In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: August 18, 2023
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A high-quality flute is a necessary investment for someone hoping to play professionally. The best professional flute is made of top-quality materials and are usually handmade rather than mass produced in a factory. The springs are a lot more precise and they’re generally capable faster, more consistent performance. All professional concert flutes have open holes, which can be difficult for a beginner to learn. Other professional flutes, such as piccolos and alto flutes, aren’t ideal for someone just starting to play.
If you’re ready to upgrade from your intermediate flute, you’re in the right place. There are several important features to consider when upgrading to a professional flute. Sterling silver is preferred because it’s durable and helps produce quality tones. An open hole design is essential for concert flutes, but special flutes, like an alto or piccolo, usually have closed holes. It’s also really important to consider the warranty. These instruments really are an investment and the longer the coverage, the better.
To put together this review, we spent hours researching different brands and types of flutes. Then, we analyzed information from manufacturers and professional musicians as well as comments and reviews from people who use these flutes professionally or otherwise. The first thing you’ll find is a chart where you can easily compare all of our choices, side by side. Next are detailed reviews of each product followed by an in-depth buying guide to help you figure out the best professional flute for you and your needs.
Our Editor’s Choice for best all-around professional flute is the Yamaha 677H. Yamaha is one of the best-known flute brands in the world and is known for their quality and impressive designs. The 677H is no exception. Not only does it deliver deep, robust tones but it also looks amazing.
This is an ideal choice for a musician that’s ready to move on from an intermediate flute to something with a bit of a professional edge. It features and open key design, French-style key arrangement, and Straubinger Phoenix Pads for a better seal and faster responses. This key style is perfect for advanced players and built to handle the music on the level of a professional musician.
The body, headjoint, and footjoint are plated with sterling silver for a uniform look and reliable tone. They also used a special finishing technique called annealing. This process involves heating the outer surface which creates a more durable surface. To keep it protected, a hard-shell case with cutouts to for the main body, headjoint, and footjoint is included. You also get a cover and cleaning rod.
This is a great step up from an intermediate flute and, although it’s not one of brand’s top-of-the-line models, it’s much more affordable than high-end models and delivers a professional level sound.
Next up is the Azumi AZ3, a great choice for anyone aspiring to play professionally. It responds quickly and effectively when going from low to high tones and is a good fit for a band, orchestra, or jazz ensemble. It’s a good choice for professionals or amateurs who are ready to take their talent to the next level.
The thing that really stands out about this flute is the Z-cut headjoint, a feature of all Azumi flutes. It responds quickly and easily and produces a rich, full sound in all three registers. The embouchure hole is fairly rectangular which gives the player a lot of control. The sound is responsive and clean and it allows for crisp articulation.
Pointed key arms give this flute a refined, elegant look while improving key strength and helping the pads wear evenly. Open hole keys give the player a lot of control. It includes an offset-G, C-sharp trill key, gizmo key, and a B-footjoint as well as a French case and cover. That’s not all, both the headjoint and body are made of sterling silver which gives this flute a deep, warm sound. User have little to no complaints about this flute. In fact, they’re amazed that a flute with a sterling silver body is available at this price point.
What are our favorite features?
Quick response across all 3 registers
Pointed key arms
Sterling silver headjoint and body at a great price
The Armstrong 703 Heritage Alto Flute is a beautifully crafted instrument designed for professionals and advanced students. Typically longer than the regular concert flute, this alto flute has a distinctive and resonant sound that occupies the space between the concert and the bass flute. Crafted with precision and attention to detail, the instrument’s silver-plated body and headjoint give it a gleaming appearance and contribute to its rich sound.
In various performance categories, the Armstrong 703 impresses greatly. Depending on the player’s intention, it offers a warm, velvety tone that can be both mellow and robust. Intonation is consistent throughout its range, with reliable response in low and high registers. Its mechanics are smooth, facilitating quick transitions and complicated passages. Many players also find that the ergonomic design minimizes hand fatigue during prolonged playing.
This alto flute shines in ensemble settings, providing depth to the overall sound. Whether in a flute choir, a chamber ensemble, or an orchestra, the Armstrong 703 brings a unique voice that can help fill out harmonies and contrast the brighter tones of higher flutes. Soloists, too, can benefit from its rich tone, especially in pieces specifically composed for the alto flute.
When compared to other alto flutes in its category, the Armstrong 703 Heritage stands out for its balance of quality and affordability. While more expensive alto flutes are on the market, the 703 offers a sound and build that rival those higher-end models, making it an attractive option for those seeking a professional sound without the professional price tag. Furthermore, the renowned reputation of the Armstrong brand adds an assurance of quality.
