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  1. #1

    Default Open holed flute or not

    I currently play on a Yamaha 211SII and I have been wondering when i get my next flute should I get open holes or not. My question is: What is better closed hole or open hole and what differences are there besides the holes. And I have been playing for 6 years and I am thinking of getting a Muramatsu GX or something similar. Could I have your suggestion or what sort of flute I should look at. Thanks William
    YAS 62II, [Eugene Rosseau NC4],
    Choosing open holed flute or not: http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=108257

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member Jazz House's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    An open holed flute allows for interesting effects like quarter tones.
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    Forum Contributor 2013 Kelpie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    I've been tempted to buy a closed hole flute myself, as sometimes when playing fast I don't completely cover a hole. However, for the first 2 weeks I had my Emerson I played it with the factory installed silicone plugs, and when I removed them I swear the flute had a bigger sound. Could be my imagination, though.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    a) An open hole flute has no better sound than a closed one, because there is not a single reason to. Maybe more fashionable (not to me). It is the design and manufacture, particularly on the head joint that matters mostly. Whoever had the idea of opening holes to the flute keys, had a lot of holes in his head (partly jocking).
    b) Who needes quarter tones on a flute?
    c) Thumbs up for the Muramatsu GX (closed hole,lol). I have the EX for trial and it is heavenly. But try the Sankyo CF301 too if you're for a siver tube. It might suit you better.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazz House View Post
    An open holed flute allows for interesting effects like quarter tones.
    Yeah, the biggest advantage with open holes is that you can play notes out of tune

  6. #6
    Distinguished SOTW Member SaxPlayer1004's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    I love my Haynes and I couldn't be happier. I haven't found a reason for a B foot or open holes in all of the work I've done *this includes collegiate symphony work, pit orchestras, and big bands*, and find open holes to be downright irritating. The main problem is finding modern top quality flutes that are closed hole to C foot. This has been something that seems to get the assumption that a flute is of student quality. Open holes and B feet have taken to mean something is of pro quality *similar to hi F# on saxophones, and nickel plated keywork on student saxes*.
    I get dirty looks from a lot of flute players when I take out what they assume to be a student flute, and it sounds amazing. I have trouble playing inline G's with open holes, and even open holed offset G's are somewhat bothersome, but it's all personal preference. I haven't found any tone quality advantage with either one, but since the closed hole is more comfortable and easier for me to play, I play it.

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010 DixieSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    Quote Originally Posted by SaxPlayer1004 View Post
    I have trouble playing inline G's with open holes,

    Me too, but my current primary flute is just such an animal. I put the plug in that hole.

    Flute is my personal curse. I love it when it's good, but it gives me more trouble than any other double I play.

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    NOT!

    No one can tell by listening if you are playnig a closed or open hole flute. Some of it is pride or ego as playing a closed hole flute is supposed to be 'cheating'. The important thing is to play the right notes at the right time. If you can do this and have a good tone, no one will care what kind of flute you play. If your flute is well set up and maintained it doesn't matter

    I own 2 handmade soldered tone hole plateau flutes (one a Haynes and one a Powell). They both play beatifully. If you want a professional flute with closed holes, you will definately have to hunt a little harder for one. It is a little easier finding these flutes in Europe. Try Liz at Winds101.... www.winds101.com she usually has a few available.

    If you are looking I have am considering selling my Haynes. I'll probably post it shortly in the Marketplace

    xraydog

  9. #9
    Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    Open hole is pointless unless, as Perry said, you want to deliberately play notes out of tune!

    As I've written before (but the link seems now to fail):

    Open holes.

    Many reasons are touted for having them but for perhaps 95% of players they serve no purpose and have significant detractors. Some issues are:

    1. Intonation: A flute goes quite sharp when it is played loudly. This can be compensated for (for SOME notes) by partly closing a tone hole. This is possible only with open holes. Alternatively, the pitch can be humoured with special fingerings when playing very softly. However an accomplished player has sufficient versatility in embouchure and air pressure to correct the intonation by other means. Certain alternative fingerings are available to humour pitch with close-hole too.

    2. Intonation: Theoretically, the notes which involve open holes are slightly better vented and are theoretically slightly sharper, so the flute maker allows for this in tone hole position or size. However many players on open-hole flutes plug the holes, theoretically putting the flute out of tune. In reality, the venting of holes on a flute is so good anyway, that this intonation effect is probably so small as to be negligible or non-existent.

