Boehm Head Joints
Many players of the Boehm system metal flutes have discovered that the addition of a wooden head joint to the instrument is a simple and delightful way to create a more varied pallet of tonal colors. Theobald Boehm himself recommended the use of a wooden head joint on his metal flutes.
Making a high quality wooden head joint is a delicate and skilled task, for not only does the bore of the head joint feature what is called a parabolic taper (which requires the construction of special steel reamers to shape the bore), but the cutting of the tone (embouchure) hole must be done to very precise specifications in order to keep both the power and intonation of the instrument while still imparting a unique character. Creating a high quality Boehm system head joint represents the apex of the wooden flute making craft.
I currently offer two variations on the transverse head joint, and one end blown versions. The transverse versions are what I call the Standard and the Baroque.
The Standard head joint is a thin walled head joint with a raised lip plate and the classic “rounded rectangle” embouchure shape. This head joint’s embouchure cut is inspired by the work of the legendary Albert Cooper, and the result is a tone of great warmth with a powerful sonority and response.
The Baroque features an elliptical embouchure shape for a sweeter, more delicate tone and is ideal for players who want to play either authentic Baroque era music or Irish traditional style tunes.
For players who wish to explore some unique tones and styles, I offer a quena head joint. This head joint is played vertically and an optional thumb rest is in development to make the experience more ergonomic.
The Ellis Tenon-sizing System: Finding a wooden head joint that will actually fit into your Boehm flute can be a challenge and I’ve spoken with a number of players who have been frustrated in this quest. In an attempt to deal with this age-old problem, I’ve developed a tenon sizing system that makes it a simple process to get the perfect fit. Each of my head joints is fitted with a precision sized metal socket at the distal end. When you purchase a head joint, you receive along with it a set of sizing tenons (the head joint does not have a tenon installed yet). There are about 30 separate tenons, each of them sized to within half of a thousandth of an inch of one another, spanning the dimensions of most standard C flutes. The player simply selects from the set whichever tenon that has the right fit for their flute, and the base of that tenon will fit perfectly into the socket on the head joint, providing an air tight fit. This is not a permanent fit, but rather a means by which the player can audition the head joint. If they decide they would like to keep the head joint, they simply box it up along with the chosen tenon, and return the entire package to me (including the sizing tenons). All of the proper packaging as well as a pre-paid shipping label are provided. I will then permanently install the chosen tenon and return it to the player. More technically minded players or players who have access to a flute technician may opt to glue the tenon in themselves (it is a simple process and there is a YouTube video where I demonstrate the procedure). This allows the player to start using the head joint immediately.
Also, players who know the actual size of the head joint tenon that fits your flute can provide that information and thereby limit the number of sizing tenons that they need to audition the flute.
The tenon sets are precision machined and costly, so a deposit of $1000 is placed on the set at the time of purchase. This deposit is refunded upon the safe return of the set. If the player chooses not to purchase the head joint, all of their payment is refunded minus the shipping costs. I realize this deposit is substantial, but bear in mind it is temporary. As may of you know, it is not uncommon to pay $1800 or more for a wooden head joint, so that might put things in perspective! For players who only need a handful of the sizing tenons because they know the approximate size of their current head joint, a sub-set of the tenons with a correspondingly smaller deposit can be provided.
I use a wide variety of beautiful and exotic woods, and bore rings of sterling silver.
Standard head joint with lip plate: $900
Baroque head joint: $900
Quena head joint: $300
Refundable Sizing tenons deposit (for full set): $1000
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