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Headjoint Buying Guide
Replacing a flute's headjoint is like giving it a new personality. For example, putting a gold headjoint on a silver flute makes it play similarly to an all
gold instrument. It is generally acknowledged that many expensive flutes have
headjoints that do not allow them to be played at their best. Indeed, by
replacing the poor headjoint of an otherwise first-rate instrument, the
player can realize its full potential. Another important need for a new
headjoint is for the player who owns a moderately priced, mass-produced
flute in good mechanical condition. The greatest improvement in its
quality, with minimal investment can be the replacement of the headjoint.
It is often far less expensive and more desirable to replace the headjoint
of this class of instrument than to replace the entire flute with a more costly
one. It is important to know that headjoint making is a special expertise apart
from other areas of flute making. Unlike traditional makers whose expertise is
divided among the many aspects of flute making, my company is exclusively
devoted to the art and science of headjoint making.
I spend a great deal of time developing improved designs, as is
evidenced by the issuance of the Drelinger OptikutŪ headjoint patents. This
specialization is analogous to reed or mouthpiece making as an area of expertise,
distinctly different from basic wind instrument making. More and more, flutists
are recognizing this distinction and are buying the flute body from one maker
and the headjoint from another. At first glance, the headjoint looks like the
simplest part of the flute. In reality, it is acoustically the most complex.
The headjoint incorporates a universe of details that demand great sensitivity
on the part of the maker in order to match it with each individual player and
flute body. I believe that the best results can be achieved by working personally
with each flutist. My method of working is analogous to fitting eye glasses: you
need a variety of lenses to find the combination that works best. When I have
done my job, the headjoint responds like a musical lens, helping the flutist to
clearly and easily express every nuance. Remember, even those who are satisfied
with their present flute should simply try a different headjoint. It may very
well give the best results ever.
Every flutist is unique. Each of us has a one-of-a-kind embouchure. To
illustrate this point here are some photographs from Roger S. Stevens' book
Artistic Flute (Highland/Etling Publishing Co., CA). Not seen is the inside of
the mouth where differences also demonstrate individuality. Based on the fact
that everyone plays differently, it stands to reason that a headjoint is a very
personal choice. Finding the right headjoint can be very time consuming, but
absolutely necessary, if you are to play at your best.
In order to understand what is needed, I work with each person on an individual
basis, pointing out both the strengths and weaknesses of their original headjoint.
Next, I make every effort to provide a new headjoint which corrects these
weaknesses while maintaining the original's desirable characteristics. My work
involves hearing through my customers' ears and sensitizing myself to what they
perceive. When they try headjoints, I watch, as well as listen, to see if there
is muscle tension around the area of the embouchure. When a headjoint is
properly matched to the player, it seems to meld perfectly with the chin and
lips, creating an almost relaxed appearance of the surrounding muscles.
Remember, in order to play musically, a headjoint must feel good as well as be
capable of producing beautiful sound.
Suggestions before trying headjoints.