If you've been playing the flute for some time, you might have begun to feel limited by your current instrument. Simple, lower priced flutes are fine for beginner to intermediate level players, but when you reach a certain point, you should really consider upgrading to a more serious, professional model. It's a long-term investment that could be your companion through the rest of your flute-playing days if you look after it properly.
When choosing a high-end flute, it's best to look at the parts individually, rather than just the instrument as a whole. This will help you make a more informed decision and understand how each component will affect the sound and playing experience.
First of all, you should know what to look for in a headjoint and what impact it will have on your music.
In most cases, the materials used to make the headjoint will be the same as the rest of the flute. This is not always so, however, and it can make a big difference.
The headjoint makes a huge contribution to the overall sound of a flute, and the material it's built from is a significant part of it. Most professional level flutes will be made from silver or gold, with each having a distinctive sound.
While silver gives warmth to the flute's tone, gold is warmer still, thanks to its density. Sometimes, you'll also find platinum headjoints, which are denser than gold and, as such, even warmer in their tone.
The embouchure holes on different headjoints vary in shape, with common versions being circular, oval or rectangular. While this affects the way a flute plays and the octaves it excels at, it also comes down largely to personal preferences and your unique embouchure.
Embouchure holes also vary in size, with larger ones making the flute bolder and smaller ones giving a more delicate sound.
The best way to choose your ideal shape is to try a range of different headjoints and see which work best for you.
Some lip plates are made from a different material to the rest of the headjoint, which is largely for aesthetic purposes. It can create a nice contrasting look but doesn't really affect the sound to any noticeable degree.
There's some variation in lip plate shape, which is another factor that can only really be decided by finding out what works with your embouchure.
Although the riser is a particularly small part of a flute's headjoint, it has a big effect on the sound. Since it's the part where the sound is made, you should think carefully about the material it's made from, which may differ from the rest of the headjoint.
Also, examine the riser's depth. Shallower ones will give you a lighter, brighter sound, while deeper risers darken the tone.