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Intermediate flutes are a perfect choice for musicians who have been playing for a while and are ready to get a bit more serious about honing their craft. They’re not quite at the professional level but they’re definitely not for beginners. If you’re a student who’s renting a flute from a music store or your school and plan to continue playing, the best intermediate flute for you is a great investment.
To put together this review, we looked at a few main features. First, the material. Most of these flutes have parts made of sterling silver or nickel silver. Sterling silver usually produces a better sound but nickel is a lot more affordable. These flutes also give you the option of an inline-G or offset-G and have open holes for better tonal control. All of these instruments are standard concert flutes tuned to the key of C and come with a warranty, though the coverage varies from one to ten years.
We spend hours researching information from manufacturers as well as comments and reviews from professional musicians and the people who use these flutes every day to find out what makes a good intermediate flute and what makes each of these products special. The first things you’ll find is a table that compares all of our choices side by side. After that are in-depth reviews of each product followed by a detailed buying guide to help you decide which is the best intermediate flute for you.
The Yamaha YFL-382 is our Editor’s Choice for best all-around intermediate flute. It was designed to meet the needs of student flutists as they improve and learn more about the instrument and everything it can do.
Something really special about this flute is the pointed key arms for non-fingered keys. This is a high-end feature normally only found on top-of-the-line handmade Yamaha flutes that adds strength and beauty. This flute is made with nickel silver and has power-forged keys so it’s tough and resistant to breakage. Plus, the key bumpers are made of neoprene rather than cork so they’re more durable, too.
The sterling silver headjoint delivers warm resonance for a beautiful sound. It also includes a B-footjoint so it can play notes down to a low B. Open-hole keys allow for better tonal control.
This flute features an in-line G key as well as an undercut, beveled embouchure hole that provides a more sensitive response for accurate intonation. It comes with a stylish French-style case and cover for easy transport. Also included are a polishing cloth to keep it looking its best and a cleaning rod for routine maintenance.
Next up is the Azumi AZ2, a great choice for students who are committed to learning their craft. It’s an ideal step-up instrument for a beginner who’s distinguished themselves from the rest and is ready to really take their music to the next level. If you’re still renting a flute but are ready to invest in one of your own, the Azumi AZ2 is a great choice.
One of the best things about this flute is that it has some great professional features, most notably the Z-cut headjoint. This is a feature distinctive to the Azumi brand and creates a responsive, more flexible tone in all three registers. The embouchure hole is fairly rectangular in shape and provides crisp articulation allowing you to go from low B to high C quickly and cleanly.
This flute has a full, open sound that’s well suited for a band or orchestra. Its responsiveness makes it ideal for jazz players, too. Pointed key arms not only look great, but also provide improved key strength and help pads wear evenly. Open holes give more tonal control and it has an in-line G, ideal for those who prefer it to the offset option. A case and cleaning products are also included for safe transport and maintenance to always keep it sounding its best.
Another great option from a well-known brand is the Yamaha YFL-462. The consistency and quality of the brand shine through with the updated design and deep, rich sound. It plays smoothly and effortlessly and is a great choice for students who are ready to take it up a notch.
One of the reasons this flute sounds so good is that it has a sterling silver headjoint, body, and footjoint rather than silver nickel or other materials used in comparable models. It also features an offset-G, ideal for those who don’t like the in-line setup and prefer a more natural hand position.
The open-hole keys give players more control over tone and the undercut, beveled embouchure hole was designed for accurate intonation and a sensitive but clean response. Non-fingered keys feature pointed key arms, similar in design to those found on top-of-the-line handmade professional Yamaha flutes.
This flute was built to last, too. The nickel silver, power-forged keys are durable and resist breakage and the neoprene bumpers last longer than cork. It comes with a French-style case and cover for safe and easy transport.
The Jupiter 611RBSO really gives you your money’s worth. This flute features a sterling silver headjoint that gives a warm, rich tone with projection and power. Jupiter is known worldwide for their flutes and this model is ideal for young students interested in advancing their skills. In fact, the brand was built on the idea of helping schools and music education.
