GLOSSARY OF FLUTE FEATURES
Adjustment Screws – small screws used to regulate the level between connecting keys. In some flutes they are visible when attached to the upper side of the keys. In other flutes they are hidden underneath the key mechanism. Handmade professional flutes are normally made without adjustment screws and can be more difficult to regulate.
Alloy – an alloy is a homogenous mixture composed of two or more metallic elements which do not mutually separate. The alloy is the result of the combination of such a complementary mix.
Alto Flute – Pitched in the key of G, the alto flute has a range starting from G (a fourth below middle C). Most alto flutes are available with either a straight headjoint or curved headjoint.
B footjoint – This footjoint reaches down to a low B, one half-step lower than the C footjoint, by adding one more key and extending the length of the flute. The B footjoint also adds weight to the overall instrument which increases resistance and results in producing an overall darker tone versus the brighter tone of a C footjoint. The B footjoint improves the overall pitch of the third octave. It is the standard flute choice for contemporary compositions requiring extended techniques
Bass Flute – Pitched in the key of C, this large flute sounds one octave lower than the common C flute. It is usually designed to have a curved headjoint due to its long tube. Some manufacturers offer a low B footjoint option for an additional charge. The Bass Flute is often used in small flute ensembles, flute orchestras.
Bubble-style Headjoint – Refers to the shape of a wooden piccolo headjoint that is wider near the tenon of the piccolo to add more strength to the wood.
C footjoint – This footjoint reaches down to low C (which is middle C on the piano). It is frequently described as freeing up the low register and offering less resistance throughout the flute. The C footjoint is standard on student model flutes.
C# Trill Key – A C# trill key is a lever that activates a key over an extra C# tone hole. This makes trilling from B to C# much easier. There are also other uses of this key which facilitates fingerings for other trills and tremolos. Most notably, it gives a reliable third octave G to A trill by fingering high G and trilling C# trill and D trill keys together. Additional trills include high F# to G# and high Ab to Bb. Tremolos are also easily executed between first octave G, Ab, D, Bb, B, and C to C# and D to D#. In the second octave, tremolos of A, Bb, B or C to C# are made easy.
Conical Bore – When a wind instrument is made with a tapered tube, it is referred to as a conical instrument. Today it is more common for piccolos to have a body with a conical bore – narrow at the bottom end and wider at the top end. When the body of the piccolo is conical, the headjoint is cylindrical for proper intonation.
Contrabass Flute – The contrabass flute is one of the rarer members of the flute family. It is used mostly in flute ensembles. Its range is similar to that of the regular concert flute, except that it is pitched two octaves lower; the lowest performable note is two octaves below middle C (the lowest C on the cello).
Crown – The dome-shaped part at the very end of the headjoint. It is attached to the headjoint cork and disk assembly and can control their position. These assemblies are highly important in the projection, intonation and quality of the sound.
Curved Headjoint – This “U”-shaped headjoint provides a shorter reach to the keys of the flute. It can be found on bass flutes, as well as some alto flutes. It is also usually available on most student model flutes for young players.
Dapped (Y-arm) Keys – This is a key design that connects the back of the keys to the rod with a Y-shaped arm. This key design is standard on most student and intermediate model flutes.
Drawn Tone Holes – The tones holes are pulled (drawn) up from the main tube of the flute and then rolled over.
D# Roller – This roller is mounted on the D# key. It facilitates the sliding motion of the little finger between the D# key and the lower keys of the footjoint. Some manufacturers also offer a C# roller on the low C# key in addition to the D# roller.
Eb Flute – This flute is smaller in size than the C flute and sounds a minor third higher. It is a transposing instrument used mainly in flute choir music.
Flute d’Amore – This flute is perfect for the transposing woodwind doubler or the flutist who wants to incorporate the sultry sound of the d’amore into their repertoire. While slightly longer and wider than the C flute, the d’amore feels much like the C flute to play.
French Model Flute – Also known as an open hole flute, a French model flute is a flute with venting holes at the center of the A, G, F, E and D keys. These holes can be closed with specially made plugs that can be inserted or removed by the player. Plugs are normally used during the adjustment period from a closed hole flute to an open hole flute.
Gizmo Key – A small raised lever mounted on the low B key arm to facilitate the individual closing of the low B key. Also known as a “high C facilitator,” this lever helps in producing a clearer 4th octave C.
Handcut Embouchure – This is an extra refining step of undercutting and smoothing the edges inside the embouchure hole beyond the standard process. This is done to improve response and richness of tone.
Handmade Flutes – All flutes require a considerable amount of “hand” work. The term “handmade” refers to the upper level of professional instrument assembly which requires extreme precision of workmanship and superb attention to details. This term also distinguishes handmade flutes from mass-produced flutes.
