Elkhart, Indiana was, for much of the 20th century, the band instrument manufacturing heart of the United States. Many of the top brands were made there: Buescher, Bundy, Gemeinhardts, and Armstrong. The Armstrong name probably won’t seem as familiar as Bundy or Yamaha, but that’s nothing to do with quality. Armstrong makes some really nice instruments.

While Armstrong does make student flutes, it hasn’t permeated the market as thoroughly as the Yamahas, Bundys and Gemeinhards have. So that may be a reason that not as many people have heard of them. But they are fine instruments. When it comes to intermediate student flutes that can take a flutist through college, Gemeinhardt silver open-hole flutes and Armstrongs with gold plated mouthpiece, open holes, and low B footpiece are often the two that students find themselves choosing between flauto traverso.

In many cases it comes down to personal bias. There are players for whom the Armstrong will fit better and get a better sound, and the same with the Gemeinhardt.

Armstrong got started when a man named William Armstrong set up a flute repair shop in Elkhart, Indiana in 1931. His reputation as a highly skilled technician eventually led to people eventually asking for him to make flutes for professional musicians.

Edward Armstrong, the son of William Armstrong took over the work and expanded it to include high quality instruments for students and community musicians. It wasn’t long before flutists were starting out on an Armstrong flute and sticking with the brand. Armstrong concentrates on research and development programs that have resulted in innovations like a curved headjoint that makes playing more comfortable for smaller, younger beginning flutists.

While the name Armstrong may not spring to mind immediately when you think of flutes, it certainly isn’t because they lack quality, but because they have taken a rather more low-key approach to providing flutes to discerning flutists of every skill level.