Silver and gold–and lots more!

Posted by
Erin Nichols
 November 24, 2015

As many of you have probably realized now, shopping for a new flute can be a very customized experience–so many features to choose from! Well, adding to that list of ways to change up your flute experience is a plethora of different materials from which your instrument can be constructed! Read on to discover some materials that you may not have even considered for your next flute…

Silver, of course, is the most common material from which flutes are constructed. Instruments at the intermediate level or above will feature, at the very least, a solid silver headjoint. This naming, however, can be a bit deceptive, as flutes that are made of 100% silver are very uncommon. Most of the time, a designation of “solid silver” means that the composition of the tube is 92.5% silver, with the rest being more durable alloys. Often, this will be identified with a stamp that reads 0.925 silver or something similar. This is also commonly referred to as sterling silver. Flutes in the intermediate range almost always are made of this silver composition, either in the headjoint or the entire tube.
An alternative to this is Britannia silver, which is 95.8% pure silver. This greater silver makeup provides a slightly darker, richer sound due to the greater amount of pure silver in the tubing. This is a feature that is offered in several brands of semi-professional to professional level instruments, including Altus and Miyazawa flutes.

Sir James Galway has brought the gold flute to a greater popularity–but of course, this material comes with a hefty price tag. Pure gold is classified as 24k, but this is very rare as this designation is very difficult to form the shape of the instrument. The more pure gold on the instrument, the warmer and purer the sound is going to be–and the greater the price tag. Gold is often alloyed with other materials, such as silver or copper. Miyazawa, for example, makes their Boston Classic flute from an exclusive gold-silver alloy.

Both Altus and Miyazawa have greatly increased the popularity of platinum instruments, which are gorgeous both in looks and sound. Platinum is slightly darker in color than silver, and makes for an extremely rich, resonant sound. Platinum is a pure element and is extremely dense, so these instruments generally start at $15,000 or more.

There are, of course, nearly limitless options for customizing your flute with these materials: platinum risers, wood headjoints, 14k gold lip plates, Britannia silver walls–you name it, it probably exists! Want to customize your flute experience? Give Erin a call!

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