Flute Specs: Beginner vs. Intermediate vs. Pro

B foot. Split E. C# trill. Soldered tone holes. What do these all mean? These, my friends, are just a few flute specs. Flutes come with many different specs, sometimes even made specially for the person who will play them.

Hannah B Flute | Flute Specs: Beginner, Intermediate, and Pro

Different level flutes come with different features that are meant for players at that level. Beginner flutes are made so that it is easier to make a sound. Professional flutes offer more resistance and special features.

Today, we are going to look at some of the most common specs, what they mean, and who they are for. Remember: no two flutes play the same, and no two players play the same.

Beginner Flutes

These flutes have the fewest amount of add ons; the specs are pretty standard across different brands. That is part of why the cost is lower for beginner models that intermediate or professional flutes.

Specs

Beginner flutes are silver plated throughout the entire flute. Silver is expensive; by plating a flute, you can cut cots while still having the sound of a full silver flute.

Beginner flutes also come with a C footjoint. Flutes with C footjoints have a shorter tube and one key fewer than flutes with a B footjoint. These flutes go down to middle C rather than the B right below middle C. The lack of a low B is not a big deal for most beginners, and the lighter weight makes holding the flute easier.

Student flutes come with closed hole keys. Keys with open holes in the middle require a more refined hand position. Starting out on a flute with closed holes allows the player to focus on other things at first, but hand position is still important.

The offset G key is almost always used in newer student flutes. If the G key (left hand ring finger) is in line with all of the other keys, it can be harder to reach. An offset G key can alleviate this problem

Intermediate Flutes

Intermediate flutes go by many names. Sometimes they are called step up flutes or mid level flutes. No matter what you call them, these are the flutes between beginner flutes and professional flutes. They offer more professional specs while staying budget friendly.

Specs

A handmade headjoint is one of the features that sets apart intermediate from beginner flutes. Beginner flutes are almost always factory made. The bodies of most intermediate flutes are also factory made. Intermediate flutes will have a handmade headjoint, though.

Another feature seen on many intermediate flutes, at least in the United States, is open holes. Open holes, while not necessary, allow the player to start learning certain extended techniques, like quarter tones.

The third common spec for intermediate flutes is a B footjoint. While this is less common in Europe, North American flutists looking to upgrade will probably find a flute with a B footjoint.

The last spec that is standard with most intermediate flutes is a higher silver content. Whether it is a silver headjoint or a silver headjoint and body, intermediate flutes contain more solid silver than student flutes.

Options

It is at the intermediate level where you have the ability to start customizing your flute. Student flutes come as is, but intermediate flutes offer extra features that can help with certain notes and fast passages.

The first common option for intermediate flutes is the split E or the G disc. Both of these options fix the same problem: the high E. A split E key closes the lower G key. This flattens the pitch of the high E and allows for more control and less cracking.

The G disc takes a different approach than the split E by placing a “donut” in the lower G tone hole. Doing this allows lowers the pitch on the high E without making as much of a sacrifice as the split E.

The C# trill key is yet another common option for intermediate flutes. The key is placed onto the flute between the thumb key and the trill keys. It facilitates C# in both trills and as the main note.

Professional Flutes

The biggest thing that professional flutes have on intermediate flutes is that they are fully handmade. Professional flutes are also more expensive. Aside from that, there are not a ton of differences between intermediate and professional flutes.

Professional flutes are slightly more customizable. They come in different metals, even silver plated. Professional flutes are priced highly for a reason: they are for professionals and serious amateurs.

These flutes are not for the faint of heart.

Specs

There are two specs that you will likely only find on professional flutes. Those two are: solid silver keys and soldered tone holes.

Most professional flutes are all silver, including the keys. While some lower cost professional flutes have plated keys, solid silver keys are just as common. Are they necessary? It’s up to you on whether you want to spend the money.

