The Ellis-Korb headjoint is the result of a unique and fruitful collaboration between Geoffrey Ellis and flute specialist Ron Korb. The story began in 2011 when the original idea was simply to make a new design for Ron’s own personal use. Once they were a few years into the process they realized that they were developing something special that needed to be shared with other flute players. The process took years of research and experimentation in what became a search for the “holy grail” of wooden headjoints.
As a teenager Ron Korb worked for his father who was a brilliant German machinist at the top of his profession, and this gave Ron personal insight into how we shape and design material, and an understanding of the practicalities of excellent manufacturing. Geoffrey has been equally fortunate to augment his twenty-one years of professional flute making with knowledge acquired from close collaboration with another equally talented machinist, and this shared background provided a strong foundation for their design experiments. Headjoints are both art and science, and the key to making a great headjoint is the ability to reproduce the design with unparalleled precision and consistency.
Theobald Boehm believed that having a wooden headjoint on his metal flutes was the best combination because of the warmth and character they imparted to the flute. They agreed, but they found that many wooden headjoints had a nice, sweet tone but felt under-powered. Their goal was to create something that brought the warmth and color, but with crisp articulation and great projection. In addition to creating a headjoint with intense resonance and power, they also made some small adjustments to the design that resulted in measurable improvement in the overall intonation of the flute. Furthermore, they wanted to improve the look of the wooden head joint by making it sleeker and creating a more seamless, elegant look on the concert flute–something that would blend more harmoniously with the natural lines of the instrument.
Players who wish to audition new head joints face the challenge of finding something that will fit their flute properly. To solve that difficulty Geoffrey developed a tenon-sizing system that allows any player to try a head joint regardless of the make or model of their flute, since the tenon is not permanently fitted until the head joint is purchased.
Choice of materials is an important factor in making a great head joint. As of January of 2017 the vast majority of woods that are traditionally favored for head joints have been added to the CITIES list of endangered or threatened plant species. In the interest of environmental responsibility they made a conscious decision to move away from these tropical woods and focus on eco-friendly alternatives, including stabilized domestic woods and Ebonite—a 100% natural, food-grade hard rubber that is both beautiful and has excellent acoustic properties, as well as over 150 years of history as a much sought after flute making material. These choices ensures a head joint that is impervious to shrinkage and potential cracking throughout it’s life.
Safe, natural and ecologically responsible head joints that sound amazing and look beautiful, providing all the character of a wooden head joint without impacting our tropical forests.
Ellis-Korb headjoint price: $1,000