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Are you tired of playing classical music on your metal flute? Before you quit music, consider learning how to find the best Irish flute so that you can make music from other cultures.
The right Irish flute can help you learn music and experience playing flute in a different way. But like metal flutes, some Irish woodwinds are better than others.
Bottom Line Up Front: The Randal Hauck Polymer D Flute is the best Irish flute since it’s affordable for beginners. But you have to consider a lot of factors to determine if it’s the flute for you.
Finding the Best Irish Flute
If you’ve ever had to find the best concert flute, you may think you can use those steps for an Irish flute. Sure, there are some similarities, but the Irish flute is quite different from the metal instrument you play.
For one, Irish flutes use wood, and they don’t have as many keys as the western flute. That means you have to consider a few other factors when shopping for this type of instrument.
Here’s what you should think about to help choose the right Irish flute for you.
Start With a Budget
Irish flutes can be relatively cheap, but they can also be quite expensive. Do some research on popular models (more on that later) to get an idea of how much a good flute will cost.
Then, you can figure out how much money you can afford to spend now. If you don’t have quite enough, you can set a goal to save a specific amount each month for a few months.
Once you have enough money, you can start to shop for different Irish flutes. You’ll have more options than if you stuck to a smaller budget, so you can get the best model for your needs.
Think About Your Location
Odds are, you’re going to have to order an Irish flute online. Most local music stores won’t carry any since they aren’t particularly popular, especially in smaller cities and towns.
However, your location matters because some makers won’t ship just anywhere. And even if they do, they might not ship all of their inventory to any location.
I’ve seen a few Irish flutes with ivory fittings, and the makers won’t ship those flutes internationally. Keep that in mind when choosing which models to research in-depth and to potentially buy.
Consider the Materials
Speaking of ivory, you should look at the materials that various Irish flutes use. Some use plastic or a similar model, which is nice since the material won’t crack.
A lot of Irish flutes use some sort of wood, such as maple or olive wood. You can also look at the fittings to see if they use ivory or another material.
Consider if you or anyone in your home has an allergy or sensitivity. Then, you’ll know which materials to avoid when shopping for your next instrument.
Determine the Key You Want
Another factor that can help narrow your search is the key of the instrument. Now, it can be confusing, especially if you play the concert flute, which is in C.
A lot of Irish flutes are in the key of D, but that means something different. In classical music, the name of the key refers to how you transpose music for the instrument.
However, an Irish flute’s key refers to the lowest note the flute can play. They all play in concert pitch, so don’t worry about finding a C Irish flute, but consider the range and key you do want.
Decide If You Want Keys
You should also think about if you want a keyed or keyless Irish flute. I’m talking about the presence or absence of keys that have rods that connect to key cups that cover tone holes.
Many Irish flutes are keyless, so your fingers have to cover the holes to produce different notes. Those with keys only have a few keys, so some of your fingers still have to cover holes.
However, having a few keys can make it easier to play chromatic notes. You won’t have to cover half of a hole to get a note in between two of the standard notes, for example.
Ask About a Trial
Once you narrow your search to a flute maker or two, ask them if they offer their flutes for trial. If so, they will ship a few flutes to you so that you can try them at home.
You can also ask about in-store trials if you live close enough to a store that sells Irish flutes. I don’t know of stores that let you try Irish flutes without buying, but it’s worth asking.
Some stores may have trial options that they don’t advertise. Asking to try a few flutes can help you learn for sure if a particular model will work well for you.
If you can’t do a trial, ask about the company’s return policy. Then, you can still test out the flute and send it back if you find it’s not the right fit.
Listen to Recordings
If you can’t or don’t want to deal with a trial or return period, find some recordings. Listening to others play the Irish flute models you’re considering can help you learn more about the flutes.
For example, maybe one flute looks gorgeous, but you don’t care much for how it sounds. Getting to hear the flute before you buy it can help you avoid buying based on its appearance.
You can search on YouTube for recordings of various instruments. Another option is to go to the product page or the general website for a flute maker to see if they’ve shared any recordings.
As you look for recordings, you might come across reviews. Of course, some of these will be written reviews, such as on the product page where you can buy a flute.
However, you might want to look for review videos on YouTube. Not only will you get to hear the flute, but you can learn what the player making the review thinks.
The flutist and YouTuber Joanna from JustAnotherFlutist has made tons of flute review videos. Her review of the Windward Irish flutes is an excellent place to start your search for reviews.
Get Some Recommendations
There are a surprising number of Irish flutes out there, so shopping can be overwhelming. You may want to get recommendations from other players, either those who play the Irish flute or who know you and your playing.
For example, you might ask your private flute teacher if they think you should get an Irish flute. Facebook groups and other online forums are great places to look for suggestions.
Another option is to research Irish flute specialists to see what models they play. Then, you can figure out which models are more worth your time and money.
If you’re excited to play Irish music, it can be tempting to buy the first Irish flute that you try. However, like any other flute, you want to make sure you get the best instrument for you.
Take your time to research flutes, read and watch reviews, and listen to recordings. Then, you can reduce the chances of buying a flute that you won’t want to play.
It’s better to wait a few extra weeks or months so that you can get your perfect flute. Over that time, you can save more money as well so that you’ll have a bigger budget to shop for instruments.
Don’t Ignore Your Metal Flute
You don’t need to have an Irish flute to play Irish music. I’ve seen plenty of seminars and convention sessions on how to play Irish music on your metal flute.
So if you don’t want to wait to play Irish music, use the instrument you have. This will help you learn about Irish music, and you can make sure you like the style before you spend a ton of money.
