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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In my travels for a new flute I an getting quite an education in head joints (taper etc) and in particular embouchure holes which I think is most relevant to the average flute player and doubler as riser height and shape is a little out of the scope of necessity unless one is a flute star principle. I dont mean to cause a debate over that issue. Im sure there are in fact doublers who are skilled and sensitive enough to have this be an issue but....

I'm going to declare for the sake of this conversation that what matters most is embouchure hole shape and size.

I am hoping the flute makers, head joint makers, and flute technicians can weigh in and share their wisdom regarding this science and art aka voodoo.

Of special interest to me is oval vs rectangular holes, and traditional vs modern, and which is which-
Thanks
 

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So the 'embouchure hole' is the mouthpiece to the flutist, with all that implies? :) I think you're slipping into the dark side with we saxists.
 
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So the 'embouchure hole' is the mouthpiece to the flutist, with all that implies? :) I think you're slipping into the dark side with we saxists.
I spent a lot of time with the flute, possibly unlike yourself, and was continually frustrated with a fuzzy airy sound. I would listen to classical flute players in awe of that ballsy beautiful flute sound. But I always believed that if I had the head design that suited Clarinetists who had the strength of embouchure but not that perfect aperture. Probably due to the abuse we inflict on the lower lip, I could get half way to enjoy the flute. So the aperture that you ignorantly call a hole is the basis of playing the flute.
 

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funny, to me, classical flute sound has more of a pipe organ similarity, round. I like the edge and buzz that i hear in say, Eric Dolphy. maybe i just have old man ears.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well Bukhart refers to it as a "hole" so not so ignorant:

http://www.burkart.com/headjoints-choose.php

Intersting refetence to E Dolphy, perhaps my musical hero. He did have a great tone on flute but if it was buzzy it probably wasn't due to a modern embouchure hole. The new "modern" cuts common on Asian flutes have been said to be buzzy, airy, and loud largely due to their rectangular shape whereas the older traditional oval hole (is that true?) should have a sweeter sound with no buzz or airiness.

One of my questions is: which has more potential? With an oval hole I can get a very sweet 2nd and 3rd register and pretty full 1st Iow octave until F and lower. Then its not as full or loud as the more rectangular modern embouchure holes Ive been playing. Case in point....the Muramatsu EX I'm trying out right now. Its has a BIG full sound through all 3 registers but no sweetness and it does sound a little fuzzy and airy. But is it a better investment to master it for more reward as Landall says (according to him more room to play around in and possibilities with 4 corners)?

Or is it better to master the oval traditional hole which supposedly requires more control and focused airstream?
 

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You're focusing on the wrong parameter. Modern or Cooper inspired designs are different because they are overcut whereas traditional designs are not. Its the sharpened blowing edge that causes the hiss.
 

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It is not voodoo to an expert in this area, but there are very few experts. Without expertise, there is a lot of guesswork if you try messing with it, and disasters can be big!

But there are many parameters involved in shaping an embouchure hole - of course it is a hole!. Shape of hole, angle of the side walls, angle of the front and back walls, height of chimney, sharpness of the edge that the airstream hits, angle at which the far side of the embouchure plate slopes away, undercutting, overcutting...
And the tiniest changes to any of these has the potential to make large differences to how the flute plays.

My knowledge is limited, but I think it would be really simplistic to focus on just one of the parameters in isolation.

BTW it is a lot more complicated than being the equivalent to a mouthpiece. The embouchure hole is not only the part where the sound is initiated, but also doubles as a compromised tone hole for every note played.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The embouchure hole is not only the part where the sound is initiated, but also doubles as a compromised tone hole for every note played.
Great point. I had forgotten that.

Can you discuss oval vs rectangular?
 

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We all have opinions on this and here is mine: I have measured heads for about 40 years to determine what makes what work.....
Oval = sweeter smooth round sound. Rectangular = brighter more articulate sound BUT can be airy of not controlled.
Older heads usually had a length (left to right) of about 12mm. Modern heads are a small as 11.5mm but have over and undercutting on the sides which would make the top and bottom of the riser about 12mm after cutting. This creates an hourglass effect that increases turbulance and thus a more vibrant sound. You cannot recut a vintage 12mm head over or under as it will make the initial and bottom length too great.
Now, the hole is not everything as the taper of the tube and thickness determine the sound as the hole, as mentioned, is only the opening where the player works. Lately I have been cutting heads at about 11.8mm riser, overcut and undercut slightly so as to make the sidewalls a bit less cut and having more surface. I end up with a width of about 10.25mm and a cut diagonal (like an X) measurement of about 12.15mm. This is not something unique to my flutes as about everyone else is in this range. Riser height varies but is pretty much standard and not something that can easily be altered on an existing head.
Another popular change in recent years is the angle of the front (audience) side of the lip plate. LaFin pioneered flattening the front so it looks like a mirror and falls off greatly from the hole. This really makes articulation good and the low notes quite bold. I currently have decided to offer this as I use a .018" body tube and the bright response of these heads makes the thicker body flute really vibrant. I add a 14K riser the rounds out the sound as it has more resistance.

