The best tip for buying a used flute is knowing which flaws are difficult and expensive to fix. Secondhand flutes can have a lot of problems, but sometimes these problems are simply cosmetic in nature or can easily be fixed by an amateur. Other times, the flute is not worth buying because of the severity of the damage. It is also good to know what terms and tricks are used to lure buyers into scam deals online. While it is possible for the most novice flutist to find a decent used flute, he or she should look to a professional when in doubt.
Some problems with used flutes seriously affect performance and are expensive to fix. For example, no matter the material, any damage to the mouth hole can be too costly to fix. Furthermore, it is important for the keys of a used flute to work properly. If the instrument is in good repair, its springs return the keys back to place quickly and move easily without making odd noises. Another important thing of note is whether the joints and head of the flute are too loose, though some movement is normal.
When purchasing a used flute, one thing to keep in mind is that many minor defects do not matter at all, or at least can be fixed for little money. For example, an imperfect finish on the flute should not affect its usability at all. Furthermore, small dents to the body of a metal flute should not affect performance, and cracks to the body of a wooden flute can be repaired. Another defect that can normally be ignored is a slight curve in aged wooden flutes, though more extensive warping can be a problem.
One of the worst things to do when purchasing a used flute is to choose one being sold by a merchant pulling off a common scam. It is almost as bad to waste a lot of money on a very low-quality instrument. For example, when purchasing a flute online, terms such as "70-percent off" or “bankruptcy sale” are commonly used by people trying to pass off a bad-quality item. Furthermore, it is usually a bad idea to purchase a colored flute because this can indicate that it is made of an extremely low-quality material. It is also important not to purchase flutes from suspect sellers, because flutes made out of certain materials can be poisonous.