5 High Quality Yamaha Flutes – Engaging Sound for Beginners and Pros
Last updated: Apr 16, 2020
62Hours of Research
If you’re an aspiring pro instrumentalist, you either own a Yamaha musical instrument or are saving to buy one. Yamaha flutes, like all other Yamaha instruments, are in the top 100% percentile of most desirable and reliable flute brands. Ever since the Yamaha Corp started manufacturing reed organs in 1887, the company strove to produce nothing but the highest quality products. And as the Yamaha Corp. of America was founded in 1960, it sought to continue this legacy. The trend continues to date, sending many a flutist in search of the best Yamaha flute, whose affordability in light of the proven quality remains unmatched.
When evaluating a flute for quality and performance, you look at features such as the headjoint, footjoint, type of keys, whether it uses an offset or inline G key, its size and weight, and the material it’s made of. All these are features we considered in this review, and further down, we explain why each is important.
Top 5 Yamaha Flutes Review 2020
We spent weeks playing, listening to, and comparing different Yamaha flutes. We also consulted flutists of varying skill levels to find out what their experience using different Yamaha flutes has been and compare their experience to ours. Below, we present our findings in an easy-to-follow format which includes a comparison table, in-detail reviews of each product, and a comprehensive buying guide. We believe this information will be the sound guide you turn to when planning to buy a Yamaha flute.
For an intermediate flutist looking for professional level play, Yamaha YFL-382 is the flute of choice. With a sterling silver headjoint that produces a strong, beautiful resonance and an open-hole design that puts you fully in control of the tone, this flute allows you to test the extent of your expertise while bringing out the best in tone throughout the range. The embouchure hole is beveled and undercut to ensure accurate intonation and responsiveness.
The B footjoint makes it possible for you to hit a low B should the music call for it so you never feel inadequate no matter what kind of notes the music sheet demands. If you worry that you may not have great control when it comes to hitting different keys on a B footjoint, you’ll appreciate the Gizmo key, which forces the highest notes on the flute to respond instantly and precisely. The inline G key helps you perfect finger placement and control on the toneholes.
Nickel-silver, power-forged keys and neoprene key bumpers offer the durability that keeps you playing for years without replacing the keys. The flute is made from strong nickel-silver to provide the durability you need while keeping the weight down. A silver-plated finish adds a pristine quality to the flute while ensuring that it is easy to clean and maintain.
One of the coolest things about this model is that it comes with a range of options, among which are a gold-plated lip-plate, offset G key, and a C footjoint. It also comes with cleaning accessories and a flute case and cover.
Yamaha YFL-677H, from Yamaha’s 600 flute series, is a dream flute for many professional flutists. One of the qualities that stand out about this flute is its annealed body. The headjoint, body and footjoint are subjected to a heat treated, acoustic annealing process, the result of which is unmatched tone evenness and responsiveness across all registers.
It has a B footjoint that allows you to play low B notes effortlessly. This is complemented by a Gizmo key which boosts responsiveness of high notes, and Split E mechanism which stabilizes and enhances the responsiveness of the high E note.
If you’ve sampled many flutes, you’ll immediately notice the rich, balanced and warm tone emanating from this flute as soon as you play the first note, a quality attributable to the thick walls. Yamaha has given this flute a 0.43 mm wall thickness, which explains the richly refined sound you get.
The entire flute is made from sterling silver, the only exception being the keys, which are carved from nickel-silver and given a silver-plated finish. The result is a sturdy instrument that you’ll enjoy using over the years.
Straubinger Phoenix pads on the keys ensure a consistent seal, allowing you to play with a light touch while enjoying high key responsiveness. And an offline G key gives your fingers a natural placement on the body of the flute so you never suffer from finger fatigue.
Sterling silver construction with nickel-silver keys
For a flutist transitioning from student level to intermediate, Yamaha YFL-322Y is a treasured find. Unlike most intermediate flutes, it features closed holes, enhancing playability, especially for someone who is just starting to play at the intermediate level.
A sterling silver headjoint produces a rich, well-balanced tone, making it possible for you to give a professional-level performance, complete with the sound to match. The flute body and footjoint are made from nickel-silver, a material that further aids in balancing the tone so that it’s not too bright and shrilly. Thanks to the nickel in the alloy, the flute is light enough for you to play for long stretches at a time without inducing fatigue in the arms. You’ll find the silver-plated finish easy to clean, even as it preserves the shiny look of the flute.
Like the flute body, the keys are made from nickel-silver and are power-forged to boost durability and minimize the likelihood of breakage. Complementing these are neoprene key bumpers which are just as strong and durable. For added strength, fluidity, and aesthetics, the non-fingering keys of the flute have pointed arms.
The beveled embouchure hole and specially-designed lip plate ensure proper breath utilization and accurate intonation, adding to the flute’s rich sound.
It comes with a flute case, case cover, and flute cleaning products.