In the professional flute world, there is a long running debate between drawn and soldered tone holes. Drawn tone holes are created by “drawing” the silver from the tube to create the tone holes. Soldered tone holes, on the other hand, are made separately from the flute and then soldered onto the tube.

Options

Professional flutes come in all sorts of metals. You can find silver plated flutes, sterling silver flutes, gold, and even platinum flutes. Professional flutes can also be found in different types of silver, like the darker Britannia silver.

So…

This is just a short list of all the different specs that you can find for flutes. Did I leave out any of your favorite flute specs? Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already.

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Guide to Piccolo Materials

Piccolo makers use materials in their piccolos to get a distinct sound. Different materials can also affect the price of a piccolo. This post will give an overview to the different piccolo materials you can choose from.

Hannah B Flute | Guide to Piccolo Materials

When choosing a piccolo, you can choose from a variety of materials. The most common are metal, plastic, and wood. Plastic is the cheapest, followed by metal, and wood is more expensive.

There are also two types of plastic: straight plastic and composite.

In this post, we are going to explore the many piccolo materials. We will also look at the pros and cons of each.

Plastic

Plastic piccolos are one of the most common, especially for students. They are cheap, resistant to extreme temperatures, and they work well for beginners.

Some piccolos are made with both a plastic body and headjoint. Others have a plastic body and a metal headjoint.

The pros of a plastic piccolo include the lower price as well as the durability of the piccolo. If you will be playing outside, plastic piccolos can withstand the heat and cold. You don’t have to worry about cracking, like with a wood piccolo.

Cons of a plastic piccolo include the airy tone you can get. However, they are great in almost every other way. Even if you choose to buy a wood piccolo down the line, a plastic piccolo is a great back up instrument.

Common brands: Yamaha, Jupiter, Gemeinhardt

Price range (new): $500-900

Price range (used): $250-450

Composite

Composite is a type of plastic piccolo. These usually come configured with both a composite body and headjoint. Though you can buy a wood or metal headjoint if you wish.

These piccolos are a combination of plastic and wood. I currently play a composite piccolo, and I love it. Composite piccolos give you all the benefits of a wood piccolo without the price or the worries about cracks.

You can play a composite piccolo both indoors and out. No need to worry about the wood cracking. The plastic in the piccolo stabilizes the wood for a more refined sound and requires less management.

Common brands: Pearl, Guo, Di Zhao, Roy Seaman

Price range (new): $800-1100

Price range (used): $650-900

Metal

Metal piccolos are probably the least common, but they do exist. They serve their own purpose for piccolo players. Metal piccolos, like flutes, come in different metals.

You can find metal piccolos that are silver plated, solid silver, and even gold.

Metal piccolos, while uncommon, are great for marching band and other outdoor events. Metal piccolos carry more than plastic or wood, so they can be heard on a large football field.

My first piccolo was silver plated, and it was a great first instrument. I was able to use it in marching band, and it was also very affordable. Metal piccolos do cost a bit more than plastic piccolos, but not by much.

Used metal piccolos are a much better deal than new, because they are not in high demand.

If you plan to play outside a lot, metal piccolos are worth looking into.

Common brands: Gemeinhardt, Armstrong

Price range (new): $1100-2700

Price range (used): $250-1000

Wood

Professional piccolos are almost always made of wood. You can even choose from different woods. Grenadilla is the most common wood, and you can find many companies that use the wood in their piccolos.

I have played a school owned wood piccolo, and it was definitely a step up from my metal one. However, wood piccolos vary a lot in cost. Wood piccolos start at around $1500 and can go up ten-fold. The most expensive wood piccolo I have seen costs around $15000.

If you choose to buy a wood piccolo, be very aware of your budget, and shop smart. Unless you are a professional piccolo player in an orchestra, you probably don’t need all of the bells and whistles. You probably don’t need a handmade mechanism.

The biggest con of wood piccolos is the cost, but you can find lower cost wood piccolos.

