What are flutes made of?
Most student flutes are nickel silver alloy that is plated silver, however, there comes a time in the player’s musical journey when they want to demand more of the instrument with regard to tonal colors and flexibility. The Solid silver head produces a dramatically clearer tone over the plated head. The solid silver body and foot produce a warmer tone than the silver-plated. Most manufacturers will identify the areas that have precious metal content by stamping “Silver” “Solid Silver” “925” on the parts that are sterling silver.
What percent of silver is in our Solid Silver instruments?
We use both coined silver tubing which is 90% silver and sterling silver or “925” which is 92.5% silver.
Is there a difference in the sound of a Solid silver body and foot joint, compared to a plated body and foot joint?
Yes, the solid silver produces a warmer tone than the silver-plated.
What is a “B” footjoint ?
The “B” foot joint is longer and has an extra key on it. The standard concert flute comes with a natural three-octave range from low C [C1] to top [C4], however, the more advanced and professional player can occasionally be found ‘up in the gods’ playing C#4. Advanced flute music may however contain a low ‘B’ which is too low for a normal concert flute to play. This is when the B foot joint is needed.
While a flute with a C foot joint has a bright and resonant sound, a flute with a B foot joint has a more dark and glossy sound. Because of this, flutes with a B-foot joint are sometimes selected for their tonal characteristics rather than a technical reason. The B-foot joint also reduces the tendency for the instrument to play sharp in the third register, while increasing the darkness of the third register tone- color so it better matches the lower register.
Keys & Mechanisms
I heard that a flute could have an “E mechanism [split E] and “E facilator [e-disk]” on a flute? What is this?
The split e has been around for many years. One of the many high notes on the flute is the note E in the third octave; one of these key systems can make that note easier to play. Since the E note is widely used in beautiful melodies of classical and romantic period works along with technically demanding modern music this key system is quite useful.
Gemeinhardt offers both the split E and the E-disk. The disk is a half moon shape that is soldered in the lower G tone hole, which helps to reach this note. With the E mechanism the G key is split and a bar on the F# key pushes down the lower G the upper G remains open. Most students find the addition of either is beneficial.
What is the difference between an inline flute and an offset flute?
A flute with inline keys means all the keys that the player manipulates with their fingers are in line. A flute with offset keys means the G key, operated by the left-hand ring finger, is off-center and not in line with the other keys. This means an instrument with an offset G is easier to operate for players with smaller hands.
Note: there is no acoustical difference between the two styles. Many players prefer the offset G keys because it feels more natural to them. It is purely a matter of personal choice.
Why are the pads of the flute so important?
Padding a flute is the single most important process in making a flute play at its best. A well-padded student flute will play better than a badly padded professional flute. Pads are made of felt, backed by very thin cards, and covered by a natural membrane.
The role of a pad is to quietly close off a tone hole completely, creating a hermetic [air-tight] seal with the least amount of effort. If a pad is not seated [fitted or leveled] correctly in the key cup, it will cause an air leak that will affect the formation of the note it produces when closed, as well as every note below that pad. The hermetic seal made by the pad is therefore the single most important factor in tonal production.
This process continues to constitute a large proportion of Gemeinhardt’s workshop labor hours during instrument construction. Highly trained professional padders do this process.
Why do some flutes have holes in the keys and others do not?
The flutes with key cups without holes are called closed holes or plateau instruments. The flutes with holes in the keys are called open holes or French flutes. The closed-hole or plateau-style key cups do not require the player to cover the cup entirely with the fingers. The key covers the tone hole to prevent air from escaping. In contrast, the key cups of an open hole or French “ring cup” that has a hole in the center the player must cover the hole with their finger.
While it takes some training to be able to accurately and consistently press on the tone hole with the open holes, you can directly feel the air vibrations through your fingers. This means you can produce finely nuanced sound and a more resonant tone, which will carry better, and it provides the ability to use special fingering. With the open hole keys, it is possible for the advanced players to control their intonation by changing how their fingers cover the tone holes. It encourages good hand position development, which in turn improves technique.
What makes a good student flute?
Taking into account some of the points previously listed, a flute manufactured to be the greatest benefit to the student will come from a manufacturer who takes seriously the importance of the head joint, and padding process. A new flute student will require a flute that blows very easily and with a minimum of resistance. The Gemeinhardt 2SPmodel is universally renowned for these qualities.
