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Ah, the wooden flute.
I think it’s every flute player’s dream to play the wooden flute one day. I know when I first started playing, I always dreamed of picking up a wooden flute and being able to play my heart away. To be completely fair to you, my dream of playing the wooden flute started when I was in 4th grade.
It wasn’t until high school that my new dream flourished: I wanted to play the piccolo.
That’s a story for another day, though. It wasn’t until after I graduated high school that I was actually able to take the time and play the wooden flute for the first time.
I didn’t realize how much of a daunting task it was going to be, trying to learn how to play the wooden flute. Even worse, I realized I had no idea how to find the best wooden flutes either. There weren’t a whole lot of options for me to choose from.
And with wooden flutes being so expensive, I had no idea what I was going to do. Thankfully, I had a friend who let me borrow their wooden flute to help me accomplish my dream. But once I got my hands on my first wooden flute, I realized one thing: I needed to get my own wooden flute.
After playing for the first time, I realized how absolutely beautiful I felt playing the wooden flute. It wasn’t the type of beauty that you see in Hollywood or in magazines; I felt free. I literally felt like I was completely at peace. Maybe it’s just something to do with the sound that comes out of a wooden flute. I don’t know.
What I do know is that I had set out on my very first journey to find a wooden flute. I was looking for the best of the best. It’s been a few years since I bought my first wooden flute.
And since it took me such a long time to find my first wooden flute, I wanted to help you cut down on the number of hours you’d be spending searching online to find your first flute.
Bottom line up front: Do you believe in love at first sight? I do. I fell in love with the Roosebeck Satinwood Irish Flute right after I laid my eyes on it for the first time!
Classical Flute vs Irish Wooden Flute
First, I think it’s really important for you to understand that a wooden flute is also commonly referred to as an Irish flute. Traditional Irish flutes are usually made up of wood, whereas classical flutes are made up of some type of metal.
Most classical flutes are comprised of silver and offer a different type of tone and a level of responsiveness that is very unique when compared to the wooden flute.
The biggest difference I noticed when I was playing the Irish flute compared to the classical flute was the embouchure that was required. The Irish wooden flute didn’t have any sort of lip plate, which isn’t something I was prepared for.
From all of my years playing the classical flute, I’ve always had a lip plate to rest my lips on and shape my embouchure around.
Since there wasn’t any sort of lip plate, there’s a different level of responsiveness that I found while playing the Irish flute compared to the classical flute.
I also had to learn how to reshape my embouchure just for the wooden flute. Instead of the “Too” sound that you make with your embouchure while playing the classical flute, I found that I had to make a “moo” sound fall playing the wooden flute. Basically, this required me to push out my bottom lip further than I had my top lip.
While you’re focusing on shaping your embouchure, I want to remind you that it’s really important that you don’t try to mimic the same type of tone out of the wooden flute as you would with your classical flute.
There are two different styles of music that you play when you’re comparing the classical flute and the Irish wooden flute. The classical flute is meant to sound different than the wooden flute.
Another important thing that I want you to remember is to focus on your breathing. Your breath support is going to be in a whole different ball game when you’re playing the classical flute compared to the wooden flute.
The wooden flute requires much more breath support, in my opinion, than the classical flute does. But, this doesn’t mean you need to give the wooden flute more breath support without also providing more breath control. A lot of new wooden flute players tend to overblow while they’re playing their instrument.
There is an entirely different system used on an Irish flute compared to a classical flute. The classical flute is in the key of C, whereas the wooden flute is in the key of D.
When you pick up your classical flute, the fingering for an F natural is actually the fingering that you would use when playing an F sharp on the wooden flute.
F sharps are super common in Irish music, so having this difference in fingerings is actually really helpful. Don’t worry, though. I learned the hard way that you can still play an F natural; all you have to do is cover up your hole halfway.
How to Buy an Irish Wooden Flute
Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a whole bunch of money to get your hands on a quality wooden flute. But doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to go for the cheapest option available either.
In the world of musical instruments, cheap doesn’t necessarily mean playable. If you do end up purchasing a super cheap wooden flute, there’s a good chance that there are a ton of defects in any instrument that will make it difficult to be playable.
That’s why I would highly recommend that you set yourself up with a budget before you start going shopping for the first time. Developing this budget will allow you to figure out what flutes are available for you to consider without you having to go several hundred or several thousand of dollars over your budget.
