1. Find an Artist or a Flute Store
If you know someone who can recommend a reputable maker or business, start there. If you don't then visit the International Native American Flute Association at www.inafa.org. There you will find a directory of makers and companies. This will not insure positive results, but you will be working with someone who is dedicated to the craft.
2. The Service Test
When you contact a business pay attention to how long they take in responding to you. This will give you an idea on how committed they are to service before and after.
3. Questions to Ask
Once you have contacted the maker or business of your choice you will need to ask a few questions.
4. Finding the Right Flute for You
Once you feel comfortable with this business or person then you will need to find the flute that is right for you. Start by letting them know that you are a beginner. They should ask you about your musical experience, hand size, and most importantly, about you. They should also ask where you live to get a better idea of what type of wood would better suite your area. As an example states like Louisiana or Georgia have high levels of humidity. Stable woods like cedar or Redwood should be highly considered for these types of locations. Other things they should ask you are:
This sounds like a lot of questions but the more they know about you and you about them, the better the chance of a first good experience.
5. Price and Value
Once you have decided on a flute then you will need to talk price and value. By value I mean do they have package deals that will save you some money. If you are planning to travel away from home with your flute then consider a protective case. Do they carry them? Also you will need to learn to play this flute. Do they carry how to play books or videos? If not then have them recommend to you a business or person that they trust and can help you find these items. Combining products will save you time and shipping expenses. However, a word of caution. The higher price doesn't always equal high quality. And reverse holds true for the less expensive flutes. I would ask to hear the flute or flutes played over the phone. This will give you a better understanding of the tonal quality, and how well the maker or person plays. Ask them to play a variety of keys and woods. If they will not, then find someone who will. If you have access to a store, then take the time to go play them for yourself. If you don't feel comfortable, then ask the owner to play for you.
The bottom line here is to do your homework and ask a lot of questions. And above all have fun.