Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

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AG950Flute
Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2003 4:24 pm

Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by AG950Flute »

Dixon, I recently read one of your replies
in another thread and you mentioned that hardly any companies make flutes with
soldered tone holes anymore and that it''s becoming more and more part of
flute history. I would have to disagree with you on that comment. I do agree
that to say a soldered tone hole flute is a lot better than a drawn tone hole
flutemight be somewhat questionable. However, Powell, Haynes, Brannen, Nagahara,
and several other flute companies make their "handmade" flutes with soldered
tone holes. I agree that the term "handmade" might be a little bit of a stretch
on how the flute are completely made, but I think that term is still widely used
because of the amount of time that the above companies put into each of their
"handmade'' models. These flutes take usually 4 months to make, and each of
them are different from each other and have their own tonal characteristics and
qualities. But granted, on soldered tone flutes a machine cuts out each tone
hole, but then a flute stringer solders on each chimney, whereas on a drawn hole
flute a machine extracts the chimney from the tube and it''d be done. Some
have argued that by pulling the chimney out from the tube of the flute you begin
to have discrepencies on the thickness of the tube around the tone hole and that
is why some people feel that soldered tone holes are better because the tube
holds its integrity around the tone hole. However, like I said before, it''s
very very very difficult to be able to verify this belief and make it factual. I
hope that all makes sense, but I do think it is important to stress that
soldered tone hole flutes are still being widely produced and that I could
almost say with complete certainty that the majority of handmade flutes you look
at have soldered tone holes.
Courtney
Morton

Dixon
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 7:03 pm

Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by Dixon »

Courtney, You are just operating on old
information. Companies like Powell, Hynes, Brannen, Muramatsu and other top
flute makers are all making drawn hole flutes. Had you checked the Powell
website as I recommended you would have seen that. Your argument over the
thinning of material at the spot of drawing in making the tone hole is also an
old argument. That problem was solved in the last century (dont you just love to
say last century like it was a million years ago?) I invite you speak to current
representatives of those companies or their engineers. The best place to do this
is at NFA national convention or larger flute fairs. The soldered tone hole is
definetly a disappearing animal, still available by request on some models by
some manufactures because there are clients that will pay for nostalgia. But all
the engineers will tell you drawn holes work every bit as well and there is no
longer any reason to make a flute with a soldered tone hole. Brannen and some
other top companies that still offer soldered, they make both, try to keep a
niche in the market by talking about the choice you can make and still get a
soldered tone hole. But they offer both and the transition has definetly started
from solder to drawn. Muramatsu's has been eliminating soldered from models and
plan to eliminate it all togehter. There is no sonic difference between a
soldered hole that is made perfectly and a drawn hole. Solder breaks far more
often than drawn metal. Solder is dependent on human perfection. These are all
reasons drawn holes are all you will see in the future. In fact a drawn hole
represents far more uniform material thickness than a soldered hole with todays
technology. Well people are still playing Louis Lott flutes and driving Model T
fords but Haynes was late in the change from soldered to drawn but had started
the process. As you may know they were recently purchased by Eastman and
indications are that new ownership will follow the rest of the top flute makers
in eliminating all or nearly all models available with soldered tone holes.
Bottom line is there is no advantage and many possible disadvantages to a
soldered tone hole. At this point it only remains as a sales talking point for
old timers and the uninformed. Now when you get into some exotic materials, some
are very difficult to draw, some nearly impossible to make a good solder, so
there will be those exception. We often learn things about flutes from great old
teachers that do a wonderful job. But they pass on many misconceptions like "the
more silver the better" "inline G is what a proffesional plays" "offset is for
students" "closed hole flutes are for beginners" "drawn tone holes are not as
good as soldered" "when you get better you need a b-foot flute" "hold the flute
parallel to the ceiling"(oops another topic of misconceptions) all these
statements are still heard, but all are now considered false or only partially
true. I recently attended a Muramatsu seminar about flute construction and this
topic was covered thoroughly and I would recommend anyone interested enough in
the subject to learn more about why these older techniques developed and how
they were improved upon with modern technology. This from a highly respected
repair shop We stock a huge selection of solders for color matching and proper
temperature and strength. Solder breaks otherwise you wouldn't read repair shop
carrying a "huge" selection of repair materials. Ask a repair shop if a drawn
hole ever broke? If you have a flute with soldered tone holes, don't worry they
usually dont break for many years. But a solder contains many materials that are
not the same as the two pieces being soldered. Another metalurgical problem that
is too complicated to get into. But if you are looking for a "hand made" quality
instrument in the $5,000-$10,000 range that many people buy a flute to play
professionally, a drawn hole should be your choice and soon maybe about your
only choice. I like my Muramatsu and believe what they tell me and James Galway,
so does he. but to each his or her own