Do Your Research
Of course, like with any other instrument, the first thing that I would highly recommend all you do is research. It doesn’t make any sense to potentially invest a few thousand dollars into an instrument you know nothing about.
During your time researching, you may even discover that the wooden flute sounds too complex for you to want to learn how to play.
In addition, there are going to be some brands out there that aren’t worth your money at all. You may not be able to tell what brands you should stay away from when you’re out shopping.
Sometimes, the only way for you to tell what brands have a good reputation and which don’t is by doing research and checking out reviews that are available online. Even spending a few hours doing the research before committing to an investment will help to save you time, money, and heartbreak.
Cheap Doesn’t Mean Good
Just because a wooden flute is offered at a super cheap rate doesn’t mean it’s any good. When you’re shopping around for a flute, you should always be aware if you find a flute that’s priced super cheaply. In more instances than not, it’s going to be too good to be true.
At first, your cheap flute may help to save you a little money upfront. But it’s going to be more expensive in the long run to buy yourself a super cheap flute. This is because you’re going to have to make a lot of repairs and adjustments to get the flute to operate how you need it to over time.
Plus, super cheap flutes can be difficult to play, depending on the brand. It’s really important that you don’t buy a super cheap flute when you’re first starting out because you need to make sure you’re working with an instrument that’s fully operable. If you don’t, you may end up getting frustrated and giving up on playing all together.
There are very affordable beginner wooden flute options out there. But a lot of these aren’t going to be what you’re expecting to spend. Irish wooden flutes require quite an investment up front, and it’s probably going to be a lot more than you are anticipated to be.
However, it’s really important that you do invest in a quality wooden flute so you have the proper setup you need to properly learn how to play it, even if you already have experience playing the flute.
I have good news, though. By investing in a quality Irish wooden flute, you won’t have to worry about upgrading later down the road. You can always choose to upgrade, but it’s not a necessity.
Think about what You Need
It’s also important for you to consider what you are musical future is going to look like. You’ll need to consider what your needs as a musician are going to look like. But, I will say that it’s much easier to determine this if you already Have experience playing a musical instrument.
If you don’t have any prior experience playing an instrument, it’s important for you to think about what your ultimate goal is with playing the wooden flute. If you know that you want to play it as a side hobby or if you’d rather play in some sort of band, there are different features that you should look for in a wooden flute.
For example, the keys on the flute. There are wooden flute options that come with keys and other wooden flute options that are keyless. Personally, if you don’t have any prior experience playing the flute, I would recommend you start off by playing a keyless Irish flute.
The reason why I would recommend you play an Irish flute that doesn’t come with any keys is that it’s a lot easier for you to hold. You don’t have to worry about putting your fingers properly on any fingerpads to make the keys go down.
Instead, all you have to worry about is putting your fingers all the way over holes, and you’ll be set. Plus, keyless flutes are a lot lighter and won’t put as much strain on your shoulders.
But, if you’re like me and you already have prior experience playing the flute, I would recommend that you start off with a flute that does have keys. It’s so much closer to playing the classical flute, so you really won’t feel like it’s too much of a transition.
But, if you are more advanced in your flute playing and you play an open hole flute, you can honestly choose whichever option you feel is best for you. Personally, I really like playing open hole, so I found the key list wooden flute option was the best one for me.
Synthetic vs Real Wood
Another important factor for you to consider is whether you want to invest in a real wooden flute or a wooden flute that has been made with synthetic wood. Honestly, there are some differences between the two, but it really just depends on your level of expertise.
I would recommend a synthetic would include if you are living in a hot and humid climate. The climate that you’re living in will actually play a huge role in the overall tone and durability of your flute.
If you don’t take proper precautions to ensure your wooden flute stays in a room with a consistent temperature and humidity level, you could actually end up causing damage to your insurance.
That’s why I think playing with synthetic wood is so much easier, especially for beginners, because you don’t have to worry about all of that.
A real wooden flute is a great option to look into if you’re already experienced playing the flute. If you know that you’re willing to invest the money in an instrument that will serve you long-term, and you’re ready to take the proper precautions to care for your instrument.
A real wooden flute is a lot more work, but it is really cool to have if you’re the type of person to nerd out about instruments.
