Sax on the Web Forum banner

Beginner flute options

3407 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Bootman
I have a small dilemma of sorts on which I would appreciate your comments.

A bit of background: I'm a clarinettist and saxophonist who has decided it's about time to learn the flute for doubling in shows and the like. About a year ago I got my sister's old flute that she used to play at school - a Boosey & Hawkes 400 - and had a little toot on it, but decided to stop myself until I had the time and money to get a teacher rather than learning bad habits etc.

So as I'm planning to start properly, I took the flute into the local woodwind shop and asked whether it needed any work. Turns out it's very leaky and would require quite a bit of work amounting to about £60 to get it playing well. The tech did mention that these flutes weren't particularly good, which brings me to my questions:

Firstly, has anybody had experience of the B&H 400? How 'far' could/should one go with it on the spectrum of beginner/intermediate?

Secondly, should I consider spending the £60 on getting it fixed with a view to upgrading it fairly soon (depending on your responses to the first question!), or should I consider getting something like a secondhand Yamaha 211/221? I've heard pretty good things of these and am aware of Yamaha's "good stalwart beginner instruments" reputation. On Ebay they can be found in the region of £150-£200, but the problem is there may be costs on top of that to get them in good order, so I'll probably try and find something at a music shop even if it's a little more costly. I'd guess there are plenty of these around as students either give up or upgrade. How long do people think I could one of these flutes in comparison to the B&H 400?

Thanks in advance!
See less See more
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Suggest you try Just Flutes on the web. Nice company, very good flute and saxophone technicians, good second-hand choice and Jonathan, the owner, is content not being a millionaire.
Might be worth looking on the Hanson site as well. Alastair really cares about the company reputation. Both UK based.
The Yamaha 221 is a very good bottom-end flute.

I faced a similar dilemna. I needed a flute that would help me sound like an actual flute player even though I have very limited time to spend on it. Flute is nasty that way, it wants constant practice, at least in my case. I settled on a Muramatsu.
you think flute is nasty, try piccolo. It's an instrument of death in the hands of the novice, like me.
You're going to be way ahead of the game if you just forget about the B&H and find a used Yamaha in good condition.
Most good flutists that I know can sound great on one of these instruments as is. Later, if you still are enjoying the flute thing, you can upgrade to a pro headjoint. A Yamaha 200 with, say a Prima Sankyo NRS-1 or a Yamaha EC headjoint, will generally outplay most of the 'upgrade' flutes on the market, and the whole setup is pretty darn reasonable.
I am also thinking about starting doubling on flute ( I played some when I was 9-11 just before I started sax, mostly played recorder till that age but have not played flute at all since then )..
I was thinking about an intermediate yamaha but found this "yamaha221+pro hedjoint" proposal quite interesting.. how much do you think I would have to spend it total to get them used in top playing case? (would it be less than 1000$ ???)
thanx, Nikolas :)
Put this in context. A doubler, who is not a pretty darn good player, playing a Yamaha 200 series, is like a person who gets to his local supmarket fro shopping in a Toyota Corolla. Do you really need to do your shopping in a Lexus? At least try the Corolla first, and get it serviced by a really good technician so that it goes at its best.
I always thought that when I started an intstrument I should get one that would last "forever", only chance that I would ever change it would be if I became soooo good that I would need a better instrument. This is how I grew up and I believe that it saved me from a lot of trouble ( my first alto was a yas-62 and my first tenor a yani991 + recorders +clarinets of that level ) ...
I was determined to get an intermediate or semipro yamaha, but this begginer flute+pro headjoint idea would be nice if it costs less and is actually better.
Fair enough.
I've done a lot of doubling, and that was my approach. With hind-sight, I think it was overkill. Cheaper instruments in excellent state of adjustments would have done the job.

But I suppose, relative to expensive pro instrumnets, your approach is a good one. Don't assume, however, that an expensive or top brand flute head is going to suit you. You really need to be a reasonably accomplished player before you are in a position to evaluate which of the huge range of flute heads suit you.
I can of course undestand this, but won't a proper headjoint make playing a bit easier or a bit more tonally accurate (for example like a morgan mouthpiece would) than it normally would be? so you would recomend an semipro instrument to the "headjoint" idea?? which istrument?
thanx again..
The newer Pearl Quantz flutes are also worth looking into. The Yamaha 221 is fine but there are other options to look into for student flutes.

Definitely have a look at the plated body and a good headjoint option. The Yamahas are ok but there are better sounding and playing options out there for not a lot of money.

I know of a killer Haynes with a pro headjoint but you will be looking at $2500 AUD or so plsu shipping for such an instrument. It is inline G and B foot.
bbbouklas said:
I can of course understand this, but won't a proper headjoint make playing a bit easier or a bit more tonally accurate (for example like a morgan mouthpiece would) than it normally would be? so you would recommend an semipro instrument to the "headjoint" idea?? which instrument?
thanx again..
I don't think flute is quite the same as the reeds. A student Yamaha head is a darn good head. Compare it to a Hite, Forbes, Vandoren etc mouthpiece on clarinet . You really have to know exactly what you are aiming for before you hunt for something beyond that.

I reckon a student Yamaha plays better than most flutes that professionals were playing on 60 years ago.

And a silver student Yamaha head arguably plays identically to a silver plated equivalent.

"so you would recommend an semipro instrument to the "headjoint" idea?? which instrument?"

No, I was not saying that. However if I had my time again, buying a great flute for high standard, non-pro playing, I certainly would not choose a hand made one again. On the other hand, I am still very wary of the quality of China-sourced bodies, that are now common. I AM saying that you need to be in a position as a player to compare and evaluate heads for you, before you launch into buying any sort of expensive head. Better to mark time until you are in that position unless you are already in it. Flute heads are very individual. Snob issues apart, it is conceivable that you buy an expensive head and find that you realistically prefer to play on the student Yamaha head. After all, it was presumably designed to suit less accomplished players.

That said, if I were choosing a "better" head to go on a student Yamaha body, I would include a try of the current model basic Muramatsu (- my old-model top-of-the-silver-range Muramatsu head is pretty disappointing by todays standards!), along with the Yamaha EX, What comes with the Powell Signature, and maybe a whole host of others that different people suggest.
See less See more
Gordon, thanx for your help...
I thought about what you said about the "head" and decided to skip it,until I can at least have a better knowledge on the instrument..
I think I'll get a used yamaha off ebay for about 500$ (what model should I be getting??)..
hersch17 is selling a Gemeinhardt 53SB Solid sivler (B foot) for 600$, is it a good choise?
thanx again, Nikolas :)
I played a Gemeinhardt 3SB for over 15 years. It's a solidly built flute with a good HJ, easy to play with nice tone quality. The problem is that it has a strange scale that is harder to play in tune than Yamaha, Jupiter, and other flutes. Gemeinhardt uses their own proprietary scale. I find Cooper or Bennett scale (and variations thereof) far easier to play in tune.
What you really need to do is go out to a shop and test drive a whole lot of different flutes and head joints. You will find something that works well for you. If there is no shop in your area then I would go for the Yamaha or Jupiter or newer Pearl flute options. Used or New is good.

Gordon is right about the Muramatsu flutes, the new ones are fantastic but some of the older ones are getting very tired and a much harder to play than most of the newer student flutes.

If you have some money then have a look at the Miyazawa range too.
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.