    3. Comfort: Many players plug the holes. One type of plug projects and is uncomfortable, another tends to push through the hole, and both are capable of leaking. Fortunately another very neat metal type is available, at unrealistic expense!

    4. Hand position: Open hole encourages an UN-ergonomic position for wrist in order to reliably cover the G key. Some players want to believe so much that the open-hole system is better, that they convince themselves that the distorted wrist position is indeed more natural, but this fails the common sense test. This argument loses weight if the flute, along with the player's head, is rotated 45 degrees anticlockwise (looking form above) as is common modern practice. The rationale for this rotation is to ease stress on the right shoulder, but often overlooked is that it increases the stress on the neck.

    5. Hand position: Some teachers claim that they cannot get pupils' fingers into 'good' positions without the aid of open holes. In answer to that I'd say that I have taught over 400 beginners on closed-hole flutes, and this has not been a problem. It is an issue of good teaching.

    6. Finger Position: This so-called 'good' finger position has the balls of the fingers (under the nails) centred on the key cups. If the fingers are not perfectly centred on the keys (much frowned upon!) what is the big deal, really? Bagpipers and recorder players have no problems with fingers projecting well over the holes. And there are few keys on a saxophone and piccolo where the fingers are central.

    7. Acoustics/Intonation: From "The Flute Book - A Complete Guide for Students and Performers" 2nd edition, By Nancy Toff (1996): "...Many acousticians - Dayton C. Miller and Arthur Benade are perhaps the most prominent of them - consider the plateau model acoustically superior. They brand the open holes a significant flaw, 'the one acoustical crime that has been perpetrated against the Boehm flute,' in Miller's words. Flute maker Albert Cooper (the legendary flute maker and creator of the now modern scale - the Cooper Scale) considers the French model's scale inherently less accurate because it overcompensates for the sharpening effect of the perforations.

    8. Acoustic theory: There should be as little interruption to the bore as possible... Open hole introduces a further step, up from the bore to the pad, and then up again to the finger.

    9. Acoustic theory: The bore should be of a hard material to effectively define the vibrating air column... The washers and screws of a closed-hole pad are far harder than the 'squishiness' of a chimney of air leading up to a soft

    10. Servicing: The standard way of adjusting the way a pad closes on a tone hole is by 'shimming', which is inserting paper spacing washers or partial washes behind the pads. For this process a pad may need to be taken out and put back many times. During pad removal a pad is far more likely to be distorted or damaged during if it is on an open-hole key, where there is a difficult-to-remove pad retaining grommet.

    11. The pad retainers for open-hole flutes are far from being an ideal method of retaining pads. They are prone to leaks. Splits are not uncommon.

    12. Perhaps most important of all - Leaks! My finger skin is hard, but not very hard. Air leaks badly along my finger print grooves on open-holed keys. Try this test: Cork the lower end of the body of an open-hole flute. Close the keys with the fingers and 'squirt' a mouthful of air gently into the other end. An open-hole flute will leak unless the fingers are pressed quite hard - harder than a player should need to press. If the fingers are wetted before the test, then air can be heard bubbling out of the fingerprint grooves in the skin. This is not an issue of not covering the holes properly. It is a result of low finger pressure on a large area of skin. Skin simply is not flat, and therefore does not seal well. This phenomenon is worse when the key cup surface is smooth, without ridges around the open hole.

    What on earth is the use of adjusting a flute to be leak-proof for good response, and then introducing finger leaks by having open holes! The response of a flute is extremely sensitive to even the tiniest leaks.

    13. Finger Contortions. For people with a short right pinkie relative to the D finger, contortions are needed to play low C or low B without introducing a leak under at lest one of the three right hand open-holes. Again the flute is not ergonomic.

    14. Tone: It is claimed that the extra venting offered by open-holes improves the tone. Pause to think about this. Of the twelve notes in an octave, there are only five where open holes contribute to venting. Have you ever heard of a player saying how their Bb, A, F#, F, & E have a better tone than the other notes? An emphatic NO! Therefore the notion of better tone is bunkum! But sincerely believing such things is part of the human condition!

