PFA-201S: Pearl Alto Flute Review

Do you want to explore a different part in flute choir or play some lower notes? You might want to buy a Pearl alto flute, like the PFA-201S.

PFA-201: Pearl Alto Flute Review | Hannah B Flute

It’s an affordable, durable option that can sound great. However, don’t rush to buy it without determining if it will be a good purchase for you.

Before we get into the review, this post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.

What Is the Pearl Alto Flute PFA-201s?

The Pearl PFA-2o1S is an entry-level alto flute with a straight headjoint. You can also find the PFA-201U (curved headjoint) and the PFA-201SU (both).

No matter which model you select, this alto flute is easy to play and can sound great on its own or in a flute choir. If you’re looking for an affordable low flute, consider this model.

You may find it meets your needs and helps you expand your skills.

Features and Specs

The Pearl alto flute has a solid silver lip plate and riser. Meanwhile, the rest of the headjoint, body, and mechanism are silver-plated. Like all Pearl flutes, this one features the company’s One-Piece Core Bar, or pinless mechanism.

You can play down to a written middle C (sounding G3). The keys feature pointed arms with the exception of the right hand keys. Reaching the left hand keys is easy thanks to the ergonomic key layout.

It has closed-hole keys, which is standard on most alto flutes. Unfortunately, there isn’t a split E mechanism or a C# trill key, but those aren’t as necessary on the alto flute.


  • Easy to play
  • Good sound
  • Blends well
  • Ergonomic design
  • Affordable


  • Low register is a bit flat
  • Right hand reach is a bit far

Who This Pearl Alto Flute Is For

When deciding on the best alto flute, you should consider a few models. If this Pearl alto flute is one of those models, it helps to know if it might suit you.

Then, you’ll be able to schedule a trial of it. You may end up loving the instrument and buying it after trying other models.

Here are a few types of players who may enjoy the PFA-201S.

Casual Players

If you’re new to the alto flute or don’t expect to play it a lot, the PFA-201S is a great option. It’s more affordable than a lot of other altos, so it’s great if you have a tight budget.

When I bought mine, I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it. I also didn’t have a ton of money in savings.

Over the past four years, I’ve used the alto flute quite a lot. And it’s still holding well after years of playing in a few different flute choirs. So you can easily continue to play it if you decide to take the alto flute more seriously.


The Pearl alto flute is also an excellent choice for doublers. Whether you like playing various flutes or are a woodwind doubler, give this model a try.

Getting a sound on it is relatively easy, so you don’t need to practice for hours to make it work. You can also take a break from playing and leave the alto in storage if you need to focus on other instruments.

I’ve had a few periods where I hardly played it. But I can pull it back out and get a nice sound pretty quickly.

People With Long Arms

Like most other alto flutes with straight headjoints, this one is great if you have long arms. The reach is significantly farther than on a C flute. Even with the ergonomic left-hand keys, the right hand still has to reach.

Now, I want to mention that your arm length is much more important than your height. I’m only 5′ 3″ and am comfortable playing the Pearl alto flute. But I’ve met some taller people who prefer a curved headjoint.

So be sure you give this model a try regardless of your height. It could be more comfortable to play than you think.

People on a Budget

The Pearl PFA-201S is one of only a few alto flutes that costs less than $2,000 new. If you don’t have much money to spend, this can be a good choice for you.

As I mentioned, my savings account balance was pretty low when I bought my Pearl alto flute. I was able to finance it over 12 months, and I didn’t have to pay interest.

But you can also easily buy it outright without needing a ton of money. That makes it a good choice for students and recent graduates.

Who This Pearl Alto Flute Isn’t For

As much as I love the Pearl alto flute, I know it’s not for everyone. Before you buy the flute, you should consider why it might not work for you.

Then, you can look at other alto flute models that you may prefer. Or you can try the PFA-201S but keep your expectations realistic.

The following types of players may want to look elsewhere for an alto flute.

Alto Flute Specialists

A growing number of flute players are starting to specialize in the alto flute or low flutes. If you want to do that, you should look at more advanced models to get the best instrument for you.

As a specialist, you can justify spending a bit more on an alto. You may want to look at brands such as Miyazawa, Altus, and Sankyo.

Now, the Pearl alto flute may be a good backup alto. But it’s probably not the best investment when it comes to finding a flute to play every day.

People With Short Arms

Even if you’re tall, you may have short arms that make playing a straight headjoint alto uncomfortable. In that case, you can look at a model such as the Pearl PFA-201EU, which is the same except for a curved headjoint.

Playing the alto flute is more awkward than playing the C flute. So if you can hardly reach the keys, it will be even more stressful.

If you have short arms, look for a curved headjoint. That way, you can really enjoy playing the alto flute, and you’ll get your money’s worth.

Flute Choir Directors

If you’re looking to buy an alto flute for a flute choir, you should avoid the PFA-2o1S. Instead, look for a model with both a straight and a curved headjoint, such as the Pearl PFA-201SU. That way, more people will be able to play it.

Members of the flute choir can select the headjoint style they prefer. And you can have two people share the alto but use their own headjoint. That can be a nice way to switch altos easily without having to clean the lip plate each time.

Even if you don’t run a flute choir, consider if you run a flute studio. You may want to get an alto flute that your students can borrow, so it helps to offer both types of headjoints.


If you’re looking to buy the Pearl alto flute, you may still have questions.

How Does This Pearl Alto Flute Sound?

The Pearl Alto Flute PFA-2o1S sounds amazing, especially in the low register. As you play higher notes, it can start to sound a bit thin, but that’s the case with most alto flutes.

Where Can You Get This Alto Flute?

You can get the alto flute from a variety of music stores, general and flute-specific. I bought mine through a local Music & Arts. However, you could shop through Flute World of the Flute Center of New York.

This alto flute is even available on Amazon. Just be careful when buying online to make sure you go through a reputable dealer.

Should You Buy the Alto Flute New or Used?

You should buy the alto flute that suits you and that you can afford. If you’re tight on cash, you may want to find a used Pearl alto flute.

However, buying a new one means you won’t have to shop around too much. And you won’t risk buying a flute that needs a lot of repairs.

Will You Buy a Pearl Alto Flute?

If you want to play some lower instruments, you may want to check out a Pearl alto flute, like the PFA-201S. I’ve played one for about four years and love it.

However, like other flutes, this one isn’t for every player. Be sure to give it a try yourself to decide if you should purchase it.

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