Common brands: Yamaha, Lyric, Resona, Gemeinhardt

Price range (new): $1500-15000

Price range (used): $1200-10000

So…

What kind of piccolo do you play? Have you experimented with different piccolo materials? Comment below, and be sure to follow me on Instagram (@hannahbflute)!

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Protec Flute Case Cover Review

If you have been with me for awhile, you might have seen my first review of this case cover. I wrote that post a few years back, and I wanted to write an updated version for you all.

Protec is a company that makes cases and covers for a lot of different instruments. They have cases and bags for woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, and more.

Hannah B Flute | Protec Flute Case Cover Review

Today, I am going to talk about their deluxe flute case cover.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links. To read my full privacy policy, click here.

Why Get a Case Cover?

There are a few reasons why you might want a little something more than just your flute case. First off, student flute cases rarely have a pocket to store cleaning supplies, pencils, and the like.

Intermediate through professional flutes come with case covers, but they are thinner and may not last very long. I know with my current flute, the case cover started to get a little wear and tear after a little over a year.

A case cover also (usually) comes with a shoulder strap. That frees up your hands for sheet music, a music stand, or whatever else you may need to lug around.

Case covers are a simple, convenient way to keep all of your flute related items together but out of the flute case itself. I love being able to keep my flute, cleaning cloths/rods, piccolo, pencils, and instrument stands all in one place.

Why Protec?

Protec Flute Case Cover

There are a lot of companies out there that make flute case covers. I am reviewing the Protec cover, because I actually own it. I have had it for almost five years, and I used it on and off for most of that time.

The Cost

When I got my first flute, it actually came in a case similar to professional flutes. But it didn’t have a case cover. So it also had no outside storage, handles, anything.

I came across the Protec cover at a local music shop, and it looked like a great solution. It was also cheap, which was great for a student. I believe I payed around $35 for the cover.

The Colors

I went with the classic black, but the case cover also comes in purple and pink. If you prefer to have a brighter case so you can find it, go with the pink. If you want a more professional cover that you can take on stage, go with black.

Purple is also great if you want to stand out a little bit, but you still want a more subdued look.

The Features

One thing that I liked about the Protec cover when I was using it was that it had tons of room for accessories. The outside pocket is much bigger than on other case covers. It’s big enough to fit a piccolo, if you have one.

The case cover is also pretty durable. I put it through quite a lot, and it still works. Yes, there is wear and tear, but nothing major.

You can also carry it multiple ways. There is the traditional handle, found on many student flute cases. You can carry it on your shoulder with the detachable shoulder strap. Finally, there is a handle on the end of the case, so you can carry it the long way.

Who is it For?

The Protec case cover is great for students and people who want a more durable cover than what they have. It is budget friendly, and you can order it from just about any online music retailer.

The case cover is also great for more advanced players who don’t have the money to spend on the more expensive case covers.

Almost any flute case can fit in the cover, student or professional, C foot or B foot. Your flute will probably fit, though it is always a good idea to check for return policies when buying online.

Who Should Shop Around?

While I believe any flutist could benefit from the case, it does have its problems. If you are like me, and you play quite a bit of piccolo, this is not the case for you.

The large outside pocket is great, because it does fit most piccolo cases. However the outside pocket is meant for storing accessories. Therefore it is not insulated like the main pocket.

That is okay for casual players, and for people who don’t play piccolo much. But it poses a problem for flutists who will be bringing their flute and piccolo around together a lot. That issue is actually what made me stop using the Protec cover.

There are tons of other companies that make case covers that do have space for a piccolo in the insulated compartment. I do plan on reviewing one of them (Fluterscooter) in the future.

So…

Have you used the Protec case cover? Do you use another brand of case cover? Let me know in the comments!

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How to Buy Instruments Online

With websites like Amazon and eBay, it is easier than ever to buy instruments online. You can find so many amazing deals, and you can have your new instrument in a matter of days.