Despite its many strengths, there’s always room for improvement. Some players might find that the key placements take some getting used to, especially if transitioning from a different alto flute brand. Additionally, while the sound is generally consistent, some players might have occasional challenges with certain note transitions. As with all instruments, what works perfectly for one individual might pose challenges for another, so it’s crucial to consider personal playing style and preferences.
Why did it make our list?
Warm, versatile tone.
Consistent intonation across registers.
Reliable response and smooth mechanics.
Affordable price point for its quality.
What is not ideal about it?
Key placements might be challenging for some.
Occasional challenges with certain note transitions for some players.
The best piccolo we found in our research is the Pearl PFP-165E. Piccolos are the smallest member of the Western flute family and have the highest pitch with a range that’s an octave above a concert flute. Because piccolos are so small, they’re sometimes difficult to tune which is why it’s so important to use a high-quality instrument.
The Pearl PFP-165E features a Grenadilla wood headjoint and a Grenadilla wood composite body. This is the same wood that’s used to make clarinets and oboes. It’s a hard, durable, oily black wood that’s uniquely suited to manufacturing woodwinds. As we said, this model uses composite for the body. It’s called Grenaditte and was developed by Pearl. Not only does it have a warm tone, it’s also impervious to temperature and humidity. It’s exceptionally durable and tolerates different environments without a change in tone.
This piccolo features Omni synthetic pads that are durable and responsive. It also has a pinless mechanism and one-piece core bar developed by Pearl for smooth, continuous key movement and fast, precise movement. A case and padded case cover are also included.
Users had few complaints about this flute. In fact, most were very impressed by its performance, especially the ease of play and consistent performance across all registers.
Our budget pick is the Gemeinhardt 33OSB, a hand assembled design finished by experienced artisans. The result is a gorgeous, high-quality concert flute that’s surprisingly affordable. It features a sterling silver headjoint, body, and footjoint which contributes to the quality of the sound.
The French-style open keys are silver plated and give the player a lot of control. Plus, the springs are made of 12 karat white gold which are responsive and exceptionally durable. The offset-G makes for a more natural hand position, especially for players with small hands who may be uncomfortable with an inline. It also features a split E which some players prefer well as a gizmo key which helps hit a high C more accurately.
This model also has unbleached professional pads and a heavier crown which produces a dark, rich tone. That said, heavier crowns can cause a slower reaction in the headjoint which can take some getting used to. This flute includes a case with cover for safe storage and travel and a wooden cleaning rod. Overall, this is a great buy. Users had few complaints and it’s a well-made instrument with quality sound.
What do we love it for?
Sterling silver headjoint, body, and footjoint
12K white gold springs
Unbleached professional pads
Case and cover included
Wooden cleaning rod included
What were we disappointed with?
Some players may not like the heavier crown as it slows headjoint reaction time
Users had few complaints about this flute
Things to Consider
When it’s time to take your talent to the next level, buying the right professional flute can help you get there. Here’s what you need to know before you shop so you can feel confident you’re getting the right instrument for you.
Why do you need to upgrade to professional flute?
If you’re a professional musician or hoping to be one, chances are you spend a lot more time practicing and performing than a hobbyist or student. Professional flutes are made of higher-quality materials that last a long time and can tolerate much use.
The springs, key arms, pads, and keys are all made of better materials, too. That means they’re more precise and function quickly and smoothly. This is really important when you’re playing complicated music and need an instrument that can keep up and sound amazing across all registers.
The prices on these flutes vary a lot. They’re all more expensive than a beginner flute or an intermediate flute but how much you’ll pay really depends on what you’re looking for. Expect a high-quality professional flute to cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000.
Features to consider while buying the best professional flute
If you’re considering upgrading to a professional flute, it’s important to know what to look for when you shop. There are several important things to keep in mind when deciding which is the right flute for you.
The metal that a flute is made of affects the sound and tone but, more importantly, it affects the price tag. Professional concert flutes are usually made of sterling silver or a lower-quality metal with sterling silver plating. Piccolos are an exception as they’re made of wood or specialized laminates.
If you’re considering a professional flute, it really doesn’t make sense to skimp on material. It’s one of the most important factors in sound quality and durability. There are a lot of great options available, too, at various price points.
The headjoint is the top portion of the flute. It contains the embouchure and attaches to the body of the flute. If you can’t afford a flute with a sterling silver body or footjoint, invest in one with a high-quality headjoint. The right headjoint can drastically improve the responsiveness and quality of sound. Handcrafted ones are better than those mass produced in a factory.
