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Standard flutes, piccolos and the harmony flute

Technical Specifications

There are a huge number of different specification options for flutes. These are explained and discussed below before we make our product recommendations. Material In a nut shell, the denser the metal your flute is made of the warmer and richer the sound it will produce. Silver therefore - being dense, while less expensive than gold or platinum, gives a rich tone without being too expensive. Thus student instruments tend to be made of nickel silver which is silver plated. Moving up to intermediate flutes many models have solid metal head joints. Advanced and professional flutes may also have a solid metal body and/or keys. Obviously, as a rule, the more solid silver in the flute the more expensive the instrument.

Split E
Many flutes come with a "Split E" mechanism. This is a small piece of key work that links the "E" key to the lower of the two "G" keys. It affects only one note (the E in the 3rd octave). On a flute without this system this note can be difficult to produce and sustain without a rock steady embouchure and diaphragm support. With the E-mech this is much easier, which is why most flute teachers recommend it for beginners.

Split E flute mechanism

Open/Closed Hole
Most student flutes are "closed hole" (also known as plateau models) with solid keys. An open hole flute is a flute that has holes through the centre of the keys that are fingered by the middle and ring fingers of the left hand and the index, middle and ring fingers of the right hand. Some players and/or teachers prefer the open hole models because they require very accurate hand positioning, and with this comes a more fluid style of playing. However on the other hand it could become a source of frustration for the student player.

Offset/In-line "G"
There are two main key configuration options "offset G" (more comfortable to hold), or the more traditional In-line formations. Most student and intermediate players opt for a closed hole / offset G configuration - the easiest option!

offset/inline flute configuration offset/inline flute configuration

B foot Joint
Some flutes come with a longer "B" foot joint which extends the range of the flute down to a B. The longer length of the flute however, can make the sounding of the high C (4th octave) tricky. Thus many flutes come with a "gizmo" key which when depressed improves the response of this note. In addition the foot joint can effect the overall tone of the instrument. A "B" footjoint gives a strong sound with good projection, where as a "C" footjoint gives a more flexible warmer tone. C foot joints are the norm on student and intermediate instruments.

B foot joint flutes

B foot joint flutes

Head Joints
The quality and dimensions of the taper of the headjoint and the cut of the embouchure hole have a dramatic influence on the sound and response of any flute. Most manufacturers offer a range of specification options for their advanced flutes. At a student and intermediate level, when some instruments are more expensive than others (with a like for like specification) it is often because there has been more attention to detail paid to this key area of the flute. Curved Heads A number of popular student flutes come with the option of an extra "curved" head which reduces the length of the flute to manageable proportions for young players - aiding posture and creating a more comfortable playing style. When the player is bigger, you simply swap head joints.