You want to play low flutes and have narrowed your search to two brands. Now, it’s time to compare Pearl vs. Trevor James alto flutes to decide which is better for you.
I’ve played and loved both brands, and neither is always better. Keep reading to learn which brand and model is better for YOU.
But first, this post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.
Pearl Alto Flutes
Pearl alto flutes are some of the most affordable models compared to other brands that offer similar specs. The company makes three different alto flutes you can choose from.
When I was ready to buy my own alto flute a few years ago, I went with the Pearl 201. This model features a solid silver lip plate and riser, but the rest of the instrument is silver-plated, so it’s pretty affordable.
You can choose between a straight headjoint, curved headjoint, or both. I was only able to get my hands on one with the straight headjoint. Despite being quite short, I have no problems reaching the keys, so this option was fine.
This alto flute sounds great, especially in the low register. It’s a fantastic choice for new alto flute players.
The Pearl 206 is a bit of an upgrade from the 201. This model features a solid silver headjoint, including the head tubing. Meanwhile, the silver-plated body keeps this alto from getting too costly.
It has all of the same features as the other alto flute from Pearl. You’ll get to choose one or both headjoint types.
Like all flutes from Pearl, you’ll also get a pinless mechanism. This can make it easier on your flute tech if you need any repairs done.
At the top of the line, you’ll find the Pearl 207 alto flute. This one features a solid silver headjoint and body. But like intermediate flutes, the keys are still silver-plated.
The added silver content can help you get a brighter sound. You can also do more to manipulate your sound. Sadly, the extra silver also tacks on a bit more weight, so it can feel heavier than you’re used to.
Of course, you’ll have the same options to choose between a straight or curved headjoint or to get both headjoints.
Who Pearl Alto Flutes Are For
If you’re interested in comparing Pearl vs. Trevor James alto flutes, consider whether the Pearl models suit your needs better. Here are a few types of people who may want to look at this brand.
Pearl C Flute Players
I currently play a Pearl Cantabile as my main C flute, but I actually bought it after I bought my alto flute from Pearl. Still, the brand is pretty consistent across flutes regarding specs and feel.
So if you like one type of Pearl flute, there’s a good chance you’ll like the other types. That can make it a lot easier to switch between your flutes when you need to play both.
Players on a Budget
As I mentioned, Pearl alto flutes are some of the cheapest out there. That makes them a perfect choice for anyone without a lot of money to spend. Similarly, they’re a great choice if you don’t want to spend a lot.
When I bought my Pearl alto, I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it or play it. So I wanted to keep the cost as low as possible. If you’re looking for an alto flute that won’t break the bank, Pearl has some great ones.
Flute or Woodwind Doublers
If you play multiple flutes or woodwinds but alto flute isn’t your main instrument, I’d also recommend Pearl. I found it pretty easy to get a sound out of the alto flute.
It was also easy to go from playing C flute and piccolo all day to playing alto flute in flute choir during graduate school. Whether you’re a flute player or a woodwind doubler, this brand is worth a try.
Trevor James Alto Flutes
Maybe you think you’ll like one brand, but you should consider both Pearl vs. Trevor James alto flutes. Here are the three primary models you can find from TJ.
Silver-Plated Alto Flute
The Trevor James Silver-Plated Alto Flute is the first model of the brand’s alto lineup. Like the Pearl 201, this model has a solid silver lip plate and riser with a silver plated headjoint and body.
And as with many alto flute models you can get a straight head, curved head, or both to suit your needs. I got to try one of these alto flutes before I settled on the Pearl, and it sounded nice.
However, I didn’t feel like it sounded better enough to be worth the extra money this model costs over the cost of the Pearl. But you may find it’s a better choice for you.
Copper Alloy Alto Flute
Since it came out around 2018, the Trevor James Copper Alloy Alto Flute has become a hit. It’s one of the most popular models out there, and I recently switched to one.
Copper makes up 85% of the copper alloy, while the remaining 15% is made of other metals. The copper helps this alto flute feel every so slightly lighter than other models, which is nice if weight is a problem for you.
You get all of the same headjoint options. And what I love about Trevor James alto flutes is the addition of a D# roller. That helps you switch between, say a low Eb and low C.
Black Nickel Alto Flute
The Trevor James Black Nickel Alto Flute is another popular model. Sadly, I’ve looked all over and haven’t found a new one for sale in months. I also haven’t seen many used ones on the market.
