Beginner Flutes - New or Second Hand?
New beginner flutes range from unbranded models, priced from £50, up to the Yamaha 211 and Pearl, retailing at £650. Equally, the prices of second-hand flutes vary dramatically, although not always relative to the condition/value of the instruments. Second hand flutes range from poorly treated and damaged instruments, to fully refurbished flutes, in near perfect condition.
New Flutes - Pros and Cons
Unbranded and counterfeit flutes are rife on Ebay and other private listing domains. Consequently more and more 'First-time-buyers' find themselves purchasing instruments for children or grandchildren which are of a very poor standard. Often it is not until they begin lessons, and a flute teacher examines the instrument, that they become aware they have been sold a substandard flute. Sadly it is often difficult, even impossible, to fix any problems should the flute need repairing and consequently they have relatively little or no resale value.
Several of the larger UK music stores and flute companies have begun to deal with this problem by introducing their own models of flute – designed to their own specifications, and with their own branding. These are generally well performing instruments. Of these we have endeavoured to try as many as possible, including the intermusic 'Rickter' and the Wisemann. These flutes are of a decent standard and play well but due to the soft construction, would not last more than a couple of years. They do, however, offer an affordable alternative to buying a new or second-hand flute from one of the more established brands.
As mentioned in our guide 'Buying a flute for a beginner'
the Yamaha 211 is, in our opinion, the best beginner flute on the market. And, when considering buying a second-hand flute this model offers the best value for money. In good condition a second-hand 211 will cost between £250-£350 and be worth every penny. We also heavily favour the British made Trevor James 10x (£100-£200 second-hand) and the award winning Jupiter 511-ESSC (£100-£200 second-hand) – please see the afore mentioned guide for further information.
However, with regards to new Yamaha flutes, 2 major events in the last few years have taken place, which, in our opinion lessen their appeal:
1) The construction of Yamaha flutes has recently moved from Japan to Indonesia as a cost cutting measure. It has been noted by flautists, flute teachers and retailers alike that the construction is not as favourable in Indonesia as Japan and the quality of instrument has suffered as a result.
2)Yamaha also now only distribute flutes to the UK through their European arm. With the strength of the Euro over the last 2 years it has become very expensive to purchase them new in the UK. Many woodwind distributors have stopped selling Yamaha flutes (specifically the cheaper 211 beginner flutes) as they can no longer make any profit from them. This goes some way to explain the recent influx of fake “Yamaha” 211 flutes from China.
Buying a second hand Yamaha 211 means you will be purchasing a high quality instrument, constructed in Japan and at an affordable price. If well maintained and serviced this is a sound investment ensuring a happy introduction to the flute with a good resale value should the ambition wane.
Making the choice between buying a new or second hand flute is not any easy task. Both have their pros and cons and we hope this guide has shed some light on the options available and of course, should you have any questions, we would be more than happy to help to the best of our ability.
Thanks for reading and please rate our guide if you have found it useful.
Thea & Tim