A novice flutist who has the Yamaha YFL-281 to practice with is indeed lucky. Wondering why? Take the headjoint, for instance. It features a CY cut, which has a large undercut which allows smooth breath flow and speed and supports a low tonal range. The Y-taper, which is a two-stage taper, allows for superb midrange and high range projection and smooth tonal control.
Unlike most student flutes, the YFL-281 has open-holes. This can be a good thing or a disadvantage, depending on the skill level of the player. If the student has not yet built their technique, they may struggle with closing the holes as needed when playing. However, for a student who desires to improve their technique to intermediate level expertise, the open holes may provide the challenge needed to learn and improve their skill. If you’re having a hard time playing with the holes open, consider buying plugs for the holes.As you get better, you can remove the plugs.
Another difference is that unlike most student flutes, it has an inline G key. The average student player may struggle with this formation, but it gets easier with practice. If you have large hands, this will not present a challenge.
Both the body and keys are constructed from silver-plated nickel, which is durable and light enough for younger players to handle. The springs are made from high quality, stainless steel and have sufficient holding power and apply just the right amount of pressure to open and close the toneholes.
Silver-plated nickel construction
Stainless steel springs
Open holes and inline G may be a challenge for novice flutists
If you’re just starting to learn how to play the flute, consider buying Yamaha YFL-222. A reasonably-priced student flute, this model has all the features you need to learn to play well, and it comes at a great price. It features a C footjoint, closed-hole keys, and an offset G key for enhanced playability, which makes it a great fit for a new student. Yamaha has included a unique footjoint alignment mark to enable proper fitting by young players, solidifying the YFL-222’s position as a top training flute for the novice.
The entire flute, including headjoint and keys, is constructed from nickel-silver, which makes it strong yet light enough for use by younger players. The keys are power-forged to boost their durability. All keys are ergonomically designed and arranged to support natural finger placement and ensure comfort while playing.
To guarantee a rich sound quality, the headjoint is designed in a CY double flare taper while the embouchure hole is undercut in a unique design. This, combined with the nickel-silver material, produces a deep and smooth tone.
A few extras you’ll be glad to get along with the flute are the hard, plastic flute case and the cleaning rod and cloth. Granted, the hard case is not the most premium flute case you’ve ever seen, but it serves the purpose and is strong enough to hold your flute over the years.
Undercut embouchure hole
Neoprene key bumpers
Cleaning cloth and rod
Cheap plastic case
Now that you know of some specific Yamaha flute models to consider when you go flute shopping, it’s time to look at the composition and features of the flute in greater detail
Benefits of Yamaha flutes
Yamaha flutes are constructed using quality materials for durability and good tonal quality. Material choices range from nickel-silver and sterling silver to gold for the high-end professional flutes.
Another reason that makes Yamaha flutes attractive is the fact that they’re designed for use by flutists of all skill levels.
Consider your level
For a beginner, choose a student Yamaha flute. These are deliberately designed to be user-friendly for the inexperienced flutist, with the headjoint bent for easier reach and an offset G key for easy finger placement. Beginner flutes also feature plateau-style keys or closed holes, which make the flute easier to play for small and inexperienced fingers, and a C footjoint as the lowest note. These flutes are typically made from plastic or nickel and may or may not be silver-plated. Both materials are cheap and easy to maintain, which is what learner instruments need to be.
Once you’ve mastered the art of playing the flute, you’re ready to practice on an intermediate flute. A major step up from beginner flutes, intermediate flutes feature a silver headjoint which gives a rich tone, and open holes, which the player can now control with ease as they’ve learned how to manipulate the instrument. The keys are also inline, although this isn’t compulsory as more and more intermediate flutes have an offset G.
If your aim is to play at a professional level, you’ll need a professional flute. This is the most high-end category, with the flutes designed to give the richest of tones. As a standard, they feature open holes and are usually made from sterling silver. The most exclusive of these are constructed from gold or platinum, and as you can imagine, are quite expensive.
What about the money?
Good flutes come at a price. But how much can you expect to spend on average? For Yamaha student flutes, expect to spend several hundred dollars. Anything from $450-$1,000 is fair game. Intermediate Yamaha flutes will cost you upwards of $1,000, while professional Yamaha flutes can range from $3,000 plus if you get a good deal, to as high as $5,000 or more.
Features to consider while buying the best Yamaha flute
Below, we take a deeper look at the individual elements that matter when choosing a Yamaha flute.
Right size and weight
This applies mostly to beginner flutists who may be too small to handle the length and weight of a full-sized flute. The length of your arms determines how well you’re able to play the flute. To find out, place one end of a tape measure to your lips and check the position of your arm at the 16-inch mark. If your arm bends at a right angle, you’ll be able to play a full-size flute comfortably. If it doesn’t, a full-size pipe will be too big for you. Remember you’ll need to access all the holes with your fingers, and if the flute is too long, you won’t be able to reach the last set of holes. In this case, opt for a flute with a curved headjoint, which allows you to reach all the holes.
Also, for young players, flutes made from solid silver may be a tad too heavy to play for long stretches at a time. Opt for a lighter material like a nickel alloy (for Yamaha flutes, this almost exclusively means nickel-silver) which makes the instrument light enough to lift and play without straining. An excellent choice for beginner players is the YFL-222.