But this model was one of the options you could buy for quite some time. The black nickel offers a darker sound than silver or copper. Because of that, a lot of jazz musicians may like this instrument.
Of course, you’ll have to do some digging to find one for sale. And since they don’t seem to be available new, you may not have a choice regarding the the headjoint style.
Who Trevor James Alto Flutes Are For
When comparing Pearl vs. Trevor James alto flutes, consider if you fall into any of the following groups. If so, you may want to look at the TJ models.
Trevor James C Flute Players
As with the Pearl alto flutes, the Trevor James altos are a great choice for players who have a TJ C flute. I’ve played on a TJ 10x, and it’s still in my inventory for whenever I need a backup flute.
But whether you currently play on a 10x, the new copper C flute, or another model, you may love the Trevor James alto flutes. You might find it’s easier to switch between flutes when they’re from the same brand.
Players Who Want a Unique Sound
The copper alloy and black nickel alto flutes offer a slightly different sound than what you can get from a silver or silver-plated model. The copper sounds a bit more mellow, similar to a rose gold flute.
On the other hand, black nickel sounds darker than the other materials. If you can’t seem to get the type of sound you want with other alto flutes, Trevor James might be the brand for you.
Regardless of the materials, a lot of professional flute players tend to gravitate toward Trevor James alto and bass flutes. Some players are even Trevor James low flute artists.
While technically they are on the same level as Pearl altos, they’re also a nice upgrade from Pearl or similar brands. So if you’re looking for a better alto that doesn’t cost close to $10k, Trevor James is a nice choice.
Pearl vs. Trevor James Alto Flute Similarities
Pearl and Trevor James alto flutes have a few things in common. Consider the following ways the brands are similar.
While the Trevor James alto flutes cost more than the ones from Pearl, both brands are relatively affordable. They cost a fraction of what altos from brands like Altus or Miyazawa cost.
No matter the reason, if you don’t want to shell out a ton of cash for an alto flute, both brands are worth trying. Sure, some of the models from Pearl and Trevor James are costly, but the basic silver-plated models are a great entry point.
Straight and Curved Headjoints
Most alto flute brands let you buy a model with a straight and/or a curved headjoint. Pearl and Trevor James both fall under this category.
So no matter which headjoint you prefer, you should be able to buy an alto flute that meets your needs. Compare that to some more expensive brands, such as Miyazawa, which only offers a straight headjoint.
Pearl vs. Trevor James Alto Flute Differences
As great as the similarities are, the differences arguably have a bigger impact on whether a Pearl or Trevor James alto flute is right for you. Here’s what you need to know about how the two brands are unique.
Some flute players are “American” and others are “Japanese.” This doesn’t have anything to do with your own ethnicity but that of the flutes you play. And while Pearl comes from Japan, Trevor James comes from the UK.
If you play another Japanese flute brand, you may prefer a Pearl alto flute. Or if you play British or European flute, Trevor James might suit you better. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s worth considering.
Another significant difference between the two brands is that Pearl uses its proprietary One-Piece Core-Bar pinless mechanism. Also, all of the Pearl alto flutes feature French pointed arms.
Compare that to the Trevor James alto flutes, which have a pinned mechanism. These alto flutes also use a combination of pointed key arms and Y arms, depending on the key in question. This can affect how the alto flutes feel to play.
Probably the most obvious difference is the materials you have available when you choose either brand. Pearl makes alto flutes with some combination of silver plating and solid silver.
Trevor James uses solid silver for the lip plate and riser. But as far as the tubing goes, you can choose between silver plating, copper alloy, and (if you can find one used) black nickel.
Is Pearl a Good Brand of Flute?
Pearl is a much better flute brand than many give it credit for. I currently play on a professional Pearl C flute. And in the past, I played on both a Pearl alto flute and a Pearl piccolo.
All of my instruments from Pearl have sounded great and responded very easily. The brand is suitable for beginners through professionals.
Is Trevor James a Good Flute Brand?
Trevor James is another excellent flute brand. They’re especially suitable for beginners and advancing students. And they’re well-known for their alto and bass flutes.
While they aren’t as popular when it comes to professional C flutes, they do have a few models. And Nyenyezi Horns chose Trevor James as their flute brand of choice when making bedazzled instruments.
Comparing Pearl vs. Trevor James alto flutes is crucial whether you’re getting your first alto or an upgrade. Be sure to compare the models available and their materials.
That way, you can choose an alto flute that you’ll love to play. And if you’re ready to get some alto flute music, commission me to write an original work or arrangement.