Open key holes give more clarity, control, and faster response while giving the player the option to partially cover the holes to get the tone just right. It also features a B-footjoint to extend the range to low B. Technicians hand seat all the pads and hand adjust all the mechanisms for precision and quality. They even do fine detailing of the embouchure hole, riser, and lip plate of each headjoint.
This flute features an offset-G for a more natural hand position, especially for players with smaller hands. It comes with a French-style case and cover to keep it protected during transport and storage. One downside to this flute is that both the body and keys are silver plated, although the headjoint is sterling silver as we mentioned. Overall, though, users didn’t really have any complaints. The attention to detail that goes into making Jupiter flutes really pays off in the end.
What are its best features?
Sterling silver headjoint
Warm, rich tone
Good power and projection
Well respected brand built on advancing music education
If you’re looking for a great flute but don’t have a lot of room in your budget, take a look at the Pearl 505RBE1RB. This is a great choice for anyone who’s been renting a flute but wants to get one to call their own without spending a lot of money or sacrificing sound quality.
This is the brand’s most economic model but manages to maintain the high standards for tone and sound that other Pearl models have. Although it has a silver plated head and body, it also has a lot of the same features as Pearl’s higher-end models like French pointed arms, pinless mechanisms, and one-piece core-bar construction. Plus, the offset-G is great for smaller hands and allows for more natural finger placement.
A hard case and cover are included as well as a wooden cleaning rod and two different cleaning cloths so you get everything you need to keep it clean and protected. One downside to this flute is it’s only covered by a one-year warranty which is significantly shorter than the other products we reviewed. Still, it’s an efficient, dependable instrument that’s ideal for any student who is ready to get a little more serious about their craft.
What do we love it for?
Well-known, reputable brand
French pointed arms
One-piece core-bar construction
Case and cover included
Wooden cleaning rod and 2 cleaning clothes included
What were we disappointed with?
Not all flutists like the offset-G
Warranty only 1 year
Users had few complaints about this flute
Things to Consider
When you’re ready to take your playing to the next level, the right intermediate flute can help get you there. Here’s everything you need to know to choose the right intermediate flute for you.
Intermediate flute – level up you needed
Beginner flutes are great for learning the basics but if you’re ready to improve your skills and start to take the instrument a little more seriously, an intermediate flute is definitely worth the investment.
Intermediate flutes allow you to play more complicated music, challenging you to play faster and higher while providing more flexibility than a beginner flute. In fact, the agility of an intermediate flute is the biggest difference between it and the beginner model. They’re made in a way that grows with your skills and allows you to really push your talent.
When is the time to upgrade from beginner flute?
Most children start playing the flute in elementary school. If this is the case, but the time they reach eighth grade, parents should consider an upgrade, especially for those kids that are really interesting in learning and who will continue to play into high school and beyond.
One of the main things to pay attention to is tonal development. Sometimes, a skilled beginner will begin to respond to tonal exercises and make the necessary changes but a beginner flute just isn’t capable of responding. With an intermediate flute, you’d get a noticeable increase in tonal quality.
These flutes range pretty drastically in price, from around $1,000 to upwards of $2,000. Anyone who has a real talent and is considering pursuing the flute professionally should get the best flute they can afford. It’s a good idea to get advice from your music teacher to find out what features will suit you best.
Features to consider while buying the best intermediate flute
Here are the main features to consider when stepping up to an intermediate flute.
Open or closed keys?
Open keys are one of the most important features of an intermediate flute. They’re essential for learning more advanced skills like harmonics and quarter tones and they force the player to use proper hand positioning.
If you’re not quite ready for open holes but are trying to work toward using them, it’s still beneficial to get an open-holed design. You can buy hole covers to use temporarily. Remove them and practice getting used to the open holes for a few minutes every day until you’re comfortable with using them all the time.
Length and weight
There are a lot of different kinds of flutes, from tiny piccolos to bass flutes. The intermediate flutes in our review are all concert flutes in the key of C and each is about 26 inches long.
Even though all the flutes on our list are the same length, the weight varies slightly depending on the quality of the materials used. Some are a little heavier than others but they usually weigh between one and 1.5 pounds.
In order to produce quality sound, an intermediate flute must have a silver headjoint like our top all-around pick, the Yamaha YFL-382. If it has a silver body like the Yamaha YFL-462, the sound is even better.
