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Flutes are among the more simple musical instruments, but you have several factors to consider when choosing the best flute headjoints for your needs. These include how comfortable you are tuning the headjoint and aligning it to the flute body, your preferences for embouchure, the type of sound you prefer, and your budget. Test different styles, materials, and manufacturers to find the types of flute headjoints that work best for you.
On top of the headjoint, the crown assembly protects the stopper, which may be made from cork or neoprene and o-rings. Cork may shrink or warp, especially as humidity changes. Neoprene is more stable, though it may slide. These changes can affect the flute’s tuning, which can be modified by adjusting the crown assembly. You may want to choose a headjoint with a stopper that is suitable for both your climate and comfort when tuning your flute.
At the open end of the headjoint, the tenon-and-socket joint attaches to the body of the flute. It may have a line to indicate where the two pieces should join. If these are not joined accurately, the flute may play sharp or flat. Some flute players will find this feature helpful and will want to choose flute headjoints that have it. A tenon-and-socket joint may also have notches to indicate the correct alignment of the headjoint and the body, which can help less experienced flute players line up their instruments correctly.
The mouthpiece is the most important feature of any headjoint in the flute family. Mouthpiece shapes usually range long oval to rounded, and they affect the flute's sound. An oval mouth hole enhances the sound of upper registers. Rounded rectangle or longer oval mouth holes enhances lower registers. Choose among different shapes and sizes to find the one that works best for you.
Along with the shape of the mouthpiece, its plate curve style is also important. The curved plate is common, yet you may want to look for a cusped or winged plate. Some flutists feel that a cusped or winged plate allows the airstream to be more precise.
Materials will influence your decision in choosing flute headjoints. Silver is popular, yet some flutists may feel that gold produces a warmer tone, but it is more expensive. Other metals include platinum or pewter, and you may want to test these to see if you like the sound.
The headjoint manufacturer will also influence your choice. Each manufacturer tends to construct headjoints that produce specific types of sounds. Experiment with flute headjoints from different manufacturers to find the sound you prefer.
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