Tuneable vs Non-tuneable
The next option you should consider is whether you need to get a wooden flute that comes with a tuning slide located on the head of the flute. I would recommend this if you’re going to be playing in a group session or with a band. But, you don’t have to purchase a flute that comes with a tuning slide.
If you’re going to be playing a lot of solo work or you’re really just looking to play for hobby, a wooden flute that doesn’t come with a tuning slide will be a lot cheaper for you to invest in.
Personally, I would recommend as a beginner that you don’t start off with a flute that comes with a tuning slide. Tuning your flute is a whole other ball game that can be really frustrating and requires some skill, time, and patience for you to fully Master. It isn’t something that’s necessary unless you’re playing with someone else.
If you aren’t even sure if you’re going to stick to playing a wooden flute, buying a wooden flute that comes with a tuning slide would be a waste of money, in my opinion.
If you do find that you enjoy playing the wooden flute and you want to progress to playing a wooden flute in a group setting, I would recommend that you upgrade to a wooden flute that has a tuning slide. But, this isn’t something that’s necessary for a beginner.
Model of Your Flute
Another thing that you’re going to need to consider is the model of your flute. There are two main types of Irish flute that you’ll find on the market. There’s the Rudall and Rose option or a Pratten model.
The Rudall and Rose (also known as just Rudall) have medium-sized holes. You won’t need as much air support for this Irish flute model as you will with the Praten. Due to the warm tone that this flute produces, it’s actually a pretty versatile flute. You can play it in more than just Irish music.
Then, there’s the Pratten. This style of flute has very large finger holes. As a result of this, there’s a stronger (and more stabilized) sound that comes out of this flute. But, you’ll need more breath support to keep up with the demands of the Pratten flute.
If I had to recommend one type of flute over the other, I personally would recommend a beginner start out with the Rudall and Rose model. The medium size holes aren’t as difficult to cover up with your fingers.
This makes the flute easier for you to hold and learn how to play. Plus, it’s even more important that you consider this model if you’re somebody who has smaller hands.
Best Beginner Friendly Wooden Flutes
Now that I’ve explained how to find a quality beginner from the wooden flute, I also wanted to throw out a couple of suggestions For you to consider. These wooden flutes are all flutes that I’ve tried out myself and fell in love with.
I consider these beginner-friendly because of their availability, therefore debility, the size of their holes, and the materials that they’re made out of.
Roosebeck Satinwood Irish Flute
First, on our list, we have the Rooseback Satinwood Irish Flute. I think this is an option that would be great to consider if you already have experience playing the flute or know if you’re going to stick to playing it.
I know that this is a little bit more of a complex option because it does come with the tuning slide, but I wanted to put the option out there in case you already know how to play the flute.
I love how unique this flute is because of the unique characteristics of that come with it. This is made out of satinwood. But, I think the finish on this instrument is really what grabbed my attention. I love how glossy it is, which isn’t something that I’ve seen on a lot of the wooden flute models.
Plus, I love that this is a handmade model, especially because the price point doesn’t seem too crazy. I know a handmade wooden flute can be very expensive and the overall quality of this instrument, especially because it’s been handmade, is absolutely amazing.
What’s a little more complex about this wooden flute (but still beginner-friendly) is that it comes divided up into four parts. The four parts are divided up to help you improve the overall tuning of the flute.
Roosebeck Ebony Irish Flute
I had to include another option from Rooseback, simply because they’ve made such amazing wooden flutes. Plus, let’s just take a second and stop and stare at this flute; isn’t it gorgeous?
This Irish flute was also modeled after a traditional Irish flute and is made out of ebony hardwood. The extra weight on this flute (which you will notice when you pick it up) helps to contribute to a dark and deep sound but isn’t found on the other models that I’ve listed in this guide.
Plus, the purchase of this ebony Irish flu comes with a bag that you can carry around with you. I love the size of the holes on this flute, because they’re really easy to cover with your fingers, even if you’re somebody that has small hands.
Cygnet Irish Rosewood Low D Flute
Then, we have the Cygnet Irish Rosewood Low D flute. This is a completely handcrafted flute, which really makes it feel like an authentic traditional wooden masterpiece. It’s made using rosewood, which is a type of wood that’s often used in wooden flutes because of how it highlights a lower range.
You’ll find that the shape of this flute is cone-shaped, and it doesn’t provide too much complexity, which is why I think it’s great for beginners.
