Many potential customers find themselves with a dizzying bevy of information when it comes to picking features for their next flute. The possibilities are darn near endless–how can one possibly know which options are best for them? In the blog this week, I break down two common but sometimes hard to decipher features: the split E mechanism versus the high E facilitator.

It seems a bit redundant, right? Two different features that purport to do the same thing: ease high note playing and response, particularly the high E natural. Here is some information from Miyazawa’s website to help untangle the differences between the two:
The split E mechanism can dramatically improve the response of high E. This mechanism divides the action of the upper and lower G keys, permitting the lower G key to close when high E is played. Closing the lower G key and fingering high E decreases venting and brings more stability to the note with a faster response. This mechanism employs a separate rod, adding a slight bit of weight to the flute. The split E mechanism must be made on the flute during manufacture.

The high E facilitator is a donut-shaped ring that is inserted into the lower G tonehole. When playing high E, this ring decreases venting and improves response. The high E facilitator is lightweight and an economical alternative to the split E. In addition, the high E facilitator may be added to any flute at any time.

In a nutshell, these differences boil down to mechanism weight, permanence, cost, and perceived effectiveness. The split E mechanism must be installed when the flute is being built and adds an extra lever and short rod to the flute, which increases the cost of it, as well as adding a slight bit of weight to the instrument. The mechanism does completely close an additional key, whereas the E facilitator simply allows for some extra venting with the “donut” addition. Split E mechanisms generally add an additional $250-$500 to an instrument, depending on the manufacturer, where the facilitator installation runs around $100-$200. We do not currently offer E facilitator installation at our shop, but we do have many instruments in stock with a split E mechanism, as it has become a very popular feature.