Looking at the flute, you wouldn’t think it weighs a lot, but my students are always complaining their arms are tired from holding it up.
So I decided to find the answers through trial and error on exactly how much the flute weighs and comparisons.
The soprano flute weighs 1.13 pounds (18 oz.) when it’s made out of its traditional silver metal. This is almost as heavy as a basketball spread out over the length of the flute.
There are a few variations to this answer, and you may be curious to know how this woodwind instrument’s weight compares to all the other band instruments.
Weight By Type Of Flute
As we look at the silver flute (the most common type of flute), we’ll see that this weighs quite a bit different from some other materials AND the other types.
Use this table and chart to figure out flute weights and get an idea.
|Type Of Flute||Weight|
|Silver soprano flute||1.13 lbs|
|Platinum flute (concert flute)||1.14 lbs|
|Gold flute (concert flute)||1.09 lbs|
|Wooden flute (concert flute)||1.24 lbs|
|Alto flute||2.26 lbs|
|Bass flute||4.52 lbs|
These numbers don’t mean much to most people. Maybe this chart will help too.
Flute Weight Compared To Other Musical Instruments
This wind instrument is still one of the lightest you’ll have to hold while you play in a band or orchestra, but it’s deceiving in some ways.
Some instruments you hold up without any help, such as the clarinet, trumpet, and trombone. Of course, the flute is in this category as well.
Some instruments use a strap or rest on your leg (at least a little). These include the french horn, saxophone, euphonium/baritone, and tuba.
But even with the ones you hold up on your own, you’re holding them up straight in front of you.
This uses muscle groups you’re more likely to use in your every day, so they’re more developed. For many, it won’t feel as tiring (though don’t let trombone players hear you say this!).
The flute is also called the transverse flute, which means it’s held sideways. As you hold it sideways, your arm muscles aren’t engaged as they would normally be.
You’re using different muscles, ones that probably aren’t as developed.
This is why many beginner (and even experienced) flute players often start to sag to the side rather than hold their instrument parallel with the ground.
Use this table to get a sense of the difference in weight between the instruments, but keep these ideas in mind as it’s not strictly a 1-to-1 comparison.
|Musical Instrument||Weight (lbs)|
|French horn||5.73 lbs|
|Tuba (standard 4/4 size)||35 lbs|
Again, I know many of us are visual learners, so here is the same information in chart form for a better visual comparison.
Tips For Helping With The Weight Of A Flute
I feel for my flute players, young and experienced. It’s tough to bear all the weight in such an awkward way all the time.
What makes matters worse is how the flute is used all the time in classical music. It’s a featured melody instrument and rarely gets the chance to take a long break.
So I asked around with my flutist friends and band directors to get some ideas on how to help handle this weight:
- Take breaks often; only keep your instrument up for a few minutes at a time where possible.
- Whenever you put your flute up, get it in the correct horizontal position every time, so your body is used to where this is.
- Place a small weight on the end of your flute; then, when you take it off, the flute feels much lighter.
- Do “Flute Ups” where you lift your instrument to position to build those muscles.
- Do “Flute Ups” on both sides to keep the muscles better balanced.
- Stretch your arms before and after your play.
- Don’t collapse your arms in toward your body; keep strong lines.
Are flutes made out of silver?
The majority of the standard flutes are made out of silver.
Lower-end models are not solid silver flutes.
They may be made out of nickel and then plated with silver to provide extra protection.
Higher-end models may also be made out of gold or platinum. The different metals create a completely different timbre, from a bright sound to a warm tone.
While flutes may be made out of wood, this isn’t common in the modern orchestra or band world.
Wooden flutes don’t have the projection capabilities to keep up with the large ensembles, which is why they switched to metal in the first place.
What are the different names of the flute?
The standard flute has many names, and they’re all used interchangeably; it’s quite confusing!
All of these names refer to the same musical instrument:
- Silver flute
- Concert flute
- Western flute
- Western concert flute
- C flute
- Flute in C
- Soprano flute
- German flute
- Transverse flute
Why are flutes made out of silver?
Silver is the most common material for three main reasons:
- Silver is a harder metal and more difficult to damage compared to gold or nickel.
- Metals tend to have different sounds, and the silver produces a mellow, sweet sound quality, perfect for the flute.
- Metals like silver have a strong projection of sound over larger groups.
Which country invented the flute?
Historians found the oldest iterations of the flute as a beautiful instrument in modern-day Germany from 35-40 thousand years ago.
The modern flute was developed by a Bavarian goldsmith named Theobald Boehm in the early 1800s.
Why is the flute played sideways?
It may seem counterproductive to play the flute sideways when other versions of the complex instrument (like the recorder) are played straight ahead.
In reality, the player now has much more control over the rich tone quality, dynamic range, and pitch of the instrument by moving the flute sideways and having the flutist blow air across the embouchure hole rather than into it.
It’s this control that allows a professional flute player to rise above what “straight-ahead” versions of the flute are capable of.
Fun fact: Many cultures around the world developed their own sideways or transverse flute instruments, having discovered the benefits of this design all independently of one another.