Choosing a Flute
Choosing on the basis of the key type
The two key types
There are two types of keys for the flute: covered keys (German style) and ring keys (French style). Each type has its own characteristics.
Since the key cups are lid-shaped, the keys properly cover the holes, preventing the player's breath from escaping. It is typically easy to press the keys on a covered-key flute in a natural fashion, thanks to the inclusion of an offset key. (The G key operated by the left-hand ring finger protrudes and is aligned to suit the length of the finger.)
Since the key cups are ring-shaped, covering the holes properly requires technique. However, since the player can directly feel the air vibrations on his fingertips, he can control the subtle nuances of the sound. There is also the appeal that techniques such as finger-sliding allow considerable freedom to vary the pitch. The glissando technique is also available, in which a run of notes is played by gradually opening a key hole.
Although ring-key flutes normally feature an in-line key configuration (in which the keys on the main tube are arranged in a straight line), offset ring-key flutes are also available.