Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Mystery of the Headjoint

14K headjoint and Aurumite headjoint
Welcome to the first in a special five-part series here on FluteBuilder about headjoints.  The headjoint seems simple enough, right?  Well, from the outside it might look that way, but there are several complex components and processes that go into making a professional headjoint.  Steven Wasser, President of Powell Flutes, has written the posts for this series.  He starts with the following post on the principle parts of the headjoint:
I:  The Mystery of the Headjoint

The headjoint is generally acknowledged to be the most acoustically important part of the flute.  It is comprised of 3 primary parts – the tube, the wall or riser, and the lip plate.  Sounds simple, yet headjoint making is shrouded in mystery. 

What starts out as 3 simple parts turns out to be extremely complex.  Let’s start by taking a good look at the embouchure hole where the 3 parts come together.  Can you measure it?  Side to side?  Front to back?  Is the height of the soldered lip plate the same all around?  Do you want it to be?  How about the bottom of the embouchure hole?  Can you measure it?  How?  There are not clean edges for measurements due to all the contours. 

Take a good look inside the embouchure hole.  The top of it is smaller than the bottom part which is inside the tube.  This means the wall runs at an angle.  Are the angles the same all around?  How would you measure where one angle transitions into another?  Are the angles straight or curved?  How would you measure the dimensions of this hole 1 mm down from the surface of the lip plate?  2 mm down?  

Components in early production phase: tube, wall/riser, lip plate
In the next article we’ll examine just the headjoint tube.

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