AG950Flute
Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2003 4:24 pm

Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by AG950Flute »

Dixon, I still have to disagree with you
on many of your opinions on soldered tone hole flutes and the rate at which they
are being produced. I worked at a music store for several years and with the
flute mechanic at the store and I have a firm understanding on flutes and the
way they are produced. I do appreciate your suggestion of going to the NFA
Convention and taking a look and talking to several companies to hear their
opinion, but I can only offer the same to you. I worked at the NFA Convention
last year at one of the major flute companies boothes and feel I am well
educated on the subject. I do know that Muramatsu flutes are not made with
soldered tone holes. When finding information about Powell, Haynes, and Brannen
flutes it is important to notice the differences in their different line up of
instruments. Yes, Powell certainly makes drawn tone hole flutes. There Signature
and Conservatory Model flutes have drawn tone holes. There Custom handmade flute
has soldered tone holes. Haynes also have a similar flute line. Brannen has the
Millenium flute with drawn tone holes and then their Brögger Mekanik mechanism
flutes with soldered tone holes. Generaally these companies have a waiting list
for their soldered tone hole flutes because they are more in demand by
professionals and developing musicians. I went through a huge process when I
bought my flute, and asked lots of questions in regards to soldered vs. drawn
and purchased a soldered tone hole flute because that was standard. I have to
believe that Powell, Haynes, and Brannen developed these lines of instruments to
accomodate the different levels of flute players as well as to accomodate for
different budgets. And the fact of the matter is that drawn tone hole flutes can
be produced at much quicker rate than a flute with soldered tone holes. I just
want to make a clear statement that I do not think a drawn tone hole flute is of
a lesser quality or does not play as well.
Courtney
Morton

AG950Flute
Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2003 4:24 pm

Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by AG950Flute »

I meant to post this as well. This comes
from J.L. Smith a highly respected flute technician who owns a shop in North
Carolina. Soldered or Drawn Toneholes.... "Most flutes are munufactured with
drawn and tolled toneholes. The porcess involves punching a small pilot hole in
the body tube and using various types of tools to form the tonehole by pulling
metal up from the tube. Then the top is milled flat, and the top of the hole is
rolled off. ONce a flute maker sets up for drawn holes, it is a very efficient
and economical way to produce the holes. The soldered process involves machining
the actual hole, then soldering it to the body tube. Once mounted, the hole in
the tuve is milled out. Makers use different materials to solder the holes. Most
older flutes are soldered with lead enabling easy repair of toneholes, but lead
usually requires frequent attention as leaks form once the lead deteriorates.
Silver and gold solders are used today as a response to the joint leakage
prolbems, but repair of bent tubes and so forth are much more involved. Good
news/bad news. Soldered holes are indicative of the highest order of flutemaking
because of the extra time element involved. Flutes with soldered holes usually
range upwards of $7500. This discussion then is of less interest to those buying
instruments in lower price ranges since it is not an option. People do not
always agree on the sound difference between the two. This is partly because one
cannot easily compare an instrument with soldered holes and the same exact flute
with drawn holes. In my experience, the drawn hole flutes play a little freer -
with more abandon. The soldred hole flutes play with more reserve. Some view
soldered holes as resistant and dark. This is often desirable. Sometimes not.
I've had a few individuals tell me they can feel the difference under their
fingers, that the touch of the key to the tonehole feels more positive - more
solid in the soldered tone hole. I personally don't feel it. Oh, well." -from
J.L. Smith's "The Complete Flute Buyer's Guide."
Courtney
Morton

Dixon
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 7:03 pm

Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by Dixon »