Choose open holes
If you’re considering a professional concert flute, make sure you get one with open keys. Beginner and intermediate flutes often have closed keys which are easier to learn on but don’t provide the same level of control of quality of sound.
That said, we included some unique products on our list that you should know about, too. The Armstrong 703 Heritage is an alto flute with a much lower range than a concert flute. Alto flutes are considerably larger and have closed holes because the player can’t cover open holes of this size.
Piccolos are another exception but for the opposite reason. A piccolo is so small that it would be impossible to effectively cover an open key without interfering with one on either side of it.
The footjoint is the end portion of the flute that attaches to the far end of the body. Footjoint keys are all located on the right-hand side and the player uses the pinky finger to engage them. Professional flutes often have extra keys on the footjoint to extend the bottom range to low B. Another possibility is a gizmo key which provides extra support to hit a high C accurately.
As the name implies, the lip plate is the part of the flute that’s held to the lip. The material of the lip plate can drastically change the instrument’s tone. Sterling silver is ideal though some professionals use lip plates made of rose gold or yellow gold which gives the flute a truly unique sound.
The main instrument in the flute family is the concert flute. All flute players start by learning how to master the concert flute and may choose to add another type of flute as their secondary instrument. This is something unique to the flute family. For example, saxophonists might start with a tenor, alto, or soprano sax but a professional flutist always starts by learning and mastering the concert flute.
Alto flutes have a lower, more mellow tone than higher pitched flutes. Concert flutes are always in the key of C while altos are in the key of G. The finger placement is the same on an alto flute as a concert flute but on a slightly larger scale. Alto flutes are slightly more difficult to play. Because of their size, they require more breath support, which may be difficult for a new musician.
Bass flutes are rare and usually only seen in flute ensembles. They’re larger than alto flutes and require even more air. Bass flutes are only played by highly-skilled professionals as it takes a lot of talent to achieve good intonation and pitch.
One the other end of the spectrum is the piccolo, the smallest member of the flute family. It’s pitches a full octave higher than a concert flute. Many people assume a piccolo is just a tiny flute, but they’re two different instruments. The piccolo requires a powerful airstream to hit those high notes, and most beginners aren’t conditioned enough to give it the lung support it needs. It’s also tricky to play because the keys are very close together, which can be challenging for a beginner.
The G key is one of the biggest options when choosing a flute. An offset-G is a little easier for smaller hands because finger placement is more natural. Most professional flutes have an inline-G though some experienced players prefer an offset one. The bottom line? This is all about personal preference. If you have experience with one or the other and are comfortable with it, it might be best to stick with what you know.
When you play professionally, it’s important to always sound good. Your flute should respond when you articulate and easily switch between octaves without losing quality. Tone should be consistent across all registers and tuning should be consistent.
Warranties are always important, especially when you’re making a big investment that will affect you professionally. All of our picks are covered, though the warranty length varies from one model to the next. Our budget pick, the Gemeinhardt 33OSB, is covered for five years while the Yamaha 677H is covered for one, yet is proven to serve long years without any need for repair.
Singing in your flute is a really cool technique that’s often done in jazz, rock, and other modern music. Check out this video to see what singing into your flute sounds like and great tutorial that shows you how to do it yourself:
Adjusting the headjoint is an easy way to tune your flute. You should adjust it every time you play because so many factors can affect the sound of your flute. If you’re playing flat, you can raise the pitch by pushing the headjoint in, thereby shortening the flute. Hold the body firmly above the keys and push it in as far as necessary. If you’re sharp, pull the headjoint out, lengthening the flute. Never push or pull on the lip plate to avoid damage. You might need to twist a bit to get the headjoint moving at first, but be careful to move it only a few millimeters at a time
The Yamaha 677H is our Editor’s Pick for best all-around professional flute. It delivers deep, robust tones and is a great choice for someone looking to move on from an intermediate flute. The open key design allows for more control, and Straubinger Phoenix Pads provide a better seal for faster response.
Next, we recommend the Azumi AZ3. It’s a great flute at an affordable price that responds quickly when going from low to high tones. The unique Z-cut headjoint helps keep the full, rich sound consistent over all three registers, and the rectangular embouchure gives the player much control.
Finally, if you‘re looking for an alto flute, check out the Armstrong 703 Heritage. The silver plated, nickel body produces a rich, mellow sound. It looks great and is durable, too. This choice for best professional flute has a curved headjoint, making it easier to play than other alto flutes.