2016/17 Alto and Bass Flute Recommendations

Here are my alto, bass and contrabass flute recommendations for 2016-2017. While at the National Flute Association convention in San Diego, I played all the NEW altos, basses and contrabasses I could find. Here are the companies making new instruments that I think are worth trying. When  you are testing an instrument, have another person help you evaluate and be sure to consult a tuner. Because there is no standard key configuration for low flutes, a personal “hands-on” trial is necessary to determine which instrument fits your hands best.

This page includes the following information:

  • Stores That Stock Alto and Bass Flutes
  • Stores That Rent Alto and Bass Flutes
  • Additional Stores That Have Altos and Basses
  • Alto Flute Recommendations
    • Under $2500
    • Between $2500 and $5000
    • Above $5000
  • Bass Flute Recommendations
  • Contrabass Recommendations

Recommended Stores that Stock Alto and Bass Flutes

  • Carolyn Nussbaum’s Music – Dallas/Fort Worth area – www.flute4u.com
  • Flute Center of New York – Manhattan – www.flutes4sale.com
  • Flute World – Farmington Hills, MI – www.fluteworld.com
  • The Flute Pro Shop – Wilmington, DE – www.fluteproshop.com
  • Flute Specialists – Clawson, MI – www.flutespecialists.com
  • Blocki Flutes – Gibsonia, PA – www.blockiflute.com
  • FluteWorks Seattle – Seattle, WA – www.facebook.com/fluteworksseattle
  • OzWinds Music – Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Australia – ozwinds.com.au
  • Sherry’s Flute Repair and Sales – Grand Junction, CO and Moab, UT – www.Lflutes.com

Stores That Rent Alto and Bass Flutes

  • Brass and Treblas – Lillestrom, Norway – brass-and-treblas.placestars.us
  • The Flute Pro Shop – Wilmington, DE – www.fluteproshop.com
  • katiesfluteshop.com Katie Lowry – $30 a week for altos, $40 a week for a bass, lower monthly rate – khlowry4flutes@gmail.com
  • Flute Center of New York – Manhattan – www.flutes4sale.com
  • Flutistry Boston – Boston, MA – flutistry.com
  • Royalton Music – Cleveland OH
  • Long and McQuade Music – Toronto (for Canadians only)
  • www.fluterentals.com and www.musicrentalcentral.com
  • www.tetractys.co.uk for UK residents

Additional Stores That Have Alto and Bass Flutes Onsite

  • J.L. Smith Co. – www.jlsmithco.com – Charlotte, NC
  • Woodwind and Brasswind – Westlake Village, CA – www.wwbw.com
  • The Flute Loft – Branchburg, New Jersey – www.thefluteloft.com
  • Just Flutes – Croydon, Surrey, UK – www.justflutes.com
  • Woodwind Group – Leichhardt NSW Australia – www.woodwind-group.com.au

Alto Flute Recommendations

Models under $2500

Most altos come with curved and/or straight head joints.

  • Dean Yang – curved head was better than straight head
  • DiZhao – excellent. Straight head has an improved foot joint key design.
  • Gemeinhardt – comes in black nickel and rose gold as well as silver plate.
  • Jupiter – okay
  • Pearl – okay
  • Trevor James – black nickel straight head seemed the best option
  • Haynes – curved head had better tone for me

Models between $2501 and $5000

  • Gemeinhardt – especially black nickel
  • Pearl
  • Trevor James –  black nickel

Models above $5000

  • Altus – curved and straight heads available. Tone okay.
  • Eva Kingma – has an open-hole and closed hole model. Has curved head model.
  • Kotato – has a foot joint key design that brings the keys much closer to the right hand little finger. Instrument is extremely heavy on the foot joint end, and is in need of a support mechanism. Tone is clear but not powerful. Seems way overpriced at $14,500.
  • Miyazawa – straight head only. Okay sound and action.
  • Yamaha – curved head gold/brass alloy had better tone.

Headjoints

  • Chris Abell – wooden straight alto head joint. Outstanding.
  • Arista – straight sterling alto head joint. Fabulous.

Bass Flute Recommendations

New developments – Kotato introduced a vertical bass.

All basses listed include trill keys which are used for many alternate fingerings and response problems. I consider trill keys a “must have.”

  • Guo bass $2100 – only for people with shoulder problems, arthritis or other severe physical limitations. A light weight plastic instrument with a surprisingly wide dynamic range, but the keys are still too clacky and the tone is clear but one dimensional. Comes in wild colors.
  • Di Zhao $2900. Thumb crutch has been redesigned and is very comfortable.
  • Altus $8250. Big sound, nice action.
  • Eva Kingma $9800 and up.  Glorious sound available with a small or large bore.  Open hole option available. Will custom make an instrument for your hands.
  • Eva Kingma $10,000+ (?) vertical bass. Comfortable and easily accessible foot joint keys.
  • Sankyo Prima $14,000. Beautiful, strong consistent tone in all octaves. Excellent key action. Has a b foot and wide bore. Neck strap support system works only if you don’t move much.
  • Kotato $13,600+. Many options available. A large bore horizontal bass with a powerful, rich and huge sound. Light and responsive key action. B foot. Adjustable rod for support works well.
  • Kotato vertical bass. $14,500? Bflat foot available. Has a fabulous tone, but intonation problems start at the G at the top of the staff and get worse. Low register is wonderful. Right hand position is okay.

Contrabass Flute Recommendations

  • Di Zhao $9280.  The best in this price range.
  • Kingma $13,500. Excellent tone, response and key action. Very comfortable right hand position.
  • Kotato  $24,000 + Powerful rich tone. An outstanding instrument.

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