I ask again to what advantage? Yes
soldered tone holes require more labor. Yes they make the flute cost more. Yes
they make it more "handmade". But to what end? You can be far more exact with
drawn holes and you have less likelyhood of problems. Soldering is the old way.
The way that continues to fade as people understand how an instrument is made.
So if you want to answer the question maybe I will understand your point and
agree with you. More labor does not mean better and more expensive does not mean
better. Also the percentage of top quality flutes sold to professionals that
have drawn holes has gone up and with soldered has gone down and the trend will
no doubt continue. I will stand behind Muramatsu who is now considered the
leader and probably No 1 flute company. There is no reason to make a soldered
hole flute except to please a buyer that is still working on outdated handed
down knowledge. My point was never that soldered hole flutes are bad, simply
that your statement that high quality flutes had soldered holes is not accurate.
Nothing in a soldered tone hole makes it better and I still haven't heard you
say one way they are better just more expensive. Please tell me why your
original point that top quality flutes have soldered holes is true? If you have
information from last years NFA that any company is selling a larger and larger
percent of soldered flutes compared to drawn, I would love to know which
companies. Is there still a demand for soldered? sure and with fewer and fewer
being made as companies drop them the supply dries up. But dont mistake a supply
ending with demand increasing or a sign that good players want soldered. to each
there own

User avatar
embum79
Posts: 169
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2003 11:55 pm

Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by embum79 »

I just wanted to add my 2 cents.. didn't
have the time to read every single word of all these posts, so I apologize if
I'm repeating something. Last summer I was shopping for a new flute, a
professional model. While my budget was in the $5,000 range, so I certainly
can't speak for all flute models, the majority of the flutes I found had drawn
tone holes. It really didn't make much difference to me.. as far as I was
concerned I didn't think it would make any difference with my sound. So
companies are still selling soldered tone hole instruments, but maybe the bulk
of the new flutes are drawn tone holes. That's just my impression from my flute
shopping. :)
Cheers,
Emily

Cleartone
Posts: 63
Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2003 2:56 pm

Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by Cleartone »

I think the last impression by Embum79
kind of sums up both dixon's point and Courtney's Most people who are going to
buy a professional flute, maybe for the first time are going to spend around
5000 instead of 8-10K. Overall I have to agree with courtney that soldered tone
hole flutes in general(not all the time) are usually better instruments.
Although I think that may have to do with the extra time that is spent on the
individual instrument. I too agree with her that they tend to be a bit darker
and and a bit more resistant. I think some of the heavy walled flutes make up
for that however. Even though I own a few soldered tone hole flutes such as
Burkart BG14B and a Powell 14KC I am using for my workhorse a Muramatsu AD heavy
wall. so go figure

Dixon
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 7:03 pm

Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by Dixon »

Even companies that still use soldered
tone holes will tell you up front it makes no difference at all in the sound.
There are wonderful soldered flutes and wonderful drawn flutes. Basically the
additional labor in a soldered flute is to make it as close as possible to how
it would be if it were drawn. They both accomplish the same end. Soldering is
just an older method that was used before we had the ability to make drawn holes
and make them uniform and well. People sell tradition, and still sell soldered.
Solder doesn't hold plating as well. Solder forces you to combine different
metals. That is a negative. Solder has to be done very well or will fail. Solder
adds cost with no gain in quality. Even good solder tends to fail in the long
run. So I repeat to what advantage solder? If you like paying more to get the
same just so you can say you have a more expensive flute, great buy soldered.
Why dont you have them hand roll the the silver sheet into tubing and solder
that together too? If you want to pay 8 thousand for a 5 thousand dollar
instrument just to say its has soldered tone holes and is more hand made, good
for you. Keep the economy rolling. But dont tell a beginner that the difference
in quality of an instrument can be judged by looking for uneveness around the
toneholes which shows its soldered and therefore better. The reason you are
playing the Muramatsu is because its a better instrument, drawn toneholes or
soldered on the Branen aside.

AG950Flute
Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2003 4:24 pm

Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by AG950Flute »

Dixon, I urge you to use caution when
answering questions! You seem to have a pretty good understating about how
flutes are constructed and how they play, but you make serious errors that
cannot go unnoticed: Soldered tone hole flute are around to stay. The vast
majority of flutes are drawn, but this is because of cost considerations, not
acoustic ones. Drawn flutes are simply cheaper to make in bulk. The highest
level of flutes are still made with soldered tone holes. Drawn tone holes have
several significant problems: Drawn tone hole flutes are not available in very
thin wall thickness of silver (and I have never seen one available in gold, or
platinum) They require heating the flute tube to the melting point of the silver
which reduces the hardness of the tube considerably. Soldered flutes are not
heated nearly as much and the tube retains its hardness (an acoustically good
thing). This alone is enough to justify soldering tone holes on the finest
instruments!!!!! Drawn tone holes have a “rolled” lip where they meet the pad.
This lip can never be perfectly flat and has a larger than desired surface area
where it contacts the pad. Drawn tone holes do not give maker the control and
precision that can be achieved with soldered ones. This is especially true in
the wall thickness of the tone hole. Part of the difficulty here is that the
metal slightly changes size when it is heated. By the time that it cools down to
room temperature, inaccuracies in the tone hole dimensions are present. If a
drawn tone hole is damaged, it is essentially impossible to repair. Flutes that
are well built with soldered tone holes do not leak. Don’t try and scare the
unsuspecting student! You seem to put a great deal of emphasis on the fact that
thin wall drawn flute are “new” Remember this does not necessarily make them
better. There is a great deal of innovation in flute making coming from Asia,
and although I think this is a good thing, one must remember that decisions are
often made for cost reasons and not acoustic ones. With the current state of the
economy and flute making, it does not surprise me that many flute makers are
trying to phase out soldered flutes. I advise students to look at what is in
their flute heroes hands (and to look in their wallets) to decide what is the
perfect flute for them. Justin Bahrami, flute maker and new masters student, The
Juilliard School, New York :)
Courtney
Morton