    15. With open-holes, a wider range of unusual effects are available, such as warbling notes, 1/4 tones, slides from one note to another, two notes sounding at once, etc. Perhaps only 2% of players ever use these, especially after the experimental novelty wears off. There are plenty novelty effects available on a closed-hole flute for the one-time experimenters to play with.

    16. Open-hole flutes usually cost slightly more. So it is my guess that when buying a flute, the typical player, encouraged by a teacher, assumes that because the flute costs more it must be better. The buyer can stretch his/her budget that little extra, so open hole is what he buys. Or it could be simply that the cheapest student flutes are not offered in open-hole versions, so it is assumed that open-hole makes a superior flute.

    So, in spite of having played an open-hole professional flute for a decade, I changed back to the more desirable closed-hole flute to avoid all these problems. Choosing open holes seems to be largely a 'fashion', or prestige-driven thing, nurtured by teachers and marketers who have not really thought much about it, and supported by manufacturers who oblige the market.

    The inclination towards open holes is much stronger in some countries than others; America seems to have rather unquestioningly adopted the idea from the French. There are many superb players in the world who do indeed play on closed-hole flutes.
    There is a common notion that manufacturers do not offer closed holes in their top models. This is far from the truth. The truth is that many market outlets have never offered the closed-hole options that the manufacturers offer. Perhaps it is simply so they can carry a smaller range of models in stock.

    In the final analysis, it is difficult to change with reason, what a person has come to believe is better. A player plays on what makes him happy.
    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

  10. #10
    Distinguished SOTW Member shmuelyosef's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    I learned on an open-hole Gemeinhardt 3SB (open-hole, inline, B foot...my daughter's instructor recommended this) and for years struggled with the flute...never really liked playing it, and it was always the 'painful double' for me. A few years ago I bought a Yamaha 211 and immediately loved playing the flute and practiced all the time. About a year ago, I upgraded to a Muramatsu EX III (plateau, offset G) and am now in heaven with flute playing, and kept the 211 (now with upgrade head) for a backup, as it is quite different than the Muramatsu and in some situations preferred.
    "When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading" --- Henny Youngman

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Member SaxPlayer1004's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    Thank you Gordon. That was one of the best posts I have seen on this forum. A real shame that this can't be adopted and accepted by the rest of the flute world.

    The advantage of piping and recordings is that we are playing on holes that are countoured to the shape of the chanter. These are MUCH easier to cover than flute holes which are flat. The edges are much sharper on pipes especially, so proper closure of the toneholes is quite easy. I have NO problem with closure on pipes or clarinets, but have never been able to properly seal tone holes on a flute.
    Clarinet also has the advantage of having the rings embed slightly into the wood of the clarinet so you are sealing the actual tone hole as opposed to a hole in the pad.

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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    I've played a sterling silver, open hole, in line G, low B flute since 1971 - and I'm used to it! When I was a kid that's what you did. With that said, I THINK I'm older and wiser now, AND NONE OF THE ABOVE MATTERS AT ALL! I agree with everything Gordon has to say, except I do enjoy the open holes bends when I play jazz, (but not many players use this).

  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Member BarrySachs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    Quote Originally Posted by SaxPlayer1004 View Post
    I love my Haynes and I couldn't be happier. I haven't found a reason for a B foot or open holes in all of the work I've done *this includes collegiate symphony work, pit orchestras, and big bands*, and find open holes to be downright irritating. The main problem is finding modern top quality flutes that are closed hole to C foot. This has been something that seems to get the assumption that a flute is of student quality. Open holes and B feet have taken to mean something is of pro quality *similar to hi F# on saxophones, and nickel plated keywork on student saxes*.
    I get dirty looks from a lot of flute players when I take out what they assume to be a student flute, and it sounds amazing. I have trouble playing inline G's with open holes, and even open holed offset G's are somewhat bothersome, but it's all personal preference. I haven't found any tone quality advantage with either one, but since the closed hole is more comfortable and easier for me to play, I play it.
    That is, of course, the Haynes "commercial" model. Many jazz saxophonists favour this flute. They are made the same as the Powell commercial but they're made of "coin silver". They are heavy wall instruments, and have a darker sound than the hand-made, soldered tone-hole, higher end models. Sherman Irby (Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Roy Hargrove Quintet) plays a Haynes commercial as does Bill Easley and many other well known jazz saxophonists. I think Moody used to play one. Frank Wess played a Powell commercial for most of his career. Liz Mann, a first call classical flutist in NYC, also plays Powell commercial. The Powell is more expensive than the Hayes, around $5k and up.

