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 Types of flute headjoints
Author: Nurse Linda 
Date:   2010-04-11 04:13

Hi! I am looking at upgrading my flute in the next year. I'm trying to do my homework ahead of time to enhance my decisionmaking. Can anyone tell me the difference between a "CY cut" headjoint and an "EC cut" headjoint? I've also noticed some flute descriptions listing body style as "type 1" or "type 4"....can anyone shed some light regarding the difference between these different body styles? I would appreciate any information given......thanks!

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: FrankM 
Date:   2010-04-13 14:45

I assume we are talking about Yamaha, yes? I am a doubler and flute is not my main instrument, but I can tell you the EC headjoint made a huge improvement in every aspect of my flute playing.

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: Nurse Linda 
Date:   2010-04-14 00:19

Hi Frank,

Thank you so much for your response! Yes, I am referring to Yamaha. Is this the only company that offers the EC headjoint? What model do you play?

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: FrankM 
Date:   2010-04-14 13:18

Years ago I bought the yamaha 381 ( I think) which had in line G, B foot and open holes. I think the head that comes standard is the CY. Last year I bought an EC head and and the difference is unbelievable. After buying the EC I really have no reason to upgrade the body of the flute. It serves me well...but please remember, I'm a clarinet /sax player who doubles on flute, so maybe a real flute player will chime in.

By the way, if I had it to do over, I'd get closed hole and C foot. For my purposes it would have been fine.

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: CocoboloKid 
Date:   2010-04-29 18:29

This should tell you everything you need to know about the Yamaha headjoint configurations. The EC head is hand-cut with a high riser and not much undercutting.

The various body types use differing internal dimensions/tone hole size & placement to achieve different sonic results. The "Type-4" is billed as a larger-sounding, more freely projecting instrument for use in large orchestras and filling a concert hall as a soloist.


Is this the only company that offers the EC headjoint?

Yes. Those headjoint designations (EC/CY/etc) are Yamaha's proprietary naming system, much like the YFL-xxx model numbers. Every maker uses their own naming system. (For instance, my primary headjoint is an 18K gold Sankyo RT-3, they also use NRS and FT designations; Powell calls their various headjoint cuts Soloist, Philharmonic and Venti; Burkart names theirs C4 and M2, and so on)

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: Nurse Linda 
Date:   2010-04-30 02:45

Cocobolo Kid,

thanks so much for the link & your input. I am a serious amateur (getting back into my flute playing after a 3 yr absense due to nursing school) and I hope to be replacing my current Yamaha (YFL 481) in the next yr or so. I am currently in a local concert band (without a group of very serious amateur flute players) & plan on taking private lessons in the fall. Currently, I am very much interested in a handmade Yamaha. I have enjoyed playing my current Yamaha, but would like to upgrade my 25+ year old current flute. It may be more flute than what I need right now, but this will probably be my last flute purchase and I don't want to regret (down the road) not spending the extra money to get a really good flute. I do plan on trying out different flute models & makes(when I get closer to the actual purchase time). I'm assuming you must be a professional flute player? If so, do you foresee any difficulties for me by buying a handmade flute? Thanks again for your time & input!

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: CocoboloKid 
Date:   2010-04-30 13:15

You're very welcome! I do indeed play professionally, and my advice to you is to buy the absolute best flute that you can possibly afford. It will be the last flute you ever have to buy, and you'll be glad you did.

I have always enjoyed the handmade Yamahas, moreso now than ever, with the introduction of the new Merveille and Bijou models. (The Yamaha gold flutes are particularly wonderful, as is the wooden 874W.) If I were going to purchase a new Yamaha flute right now, though, my personal headjoint pick (and your mileage may vary, of course) would be the new K type, designed in collaboration with Jeff Khaner of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is, in my opinion, the very best headjoint Yamaha has ever made, whether in gold or silver.

Really, though, in the end, the only way to know what you like is to try as many as you can before you make a decision! :-)

(A final piece of advice...whatever you end up with, make sure it has a C# trill key. Some may disagree, but I find it essential. Yamaha is now offering it even on the 500 series models, so it shouldn't be hard to find one!)

Best of luck in your search! Buying a new flute is an extremely exciting thing. :)

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: Nurse Linda 
Date:   2010-05-06 08:26

Hi Cocobolo,

I was wondering if I could trouble you again for more of your Flute expertise? In regards to flute extras (in addition to the C# trill key that you so kindly recommended I get) what are your thoughts on other options (such as the split E mech, wall thickness of 0.35, 0.38 or 0.43mm and the riser/lip plate material)?

