Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Headjoint Show Stoppers

In our last installment of the headjoint series by Steven Wasser, we take a look at the cork assembly and crown.

The headjoint has a cork assembly and a crown at the “dead” end of the headjoint tube.  The purpose of the cork assembly and crown is to prevent the waste of the player’s air stream from going up the headjoint rather than down into the flute tube. 

Some cork assemblies have been developed using o-rings that allow the upper end of the headjoint to vibrate more.  In our experience that vibration actually diffuses acoustical energy.  We draw an analogy to high-end speakers which are often made very heavy in order to produce the purest, most accurate sound possible.  Based on this analogy we want the upper end of the headjoint to be as dead as possible so that the blowing energy creates the strongest possible acoustical wave down the flute tube.

Many headjoint makers have also experimented with the size, shape and material of the end of the cork assembly.  Each shape and material has pros and cons but, on balance, the flat disc made of plated brass or nickel silver seems to work best.

Finally there is - the crown.  This component is decorative as well as functional.  The weight, material and shape of the crown all create subtle acoustical differences.  

Cork assembly
Another view of cork assembly.  Crown screws into the threaded end.
Crowns in silver and gold (10K, 14K and 19.5K).
Underside of crown (where cork assembly attaches).

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