A look at all the different options available for your flute. Info about lip plates, embouchure holes, colors, faux rings, and more…
I know that there are a number of different options and that it can be confusing to sort it out. Here are my comments, hopefully to help make the choices a little more clear. If you have any questions, please send me an email.
2-piece vs. 3-piece flutes: There is no difference in how these flutes are played or how they sound. The only difference is that the joint between the hands on a 3-piece flute allows the player to rotate the joint to adjust the fingering between the hands. This is a useful feature, especially for people with smaller hands. 3-piece flutes also break down into smaller pieces for ease of carrying. I charge $15 to construct the joint between the hands.
Inline vs. Offset Finger Holes: Inline finger holes are the standard configuration for Irish flutes, however, some flutemakers and players are now promoting a small offset on the ring finger holes on both hands as making a lot of sense ergonomically, especially if your hands are small. I recommend slightly offset finger holes for all players. With slightly offset finger holes it is still possible to use the piper’s grip with either hand, although some players will prefer inline holes for playing with piper’s grip. I will also make custom offset holes at no additional charge.
Larger diameter hole for the right hand ring finger: For the larger flutes, where the finger stretch between the 5th and 6th finger holes is an issue, I am now offering the option of a larger 6th finger hole (5/16″ instead of 1/4″). The larger hole makes for a little better tone at that hole but a larger finger stretch (4 mm larger for the low D flute). If you have larger hands or have no problem with a stretch of 41 mm (low D), which is really not that big of a stretch, I recommend getting the larger 6th hole. Since the response at the 6th hole also depends on the embouchure, I have decided to use the larger 6th hole as my default layout for the low D flutes with the standard headjoint (no lip plate). By contrast, with a deeper embouchure chimney the lip plate flutes respond quite well with the smaller 6th finger hole, although I do prefer the larger hole for these flutes as well for an even better tone at that hole. For the lip plate flutes I will use the smaller hole as the default layout unless otherwise instructed. I hope this is not too confusing. My goal is to offer the best performing flutes that I am capable of making, and, as much as possible, to fit these to the needs of the player.
Flute Colors: Currently I am offering flutes in white, charcoal gray, and black, all at the same price. For a more in-depth discussion of these various pvc materials, please see the FAQ page on the sidebar to the right.
What Key To Order: The key of low D is the key of the standard Irish flute. Most of the flutes that I sell are low D flutes. Because Irish flutes are simple-system flutes without keys, each flute will play best in a few related keys, so it is desirable to have several flutes in different keys if you want to play in more than a few keys. I have a link at the bottom of my FAQ page that gives a chart that makes this clear. For example, Disney ordered flutes in seven different keys for there productions on Broadway in NYC and in Europe
Lip Plate Headjoint or Not: I have a separate page (Optional Lip Plate Headjoint) that I have devoted to this topic. Rather than trying to summarize my conclusions here, I refer you to that page on the sidebar to the right.
Small Round vs. Larger Oval Embouchure: I also discuss this topic on the page “Flute Embouchure”. At this point in my flute-making career (June 2013) I am recommending both embouchure cuts. The small round embouchure is suitable for the low D and higher pitched flutes. This embouchure, while not considered a modern embouchure cut, seems to work very well with the cylindrical large bore pipe that I use. Several of my favorite personal flutes that I have had for over ten years have this smaller embouchure. Once you master the nuances of this smaller round embouchure, I believe that it requires less air to blow and easily produces a rich Irish flute sound. The round embouchure works best on flutes without the lip plate, I believe. I would recommend this embouchure for both the beginning student and the advanced performer.
The larger oval embouchure is perhaps the standard modern Irish flute embouchure cut. It produces a louder tone than the smaller embouchure, but not by a whole lot. Since I have introduced this embouchure, my customers in general have been very pleased with its looks and performance. Personally, I find this embouchure more challenging to play, but it probably has more potential than the circular embouchure if you master its requirements. The oval embouchure works quite well with the lip plate headjoint, producing a robust first octave in particular, which is good. I think that this embouchure cut, with the reservations that I have already mentioned, is suitable for all skill levels.
Right or Left-Hand Flutes: Although my default flutes are made for right-handed players, I do make flutes for left-handed players, as well. There is no additional charge for left-handed flutes.
Faux Rings: I discuss this on the page “Dressing Up Your Flute” on the sidebar.
My Recommendations: If you are on a budget and are looking for a basic flute, I recommend a 2-piece, 6-hole low D flute with inline/offset finger holes, installed headjoint wedge, and faux vinyl rings @ $70 + shipping and selling costs (if any). My most frequently-ordered flute is a 3-piece, 6-hole low D flute with oval embouchure, inline/offset finger holes, installed headjoint wedge, and faux vinyl rings @ $85 + $25 lip plate = $110 + shipping and selling costs (if any). My personal favorite is what I call the “classic Tipple flute”, which is a 3-piece, 6-hole low D flute with standard headjoint and with either the oval or round embouchure, inline/offset finger holes, installed headjoint wedge, and faux viny rings @ $85 + shipping. I include a hand-made cloth bag for the assembled flute and a long steel/cotton swab that allows you to swab out the flute without taking it apart with any of my flutes.