Silver plated materials aren’t as high quality as sterling silver but they’re quite common across all levels of flutes. What really matters is the base metal and the headjoint. For example, the Jupiter 611RBSO is silver plated but has a sterling silver headjoint so it’s capable of producing a warm, full sound.
When it comes to silver plated flutes, avoid those with a brass base. Nickel is much more acceptable and produces a better sound.
You might not know what the best flute brands are but someone does! Ask your music teacher or spend some time poking around on the internet to learn about reputable brands. There are a lot of great choices on our list. Yahama or Jupiter are all regularly applauded for their quality.
A low B footjoint adds a little depth and body and gives you a little wider range but it’s not completely necessary. In fact, it’s often difficult for most intermediate players to hit the low B. That said, some players prefer a low B footjoint because it adds a bit of a challenge.
G key – offset or inline?
This is really down to personal preference. All it means is that the G-key is off to the side or inline with the rest of the keys. An offset-G often feels a little more natural to beginners, especially if they’re particularly young or have smaller hands. That said, most profession flutes have an inline-G. So, if you plan to pursue the instrument professionally, it’s beneficial to get used to the inline-G as soon as possible. It can actually help improve dexterity which comes in handy as you make your way through more difficult music.
The embouchure hole matters. A lot. The shape determines the kind of sound that’s produced and how easy it is to play and articulate notes. There’s no one-size-fits-all shape, everyone prefers something different. If you’re happy with the shape that you’re currently playing on, it’s a good idea to stick with it. Or, try out a few different shapes until you find what works best.
As we mentioned, silver plating is pretty common. It’s fairly heavy and adds some weight which produces a darker, richer sound. Nickel plating is quite common, too. Not only does it look brighter than silver, but it makes the sound brighter, too.
All of these flutes come with useful accessories, though some give you more than others. Each includes a case which is 100% necessary to keep the instrument protected when not in use. Some of our picks, including the Pearl 505RBE1RB, also come with cleaning rods and polishing cloths.
Warranties vary quite a bit with these instruments. Although they’re all covered, the length of the warranty varies from one to ten years.
Flute playing tips and tricks
If you’re looking for some tips as to how to improve, take a look at this video. You’ll learn more about everything from proper hand position to triple tonguing and how important it is to have good practicing habits, even when working on the slow stuff.
One of the important things about learning to play the flute is proper positioning. This can be a little difficult to achieve if you’re arms aren’t long enough to hold the flute properly. One quick way to check is to take a measuring tape or string that’s 16 inches long. Place one end on your lips and hold it in place with your left hand. Extend your right arm until the tape or string is taut. If your arm is bent at a right angle or less, your arms are long enough for an intermediate flute. If it isn’t and you’re still growing, stick with a beginner flute for another year or so then recheck.
The first thing you should do when you’re done playing is to use the polishing cloth to wipe down the outside of your flute. Then, use the cleaning rod with a cloth attached to wipe down the inside of the flute and get rid of any condensation. Take proper care of the tenons, too. These are the areas of metal where the pieces of the flute fit together. Wipe them clean and add some paraffin wax if needed to help with lubrication. Never, ever use anything petroleum based or cork grease on the tenons because they can introduce a lot of grease into your flute which can cause buildup inside your flute. Finally, one of the most important things you can do to protect your flute is to put it back inside its case when not in use.
Our Editor’s Choice is the Yamaha YFL-382. It was designed for students to help them improve and grow in their skills. The pointed key arms, power forged keys, and neoprene key bumpers add strength and durability and the beveled embouchure is responsive and provides accurate intonation.
Next, we recommend the Azumi AZ2. This is a great step up instrument for anyone currently renting or using a hand-me-down who wants to get a little more serious about their craft. It features the Z-cut headjoint distinctive to the Azumi brand and a rectangular embouchure for quick, clean articulation.
Finally, we recommend the Yamaha YFL-462 for the best intermediate flute for students who are committed to investing in learning more. The sterling silver headjoint, body, and footjoint provide a deep, rich sound and the power forged keys and neoprene bumpers are built to last. We also love the response of the beveled embouchure.