, Christmas music, etc. All for myself of course, I don’t plan on joining an orchestra.

Grelby: Yeah, 15k is a bit out of reach, lol. I will consider a classical flute. My sister played one in high school, I wonder if she still has it.

Gah! In addition to the’clute’ I played in school, I also played the piccilo, oboe, and flute.


Well then, I would DEFINTELY recommend a simple stlye Olwell flute. As for claims as to its limited repertoire, I would recommend you listen to a player. There is precious little you can’t do on one of these. Amazing Grace, Giftmas music, all this and more I can do quite respectably on my whistles and a D simple style flute will be versatile enough and easy enough to let you get working on learning. I had a couple that I had to sell back in the last financial unpleasantness and I can’t wait to call Patrick and order a few more:)

I’ll have to side with Arden and Grelby on this question. Folk flutes are nice, but for versatility you can’t beat a classical flute; I’ve happily played everything from Bach to Celtic to jazz/pop on mine. You can sit in easily with many types of improv ensembles, too, who might look askance if you showed up with a Peruvian Nose Flute.

Still remember a guitar-playing friend in college who said, when I asked him why he started playing the flute, “I need a classical instrument so those assholes in the music department don’t think I’m full of shit.”

And you can probably get behind a decent used instrument for a hundred bucks or less.

My sister plays a Gemeinhart (sp) flute and is working on a degree in it. She seems to think they are good for classical flutes until she has one made.

If you are looking for antique styled instruments www.larkinthemorning.com has a nice set of them. Their are both Renaissance and Baroque transverse flutes of varying quality. You could also check ebay.

This one time, at band camp…


If you look hard enough, Epimetheus, you can probably find a classical flute in your price range. This site, for instance, lists a $150 Bundy II (look at the 'Flutes under $2000 section). Also, Arden’s suggestion of pawn shops is excellent.

Yeah, classical flutes are great, and you can get a decent one for not too much money. And of course, it doesn’t really make sense for a beginner to spend a fortune on an instrument, but it’s also ironic that the better instruments are much easier to play.

When I first started playing flute in high school, I had a cheap, used, chrome-plated thing. I couldn’t make the low C sound at all on it. Finally I got a real silver flute, open holes and in-line G. I was amazed at how easy those low notes were, and how different they sounded. Eventually I got to where I could play my crappy chrome flute a little better, but it was never close to the silver one.

Same when I started guitar. My first guitar’s strings were an inch off the fretboard, and it would’ve taken an expert to make that thing sound good. A high-quality instrument practically plays itself. [sub](Well, not exactly.)[/sub]

Anyway, I now have a few flutes that I got from here. I don’t play complex music on them, but they are great fun, and they’re eight bucks. The smaller ones are harder to play well, in my experience. The biggest one is not that big, and plays really nice.