FLUTES--Buy or Rent?
For beginners, it is usually better to rent. At rates from less than $15 a month, and some programs offering those payments towards purchase, it's a no-brainer! Repair of the instrument should be covered under the rental contract.
If it becomes obvious after 6 months to a year, that you (or your child) are serious about playing and are planning on continuing, then you can start shopping for a flute to purchase.
Recommended brands of flutes, in order of quality for beginner students, for both rental and purchase:
• Gemeinhardt • Armstrong • Artley • Yamaha • Pearl • Haynes
(recommended for high school age and up, and if child is responsible enough to properly care for the instrument)
When ready to purchase a student model flute, expect to pay $150 to $3000 depending on the following:
...of no-name brands or "brand new factory sealed" flutes that seem inexpensive. Often they are cheaply made and can't hold up to the wear and tear a young player in school might put it through.
...of nickel plated finishes. They are slippery and make the flute hard to hold, especially for a beginner.
These flutes are often cheaper but it's not worth the headache.
...of renting from a shop who doesn't know how to repair & test its own instruments. Ask what the policy is on exchanges--will you get a new flute if the one you are renting breaks?
Finish: Silver (preferred) or Nickel (darker finish) sometimes almost black, and is slippery to the touch.
Headjoint and Body Composition: Solid Silver or silver plate. More inexpensive models are brass or other metal with silver plate. Haynes, for example, may have a solid silver body as well as headjoint. A headjoint can always be upgraded later, which can greatly improve the sound of a flute.