Gone are the days of having to trek to a music festival or visit an instrument vendor or store. You can order yourself a new instrument from your own bed. How nice is that?

Killer Harmony | Buying Instruments Online | Grey background with maroon text (Buying instruments online) and teal text (for musicians)

It’s nice…if you’re smart about it. There are some good deals out there, but there are also some not so good deals. So, I am going to give you my tips for buying instruments online. While in person is best, sometimes you have no other choice.

1. Stick with reputable brands.

There are dozens of brands of instruments on sites like Amazon, but a lot of them are of bad quality. They are cheaply made instruments, which is why those instruments are usually really cheap.

If you are searching for a flute or piccolo, stick to brands like Yamaha, Pearl, or Jupiter, among others. These instruments will cost more than the  “Sky” or “Band Director Approved” instruments.

Going with a reputable brand means you will get a better quality instrument. It will last longer, and the cost will be worth it over time. Please do not buy those $100 instruments; they are not worth your time or money.

2. Read the reviews.

Read the reviews of the instrument before you purchase. If you can, contact someone you know who has played the brand and model you are considering. Or ask a private teacher for recommendations.

In many cases, the reviews can tell you a lot about the instrument. If you cannot test the instrument out before buying, you want to make sure you are getting a good value.

If you are on Amazon, you can even check out the Q&A section to see if there are any questions with helpful answers. Reviews may seem silly, and of course you should ignore the more biased ones. Some reviews can be really helpful, though.

3. Look at specialty websites.

There are so many online music stores, both general and instrument specific. Even if you plan to buy from Amazon, check with these other sites to see if the instrument you want is available.

For flutists, websites like FluteWorld and the Flute Center of New York have a ton of good brands in stock. I ended up purchasing a piccolo from Amazon, but I had seen it on flute specific websites. I also had a recommendation from a flute teacher.

These specialty sites will probably have a higher shipping fee, but a lot of them do have trial periods. If you decide you don’t like what you ordered, you can send it back. That is a great perk when you are unsure of what you want.

4. Check the shipping terms. And track your package.

What I mean by this is that you should be aware of how your instrument will be shipped. I personally would go for the fastest shipping you can. Yes, it adds to the cost. But the last thing you want is to have your instrument sitting in a warehouse without temperature controls.

You should also do your best to be home the day your instrument arrives. That might contradict my last piece of advice, but it’s almost more important. So priority goes to being home on delivery day. If you are out running errands or working all day, you won’t be able to get your instrument inside and away from crooks.

Not only do you want to get your instrument out of the elements quickly, but you don’t want to have a package sitting on your doorstep that will attract thieves.

5. Know the return policy.

This goes for anything you buy online. If you buy from somewhere that does not have a trial period, you still should know whether you can return the instrument if you are unhappy.

How long do you have to make a return? Do you have to pay for shipping? How do you ship it back? While you will hopefully find something you love, you still want to be aware of the terms in case you don’t end up liking the instrument or in case something is wrong with it.

6. Buy in person when you can.

I wrote this post for the people who can’t buy an instrument in person. If you have the option to buy an instrument that you want in person, do that.

You’ll save on shipping, and you can test the instrument out before you even purchase it.

For when you can’t buy an instrument in person, I hope these tips help for buying an instrument online. Definitely read up on everything you can regarding the instrument you want to purchase and educate yourself and the shipping and return policies.

7. Enjoy your new instrument!

Buying a new instrument is exciting! So be sure to enjoy your new purchase. While some purchase methods are easier or harder, no matter how you buy, have fun.

So…

Have you bought an instrument online before? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe for more exclusive tips and musings sent straight to your inbox!

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Flute Prices & Brands 

If you are a flutist or want to become one, you need to have a good quality flute that fits you and your playing style. There are a lot of flutes to choose from at different levels and from different brands.