You might find that you don’t like Irish music as much as you expected. Or you might enjoy it, but you could decide to stick to your metal flute until you can afford a more expensive Irish flute.
Best Irish Flutes
If you’re ready to splurge on a new instrument, you should consider some excellent models. Even if you’re an expert on concert flutes, finding the best Irish flutes is a whole other deal.
The brands don’t overlap, so you can’t rely on your prior experience to help. To find some of the best Irish flutes, I looked at flute shops and Irish flute shops.
I looked at models that use different materials and those at a variety of price points. That way, you can have a good selection of Irish flutes to help you start shopping.
Randal Hauck Polymer D Flute
There are six holes, and this flute can go down to a low D. It also contains a brass tuning slide to help you get the pitch you need to play in tune with other musicians.
You also don’t have to worry about a cork or thread to keep the flute in playable condition. It’s easy to play and sounds great, so it’s nice for anyone on a budget.
- Good sound
- Easy to play
- Low maintenance
- Nice range
- Not wood
- Not for professionals
Galeón Delrin Pratten Irish Flute
Another model to consider is the Galeón Delrin Pratten Irish Flute. This flute features a rectangular embouchure hole, which is great if you tend to use a lot of air to play.
You can choose to order the flute in three or four pieces, and both options are tunable. If you get it in three pieces, you can also opt for a more ergonomic position for the holes.
The flute is best for people with larger hands, but people with average-sized hands can play it. While it’s not the cheapest model, it’s more affordable than many other options.
- Great quality
- Easy to play
- Able to tune
- Ergonomic option
- Good for beginners
- No mention of the materials
- Not for small hands
Ellis Flutes The Essential Flute
The Essential Flute from Ellis Flutes has a simple design, so it works for Irish music and music from other cultures. It comes in one piece, so you can’t tune it, but you don’t have to keep pieces together.
This flute has holes that are a good size and can help you get a nice sound. You can choose to get the flute in D with roasted maple or Bb with curly black walnut.
If you’re looking at wooden Irish flutes, this model is an excellent choice. It’s not crazy expensive, but it does cost more than some beginner models.
- Good beginner wood model
- Comes in different keys
- Easy to play
- Versatile sound
- Only one piece
- Requires care
Cochran Blackwood & Silver 1-Key Rudall
If you want an Irish flute with a key, consider the Cochran Blackwood & Silver 1-Key Rudall. This model has medium to large holes, so it’s better for people with larger hands.
You get an Eb key that helps you play that note and to play higher notes. The intonation on this flute is fantastic, which makes it easy to play with others or by yourself.
It comes in four pieces, so you can adjust the pitch if necessary. The blackwood is also similar to the wood you find on piccolos, so it can be an easy transition from western flute playing.
- Easy to tune
- Good design
- Has a key
- Nice range
- Sounds great
- A bit expensive
- Holes are pretty big
Windward Maple Flute
The Windward Maple Flute features a round embouchure hole, which helps you get a sweet tone. It also has African Olivewood rings.
There aren’t any keys, but the flute plays down to a low D. The three pieces are easy to assemble, and you get a soft case with compartments to store the flute.
Unfortunately, you can’t do a trial with this model, but you can return it in good condition. These flutes are great for serious players, and the price tag reflects that.
- Good tone
- Easy to play
- Comes with a case
- Nice design
- Not the best for players with large embouchures
- Very expensive
Windward Olive Wood Flute
The Windward Olive Wood Flute is very similar to the other model. It features grenadilla wood rings at the end of the joints to help you put the flute together.
This model’s embouchure hole is the same small, round shape, which is great for getting a sweet sound. But it can be hard if, like me, you tend to push a lot of air through your flute.
You’ll get a hard case and a case cover with this flute to protect it. You can return the flute within a week if you don’t like it, but you can only do so if it’s in good condition.
- Easy to play
- Good materials
- Nice sound
- Return option
- Able to tune
- Very expensive
- Requires a small embouchure
FAQs About How to Find the Best Irish Flute
Answer: An Irish flute doesn’t have as many keys as a concert flute (if any at all). It also tends to use plastic or wood rather than metal, such as silver or silver plating.
Irish flutes also aren’t as popular as concert flutes, at least not in the US. You also tend to only play Irish music on an Irish flute, but you can play most other genres on a metal flute.
Answer: You don’t have to play the concert flute before the Irish flute. In fact, learning the metal flute first may make learning the fingerings harder since the systems are different.
However, learning the concert flute first can help you develop a good embouchure. It can also help you learn how to read music and how to hold a flute properly without hurting yourself.
Answer: If you like Irish music but can’t afford an Irish flute, start with what you have. You can learn a lot on your metal concert flute, which lets you save money over time.
Another option is to buy a penny whistle, which is another type of Irish flute. You blow on the end and play it like a recorder, and it can help you get that signature Irish sound.
Answer: The Irish flute can be hard to play, but it might not be hard for you. Like any instrument, it will be easier for some people, and that’s okay.
You have to cover the holes completely, which can be difficult for many western flute players. To play certain notes, you may have to cover holes partially since you don’t have extra keys to help you get those notes.
Answer: If you love Irish music, you can definitely specialize in the Irish flute. I’ve seen a few specialists on social media, and some players hardly play the concert flute, if at all.
As long as you enjoy the music you play, the type of flute you focus on doesn’t matter.
Final Note on How to Find the Best Irish Flute
Knowing how to find the best Irish flute can help you learn and enjoy Irish music. Whether you play the concert flute or not, the wood instrument is a great way to expand your skills.
I’d recommend starting with the Randal Hauck model since it’s affordable. If you have more money and time for maintenance, look at the Windward models since they sound amazing.
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