Modern flutes are made out of many different silver alloys. Generally, the higher the silver content, the darker and warmer the tone will be.
Nickel Silver – Nickel Silver actually does not contain any Silver. Also known as German silver, this alloy of Copper, Zinc and Nickel is used throughout most student model instruments and is usually plated with either silver or nickel.
(.900) Coin Silver – Also referred to as “solid silver,” this silver alloy contains 90.0% silver.
(.925) Sterling Silver – This is a silver alloy that consists of 92.5% silver that is generally strengthened with copper for hardness. It is the most widely accepted silver used today by flute makers.
(.946) Altus Silver – This alloy consists of 94.6% silver and 18 precious metals, including small amounts of platinum and gold. Exclusive to Altus, it possesses many of the rich tonal attributes of the old French master flute makers, most notably Louis Lot’s famous flutes.
(.950) Silver – This silver alloy, which contains 95.0% silver, is used by Sankyo Flutes to make their CF-701 and CF-801 models.
(.958) Britannia Silver – This silver alloy is comprised of 95.8% silver, and offers a dark, rich color without sacrificing brilliance.
(.970) Pristine Silver – This silver alloy consists of 97.0% silver, which offers an astonishing projection of sound when compared with traditional sterling silver.
(.997) Pure Silver – Made of 99.7% silver, this alloy offers remarkable clarity and power in addition to excellent response. This alloy is also referred as Super Solid Silver.
(.998) Silver – This silver alloy consists of 99.8% silver, and offers the tonal depth, color and projection of a platinum flute, the warmth of a gold flute, and yet speaks with the shimmer and brilliance of a silver flute.
Many manufacturers are now offering silver alloys enhanced with other metals, such as gold and platinum. These different metal combinations tend to offer the player the warmth of a gold flute while still retaining the projection of a silver flute.
5-95 Platinum Enhanced Silver – Made from 5% pure platinum and 95% silver, this alloy delivers an increased spectrum of color – as with gold or platinum – but with considerably less weight. Combining focused sound and good projections, the dynamics and intensity are greater than with sterling silver. This alloy is exclusive to Burkart Flutes.
5% Gold – Created by Haynes, this material is a combination of 95% silver and 5% gold.
9K G&S (aka 9kAg) – The exterior of the body and headjoint are 9K gold and the interior is sterling silver. The gold layer comprises 20%. This metal combination marries the best tonal qualities of gold and silver.
Aurumite – A metal alloy formed by combining precious metals in layers. There are two different types of Aurumite. Aurumite 14k consists of a flute tube where 14k rose gold is placed on the inside of the tube and fused to an outer layer of sterling silver. Aurumite 9k consists of a flute tube where 9k rose gold is placed on the outside of the tube and fused to an inner layer of silver. The sound quality of the Aurumite has much of the dark sound of gold, but the resonance and projection of sterling silver. Aurumite is exclusive to Powell Flutes.
Ruby Aurumite – Ruby Aurumite is very similar to Powell’s Aurumite 14K flutes, with the metals reversed. The Ruby Aurumite has a 14K gold exterior layer fused to an interior of sterling silver.
Fusion I – Created by Haynes, this material is a fusion of two different metals. The outside material is a combination of 95% Silver and 5% Platinum, while the inside material is 14k Rose Gold.
Fusion O – Created by Haynes, this material is a fusion of two different metals. The outside material is 14k Rose Gold, while the inside is a combination of 95% silver and 5% platinum.
Gold Plating – Gold plating provides added softness and darkness to the tone of a silver flute. The typical sound of a silver flute acquires a warm elegance when enriched with gold plating. This is an excellent affordable alternative to buying a solid gold flute.
Gold-Brass Alloy – An alloy made of 10% gold and 90% brass. Yamaha’s unique expertise with the various alloys used in brass instruments led to the discovery that gold brass is the perfect material for optimum tone, weight, and playability.
Platinum Plating – The fusion of platinum and silver adds brilliance and force to the characteristic sound projection of a silver flute. The sound quality of a platinum plated silver flute is very direct and clear. A darker brilliance and excellent response characterize platinum-plated flutes.
Gold Flutes are prized for their warm tone. Tone color depends on the gold alloy – usually, the higher the karat of gold, the warmer and darker the tone.
9K Rose Gold – 9k rose gold flutes provide a solid gold body at a more affordable price. 9k gold flutes are the lightest gold flutes available, yet they still retain the warmth of a heavier karat gold flute.
10K Yellow Gold – Yellow gold flutes are praised for their projection and lyrical quality. These flutes are slightly lighter in weight than their higher karat cousins.
14K Rose Gold – 14k rose gold flute offers a balance of response and depth.
14K White Gold – 14k white gold offers a slightly more direct and focused sound than its rose gold counterpart.
16K Rose Gold – Aside from offering a unique array of tone colors, the 16k gold material is a dream to work with and such joy to those who play it bringing a new dimension of expression. Warmth, artistic flexibility, colorful tonality are few of the words that come to mind after trying the very unique and exclusive 16k Nagahara gold.
18K Yellow Gold – 18k gold takes the beautiful sonic qualities of 14k gold a step further. Known for a dark and lush sound, the tonal spectrum of 18k is captivating.
19.5K Rose Gold – 19.5k rose gold is characterized by a strong projection, a wide range of colors and flexibility. The higher karat gold provides the player with a luscious resonance that carries across any size room allowing, the player to explore new dimensions in their sound.
20K Rose Gold – Available from Nagahara. With a warm and present tone, this 20K alloy gives the player endless possibilities of color change, dynamics, and expression. This is truly the alloy for the pros and a gratifying challenge for those growing in their studies. The luscious and dark sound of this instrument will truly make you stand out.
22K Yellow Gold – Available as an option on Lafin headjoints (with 14K rose gold lip plate, riser and crown). 22K gold offers a smooth and supple sound with a rich tone.
24K Yellow Gold – Velvety richness characterizes its extravagant sound. Nothing else matches the variety of tonal colors and elegance of 24k gold.
Other Alloys and Metals:
Tungsten: An amalgamated tube of sterling silver, 14K-gold, 24K-gold and tungsten (or chromium carbide), this headjoint provides tonal and performance characteristics unmatched by traditional tubes.
Niobium: Made of niobium alloy that is slightly lighter than tantalum, this niobium headjoint has the same tonal characteristics as the tantalum but with less overall weight.
Tantalum: A Tantalum alloy (patent pending), exclusive to the Garner Headjoints, provides a tonal spectrum previously unknown in the flute world until now. This headjoint produces both a sweet and pure quiet sound in all registers and projects an enormous and large sound when needed. The range of dynamics and tone colors are limitless and greatly exaggerated with this headjoint allowing the player to be as expressive as possible.
Black Nickel Plating: A thick coating of black nickel plating improves projection when plated over nickel silver or sterling silver, while giving the flute a dark and mysterious appearance.