How to Get a Beginner Flute (buy, rent...) + Things to Watch Out For
Updated: Oct 15, 2021
Hello! Today I'll be talking through a few different ways you can acquire a beginner flute before you start taking lessons. As I am a classical flute player based in Melbourne, Australia, these recommendations will be most relevant for those who live in Australia.
If you already have a flute teacher, remember that they can be a great source of information so don't forget to ask for their thoughts as well.
Let's get started!
a) Renting from a school
Many schools in Australia offer students the option of hiring an instrument for at least their first year of playing. This is one of the more budget-friendly options if you don't want to commit to buying an instrument and gives your child the chance to try an instrument before deciding if they will continue throughout school. I'd generally consider this to be a very low-risk option so I'd highly recommend seeing whether your school has instruments for hire.
b) Owning a flute
In cases where it isn't possible to hire school instruments or none of your family/friends own a spare flute for you to borrow, you will need to own your flute. This means either purchasing a flute second-hand or buying/renting a brand-new one from a music store. Both options have their pros and cons so I'll cover them here.
SECOND-HAND Buying second-hand can save you some money but it can be difficult to find flutes that are in good enough condition to be worth it. Here are some things to consider when buying second-hand.
Look for recommended brands (discussed in detail here)
Check with the seller to see if the instrument has been serviced by a repair technician within the last 6 months
Expect to pay around $300-500 for a good quality second-hand silver-plated flute that has had a recent service
Music store/repair technicians
Some music stores and instruments repairers sell second-hand instruments. Second-hand instruments from music stores are generally more expensive than what you will find online however this is mainly because the store is being selective with the instruments they accept to sell second-hand. This means they are looking for trusted brands and relatively recent models of student instruments. They also usually service the instruments themselves before giving them to customers to make sure they are working as well as possible. For these reasons, buying second-hand from music stores/repair technicians is probably your safest option.
(If you are able to bring along someone who can play flute to the music store to test out the instrument for you that would be even better)
I would avoid buying a second-hand instrument from a private seller unless you can already play some flute and are able to test it out thoroughly. This is so you don't risk buying something that’s a few plays from falling apart.
Another very important thing to note with flutes is, you get what you pay for. If it's too good to be true, it probably is (unless you are able to test out the instrument thoroughly).
It can end up costing you more in time and money long-term if you purchase a AUD$100-200 flute that breaks often. Every time you take the flute to a technician, it costs you money for them to tweak the instrument and time away that you could be using to practise and improve.
Cheaper flutes can also end up being more difficult to play, as the cheaper price tag often means cheaper materials. This could take away from the student's experience and end up making their progress on the flute slower than it needs to be. Worse-case scenario is that it discourages them from continuing altogether.
If you are finding yourself needing to stick within a budget, you can also consider purchasing a plastic flute to start off with as they are at a much lower price point than a metal flute.
BUYING NEW (plus RENTING & PAYMENT PLANS)
If you decide to buy new, then you can rest easy knowing that you can always take the flute straight back to the store if an issue comes up.
Generally speaking, if you run into problems within 30 days of purchasing a brand new instrument, it’s not unreasonable for you to ask the store to fix the instrument for you.
I would also advise that you purchase an instrument in-store rather than online because, unless you’re saving a significant amount of money by ordering online, it can get damaged during freight and end up costing more money/time for you to mail the flute back for repair
Some music stores also offer payment plans or rent-to-buy options, so you can manage the cost of the flute over a longer period of time.
Rent-to-buy options usually have a minimum rental period of 6 months and can go up to 36 months. Generally speaking, the rent-to-buy options cost more overall than buying outright but still might be a better fit for your situation. In most cases, you can actually return the instrument to the store after the minimum rental period if you don't wish to keep renting and you'll only have had to pay for the 6 months you had the flute.
Payment plans that split the payment over multiple payment dates within a set period of time usually cost the same as buying an instrument outright but also include a one-off administration fee set by the store.
BRANDS and MODELS
If you'd like some suggestions on which flutes to get, please head to my Beginner Flute Models/Brands blog post.
So those are some ways that you can acquire a beginner flute before you start having lessons with a teacher. For more flute-related resources please feel free to check out my other blog posts! Happy fluting and see you in the next post!