School is coming up next month, and that means a lot of you are probably thinking about buying a flute. But they can be expensive. I have plenty of flute-buying experience, so I have some juicy tips to help you save money on a flute.
Yes, instruments can be expensive, but you shouldn’t pay more than you have to. If you know what kind of flute you’re looking for, that can help.
But what else can help you save money on a flute?
Price Range for Flutes
If you want to save money on a flute, you need to know what kind of flute you need or want. As a beginner, you don’t need a professional flute with all kinds of specs.
On the other hand, if you’re shopping for a flute to get you through music school, you need a more advanced instrument.
Flutes can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $80,000. That’s right. Eighty thousand dollars.
So, let’s break that down into a few ranges. These ranges aren’t scientific, they’re meant to be general and for educational purposes. Also, these price ranges are for new instruments.
These flutes are pretty simple. They don’t have extra keys, and they’re usually all silver-plated. The lack of extra keys and the silver plating bring down the cost of these flutes.
Aside from being silver plated, beginner flutes usually have closed holes, an offset G, and a C footjoint.
Typically, these flutes are under $1,000. However, some beginner flutes do come close to $1,000.
Beginner flutes are just that, they’re for beginners. as you progress as a flute player, you might find that your beginner flute is holding you back.
If you feel stifled by your current flute, that might means it’s time to upgrade. And step up flutes are the perfect upgrade if you have a tight budget.
Step up flutes usually have a silver lip plate or full silver headjoint. They also have open hole keys, and a B footjoint. Some of these flutes have a solid silver body, but the mechanism is almost always silver plated.
Regardless of the metal combination, step up flutes are still machine manufactured. However, the headjoint is usually handmade.
Step up flutes cost around $1,000 to $3,000, give or take a few hundred dollars.
Some people combine step up and intermediate flutes as one category. However, one could argue that the full silver step up flutes are more of a step up.
I personally believe that the quality of flute’s build is more important than metal content, but it’s worth mentioning.
You could also consider flutes with more specs to be intermediate. At this stage, you can select extra keys, like the split E or C# trill key.
Since these flutes are pretty similar to step up flutes, their range is also similar. Intermediate flutes tend to cost $1,500 to $3,500 primarily due to extra specs.
Entry level professional
Sometimes called pre-professional flutes, these instruments are usually handmade but more affordable. To bring down the cost, these flutes are usually silver plated to some degree.
That plating could be just the mechanism or everything but the lip plate and riser.
A lot of these flutes offer specs like a split E or C# trill key, and many of them have multiple headjoint cuts you can choose from.
Entry level professional flutes start at around $2,800 and go up to about $10,000. Yes, these flutes can get expensive. Which is probably why you want to know how to save money on a flute.
The most expensive level of flutes includes professional instruments. Anything goes with professional flutes.
Professional flutes have tons of options including extra keys, different metals, and more. You can go with a classic choice like an all silver flute. You can get a flute with some gold or platinum in it.
My current flute is solid silver with rose gold plating, and I couldn’t be happier with it!
Before you go and buy a professional flute, do some research to see what you might want or like in a flute. Whether it’s special keys, a certain headjoint cut, or precious metals, you need to do your homework with these flutes.
You especially need to do your research if you want to save money on a flute at this level. Professional flutes start at roughly $6,000 and go up from there.
If you’re looking to upgrade your flute, you may want to buy or upgrade your piccolo, too. Just like flutes, piccolos have a huge price range, but it’s not as extreme.
Of course, there are different levels and price ranges for piccolos. However, I’m going to lump them in one group for this post. If you want a more in depth review of piccolo prices, let me know!
Student piccolos start at about $400, while professional flutes can cost over $15,000.
Since I covered a bit on piccolos, I wanted to also share a bit on pricing for alto and bass flutes. Again, I won’t break these flutes into different levels. You don’t really see “student” low flutes, anyway.
But I do want to separate altos and basses.
Alto flutes start at about $1,500. Some more expensive altos cost as much as $14,000.
Bass flutes are a bit more expensive, but they are bigger, so it makes sense. The price range for bass flutes is roughly $3,000 to $14,000.
How to Save Money on a Flute
Now that you have an idea of how much different flutes cost, you can figure out how to save money on a flute.
Whether you’re buying your first flute, a pro instrument, or a piccolo, who doesn’t want to save money on a flute?
Here are some tips and ideas you can use to save money on your next instrument purchase.
Set a budget
You can use the ranges I discussed to figure out how much money you should set aside for an instrument. Obviously, those ranges aren’t set in stone. Some professional instruments are cheaper than $6,000 while some step up instruments are over $3,000.
If you need to buy an instrument soon, you may have to go with a smaller budget. However, if you can anticipate the cost, you can play ahead.
When I was shopping for a flute, I knew that a professional instrument could cost more than five figures. So, I had a rough budget of about $10,000, give or take.
While I tried flutes, I made sure to only try flutes in my price range. That way, I wouldn’t find the flute of my dreams only to learn I couldn’t afford it.
One of the most common ways to save money on a flute is to buy a used instrument! Of course, you have to be careful. Before buying a used flute, you want to make sure it’s legit.
Used flutes are cheaper than new flutes, but not by much. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
You should also ask about what work the flute needs. That can also affect the purchase price and whether it’s even worth it.
If you want to be safe and buy a used instrument, go through a music store or instrument dealer. They’ll typically have the resources to ensure you get a good instrument.
Purchase in full
This tip may sound counterintuitive, but it can help you save money on a flute. If you have the funds to do so, paying in full means you won’t have to worry about interest.
You will just have to pay the sticker price, plus any taxes.
Financing may be necessary in some cases, and for that, I recommend that you…
Look for low-interest financing
If you can’t pay for your instrument in full, try to find low- or zero-interest financing. Figure out if you can pay off your instrument quickly, and that will also save you money on interest.
Plenty of music stores offer financing, and they sometimes have special offers with little interest.
I bought my alto flute and paid for it with a 12 month financing plan that had no interest. So it was like I paid for my instrument in full, but it was spread out over a year of monthly payments.
I briefly touched on repairs with used instruments. Of course, you should consider what repairs need to be done now.
However, you should also think long term. You’re not done paying for your instrument after you purchase it.
So think of what repair work might be necessary in the future. The more expensive the flute, the more expensive maintenance and repairs can be.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy an expensive flute, but consider the ongoing cost before you splurge.
Buy in person
Another easy way to save money on a flute is to buy it in person. With the internet, you can buy a flute from anywhere in the world.
Yes, that’s convenient, and you have access to more flutes. However, shipping (and shipping insurance) can get expensive.
So if you can buy a flute in person, do it. You’ll save the cost of shipping. And you’ll save yourself the headache and worry while it’s in transit.
I have plenty of experience buying instruments and working to save money on a flute. My first piccolo was used, and I stashed away gift cards to help pay for my current piccolo.
As mentioned, I saved and paid for my current flute in full. And I found an affordable financing plan for my alto flute.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a good instrument.
Have you done anything unique to save money on a flute? Let me know in the comments!