Good morning! Tomorrow I am embarking on a very exciting trip to Washington, D.C. for the annual National Flute Association convention! Last year’s convention was my first time attending, and I am SO excited to see what this year brings! Be sure to check the IFS Facebook page for pictures and updates! In the meantime, I wanted to talk about a professional-level feature that is a mystery to many players: soldered tone holes.
To begin, the term “tone hole” refers to the holes in the tube of the instrument, upon which the keys sit when they are installed on the flute. Soldered tone holes, in the simplest sense, are usually included only on high-end instruments for one main reason: they add many hands-on hours to the instrument. Standard student up to semi-professional flutes use drawn tone holes, which involves a machine punching out holes upon which the keys will seal down the tube of the instrument. A steel ball is then drawn through the tube of the instrument, pulling it up and out to create the hole. These machines are very precise, especially on higher end instruments, so they are acceptable for the majority of players. Flutists who demand a higher standard of accuracy and resonance, however, prefer soldered tone holes, in which the raised part upon which the key will rest is created separately from the tube itself, then soldered onto the tube after a hole is created.
So what does this all mean for the sound and quality of the instrument? Since soldered tone holes are created independently from the instrument, they have slightly more metal and weight than instruments with drawn tone holes. They also tend to be slightly more resistant and powerful-sounding. The IFS has a limited number of flutes available with soldered tone holes, so come check one out!
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