Since nickel allergies are a real issue, it’s obvious that a silver plated flute is better than a nickel one. However, both are in use as the basic material for student level flutes. The consensus is that silver plated flutes sound better, and of course they look better. Unlike nickel, silver can be polished, which makes for a better look at recitals and things like that. Not unimportant as even the most basic player wants to perform in front of an audience without making a fool of themselves. They’re likely nervous enough.
Here’s the rundown from cheap to expensive
- Nickel flutes are the most affordable and the cheapest. They’re used as beginner flutes only, but they will last a long time. The sound can be reasonable, if the flute is well made. The cost starts at about $100.-
- Silver plated flutes are also made for beginners, the material underneath is nickel too. Aside from the good looks, silver is also a bit less slippery. These flutes are generally better made and a bit higher quality. They start at about $200.-
- Silver flutes (silver alloy) are for professional players. The more expensive ones have gold worked into them for extra effect. They’re lighter and also more fragile. However, the sound is what matters here of course: the sound of silver flutes are generally better.