What is the difference between 2SP, 22SP, 52SP and 72SP?
All are beginning model students, closed holes, C foot joint, and silver-plated flutes. Differences may be the head joint, key cup design, and other minor manufacturing processes.
What is the difference between the 3B LTD and the 3SHB?
Both models are conservatory (step-up) flutes and have the same body, head, foot, and keys, the 3B LTD is supplied with the gold plated lip plate.
What is the difference between the KGB Special and 3SB?
Both models are conservatory (step-up) flutes and have the same solid silver body, head, and foot joint with silver-plated keys. The KGB Special has different style key cups than the 3SB and is supplied with a gold plated lip plate.
What model does my M2, M3, and etcetra compare to today?
We have provided comparison chart on our serial number look up chart page on our web site under resources.
Returns and Warranty
How do I get my instrument repaired when it is under warranty?
We require all Warranty repair requests and inquiries to go back through the dealer that you purchased your instrument. We do this because we do not have access to information such as who a dealer sold an instrument to or when they sold it, which dictates the warranty period. If it is found to need warranty work the dealer will contact us.
I am told that the flute head joint is very important, why? Is the design the same for all brands?
The head joint is singularly the most important part of the flute, not only for sound production but also for tuning. Flute makers continually strive to make the “perfect” head joint, however, because this is such a subjective topic, the “perfect” head joint will probably never be made.
Broken down into 3 different parts, the head joint tube, the lip plate [where the musician lips rest] and the chimney or riser [linking the lip plate with the head tube and lip plate] most head joints give different strengths and tonal widths in various parts of the octave depending on the expertise of design and manufacture. It is vital for the new player or beginner to purchase a flute with a head joint design that gives easy tone production.
There are many reasons for the different head joint characteristics of the flute manufacturers = different parabolic curves, varying embouchure sizes, angles, and depths. What can be said with certainty however is the student will advance more quickly and to a higher standard if they play on a flute with a good quality and responsive head joint. It must be stressed that the quality of design and head joint varies widely from brand to brand. It is therefore vital to the new player that they purchase a flute from a manufacturer with a specialist flute reputation. Gemeinhardt has that reputation.
The purchase of a flute with a little-known brand name based solely on price may not be the best long-term decision. Student flute head joints are usually silver-plated. When the musician becomes more advanced other models are available in solid silver.
What advantage is there to having a Solid Silver head joint?
The Solid Silver Head joint produces a dramatically clearer tone than a plated head joint.
What head joints does Gemeinhardt offer?
Gemeinhardt custom head joints incorporate the most advanced innovations in design and construction to offer flutists a variety of tone colors and resistance levels. Crafted by skilled artisans, these head joints promise outstanding performance when paired with Gemeinhardt flutes. Gemeinhardt offers six distinctive solid silver head joints available in standard or thin walls. Additional features for the solid silver head joints would be a solid gold riser, gold plating, or specialized engraving. Whenever a Gemeinhardt conservatory or professional flute is purchased with a solid silver head joint, it is possible to exchange the head joint at the time of purchase for any other Gemeinhardt solid silver custom head joint at no additional cost.
Head Joints offered:
J1 SP – Offers the least resistance of the silver-plated head joints. It provides an extremely quick response in the low register while retaining a free-blowing high register.
J1 SS – Solid silver head joint that offers the least resistance of the head joints. It provides an extremely quick response in the low register while retaining a free-blowing high register.
H1 – (Discontinued) Is the result of research focusing on the angles of the front and back walls of the embouchure hole. Its ease of response makes it particularly well suited for the beginner, yet it has a rich dynamic tonal palette that the professional can explore.
M1 – (Discontinued) Produces a full, warm sound that is color-balanced throughout all registers without sacrificing quickness of articulation in the lower register.
K1 – (Discontinued) Will offer somewhat more resistance than other Gemeinhardt head joints. As a result, it provides a sound that projects brilliantly. It is extremely responsive in the lower register and lends itself particularly well to very soft playing in the high register.
S1 – (Discontinued) This head joint combines brilliance with a rich dark sound and is capable of superb projection. The response is quick in all registers and extreme dynamic contrasts are readily achievable.