DO NOT try to recut a headjoint. I have seen a lot of messed up heads that are now scrap. Many of us will recut a head for about $50 which is your second best route after just buying a head you like.
 

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I have a Lebret headjoint with a very flat front from the late 19th cent. Not as dramatic as an EC etc, you can tell the intent was there. It's an amazing head joint with a wide oval hole, low wall and a lot of power
 

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For those of you who don't know, Eldred Spell is perhaps most famous for making custom headjoints to fit customers' piccolos. I've spoken with several piccolo players in major U.S. symphony orchestras who use Eldred Spell headjoints with such "elite" piccolo bodies as Burkart, Powell, Keefe, and Brannan. He has a knack for matching the headjoint to the player and the instrument.
 

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When I first started to play the flute about fifty years ago, I knew nothing about the difference in hole shapes or any of the other variables of head joints.
After trying a number of flutes in the beginning years, I found an old coin-silver, Selmer closed-hole that suited me just fine, and I played it for 20 or so years.
As I got better and better, I ignorantly began to think I should have a better flute.
I did my research, asked around, and finally figured that a Powell was a great idea... the appropriate step up.
I tried a few of them and settled on a basic 1980 handmade, open-hole Powell.
Great flute, beautifully made, etc. and I played it also for twenty years. I never noticed the shape of the hole (aperture).
Didn't even know to look.

Then, one day, I was at a friend's house.
He had a guitar and wanted to know if I would accompany him on flute, and he gave me his Yamaha 225 to play.
I loved it! And what I soon came to realize was that an aspect of playing the flute that had been so important to me with the Selmer had been missing on the Powell.
At the time, I didn't know what the name for that missing something, but I now know it's resistance.
It was where all my nuanced control had come from when I played the Selmer.
Later, when I went home, I tried to get the same resistance from my Powell and, for me, it was impossible.
Like I said: I was ignorant. It's as if someone had changed the flute at some point in its history and didn't tell me about it.
(Hey, I'm a sax player; I knew all about mouthpieces and the importance of resistance to me, but I had absolutely no idea that resistance also applied to flutes.)

OK, it took me a while, but I learned a very important lesson: there are head joints that can offer more or less resistance, according to your individual taste and ability.
(And yes, oval holes offer more resistance for the way I play than rectangular ones ... across the board)
I now play, with the resistance I liked so much on my Selmer, a Haynes Commercial... which, I have subsequently learned to my surprise, was what the old Selmer was based on.

So, 11:11, resistance is a very individual thing, just like mouthpiece/reed combinations on sax.
Although I'm sure, as mentioned above in this thread, that there are a lot of variables that make one flute resistant and another easy blowing,
don't worry what will serve you best in the long run; play what suits you and sings for you now.
 

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I use the gold riser to add resistance on the inside and tilt the front of the lip plate down to reduce outside resistance. As of late, many makers have gone that route.
 

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I used to have a square/wing Muramatsu head.
It had a big sound but hard to control and took alot of air.
My custom Emerson Deford head has an oval embouchure hole with a decent amount of resistance.
I can play high notes pp and growl low C.
It takes less air too.
 

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I know what resistance means when it is resistance to airflow, i.e. to do with the length, opening and shape of the windway between the lips. More resistance here means one needs to blow with more air pressure from the lungs in order get notes to sound well.

But more resistance within the instrument? What exactly does that mean?

That notes begin in a less responsive way?
That there is more "airiness" in the tone? (More effort for less results)
That the player will need to blow with more air pressure to achieve good-sounding notes?
Some sort of band-aid for the player not providing appropriate resistance at the lips?

I just don't know. I really would like to understand better (in an analytical sense) what is meant by this.

I use the gold riser to add resistance on the inside... .
To me this seems to fly in the face of well-documented acoustic science. Apart from well-established marketing hype capitalising on auto-suggestion, placebo effects, etc, can you offer any explanation for this perceived phenomenon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Betelsax
Interesting story thanks for sharing that.

I really liked the oval hole on the Miyazawa which I found to be very similar in shape to the CY head on my YFL-221.

But.....I found I love the burkary head on the Resona I'm trying right now. And I ignored the shape of the hole!

Right now I have a Brannen head I'm going to start trying tonight. I'm really excited about that-
 
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