The Difference Between Used and Open Box Flutes

There are many considerations when purchasing a musical instrument, in this case a flute.  Choices include new, used, and something called open box.  New is a safe bet, but it carries the highest price tag.  Used is a wild card – unless it is a friend or family member, you don’t know anything about who owned it and if it was properly maintained.  Open box offers several options and generally provides excellent value.  You might be able to purchase a higher end flute through open box because it has already depreciated, like when a new car is driven off the lot. No matter what—do not buy a cheap flute that is poorly manufactured using inexpensive materials.

Common Problems with Used Flutes

  • This sounds unpleasant and it is.Used flutes may be contaminated with spit, germs, and residue.A new mouthpiece could be purchased, but other issues require a complete disassembly and cleaning of the flute which is expensive.
  • Leaky flute pads are a common problem with used instruments.The pads are essential since they seal the key to the tone hole.An instrument that has not been properly maintained is likely to have damaged pads.
  • Mechanism problems are also very common in used flutes that have not been regularly serviced. It takes a trained professional to make the precise adjustments necessary to keep the flute playing as it should.

Open Box Categories

Open box instruments

  • Mint Condition. This flute was returned after a very short period of time.The buyer may have changed their mind or found that it didn’t suit them. It should be in perfect condition, with the only sign of use being the open packaging.This instrument may represent a great value.
  • Blemished. This sounds worse than it is.A blemished flute was returned in excellent condition, with just minor signs of wear such as light scuffs or scratches on the finish.It plays like new and might be considered similar to a display model in a store. This, too, is a terrific value.
  • Scratch and Dent. This instrument has been used, but it has been professionally serviced and is still in excellent condition.It is also possible that a scratch and dent instrument was damaged in shipping, but never played.This could be a good choice if you want to try out a different flute such as an alto or bass, or you might want to acquire a brand that you can’t afford to buy new.As long as you can overlook some cosmetic flaws, this is a solid buy.

Look for generous satisfaction guarantees and expect full manufacturer warranties for mint and blemished products.

In summary, if you consider purchasing a used flute, you must do so from a reputable source.  Do not buy from an online seller such as eBay or Craig’s List. Buying from a store than provides flute maintenance is probably a safe bet.  Otherwise, you are better off considering an open box flute from a reliable source.  Be sure to fully understand the seller’s return policy. 

Woodwind & Brasswind carries a large assortment of open box flutes with generous return policies, 45 day satisfaction guarantee, and full warranties for mint and blemished instruments.  Browse the full selection of flutes and accessories at the (website) or reach out to our school music experts, who are standing by at 800.346.4448.