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Flute Buyers Guide

Flute Buyers Guide

In choosing a flute there are many different things to consider, including the musicians age and skill level as well as the features on the instrument. As a buyer the more you know about flutes and the different features that are available, the more of a chance that you will buy the instrument that is perfectly suited for you. Our expert team of band directors, teachers and musicians have collaborated to put together a basic knowledge of the flutes construction and design in the Flute Buyers Guide below. In this guide you will find information on the different types, features, and specifications of flutes as well as recommendations on trusted brands for players at each level of performance. We are committed to helping our customers find the greatest potential in their musical instrument. Please do not hesitate to call or email us if you have any additional questions.

              Flute Breakdown              
Flute Buyers Guide Flute Chart

                Flute Categories              

Student Flutes:
Student Flutes are an excellent choice for the beginning player. Most players will use a student flute for their first couple years of playing. Most beginners start with a closed hole silver or nickel plated flute with a C foot joint. Occasionally instructors will recommend students to start on a "open hole" or plateau style flute or a flute with a split E mechanism. Closed hole flutes are a little easier to play especially for young students with small fingers as they don't require you to completely cover the open holes to produce a clear sound. 

Intermediate Flutes:
After playing for a few years and a student has advanced and is committed to continuing their musical study, they can move to a step-up or intermediate flute. When purchasing an intermediate flute, you can expect your child to be using it for several years before they are required to move on again onto a professional flute. Intermediate flutes are typically open hole requiring the musician to properly position their hands over the keys to allow the fingertips to completely cover each hole. Many Intermediate flutes feature a B foot joint which provides an additional key that sounds one additional lower note. Intermediate Flutes will usually have a silver or silver plated headjoint and or body which produces a better sound. 

Professional & Advanced Flutes:
Professional Flutes are built to an extremely high standard with a higher level of expertise in the design of the flute. These are instruments that can last a lifetime or serve as stepping stones to the highest level of study. Flutes of this caliber will usually have a solid silver head joint and body which greatly enhances the tonal quality. 

              Flute Body Materials             

Nickel Silver: Most student flutes are made of nickel silver with silver plating. This material is extremely durable, which makes it an excellent choice for beginners. 

Solid (Sterling) Silver: Many intermediate and professional flutes are made partly or entirely of solid silver which produces a warm rich tone. Solid silver increases the weight of a flute and darkens and centers the sound.  Silver flutes need to be polished to prevent tarnishing.

              Flute Parts             

Flutes are made up of three parts. A headjoint, a body, and a footjoint.

Headjoint: The head joint is how the flute makes a sound. It comprises of a lip plate and a tone hole. Many intermediate flutes feature a head joint that is made of solid silver. The head joint material is a major influence on the overall sound of a flute.  

Body: The body is the longest part of a flute and contains majority of the keywork. Some flutes have added trill keys and a split E mechanism that helps produce the high E.

Footjoint: The footjoint is the shortest part of a flute. On a student flute a C foot is standard whereas intermediate and professional models will have a low B included on this part. 

              Flute Key Styles           

Plateau VS French Style: Plateau style flutes are closed hole (common for student flutes) whereas the French style is an Open-Hole model. Most advanced players prefer open-hole flutes for advanced techniques, increased volume and the ability to cover half the holes and quicker response.

Offset VS Inline G Key: The G key is played with the third finger of the left hand. This key can either be "inline" with the other keys or slightly "offset" toward the outer edge of the flute. Offset G can be easier to reach and more comfortable for beginners or players with small hands. Inline G is commonly believed to produce better intonation.

C Foot or B Foot: On a student flute a C foot is standard whereas intermediate and professional models will have a low B included on this part. On a B foot the foot joint is longer and has an extra key.

              Flute Features             

Split E Key Machanism: Found mostly on professional flutes the split E improves intonation and response over the high E.

Gizmo: The Gizmo key is commonly found on the B foot of intermediate and professional flutes. This key closes the low B tonehole without closing the low C or C# hole.

French Pointed Arms VS Y Arms: On a flute the arm is the part that connects they key to the rod. French pointed keys are normally found on higher end or step up flutes. French pointed keys have an arm that extends to the center of a key and is soldered at the top. This makes the keys more sturdy and proves for better key placement. A Y Arm attaches to the edge of a key which is also quite sturdy.

Undercut Tone Holes: The tone holes are the holes the pads cover. On the inside of the flute at the bottom of the tone hole whee the holes meet the body is where the "undercutting is done" The edge is machined and beveled with special tools to allow the air to flow with less resistance which can produce a clearer tone.  

Riser Key: The Riser key is also called the chimney. This key connects the lip plate to the head joint. The metal used for the riser directly influences the flutes tone. 

Springs: Springs hold the keys in place when they are not being pressed down on. Stainless steel springs are very durable and are found on most student and step up flutes.

Embouchure Lip Plate: This is where the flute players lip contacts the head joint. A curved lip plate is easier to blow than a straight lip plate. 

              Recommended Flutes             

Teacher Recommended Student Flute: A great option for a teacher recommended student flute is the Gemeinhardt 2SP Flute. This flute is ideal for the beginning player. Constructed for durability and low maintenance, this flute will provide years of enjoyment as your beginning musician excels. 

Recommended Intermediate Flute: The RS Berkeley F109 Artist Series Flute is a great intermediate flute. This step up flute features many advanced features and provides a warm and projecting sound. 

Recommended Advanced Flute: Advanced players will love the Volare 901 Flute which is an excellent choice for advanced flutist and professional musicians alike. The Volare flute has a clear strong tone and responds beautifully.