Stepping Up the
By the end of their first year, many flute players are already outgrowing their beginner student instrument. They are ready for a flute that will complement their developing music skills. It’s time to step-up to a more advanced, higher quality instrument. There are many features and options that are available on intermediate and professional flutes that can enhance the playing experience. Step-up flutes are specifically designed to have a better response time and improved dynamic expression. Step-up flutes are made of varying degrees of solid silver features, which helps to create a clear and pleasant tone. Modified or extra keys extend the range of the instrument and make it easier to play complicated pieces and open tone holes encourage proper finger placement.
Open Tone Holes
Split E Mechanism
Characteristics to Consider
Solid Silver Headjoint and/or Body: The addition of silver makes a dramatic difference in the tone, one that most non-musical people can hear. It will help a developing player keep up with advanced techniques and receive more enjoyment in playing. Most intermediate flutes have a solid silver headjoint and silver-plated body and foot joint. Professional level flutes typically have a solid silver headjoint, body, and foot joint.
Open Tone Holes: Open tone holes come standard on most step-up flutes. They often include plugs which allow students to gradually adjust to proper finger placement. Having good balance and hand/finger placement is essential to good playing techniques.
Low-B Foot: The low-B Foot adds an additional key, extending the range of the instrument. It also makes the foot joint slightly longer and includes a Gizmo key, known as the high C facilitator. Response improves significantly which is great for advanced ensemble music.
Split E Mechanism: The Split E Mechanism is an added mechanical component often included on step-up flutes. It helps stabilize the high E by closing the G key alone, improving the flute’s response and clarity of the note.
In-Line vs. Off-Set G: Most flutes are designed with an off-set G, which helps players with smaller hands to play better. The off-set G allows the left wrist to be straighter and the thumb to be more relaxed.
Other Premium Design Features: Some upgraded flutes also include other design features, including additional keys, upgraded pad cups, and other aesthetic features. A gold-plated lip plate can add a distinct look and is also hypo-allergenic for players with sensitivities. Some models feature French-Style pad cups and arms (also called pointed arms). This style is designed to be stronger than the standard y-arms and facilitate even pad wear. Serious players love the C# trill key included on select professional models, for all the functions it can do to solve tricky fingerings, such as the B-C# trill or high G-A trill.
It is important to decide what features are the most valuable to you as a player. One of the best ways to do this is to try a wide variety of step-up flutes. At Menchey Music Service, we have upgraded flutes from the reputable brands Yamaha, Gemeinhardt, and Haynes. We are ready to help you find the perfect fit!