    Anyway, A Haynes commercial is typically a closed hole axe and has a C-foot. They don't have that "crystal-clear" legit sound for symphonic work but a different head-joint would help it in that direction.

    The bottom line is that a commercial Haynes can be had for around $1500-$2k, and it will retain it's value. It is a real instrument with a deep, complex sound, but it will require some time to learn to play it in tune and coax the sound out of it. It's not "cheap and easy" like some of the newer flutes. Don't be fooled by a mid priced Chinese made flute with pointed arms, split-E, C# trill and a B-foot. They aren't as serious as a Haynes commercial model. Don't let the Haynes' look put you off, even though it looks like an Armstrong 104.

    BTW, the other sleeper flute is the all-silver, Artley "Wilkins" model. It is also a coin-silver flute although it usually has inline keys and open holes.

  14. #14
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010 DixieSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    I would kill for a good quality closed hole offset G flute - As previously noted flute is my nemesis. Although I've been playing it a lot more lately. Actually I've been playing a lot of stuff a lot more lately.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member SaxPlayer1004's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    Ya. I actually have two commercial models somehow, and am trying to sell one of them. I really do absolutely love the Haynes commercial flute. I still remember the first time I played the Haynes. I'd always struggled with flute, and I played this thing and it was so fluid I was astounded. It fits me like a glove, has the sound I want, and is comfortable to play. YAY. I love finally finding the instruments that I want to keep, it's like a lightbulb goes off and you know it's set.

    So what exactly is "coin silver" as opposed to what the Powell's are made of? and mine are from the early 60's if that makes a difference.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    Coin silver is .900% silver and sterling is .925%. Sterling tends to tarnish a little slower and coin is a bit easier to work with when drawing.
    A good closed hole flute to look for is one of the old sterling Selmers from the 1930s-1950s. Great flutes that can be found under $1,000 in mint condition.

  17. #17
    Distinguished SOTW Member SaxPlayer1004's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    Thanks Bruce. I thought it was pretty cool when I got each of the flutes that they were purple tinted instead of black or ugly tarnish. Polished them minimally to get the black spots off, and figure when I need to repad them I'll get them back to shiny silver, but the purple looks kinda cool.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    Ive heard a myth, not sure if its true, that back in the late 1800s, the french flutemaker, Louis Lot, who basically created the modern, boehm metal flute, realized that he could make open hole flutes faster (less man hours) than a closed.

    His customers seemed to take to the open hole flutes, no problem, so...viola! the "french flute" was born.

    Not sure if this is true or false.

    In US, in the 20th century, the influence of George Barrere & other frenchies that came here to play in the symphonies, then later the super-stardom of Rampal, made most teachers & players relate the open-hole flute to being "more advanced"

    In UK & Germany, closed-hole playing continuned for a long time. James Galway has said, that even as late as the 1960s, many advanced players there still used a closed hole. Galway himself played a closed hole haynes until the late 60s.

    FYI I have a very nice, high-end sankyo closed hole that I stumbled across years ago & dig it alot.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    In sterling and gold flutes I sell about 100 open hole to one closed hole flutes. It costs the same to make and resale for closed hole is really bad in the US.

  20. #20
    Distinguished SOTW Technician Chris Peryagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open holed flute or not

    I got a Yamaha 674 which is open hole and offset G as was my previous flute, a Selmer Paris with a Cooper modified head (which was also my very first flute) was the same configuration but without the high E mech.

    But a few years later I tried a Yamaha 614 belonging to a fellow bandmember and found that one played even easier than mine, even though mine does play very easily (and was commented on being 'very loud' by another bandmember who borrowed it one evening).

    So that made me wonder why didn't I just get a normal closed hole flute? There's no real reason to play on open hole flutes and all makers will make pro models with closed holes. There are many top orchestral players that play on closed hole flutes.

    You don't get flute players complaining or sneering that alto flutes or piccolos aren't open hole, they accept that on the grounds it's impractical if they are, but they still play open hole concert flutes.
    F*** the notes, go for the tone!

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