High E Facilitator – A less mechanically-complicated way to reduce the venting of the G key, and thus to improve the high E response, is to attach a disk or washer to the inside wall of the G tone hole. The high E facilitator is sometimes referred to as a “donut” or “disc.”
Inline G Key – The G keys on an inline G key flute are placed in a straight line with the rest of the keys on the flute. They are mounted on the same rod next to each other.
Lip Plate – The raised plate surrounding the embouchure hole (or riser) on which the player positions his/her lower lip. In metal flutes and piccolos, the lip plate is attached to the riser.
New Scale – Because of the gradual raising of the pitch over the last century (from A=435 to A=444), it became necessary to recalculate, reposition and redesign the placement of the tone holes of the flute for more correct intonation. Most flute makers today incorporate these new scale corrections into their design and offer it as the “new scale” or “improved scale.”
Offset G Key – In this model, the G keys are offset slightly from the rest of the keys and are mounted on separate posts. A growing number of flutists prefer the comfort and hand position on the offset G flute.
One-piece Core Bar – This type of mechanism uses one rod that extends from the left hand C post through the central post, forming a continuous shaft for the left hand mechanism and extending as a stainless steel bearing for the shaft of the right hand keys. The traditional construction uses two shafts for the left hand mechanism instead of one.
Piccolo – The small “octave flute” ranges from D2 to D5 and is less than half the size of the C flute. Most piccolos are designed to have a cylindrical head with a conical body. The most common student model piccolo is made of silver-plated nickel or high impact plastic. The professional models are usually made of silver or hard wood, such as Grenadilla.
Pinless Construction – Traditional flutes use pinning needles inserted into the inner mechanism rods to secure certain keys to a fixed position. Pinless construction, on the other hand, uses bridge mechanisms and socket-head screws for the same purpose. Most flute mechanisms today are constructed with pins.
Plateau Model Flute – Also known as a closed hole flute, this flute style does not have the venting holes at the center of the keys. Student flutes are an example of a plateau model flute.
Pointed Key Arms – A key design that connects keys to the rod with a raised, pointed arm which extends to the center of the key. Also referred to as “styled keys” or “French pointed arms,” it is not common in student or most intermediate models.
Riser – The part (“chimney”) that connects the lip plate to the headjoint tube. Silver is most common metal used for the riser, although many makers offer different karats of gold and platinum to enhance the sound of the instrument.
Seamed Tubing – Made from a flat piece of metal that is rolled and seamed, allowing the metal’s molecular structure to remain in intact. The unique response and flexibility of these flutes can only be fully realized through personally test-playing and listening to their complex colors.
Soldered Tone Holes – The tone holes of the flute are formed separately and then soldered onto the body of the flute.
Split E Mechanism – A split E mechanism allows venting of only one G key while fingering high E. This facilitates production of the high E and provides a more stable response. The split E mechanism is most commonly available on flutes with an offset G key, although some handmade flute makers will custom manufacture a flute with inline G key and split E mechanism on request.
Springs – These are wires that are installed horizontally below the key and control the reverse vertical motion of the keys. The most common spring wires used by manufacturers are copper, stainless steel, and for the more expensive instruments, gold or white gold. The type of wire and its thickness affects how the key mechanism feels in the hands of the player. Some players prefer a light touch and some prefer more resistance. Springs can be adjusted to different tensions to suit the player.
Straubinger Pads - Straubinger™ Pads are designed specifically for hand-made flutes and consist of different materials and components than a traditional pad. The Straubinger™ Pad is 90% more stable than the conventional felt flute pad. If your instrument is subjected to change in temperature or humidity, the pads will remain stable.
Student Model – A general term that refers to a beginning or entry-level instrument. Usually made of silver- or nickel-plated tubing, it also has closed hole (plateau) keys, an offset G key and a C footjoint. Unlike stringed instruments, this model is the same size as the upper-level flutes.
Tubing Thickness – Refers to the thickness of the tubing used in flute construction. Many handmade flutes are available in thin-wall (.014”), medium-wall (.016”) or heavy-wall (.018”) construction. Generally, the thicker the tubing, the darker or heavier the tone of the flute.
Vertical Bass Flute – The ergonomic design of the vertical bass affords soloists and flute choir members greater comfort than a traditional bass flute. The vertical design provides players with a more natural hand and arm position and they usually feature an adjustable thumb rest and floor peg to help support the flute, relieving tension from the player’s arm.
Wave Headjoint – The wave style piccolo headjoint is designed to help focus the air into the embouchure hole and to enhance the low or high registers.