Step-Up Flutes

If you are still playing the flute you first rented or purchased for beginning band and it has been more than 3 years, you might consider purchasing what is commonly called a Step-Up flute. This can be an intermediate or professional flute, depending on your budget.

How do I know I’m ready for a Step-Up flute?

If you are not sure you are ready, the best advice is to try one anyway to see if you can feel a difference. A step-up flute is designed to help you improve by offering an instrument with these features:

  • A finely crafted headjoint allowing better tone and articulation
  • A refined mechanism and padding to develop faster technique

You should notice a big difference in how well the flute plays and feels when you are ready for a step-up flute.

What should I be looking for when purchasing an intermediate or professional flute?

There are a number of options for step-up flutes. Typically, the basic upgrade will include:

  • Open holes for developing your technique and allowing extended techniques
  • Low B foot joint with a Gizmo key
  • A headjoint with more care and attention placed on its design for greater performance

Open Holes

Open Holes

Having open holes where your fingers touch the keys makes it necessary for your fingers to cover the holes.  This not only encourages proper hand and finger position but also allows for later development in learning modern extended techniques.

B Foot With Gizmo Key

Open Holes

The B foot allows you to play Low B. Its Gizmo lever allows you to close the low B key without closing the C key easily. The Gizmo key is also known as a High C facilitator since it is used to make the highest C more in tune and easier to play.


Open Holes

The headjoint is one of the most important aspects of a step-up flute. How the hole is cut is very important for how a flute plays and sounds. Your beginner flute headjoint was designed to help you produce your first sound. A step-up flute headjoint is designed to produce a mature flute tone and aid in performing fast articulation now that your embouchure has developed. Sticking with a student cut can hold your progress back while a step-up or professional cut will allow you to continue the development of powerful tone and effortless articulation now that your embouchure is stronger.

What are the options available that can be chosen?

The options most Step-Up Flutes offer that you will need to decide upon are:

  • Silver Headjoint Only or All Silver Body
  • Inline or Offset G
  • Split E mechanism (or high E facilitator)
  • C# trill key

Silver Headjoint Only vs All Silver Body

Open Holes

A series of step-up flutes share the same design from maker to maker but vary in how much silver is used for the tube. A student model is all nickel silver and then either nickel or silver plated. Step-up flutes offer either a silver headjoint and plated tube or an all silver tube where the headjoint, body, and footjoint are all silver. The closer you get to the embouchure hole, the more important silver content adds to the overall effect. As the silver content increases, so does the price. Silver content on step-up flutes is introduced on the headjoint first and the body tube second.

Remember that the design is more important: the amount of silver in your flute serves to enhance that design. You’ll still receive the step-up flute design benefits but the amount of silver you choose to enhance the effect depends on how much you can afford.

Inline vs Offset G

Open Holes

Inline G

Open Holes

Offset G

Step-up flutes are offered with your choice of the double G key placement. This is entirely dependent on ergonomics and your comfort with where the G key is placed. Offset G is the most popular and if you have smaller hands or short fingers, it will be more comfortable. The placement of this key does not affect the sound of your flute so choose the style that is most comfortable for your hand.

C# Trill Key

C# Trill Key Diagram
The C# trill key is one of the most popular key options. Although it is not required or necessary it gives the player a lot of options when playing.  These include:

  • Using one finger for a B/C# trill
  • A much improved High G/A trill
  • A more in tune and stable High G#
  • A wide variety of options for extended techniques

We hope this information is helpful as you search for a new Intermediate or professional flute. Please check out the following pages for more information on Jupiter, Azumi and Altus flutes for your next purchase!