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3 Reasons Flutes Are So Expensive (& How To Get Good Value)

Flutes are integral to countless ensembles! They sound beautiful and they’re relatively easy to learn, but unfortunately, they can be a bit pricey.

Why Are Flutes So Expensive?

Flutes are so expensive because they are often made of precious metals such as gold and silver. These metals allow the flute to produce an incredible sound, but these materials are valuable, and the pricing of the instrument reflects this value.

The rest of this article will tell you everything you need to know about the pricing of flutes, so you can better understand the instrument’s pricing expectations and feel confident while you shop!

Are Flutes More Expensive Than Other Woodwind Instruments?

Flutes are not more expensive than other woodwind instruments. While a decent flute will be relatively expensive, other woodwinds are usually priced much higher.

Clarinets and saxophones, for example, are more expensive than a flute. 

An even pricier example is a bassoon, which can cost thousands. Let’s take a look at some examples.

To start, this high-end professional Selmer 600 Series Flute is around $2,000, while this Selmer Paris Presence By Seles Bb Professional Clarinet of the same quality is priced much higher.

Another example is this Selmer SFL511BO Intermediate Flute, which costs over $1,500. In comparison, this Selmer CL211 Intermediate Clarinet costs about $300 more.

To put these examples into perspective, take a look at this professional Selmer Paris SeleS AXOS Series Alto Saxophone, which costs over $3,000.

As you can see, flutes are relatively cheaper than other woodwind instruments because they’re a lot smaller in comparison to larger woodwinds, which means they require less material to make. 

However, they are still pretty expensive on their own.

What Factors Make Flutes Expensive?

While flutes are relatively less expensive than other woodwinds, these instruments are still costly, and purchasing a flute of your own will definitely be a significant investment. But why are flutes so expensive?

The factors that make flutes expensive include the type of flute you’re purchasing, the material of the instrument, the flute’s brand, and the quality of the flute.

Let’s look at each of these factors in greater detail.

The Type of Flute You’re Purchasing

The type of flute you’re purchasing is a factor that will definitely play a significant role in the cost of the instrument.

For reference, recall the examples I previously mentioned for concert flutes:

  • Intermediate Selmer SFL511BO Intermediate Flute
  • Professional-grade Selmer 600 Series Flute 

Concert flutes are the most standard type of flute seen in modern ensembles.

While there are other types of flutes, they’re not as common and tend to be more expensive than standard concert flutes. 

Here are some examples.

As you can see from these examples, certain types of flutes are more expensive than others due to the increase in size and materials used during the manufacturing process.

Unless you’re looking for a specialized flute like one of the instruments I listed above, you should stick to concert flutes, which are less expensive than other types of flutes.

The Material of the Instrument

The materials used during the manufacturing process are some of the most critical factors of flute pricing, almost directly determining the cost of the instrument.

What are flutes made of?

Typically, flutes are made of different combinations of various precious metals. A standard concert flute is usually plated in silver, but sometimes, more expensive flutes are made entirely of silver rather than just plated in it.

The combination of metals used varies from instrument to instrument.

Usually, the manufacturer will disclose the metals your flute is made of.

Here are some of the most common metals used, in order from least to most expensive:

  • Nickel
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum

Different metals produce different sounds and tones, depending on how much of it is used and whether the flute is solid or simply plated in that metal.

Often, flutes are made of nickel and plated in silver because nickel is significantly more cost-effective than silver, and it’s also sturdier. The majority of concert flutes will have this makeup.

However, as I mentioned before, sometimes other metals are used, which may increase the price.

The Flute’s Brand

The brand of a flute is another factor that determines how expensive it is.

Certain brands create instruments with different materials, manufacturing methods, and levels of quality.

Because of this, prices will vary from brand to brand.

Here are some examples of intermediate-level flutes from different manufacturers that cost between $300 and $1,500:

As you can see from the given examples, the brand you choose to go with will determine how expensive your flute will be.

The Quality of the Flute

The quality of your instrument is another important factor in determining how expensive a flute will be.

In the world of instruments, products are grouped by quality and intention.

Here are the most common types.

Student-Grade Instruments

Student-grade instruments are generally more affordable and cheaper in terms of quality because these are usually used for beginners in the musical field.

When you’re just starting out, it might not be the best idea to invest a lot of money into an instrument up front, just in case it doesn’t work out or you dislike the instrument you chose to play.

Read More: Is Flute Hard To Learn?

Intermediate Instruments

Intermediate instruments are typically higher quality than beginner or student-grade instruments.

They are made with better materials and will generally cost a bit more, but they aren’t as pricey or high-quality as professional-grade instruments.

Professional-Grade Instruments

As mentioned in the name, professional-grade instruments are pro-level products designed specifically for those who wish to pursue this instrument professionally.

While you can still buy an expensive instrument if music is a hobby and not your career, pro-grade instruments are designed to be used professionally, so their quality and price will reflect this.

Professional grades are a lot more expensive than student-grade and intermediate instruments.

Are There Any Good Flute Brands That Are More Affordable (Purchased New)?

While it can be tempting to purchase the most affordable flute available, you should keep in mind that cheaper instruments tend to run on the cheap side in terms of quality.

Fortunately, some brands out there with good reputations manufacture quality and trustworthy instruments at a wide range of prices.

There are some good flute brands that are more affordable when purchased new. They include Yamaha, Jupiter, Selmer, and Allora.

You can buy these when just starting out your musical career or hobby without breaking the bank.

Personally, Yamaha is my favorite in terms of price and product variety.

They offer countless instruments from student-grade to professional, so it’s easy to find an instrument that meets your personal needs!

How Do People Afford High-End Flutes?

People afford high-end flutes by purchasing them used on sites like eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

You can also arrange payment plans while purchasing new instruments, or save money until you have enough to make the payment in full.

You could also wait for holidays, sales, and other deals when purchasing an instrument.

For example, you can usually realize some pretty significant savings if you wait until Black Friday to buy a high-end flute and be able to afford it.

Is It Worth It To Get a Used Flute?

It is worth it to get a used flute if you want a high-end instrument without making as big of an investment. When you purchase used flutes, you can save money without compromising quality.

One thing to note is that if you’re a part of an educational ensemble, such as a band program in school, chances are you’ll be playing used instruments anyway if you rent one out from the school.

I did this all throughout my own educational experience with the band without any issues!

So if you don’t mind playing used instruments in an educational setting, you should consider buying a used flute of your own, because you can save a lot of money by doing this.

Final Thoughts

Flutes are excellent instruments, but unfortunately, they’re rather expensive. The value of a flute is reflected in the price of the instrument. 

A flute will be more expensive if it is made from more valuable materials, such as precious metals like gold and platinum.

It will also be more costly if you purchase a professional-grade instrument.

However, while flutes are expensive, they are significantly cheaper than other woodwinds.

Although flutes tend to be costly, playing this instrument is a gratifying experience, and purchasing one of your own is definitely worth the investment.