You’ll find that there are eight holes in total on this flute. There isn’t really anything much more to this flute, which is why I think it’s such a great option for a beginner. Plus, it also comes with a case which is always a great addition to come with the purchase of an instrument.
That way, you don’t have to go out and worry about buying a case to keep your own wooden flute protected. I fell in love with this flute the first time that I played it. It has such a beautiful tone, but personally, I really appreciate how responsive this flute is to dynamic changes.
McNeela Delrin Handmade Irish Flute
If you have Irish blood in your family, chances are this may already be of flute that somebody in your family owns. This model has been handmade and offers a simple key system.
While this isn’t made out of wood, it is modeled after a wooden flute. I wanted to include this option in the list because of the wooden flute inspiration; it is made out of acetal polymer, but I think that this is a cheap option for someone who isn’t looking to spend as much money on a wooden flute as a real wooden flute may require.
Plus, this flute is so much lower maintenance than the other wooden flute options on this list. You don’t have to worry about stress joints, moisture, cracks, friction, and other common problems that are presented in wooden flute models.
New Euro Era Traditional Irish Flute
This traditional Irish flute is made out of rosewood. I think it’s a great beginner-friendly flute, especially because of the small embouchure. Plus, you’ll find that there are eight fingering holes (no keys) that allow you to develop a beautiful and mellow tone.
However, even though this was a student-friendly model, it doesn’t mean that this flute is lacking on dynamic contrast.
I love the resonance that this flute offers, and I would honestly highly recommend this option if you are looking for a beginner wooden flute that when to transition with you to an intermediate level. I also love the wooden box that this Irish flute comes with too; it’s so cute!
Clan Tartan Irish Shesmwood D Flute
This Irish flute is made from Sheesham, which is a wood that really withstands the test of time. If you’re looking to get a wooden flute that’s a little bit more authentic, I would recommend this one simply because of the type of wood that it’s made out of.
This is a traditional Irish wooden flute that’s made with a super high-quality wood, and it checks off all of the boxes.
I think about unique thing about this flute is actually how it’s packaged. It comes in a hard wooden box, which I think makes it look even more authentic and antique. Plus, but tones that come out of this flute are absolutely beautiful.
It’s soft, robust, and absolutely stunning. Also, this flute does come with a tuning slide if you are looking for that in your instrument.
Answer: Yes, I would say so! I personally think the wooden flute is great for beginners because it’s such a simple instrument to hold. Plus if you get a synthetic wood flute, there isn’t a whole lot of maintenance required to keep up with the instrument.
Starting off with playing the wooden flute is nearly as simple as it gets in terms of setting up your instrument (there aren’t any pieces for you to put together) and keeping it clean.
You don’t have to worry about keys breaking, pushing in (or pulling out) your head joint to tune it, or any of the other common problems that come with playing the classical flute. Plus, you don’t have to worry about it breaking any keys.
The biggest trouble with playing at the wooden flute is having your fingers completely cover all of the holes. But other than that, it’s a really simple instrument to learn how to hold and care for.
The trouble really comes down to the technique, but Your Technique is always something you should be looking to improve on.
Answer: It really depends on what you mean by better. I think wooden flutes create a powerful and beautiful sound. I personally enjoy the sound of a wooden flute much more than I enjoy the sound of a classical flute, and this is coming from somebody who is trained on a classical flute.
I think is that the wooden flute isn’t as commonly used in a lot of music as metal flutes are, so it really just depends on what you mean by “better.” Both a wooden flute and a classical flute have their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.
Answer: The Irish flute is wooden mainly because of tradition. Wood was super easy to find in Ireland, and therefore, it was very easy to make a wooden flute.
Since technology has continued to evolve, it’s become a lot easier to find wooden flutes compared to only a few short years ago.
Understanding how to find your first wooden flute can be a tricky path, but starting off with a beginner-level instrument is a great way to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed with more advanced aspects of a professional-level wooden flute.
Personally, my favorite option on this is the Roosebeck Satinwood Irish Flute. However, I think this option is grayed for someone who already has experience playing the flute, which is one of the reasons why I love this flute so much.
But, if you don’t have any experience playing the flute, I would highly recommend the New Euro Era Irish flute! I think it’s the perfect model for any beginner to get started on.
What song do you want to learn how to play on the wooden flute?
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