My research has led to conflicting info regarding the split E mech-one place I read where the split E may cause distortions of other notes, but other literature I read says the split E is fantastic.

I have read several articles that indicate the quality of the metal of the lip plate riser is important to tone quality(such as with gold), whereas the lip plate metal has little to do with tone quality (it's more for appearances). Has that been your experience? Also, how easy does the gold plating come off the lip plate? The reason I ask is that alot of my current yamaha 481 keys are down to bare metal. I don't know if that is because I have used the silver polishing cloth too frequently or if I have a high body acid that has eaten it away (I know the loss of the silver plating does not affect sound quality, but I also don't want to pay the extra for a gold lip plate just to have it easily worn away).

My last question is concerning the thickness of the flute walls. If I understand it correctly, the thickness affects the type of sound the flute produces, but I don't know what type of sound is most desired.

Again, thank you so much for your time & any information you can give me.  :)

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: CocoboloKid 
Date:   2010-05-11 22:54

I sent you an email at the address listed in your profile! :-)

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: justme 
Date:   2010-05-25 13:27


I don't play flute but this conversation peaked my curiosity.

I too would like to know from a pro flute player's perspective if the wall thickness of the body of the flute would make it sound "darker" or "sound "to be a bit lower in pitch if the flute had a thicker wall versus a thinner wall with the same flute and all other things being equal?

P.S - Flutes are usually a bit "bright" for me, but I have heard some flute players from time to time that sound much darker...

Thanks in advance


"A critic is like a eunuch: he knows exactly how it ought to be done."

An instrument of torture operated by a person with cotton in his ears. There are two instruments that are worse than a clarinet -- two clarinets

Post Edited (2010-05-26 00:32)

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: clarinetcounsel 
Date:   2010-07-03 12:26


I think wall thickness does not necessarily change the pitch but definitely affect the darkness / brightness. Selmer Recital (with small bore and thick walls) is well-known for dark sound.

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: justme 
Date:   2010-07-06 11:19


I was asking the question about flutes in particular, but thanks for your reply all the same.

Take Care.


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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: clarinetcounsel 
Date:   2010-07-18 04:09

Nurse Linda,

I have made a comparison between 481 and 674H in another forum but of course, 674H is not a handmade model (series 800 and 900 are).

About 10 years ago, I bought a 481. In these 10 years, no repair / re-pad has been done. The condition is still quite good (no obvious tarnish only two or three sticky pads). However, as I want to go beyond the limit of this flute (but not that much as it is too late for me to turn to flute major), I just bought a 684H today. So, this is my very brief comparison.

Both have silver body and silver-plated keys; open holes; in-line G.
The differences are :-
(a) 684H has bottom B (with Gizmo key)
(b) 684H has white gold springs but 481 has stainless springs
(c) 684H comes with EC headjoint (it is stamped with EC silver head 925) and 481 presumably comes with CY headjoint (it is only stamped with silver 925 - so I can’t tell exactly)

The Headjoints
As expected, the two headjoint are interchangeable to the two bodies.
In terms of playing, my preliminary view is both are easy to play but, EC has more depth and wider dynamic range.

The Body
684H is said to be of ‘Type 4” body for orchestral music; 481 is said to be of “Type 1” body for chambers/solo music. So, what is the actual difference?
First of all, although both can fit very well with EC or CY headjoints, the inner bore size of the lower part of 684H must be slightly larger than that of 481. Why? Although the foots are inter-changeable, 481 foot is a bit loose on 684H’s body and 684H’s foot is a bit tight on 481’s body.
Secondly, the open holes’ size must be different - my plugs used on 481 simply can’t insert into the holes of 684H as the holes on 684H are smaller. It is sorry that there is no plug with 684H but the smaller holdes seem to have compensated the shortgage of my finger tips' size.
Thirdly, in terms of playing, my preliminary view is 684H has a wider dynamic range (when I compare both with the same headjoint). Of course, there is much to explore after some periods of breaking-in.

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 Re: Types of flute headjoints
Author: Awesomesauce 
Date:   2011-12-26 13:42

Hello everyone, this is my first time on this forum, and just thought I would give my 2 cents on the heavy wall versus standard wall discussion. I own a Yamaha 684 with a heavy wall and EC headjoint. Comparing it to the standard wall Yamaha of the same model, my personal opinion (not a fact, more of a feeling), is that the heavy wall doesn't make the sound darker, but does make it sound deeper. The heavy wall adds bass to the sound, and gives more of a "hold" on the notes. It still remains as bright as the standard wall, but to me, the added lower overtone adds richness and focus to the overall sound. Hopefully this helps, but again, it's just my opinion.

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