Open holes vs. closed ones
Open holes, also referred to as French-style holes, are almost exclusively used in intermediate and professional flutes. The player has to control the opening and closing of the holes using their fingers, and thus, control the tone of the flute. They must, therefore, be skilled and have the expertise to know how to do so and at what intervals.
Closed holes or plateau holes, also called German-style holes, are the preserve of beginner flutes. They allow the player to build on their technique and work on their embouchure skill without worrying about holes control, thus making the flute more natural to play. As they become more proficient, the flutist can then graduate to playing an open-holed flute.
The headjoint consists of the lip plate and riser and is where the flutist blows into to produce the flute sound. In intermediate and professional flutes, the headjoint is made from solid silver or granadilla wood, both of which give a rich, distinct tone. In beginner flutes, the headjoint is silver-plated, which makes it affordable for that skill level.
In most beginner flutes, the headjoint is also curved, which is recommended for a novice player. As your skill level improves, move to a flute with a straight headjoint, which will give you greater control over the sound quality.
Offset or inline G?
An offset G means that the G key is offset against the other keys, while an inline G means the G key is set in line with the rest. In the past, the offset G was found mainly in beginner flutes, with intermediate and professional pipes almost always making use of inline G keys.
Because of its placement, the offset G key supports natural hand positioning while playing and is the more ergonomic option of the two. For this reason, manufacturers are opting to incorporate the offline G key in all flutes, including in intermediate and professional flutes like Yamaha YFL-677H and Yamaha YFL-322Y.
Material and plating
Overall, beginner flutes are made from affordable materials such as plastic and nickel alloys, the most common of which is nickel silver. To improve tone character, some parts of the flute are silver-plated, most notably the headjoint. Silver-plating also boosts the durability of the flute. Nickel flutes are light, durable, and easy to maintain, and have a lovely tone, qualities that make them ideal for the beginner.
Intermediate and professional flutes are made from more expensive materials, namely solid silver, gold, platinum, and wood. Of these, sterling silver is the most widely used, with the rest being rarer and quite expensive. While silver gives a rich, mellow tone, it also gets easily tarnished and needs careful handling. These materials are denser than nickel and hence notably heavier. Using them to make beginner flutes would pose a challenge to the younger players, as they would be too heavy for them.
Located at the furthest end of the flute, the footjoint comes in two types: B footjoint and C footjoint. The B footjoint consists of three keys and allows you to play a low B note, which is one key lower than you get in a C footjoint. This type is common in intermediate and professional flute. In a C footjoint, the lowest key is a low C, which is a key above a low B. You’ll find this mostly in beginner flutes. Even so, most melodies rarely call for you to hit a low B, and so you’ll hardly use it, even when playing at a professional level. This means the absence of a B footjoint shouldn’t be a dealbreaker when choosing a flute.
The average Yamaha warranty for flutes covers a 5-year term. It entails repair or replacement of the flute if it malfunctions or becomes defective during the term of the warranty. To benefit from the warranty cover, you must have bought your flue from an authorized Yamaha dealer. Also, check whether the unit you want to buy is subject to a limitation of warranty and in what ways.
Yes. Yamaha flutes can be used by musicians of all skill levels. Different Yamaha models are designed for different classes of players, from beginner to intermediate and professional. Whether self-training or working with a flue teacher, you should find a Yamaha flute that allows you to experiment and grow your skill at your desired pace. Be sure to choose a Yamaha flute for your skill level, and as you become better at playing, go for the more advanced Yamaha flutes.
The best way to transport your flute is in a flute case. The Protec Flute Slimline PRO PAC Case is an example of a fitting case you can use to carry your B or C footjoint flute. It is impact resistant and lightweight, providing ample safety for your flute without wearing you down with extra weight. It comes with a thickly-padded, adjustable shoulder strap and padded handle wrap for ease in carrying. Metal zippers with a locking ring for a case lock provide additional security mechanisms to keep your flute well-secured. To protect your flute from dents and discolorations, the case interior is mold-lined with soft velvet. A 2-pocket organizer and a cleaning rod pocket ensures you have ample space in the case for your flute cleaning accessories.
Our top choice of Yamaha flute is the YFL-382, an all-around great instrument for both intermediate and professional level players. We like that it comes with a Gizmo key which boosts the response of high notes. We also like the sterling silver headjoint, which produces a deep and strong tone. The wide range of options available means you can customize this flute as you like and according to your skill level.
Our number two choice is the YFL-677H professional flute. We like its sterling silver construction, Split E mechanism, Gizmo key, and thick wall. Another winning quality we found is the even tone as a result of the heat-treated, annealed body. We also like it deviates from the norm and embraces an offsite G key formation, which is the trend of the future.
The third best Yamaha flute in our books is the YFL-222, a well-designed budget flute that is a perfect fit for beginners. A whole-body nickel-silver construction, undercut embouchure hole, and neoprene key bumpers are some of the features that stand out in this flute.