NG1 SS – The NG1 SS is the latest innovation in Gemeinhardt flute head joints. It’s designed for the professional, and yet the modified lip-plate and riser allow the aspiring student the opportunity to begin on a head joint they may play throughout their entire musical career. This flute head joint offers ease of response and articulation that are afforded and accompanied by an uncompromising ability to create the sound, tone, and colors you desire.
NG2 SS – We are proud to introduce to you the newest Gemeinhardt professional head joint. It intertwines what is tried and true in the history of head joint making with the evolving demands of modern flutists. Inside the rich color of every note, a plethora of tonal expressions and possibilities await your exploration.
What is the U curved head joint?
The U curved is a head joint for the standard model flute that has been curved into a U shape so the instrument is more compact. This is so people with a small body frame can hold the instrument without having to reach beyond his or her capabilities.
Lip Plates & Risers
Does a gold plated lip plate make a difference in the sound?
No, there is no effect acoustically; it can help deter reaction to nickel silver or silver. Some just prefer it cosmetically.
Does a gold riser make a difference in the sound?
Yes, there is a darker quality sound than with a solid silver riser.
Does a solid gold lip plate affect the sound?
No, acoustically no difference from the solid silver lip plate, it can help to deter reaction to silver. Some just prefer it cosmetically.
Can you help me ID my Gemeinhardt instrument? Manufactured date and a value?
Most instruments have the model number on the receiver joint on the body by the serial number of the instrument. For your convenience, we have provided a serial number look-up chart for dating your instrument, under resources on our website. The value of your instrument like any used item depends on the condition and finding the right buyer. Gemeinhardt does not deal in used instruments nor do we do appraisals. Many music dealers or qualified repair facilities offer such evaluations.
There are also Internet sources.
What is the difference between drawn rolled tone-holes and soldered tone holes?
Pulled tone holes are raised from the body material; their rims are then rolled to form the edges of the tone holes. The pulled tone holes tend to create a brighter sound quality and allow the player to play both legato and light through musical passages. Current model Gemeinhardt flutes have drawn rolled tone holes.
Soldered tone holes are a separate piece that is soldered onto the body tube, which increases resistance and delivers a heavier and deeper sound than the drawn. Current silver-plated and solid silver Gemeinhardt Piccolo’s have this type of tone hole.
Where are Gemeinhardt instruments manufactured?
Gemeinhardt flutes are globally manufactured. A large percentage of parts are made in our Elkhart, Indiana plant and then shipped to our partner factories in China and Taiwan for assembly. The Elkhart plant produces all flute head joints and piccolos. The instruments also receive a final quality inspection by our technicians in the Elkhart plant.
What are the general opinions about offset G vs. inline G?
Ali Ryerson’s professional opinion;
“The offset G is ergonomically better. For years, it was thought the inline was the preferred setup, but experience has taught flutists that hand problems can develop over time with the inline G, due to the unnatural stretch the hand needs to make. The problem is that many flutists still hang on to the idea that offset G is only for students, not professionals. There is no difference in sound production or quality when comparing the two designs.”
What is undercutting and overcutting the embouchure hole?
Overcutting is the term given to the bevel on the topsides of the embouchure hole while undercutting is the action of changing the angles at the bottom of the chimney or riser. With the Gemeinhardt head joints, both actions are achieved by hand filing and then finishing by polishing the angled areas. Overcutting and undercutting of the embouchure hole and chimney does indeed make a difference to the sound and tonal flexibility, however as this is again a subjective topic, the extent and severity of the cutting vary from flute maker to flute maker, as does the preference from player to player.
Can Gemeinhardt provide overhauls on older instruments or recommend a repair shop?
Yes, contact our customer service or a local Gemeinhardt dealer to inquire about repairs. You may also contact your music teacher or band director who may be able to recommend someone in your area.
Why is the regulation of the flute so important?
As you may have already noticed, some of the keys on the flute when depressed will also cause other keys to close. The purpose of regulating the flute is to ensure that two or more keys, which must close together, will seal the tone holes at exactly the same time. Some keys are not closed directly but will depend on the closing of other keys to activate them, e.g. the F# is closed by pressing the D, E, and F keys. It is recommended that if the regulation is not working correctly that it be taken to a trained repair person for adjustment.