Friday, January 24, 2014

The Handmade Conservatory Flutes of Yesterday and Today

A 2013 Conservatory - inline with split-E
Looking back through our archives, we found the 2002 Powell Handmade Conservatory brochure, which was the first brochure for that particular model line.  Twelve years later, the Handmade Conservatory flutes are some of Powell's most popular models.  So, how have they changed?  Looking at the original brochure helps answer that question...

The Handmade Conservatory flutes of 2002 had at least one characteristic from their predecessor, the 2100 -- the "Posi-Stop" tail design.  The brochure describes this feature as follows:
Posi-Stop design
In order to maximize the response of the flute, none of the key tails rest on the flute tube.  Instead, their movement is halted by nearby invisible Posi-Stops, which look like small spring posts set on the ribs of the flute.
Also, the early Handmade Conservatory flutes, just like today's models, offered the choice of a Powell Custom headjoint.  The difference in 2002 was that the headjoint styles available were the Boston and the Philharmonic.  The headjoint descriptions from the brochure are below:
The Boston style headjoint combines its own, graceful embouchure plate with modern undercutting techniques.  It is easily controlled, and produces an open, clear tone with exceptional projection.

The Philharmonic headjoint is readily identified by its broader embouchure plate.  Articulation is crisp and clean, and this style is capable of broad dynamic and timbral ranges.  A player can create a deep, rich tone with extraordinary carrying power and focus.
Today, the Philharmonic cut is one of three Custom headjoint styles (Philharmonic, Soloist, and Venti), all of which are available with the Conservatory models.

Finally, when comparing "spec charts" from the 2002 and 2014 brochures, we can see differences in G key and split-E options in particular.  In 2002, the Handmade Conservatory flutes (just like today) were offered with either an inline or offset G.  However, in 2002, Handmade Conservatory flutes that had a split-E were "half offset."  Today's Handmade Conservatory flutes come with a split-E option for both inline and offset models.  The split-E inline option was introduced on the Handmade Conservatory flutes in 2013.  Also, both the 2002 and current Handmade Conservatory flutes have French (open) cups.  The 2002 models came with the option of American cups, which were French cups with Plug-Os.  Between 2002 and 2014, Handmade Conservatory flutes have kept their material choices, being offered in either sterling silver or Aurumite 9k.  For more on the today's Handmade Conservatory flutes, visit

2002 Spec Chart
2014 Spec Chart
Page from the 2002 brochure highlighting choices.
Page from 2002 highlighting body material and headjoint styles.

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