When is a cheap flute not a cheap flute? (or clarinet, sax, etc)

Your child has decided to start music lessons and has chosen to learn the flute and needs an instrument. Where do you go to buy one? The initial thought for most people nowadays is online. Then you have to decide which one to choose – I mean, a flute is a flute, isn’t it? Why would you not buy the cheapest….?

Flutes for beginners are very much the same to look at, but when you start looking at the quality of the metal used, it can be a completely different experience for the new player.

Firstly, woodwind instruments all have keywork that is intertwined and intricately connected. When a child or teacher says that a note isn’t working properly, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is that part of the instrument that needs adjustment. We normally advise that the instrument should be treated like a fine piece of jewellery, but of course even the simple act of taking the instrument apart and putting it together can mean that something is slightly moved or bent and causes an issue. If the instrument has been made from quality metal, the chances of being able to cause an issue in this way are significantly less and there is normally no problem with doing the repair – sometimes this can even be done on the spot with no charge if it’s a simple adjustment. However, if it a more complicated issue, i.e.. the instrument has been hit against something or dropped, if the metal is not of good quality, it is often possible that it can’t be repaired or that the cost of the repair is uneconomical due to the value of the instrument.

Secondly, when you buy a good quality instrument, the tone of the instrument is also of a better quality. Although there are obviously going to be squeaks and screeches when someone is starting to learn, this should soon become a lot less and your child will start to enjoy making a nice sound from it. However, instruments should be set up ready to play before purchase and if the instrument is being sent by post / courier, it is possible that something could be tweaked in transit and that is a far greater risk with weaker metal.

You can therefore end up in the situation where you have paid for the instrument, paid for lessons with a teacher privately or at school, paid for the music for your child to learn, but unless the instrument is of a reasonable quality you will have a frustrated child who can’t make the instrument sound like they want it to because it has constant issues and the end result is that all the money is wasted and your child has been put off playing an instrument.​

If cost is an issue, please remember that you don’t have to buy new and one of the advantages to this is that if the lessons don’t work out for whatever reason, the instrument will pretty much retain its value, whereas new instruments depreciate in value as soon as they are purchased, just like a new car. The other option is to hire the instrument to see whether your child is going to continue before actually purchasing – if you hire from us, we give incentives to purchase after the first hire period.

If you have any queries, or just want to talk through the options, we’re happy to help – 01923 510103

Dieter & Jenny​

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