Killer Harmony | Flute Brands & Prices | Flute shopping can be hard. You have to consider the price you can pay as well as the brand of the flute. Some brands and materials or better than others.

As a recent flute grad, I have learned quite a bit about the different options available, and I would like to share that info with you in this post. Brands and prices vary differently depending on where you live, so I will be discussing the most common brands and their flutes in the US.

I hope you can use this as a guide to determine the best flute for you. But first, a disclaimer: don’t just take my advice for choosing a flute. Find a reputable flutist or teacher who can help you in the buying process.

1. Student model flutes

These are the flutes that are best for beginners. Most student flutes are made out of silver plated nickel, and they are built to withstand a lot. Almost every flutist starts out on this type of flute, because they are reliable, and they are budget friendly.

At this stage, you probably won’t know what to look for in a flute, which is why you should consider finding a teacher and asking for their help. You can buy a flute from the company, a music store, or second hand. Some music stores also allow you to rent your flute before buying so that you can test it out. Then, you won’t be obligated to pay in full without knowing if it is for you.

Some good student model brands include Yamaha, Jupiter, Gemeinhardt, Trevor James, and Di Zhao. The first three brands are a little cheaper than the last two, but Trevor James and Di Zhao flutes are better for if you want a long lasting flute. The other brands are not always as well built, and so you will need to upgrade sooner than if you have a better constructed student flute.

Most, if not all, student flutes can be found for less than $1000. But be careful of the really cheap ones online. They are not made well, and some repair technicians will not work on them. The least you can get away with paying for a student flute is around $200 for a used Yamaha.

2. Intermediate model flutes

These flutes are great for advanced players. Once you have started to out grow your student flute, it’s time to upgrade.

Intermediate model flutes usually have a solid silver head joint and a silver plated body and foot joint. They also have open holes, a B foot, and sometimes other mechanisms to help facilitate playing.

Some intermediate models are considered professional quality (I play one of these myself). These flutes are made of the same materials as other intermediate flutes but might be partly handmade or have a professional level head joint.

Intermediate models are often also called step up flutes, because they are a step up from student models. These flutes start at about $1200 and can go up to about $3000, depending on the maker. If you have been playing flute for a few years, this type of instrument is a great choice.

3. Solid silver flutes

These flutes can be considered intermediate or professional, depending on the brand and the amount of hand work put into them. Solid silver flutes are a bit darker than silver plated flutes, and they sound slightly more mellow.

Solid silver flutes are usually considered more professional than flutes with only a solid silver head joint. I have yet to upgrade to an all solid silver flute, but I would like to in the near future.

Silver is the standard metal for flutes, so it is a good choice for professionals and advanced students. While silver is the standard, there are other metals that are used on some flutes.

4. Other metals

Flutes can use a few different metals in their construction. The most common metals, as discussed above, are silver and nickel. These two metals are relatively hard. They will carry more, and they are cheaper.

If you want a really mellow sound, you can invest in a gold or platinum flute. These flutes are really only available at the professional level; I don’t recommend them for students. I personally do not want a gold or platinum flute in the future. They are a little too mellow for me.

Gold flutes are better at blending into other instruments, so if you want to play in an orchestra, they are a great choice. I don’t know much about platinum, but I assume they are similar.

Gold and platinum flutes are more expensive than silver flutes, and usually start at around $8000.

Which flute is right for you?

I am not going to recommend one flute for everyone. The flute that is best for you will depend on your needs and what you want out of a flute. Students should go with a silver plated nickel model. Advancing students and beginning professionals should upgrade to a flute with a silver head joint.

More advanced professionals can then experiment with solid silver and other metals. When you are ready to upgrade (or even to buy your first flute), you should try as many different ones as you can. You may have a dream flute, but you could end up finding a model that is even better.

So…

What flute do you play right now? What do you love about it? Let me know in the comments!

And don’t forget to subscribe below for exclusive music tips sent straight to your inbox!

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