2019-2020 Alto, Bass & ContraBass Recommendations

Here are my alto, bass and contrabass flute recommendations for 2019-2020. While at the National Flute Association convention in Salt Lake City, I played all the NEW altos, basses and contrabasses I could find. Here are the companies making new instruments that I think are worth trying. Because there is no standard key layout, a personal “hands-on” trial is necessary to determine which instrument fits your hands best.

This page includes the following information:

  • Stores That Stock Alto and Bass Flutes
  • Stores That Rent Alto and Bass Flutes
  • Additional Stores That Have Altos and Basses
  • Alto Flute Recommendations
    • Under $2500
    • Between $2500 and $5000
    • Above $5000
  • Bass Flute Recommendations
  • Contrabass Recommendations

Recommended Stores that Stock Alto and Bass Flutes

Stores That Rent Alto and Bass Flutes

Additional Stores That Have Alto and Bass Flutes Onsite

Alto Flute Recommendations – 31 altos tested

Models under $2500

Most altos in this price range have curved and straight headjoints available. You can get both. Different plating options are available on some brands, i.e. black nickel, copper alloys, rose gold.  Do not be distracted by a “different” look. How does it sound and how do the keys feel in your hands? Especially test your facility and the response of the footjoint notes.

  • Amadeus
  • Dean Yang
  • DiZhao
  • Gemeinhardt (curved black nickel only)
  • Jupiter
  • Pearl
  • Trevor James

Models between $2501 and $5000

  • Amadeus
  • Di Zhao
  • Jupiter
  • Pearl
  • Trevor James

Models above $5000

  • Altus – curved and straight heads available. Beautiful tone.
  • Eva Kingma – wonderful tone, light action, very responsive. Has an open-hole and closed hole model, also gold-plated and curved head models.
  • Kingma-Brannen – a very light alto that seems to play itself!
  • Miyazawa – straight head model only. Nice sound and action. Of the straight-head altos, I find this the most comfortable for the right hand .
  • Muramatsu – straight head only. Good tone and key action.
  • Sankyo – curved and straight heads available. Nice tone and key action.
  • Yamaha – curved and straight heads available. I found mixed results with tone quality on the lowest notes. Gold-brass alloy looks flashy.

Headjoints

  • Chris Abell – wooden straight alto head joint. Outstanding.
  • Juan Arista – straight and curved sterling alto head joint. Fabulous. Also has a “hammered” straight head option that has a slightly more focused tone quality. The hammering produces a “dimpled” look to the headjoint that is very cool!

Bass Flute Recommendations – 21 instruments tested

Listed by price. All basses shown include trill keys which are used for many alternate fingerings and solving response problems. I consider trill keys a “must have.”

  • Guo bass $2100.  Only for people with shoulder problems, arthritis or other severe physical limitations. A light weight plastic instrument with a surprisingly wide dynamic range. Clacky key noise has diminished but is still a little annoying. The tone is one dimensional. Comes in wild colors.
  • Di Zhao $3000. Comfortable to hold and good sound and response.
  • Pearl  $3500+. The clacky right hand key problem seems to have been solved and the low notes were acceptable.
  • Jupiter – $4200. I tried four, two I liked, two I didn’t. Be sure the bottom notes are full.
  • DiZhao vertical bass $4400. One was not available to try. Play it off to the side like a saxophone and the right hand position will be okay.
  • Altus $8700. Gorgeous sound, nice action.
  • Sankyo Prima $14,000. Beautiful, strong consistent tone in all octaves. Excellent key action. Has a b foot and wide bore. Has a support stick with interchangable segments to find the best height when sitting. Was rumored to come with a support that went all the way to the ground but it was missing in action.
  • Kotato $14,500. A large bore horizontal bass with a powerful, rich and huge sound. Light and responsive key action. Has a b-foot and a wide bore. Adjustable support rod works well when sitting.
  • Eva Kingma $15,000 and up? Varies with exchange rate.  Must contact Eva for current price.  Glorious sound. Available with a small (no current price available) or large bore ($17,600).  Open hole option available.
  • Eva Kingma vertical bass. $19,000+. Regular and large bore available. B-foot. Fabulous!
  • Kingma-Brannen bass $20,400 but varies with exchange rate. B-foot. Wonderfully light and seems to play itself! Comes with a Wiseman case.

Contrabass Flute Recommendations

  • Di Zhao $9800.  They sell as soon as they are made so did not find one to try.
  • Pearl  $10,700. Acceptable sound and key layout in the bottom notes.
  • Kingma $22,800+. Price varies with exchange rate. Has trill keys!!!! Excellent tone, response and key action.
  • Kotato  $24,000 + Powerful rich tone. An outstanding instrument recommended by several friends who play a Kotato. There was not one a new to try at the convention.
  • Kotato Double Contra  $48,500. I have only tried a used one, but a stunning rich sound!