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I have a headjoint that I'd like to measure out of curiosity, and compare it to some others I have to see if any of their similarities equates to how I find they play.

So my question is, what dimensions of a lip plate/hole/whatever do you measure and what do you measure it with?

thanks!
 

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I use an electronic caliper. You need to measure the length (LtoR) which should be about 12mm, Width (Rear to Front) which should be less than 10.5mm and then the diagonal which will vary from about 11.5 to 13mm. This is the approx size for most flutes. Older flutes are larger and newer flutes usually have over and undercutting so the upper and lower ends of the riser will be greater than the throat of the hole. Front edge should be sharp and as flat as possible.
The parabola of the tube will vary greatly and is difficult to measure.
What brands are you measuring?
 

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Sankyo, yamaha, old haynes & Powell, uebel and Altus then whatever else I come across....
 

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Hi Benny,

Besides Bruce's suggestions, you'll also need to modify a caliper to measure the riser height. You can also make templates to measure the undercutting and overcutting and check the angles of the strike wall and opposite wall. You'll also can make a simple tool to measure a crucial part of the bore for a specific measurement which can give you an indication of the general taper. Then there are other visual confirmations you can make by comparing profiles off certain components from various perspective angles.

There are a lot of things for comparison to look at, embouchure hole dimensions are but a small part of what you need to measure to explore a headjoints specs for performance. You can't buy most of the tools either, they need to be made.

I would disagree with Bruce that the strike edge needs to be sharp (relatively speaking) That is a myth and headjoint makers control the amount of sharpness to control a particular tonal characteristic.

My NAPBIRT headjoint class covers all of this. I will be in Reno next weekend presenting it again as a hands on clinic for preregistered NAPBIRT members. However, if you are not a member Benny but happen to be in the area, I'd be happy to take time to show you the tools and how to use them, make them, and give you an overview of what affects what in headjoints.

Joe B
 

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One other factor that has surfaced in the past 30 years is the downturn to the front of the lip. LaFin was probably the first to start this where the lip is either bent down a bit or even flattened to remove outside resistance.
 

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At least on some headjoints, like my Powell/Cooper, it is not only a question of undercutting in the chimney, but the fact that the walls of the riser are themselves curved. One good technique, I hear, is to make a wax impression of the embouchure hole/riser and do your measurements from that.

However as pointed out, the exact dimensions of the tube constriction are a very important determinant of sound/response, and extremely small changes there can have large effects on the sound and feel. And the tube geometry acts in concert with the embouchure hole geometry in complex and poorly-understood ways.
 

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I have a headjoint that I'd like to measure out of curiosity, and compare it to some others I have to see if any of their similarities equates to how I find they play.

So my question is, what dimensions of a lip plate/hole/whatever do you measure and what do you measure it with?

thanks!
The book "The golden age of flute" By Karl lenski and Karl Venske has diagrams of traditional Boehm/Lot... flutes with the bore measurements of the tube, if you want to compare what you have to traditional/vintage instruments. While I am not an expert like Bruce or Jim, I have some experience with this topic. IMO the things you will want to compare are: Shape and dimensions of the hole as described by Bruce, Riser height and contour of the lip plate.

Bruce, I thought Cooper did the first flattened or turned down lip plates. Lafin may have improved upon it. Am I mistaken?
 

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FWIW my Cooper head does have a turned-down plate. In addition the chimney is quite low and its side walls are steeply undercut with an increasing radius. And while the hole itself is rectangular, the side at the top are chamfered so that the top shape is actually an elongated oval. I have seen other Cooper heads and none have such a radical design.

This design was an option offered by Powell in the 80's, in cooperation with Cooper, and seems to have been discontinued after a short time.

Joe, do you have any knowledge about this design? It is truly a wonderful headjoint, extremely freeblowing and focused, with a very clear and penetrating tone--the antithesis of The French sound. I wonder why they are no longer being made.
 

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Thankyou to everyone for your help, especially Joe with his kind offer of further help down the track.
Slausonm, I'll check that book out. Thanks!
 

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Cooper probably DID start the flattened front before LaFin but I did start seeing them from LaFin in the mid 80s. OF the lower priced flutes, the Emerson American cut from about 1997 is the lowest priced. Even LaFin started going to a more rounded shape in the 90s. I try to have the front curved down but not too flat and without a crease. Riser height is a large factor on how the head plays. Of late, I have not been been doing too much of a radical undercut going a bit more vertical.
One interesting thing is often someone has an older head that they think should be undercut. This is a hit or miss situation as the top and bottom length of the hole on the older flutes tends to be at 12mm or larger. When undercutting one of these, it may make the underside of the riser (where it touches the tube) as long as 14 or15mm whic is just too much. When measuring with a caliper, care must be taken to measure the length at the opening and also at the throat. For modern heads, think of an hourglass shape (not so pinched!) as the over and undercutting makes the top and bottom wider than the throat.
Confused yet?
 

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FWIW my Cooper head does have a turned-down plate. In addition the chimney is quite low and its side walls are steeply undercut with an increasing radius. And while the hole itself is rectangular, the side at the top are chamfered so that the top shape is actually an elongated oval. I have seen other Cooper heads and none have such a radical design.

This design was an option offered by Powell in the 80's, in cooperation with Cooper, and seems to have been discontinued after a short time.

Joe, do you have any knowledge about this design? It is truly a wonderful headjoint, extremely freeblowing and focused, with a very clear and penetrating tone--the antithesis of The French sound. I wonder why they are no longer being made.
I can ask a few people who might know specifically about the turned-down lip plate origin. Powell is a good guess because of their early ties to Cooper. Dana Sheridan comes to mind as the one most successful with bringing this concept to market though. But many makers have their own of this style.

That design is out there today in many heads from many manufacturers with many degrees of variation. The basic design is intact and is considered in terminology a "modern" cut rather than a "traditional" cut. As you stated, not very French, and it does not play like one either.

There are some very interesting things that are in headjiont design right now. In the modern heads, they are all outgrowths of that basic Cooper design.

Joe B
 
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