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7 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a Flute

How to Spot a Forgery

If someone paints a copy of Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers and offers it sell it to me for a fraction of the price of the original, having made it clear that the painting is a copy, I don’t have a problem with that.
What I don’t like is people who copy the instruments of famous manufacturers, then try to sell them as if they were genuinely produced by that manufacturer. This practice is quite common on Ebay, particularly with Yamaha flutes.

1. Reliability - How Long Will the Flute Last?
2. How to Spot a Forgery?
3. Extras - Which are the Ones You Need?
4. Tone Quality What Makes a Flute Sound Good?
5. New vs Second-hand
6. Design, Features and Options
7. The Best Brand

You can protect yourself from forgers by watching out for the following tell-tale signs:

  1. The asking price is way cheaper than you can find from any authorised Yamaha dealer.
  2. The seller says that he has acquired it “ at a store closing sale,” or “a liquidation warehouse,’ or ”NEW IN BOX - Never played - Inventory Clearance.” Translation: they got it from a pirate manufacturer in Taiwan or China.
  3. The seller refuses to supply you with a serial number, “because they have so many instruments going out all the time.” Translation: the serial numbers are bogus, and we don’t want you to contact Yamaha to confirm this;
  4. The seller says that they dropship from their supplier in Taiwan. Comment: Yet the inscription on the barrel of the flute clearly says “Made in Japan!” Here is a photo of what I believe to be a counterfeit Yamaha flute.

Can you spot the mistakes?

  1. Yamaha flutes do not come with an adjusting screwdriver, nor with grease.
  2. The case looks wrong. Although the latches are external, they appear to be applied to a vinyl coated plywood case, whereas the latest genuine Yamaha cases are made of sturdy, ABS plastic.
  3. Yamaha never supplies grease for their flutes - see page 17.
  4. Real Yamaha flutes are not shipped in cellophane wrappers
  5. The lining of the fake cases is usually black, whereas the real lining is maroon.

Genuine Yamaha Flute Showing Concealed Latches on Case


Genuine Yamaha FLC-180 Case


The Genuine Article

In the photo of the genuine flute, notice that the latches are concealed, there is no carry handle, and the lining is maroon, not black.

I’m sure other brands of flute get imitated as well. I specialise in watching Yamahas, so I know them quite well. A fake Yamaha might serve you quite well for a while, but don’t expect the same level of reliability or precision as you would get with a genuine one.

My recommendation:
Don’t deal with crooks. If they are happy to risk ripping off a huge corporation like Yamaha, they’ll have no trouble ripping off a single person like you. The quality won’t be up to the legendary Yamaha standard and any guarantee you are promised will be worthless. Get a real one.

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