The Differences Between Open And Closed-Hole Flutes Thursday June 16 2022, 4:58 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
The Differences Between Open And Closed-Hole Flutes

Open Hole Flutes Vs. Closed Hole Flutes

You have two options when it comes to buying a flute. Which should you choose for your needs? Some say that closed-hole flutes are better for beginners, but I'd like to tell you why that isn't always the case.

Neither type of flute is wrong nor right, and it's more about preference than anything.

There are a lot of misconceptions and ongoing arguments when it comes to the debate between these two types, but don't let that deter you. Let's start by going over the simpler style. 

Related Post: Learn How To Play Flute - 3 Effective Methods

Closed Hole Flutes

A closed-hole flute (sometimes referred to as a plateau flute) simply has no openings on any of the holes. When you get this flute, you do not have to worry about covering holes the right way to hear the sound you desire.

This type of flute is often used for playing classical music and beginner music, but it is not always best for beginners to start here with this style.

Open Hole Flutes

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The open-hole flute is also called the "French" flute. This type of flute was introduced sometime in the 1800s by French flutists. This design has holes in the middle of 5 different keys (A, G, F, E, and D).

To get a good tone, you will need to properly close the holes, which may be a challenge for beginners at the start of their journey.

Open flutes also give players the ability to bend notes ornamentally and play semitones, which often happens in more contemporary styles of flute music. 

Which Flute Is Better For Beginners? 

Most people believe that a closed-hole flute is the better option for beginner players because of how foreign good finger placement can feel at the start.

When beginners play with a closed flute and do not cover the holes the right way, their tone won't sound as great.

But, some teachers argue that a closed flute will not challenge a beginner enough when it comes to good finger positioning, encouraging laziness in form.

If you are buying a flute for a very young child, the closed-hole would definitely be the better option, but consider the benefit of the challenge for older players. 

Which Flute Is More Affordable? 

Since most people think closed flutes are better for beginners, a lot of people get elitist when it comes to playing the open-hole flute. This stigma among flute players has caused many high-quality flutes to be around $50 more than a closed-hole flute.

But don't let this deter you if you want to feel like you're a star with a closed-hole flute. Famous French flutist and teacher Marcel Moyse played one for his entire career!

Which Flute Sounds Better?

The big ongoing debate is centered around which flute sounds better. Many will say that the open flute sounds better because the tone is often richer. There are a couple of reasons this may be happening.

For one, since high-quality flutes tend to go with the open-flute style, the brands don't allow for closed-style flutes to be made which the same amount of attention.

The second reason is that open-flute players tend to have more control over what they can do with their pitch and tone, as I mentioned earlier, with ornaments.

At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference. As long as the player is not a very young child, they will be able to close the holes with their fingers if they decide to go that route.

Players can also consider getting open-hole flutes with plastic pieces that can plug the holes and can be taken out and put back in easily.

The only downside is that you may lose the pieces easily. If you're really looking for the best quality sound, pay more attention to the flute headjoint. That's where the quality comes from!

Tips For Choosing Your Flute

Playing Style

If you're primarily interested in playing classical music or beginner pieces, a closed-hole flute might be a good starting point.

However, if you aspire to play more contemporary styles or want the flexibility to explore advanced techniques, an open-hole flute could be a better choice.

Challenge And Finger Placement

While closed-hole flutes are often recommended for beginners due to the simplicity of finger placement, some argue that open-hole flutes provide a greater challenge and encourage proper finger positioning from the start.

Assess your willingness to embrace challenges and learn proper technique when making your decision.

Consider Hand Size And Dexterity

Players with larger hands or longer fingers might find it easier to cover the holes on an open hole flute without inadvertently touching adjacent holes. Take your hand size and comfort into account when choosing between the two types.


Maintenance And Cleanliness

Open-hole flutes may require extra attention when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. Dust, moisture, or debris can easily accumulate in the open holes, affecting the sound quality.

On the other hand, closed-hole flutes may be considered harder to clean for some since the open holes are easy to get into and wipe. 

Experiment With Options

If you're torn between the two types, you can explore hybrid options. Some open-hole flutes have removable plugs that allow you to convert them into closed-hole flutes temporarily.

This can be a useful feature for players who want to transition gradually or explore different playing styles without committing to a specific flute design.

Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

If you are in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her services page.

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