ick27
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 1:25 am

Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by ick27 »

Differences in body construction have a
much subtler effect on a flute's sound than head joint differences. Even so,
many people recognize a difference between soldered and drawn tone holes.
Additionally, soldering technology has greatly progressed in the past hundred
years, so soldering is faster and produces more durable, harder joints. Also,
I've heard that when a soldered tone hole is damaged, it is easier to replace,
while a flute with a damaged drawn hole is almost impossible to return to
original condition. Dixon: I'm not sure you're comparison between a Louis Lot
flute and a model T is well founded. For one thing, flutes have remained largely
the same over the past hundred years compared to the drastic change in
automotive technology. Also, Louis Lot produced carefully handmade instruments
of high quality, while the model T was the first major product of the assembly
line. Although modern flutes have many advantages, such as improved scale, there
is really something special about some old flutes. You'd have to play one of
these instruments to really understand.. I felt the same as you once, that
present day flutes were superior in every way to old flutes until I played an
old flute that behaved in a way unlike anything made today. I guess I'm
straying off topic, I'm sure you've heard enough. [:)]

BostonStringer
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Nov 16, 2013 7:18 pm

Re: Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by BostonStringer »

Hello,

I have not logged in for a very long time so please excuse the late reply to this discussion.

Dear Courtney, you actually have the correct reply/answer. That other person obviously does not work for a high-end flute manufacturer.

Flutes from companies such as Powell, WM. Haynes, Burkart, Muramatsu, Brannen Brothers along with a few others I have not mentioned here, certainly make & prefer for sound quality "soldered tone holes!

These flutes are not your student or "band flute". I would agree that flutes costing under 8 - 9K are probably drawn tone holes. I won't mention here which company mentioned above that I work for.

But trust me when I say that when one of my company's customers or any other long standing high-end flute manufacturing company has a customer paying between $20,000 - $50,000 for a flute (depending if it is silver, gold on silver, or solid gold or even platinum...) That instrument has SOLDERED tone holes.

Courtney, the person who replied after you is only familiar with the low end student flute, they even spelled the name of famed Boston flute maker Haynes incorrectly.

Regards,
BostonStringer

hannosaurusrex
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:13 pm

Re: Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by hannosaurusrex »

Hi,

I currently work at Powell Flutes. We certainly still make soldered tone hole flutes and they're by no means a thing of the past. I prefer soldered tone holes because they offer more resistance and projection. If you play a soldered tone hole flute back to back with an identical flute but with drawn tone holes, you will find that the drawn tone hole flute maxes out sooner.

Almost all top line players play on soldered tone hole flutes. The percentage of orders we get for Custom handmade instruments with drawn tone holes is very low.

Hope this helps.

User avatar
Phineas
Posts: 959
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:08 am

Re: Soldered vs. Drawn Tone Holes

Post by Phineas »

As a person who has purchased and played on MANY flutes for a lot of years, I call snake oil on this one.

Are we REALLY talking about physics, or are we talking about craftsmanship/design?

The flute is nothing more than a big tuner. You can take a headjoint off of the flute, and still make a sound. There is not much wind that goes through the body at all. The design of the mechanism, and the headjoint are the only 2 major things that affect the player. If I took the headjoint off a $20000 flute, and put it on a "student" model, the I would still experience the same breathing characteristics with a different mechanism. Will not sound much different to the audience.

If you like the flute, buy it. Then play on it. In the end, if you suck, the tone hole construction will not help you anyway!

Phineas

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