2017/18 Alto and Bass Flute Recommendations

Here are my alto, bass and contrabass flute recommendations for 2017-2018. While at the National Flute Association convention in Minneapolis, 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
    • 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
  • Ellen Ramsey Flutes – Longmont, CO Ellen@Ellenramsey.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

New Developments

Eva Kingma has added a Matusi option (buzzing membrane) to her altos and contras, and she has figured out a way to include trill keys on her new contras.

Alto Flute Recommendations

Models under $2500

There are options and other models available which will put the price over $2500.

Most altos come with curved and/or straight head joints. If you are buying an instrument that multiple people will be playing, get both headjoints. If you are buying it for yourself, choose one headjoint or the other: you may think you will alternate between them, but the intonation differences between them are such that you need to be practicing on the one you will perform on.

  • 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 as well as silver plate.
  • Jupiter – okay
  • Pearl – okay
  • Trevor James – comes in black nickel as well as silver plate.
  • Haynes Amadeus – okay.

Models above $5000

  • Yamaha – curved and straight heads available. Tone okay.
  • Eva Kingma – has an open-hole model, the Matusi option (buzzing membrane) model and curved head model.
  • Kotato – This report from last year: 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.


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

Bass Flute Recommendations

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 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. Key layout takes some getting used to.
  • Pearl $3300. They have overcome the exessive clacking of the right hand keys and the low octave tone is decent. Has a b-foot option.
  • Di Zhao $4000. Vertical bass. Hold off to the right side like a saxophone to minimize the twist of the right hand.
  • Altus $8700. Big sound, nice light 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. Contact Eva for current price and to get on the wait list. 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 still doesn’t work well.
  • Kotato $13,600+. 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. Many options available.
  • Kotato vertical bass. $14,500? Did not find one to try this year. Last year’s report follows: B-flat foot available. Has a fabulous tone, but intonation problems start at the G at the top of the staff and get worse. Low register tone is wonderful. Right hand position is okay.

Contrabass Flute Recommendations

  • Di Zhao $9300. For me, had the easiest tone to produce and most consistent tone quality.
  • Pearl $9900. After three years, they have gotten the tone to an acceptable quality.
  • Kingma $13,500+. Excellent tone, response and key action. Very comfortable right hand position. Has Matusi option (buzzing membrane) and an option to add trill keys.
  • Jupiter $15,700. Okay sound.
  • Kotato $24,500+ Powerful rich tone. An outstanding instrument.

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