In our third installment of the headjoint series, Steven Wasser discusses the lip plate. Is it completely a flat surface? What types of adjustments are made to the lip plate, and how do they affect sound and responsiveness? Find out more in the post below:
The lip plate would be simple if it were flat, but lip plates usually have compound and multiple curves. The top looks flat but usually has a dip running north-south (up and down the tube) which provides a more secure or comfortable position for many players and an easier response. A flat design, on the other hand, might offer more colors.
The lip plate also curves around the flute tube, and one often see a sharp “falloff” at the blowing edge as the lip plate is wrapped tighter around the tube. In some cases a flat spot is also filed or sanded onto the falloff area.
Some lip plates have a very sharp edge where the player’s air stream enters the embouchure hole. Most embouchures also have an overcut which is essentially a bevel on the lip plate edge as it enters the embouchure hole.
These adjustments to the falloff, blowing edge, and overcut all affect responsiveness, color, and noise. A sharp blowing edge, for example, can cause noise or a slight hissing sound close up. On the other hand, the same sharp blowing edge might cause stronger projection and the audience does not hear the blowing “noise.”