Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$?

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flutego12
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Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$?

Post by flutego12 »

Though minimal in absolute terms, significant nevertheless in percentage terms, is the hefty premium paid for "premium quality" headcorks worth the $$s?
What difference does it make? What are the benefits for using a premium headcork?

in terms of ...
1) quality of tone and responsiveness of headjoint
2) durability of seal/ shrinkage rate
3) etc etc

Thank you.
flutist with a screwdriver

mirwa
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by mirwa »

To me - Nil,

So long as it seals properly all is good, use shellac or beeswax

fluteguy18
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by fluteguy18 »

Well, to me it depends on the kind of cork you're using and its exact composition. Is it high end solid cork vs. a cheap composition cork similar to that on a cork board (ground up and held together with poor quality glue)? Is it tech composition cork (ground up cork held together with a high quality non-corrosive rubber?) Is it middle grade cork?

As long as it is a stable and solid material that won't degrade too quickly I don't see much difference yet. My experience isn't that expansive however, but as long as it seals and it is doing its job then you're just comparing different kinds of apples. Weight, shape and density will all have some impact assuming all other things are equal, but really... it would be hard to discern the difference from a listener's perspective I think.

trumpettech
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by trumpettech »

Headcorks are fine as long as they are doing their job. Too often they are not.
I replace headcorks more often than the average repair technician to the effect of a better playing flute.
I often trim the headcork thinner as well, and seal it with wax. Thinner headcorks tend to allow the headjoint the opportunity to vibrate more. Along the lines of this idea, there was an invention by Bob Ogren in Madison Wisconsin that is very interesting. It is a delrin plug on a threaded rod with two O rings. My wife has one in her flute. It works fabulously well. I have since seen them made out of all sorts of materials. I imagine the material would matter less than the minimal contact idea. Bob's concept is the best headcork idea I've ever seen.
http://www.leitholdmusic.com/remotemodu ... 1390410255
That should get you right to it.

mirwa
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by mirwa »

I don't feel that the thickness of a cork could impact the sound of a flute, I don't think you could even measure this in a controlled test

You can make a heavier or lighter crown if you wished.

All my opinion of course

trumpettech
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by trumpettech »

Try using different thicknesses of cork on several of the same make/model flute. I bet you will find that about 3/4 of an inch is optimal, and anything over an inch seems to dampen the headjoint enough to notice.
Of course, this goes along with my theory of vibration transfer, and how I want as little vibration transfer to the headcork as possible. I want the head and body of the flute to vibrate. It stands to reason that any extra soft material squeezing on the body will dampen vibrations... exactly the opposite of what you're trying to accomplish when you play the flute. To really make the flute feel alive this is necessary. Are there other things that matter more? Of course, but doing this is just one of the differences between a technician that can understand how to set up an instrument to play its best and one that just puts it together and says, "what? It plays!"
I find one of the biggest challenges as a technician is to feel what the player feels and then approach the problem.
This is the only way to have a happy customer every time.

mirwa
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by mirwa »

I have fitted all types of corks, of varying thickness's to peoples flutes, to date I am yet to experience that phenomenon.

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JButky
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by JButky »

trumpettech wrote: Of course, this goes along with my theory of vibration transfer, and how I want as little vibration transfer to the headcork as possible. I want the head and body of the flute to vibrate.
Actually, you don't want the tube to vibrate as you will experience acoustic losses, especially when they occur at nodal points that will severely impair the response curve.

Feeling the standing wave vibration through a tube is not at all like having the tube vibrating. A container must be sufficiently rigid to inhibit vibration transfer. To reduce acoustic losses, one must do the opposite that you suggest. Extraneous vibrations, when they interfere with the standing wave, should be identified and eliminated if possible.

The only place a tech can really do that and make a difference is in the very padding structure. Coltman in particular did a paper on this in relation to pad backers and acoustic losses in pads. As far as the stopper is concerned, only the plate end interacts directly with the standing wave. The cork's job or any other stopper is to make sure that the seal is appropriate and that there is no sympathetic vibration to impose acoustic losses on the standing wave. The biggest problem with stoppers is that a variable length tube requires the standing wave length to also be variable for perfect response. Since nothing is perfect and that is not possible, we settle on an average fixed location since a variable stopper has not yet been made viable.
Joe B

mirwa
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by mirwa »

Agreed Joe.

I think there is too much false information (I try not to use a word that offends, but its the only word I can really utilise in this statement) travelling around, regarding the effects of vibrating walls in instruments and its tonal impact, to this then, that said phenomenon is audible and physically measureable.

I find most things that can be measured scientifically, do prove a difference, but that difference is so small that us humans are not capable of sensing it.

The placebo effect can be quite powerful as most medical studies with drugs prove on many an occassion.

Steve

trumpettech
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by trumpettech »

There are other effects besides pads to improve instrument response. By indicating that the headcork could dampen the headjoint, I was correct in my statement. It is true that rigidity of a structure prevents secondary vibrations that you don't want, thus dampening the primary standing wave, but I have a series of procedures that strengthen the standing wave in most flutes. I have an idea why the procedure doesn't work the same way on high-end flutes like the Miramatsu and Altus.
It has to do with the construction of the flute itself. If the instrument is perfectly assembled, You're right, but the vast majority of flutes have had corners cut in the manufacturing process, even something as simple as a solder joint with a post cooling too quickly can establish a stress that may outright prevent a standing wave from developing at a certain pitch. That's what happened to a lot of Gemeinhardt 4sp piccolos regarding the second Ab above the staff.
Many of these piccs can't play that note reliably.
With some relaxing/ restressing, one can restore these piccolos to proper function.
I know there is a difference.
I've taken the placebo effect out of the equation by setting up one flute and having customers try two flutes the same model and 100% of the time they picked the one I set up using my method. I would like the opportunity to share my techniques, but it would not be welcomed by all as many technicians would not understand the effect they are having.
I have also tried using different length headcorks in flutes, and my results tend to be that the headcork needs to be long enough to be stable, yet as small as possible. That usually translates to right near the edge of where the thread runs out on your average flute.
Remember, as a technician, it's ok to be wrong, but it's not ok to limit yourself to not discovering the whole other realm of possibility in added adjustments that can and do influence the way a flute plays.
If you want I can share some of the specifics with any one of you by email, but not on a discussion board.
Try these yourself and see.

mirwa
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by mirwa »

Hi end flutes are all about accuracy and quality of mechanism, they are in no way different to cheaper flutes for standing waves / nodes and anti-nodes, as far as material that the instrument is manufactured out of, pfft, makes 2 cents worth of difference to me

Heres the majr difference

A cheaper flute uses a pad, the pad is fitted into a dome cup, the pad is simply felt wrapped in bladder skin on a cardboard backing, fitted to a curved housing (the key cup).

High end flutes, example, a muramatsu, which I changed pads on today, has a plate fitted into the keycup to ensure the pad is mounted dead flat, the fitted plate is lightened by using circles around its perimeter, whilst still maintaining a flat surface

The pads fitted to said flute are constructed with a cardboard backing, a brass housing, a rubber insert which fits into the brass housing, and then a sheet of ultra thin leather wrapped over that, the whole assembly is then wrapped with a traditional bladder skin. The pads are so flat its perfection and a pleasure to work on.

This is the main difference between cheaper and more expensive instruments, quality and attention to detail..

trumpettech
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by trumpettech »

So all solder work is the same? Is that what you're saying? There is no difference between my solder work on assembly and Joe plumber's? Soldering incorrectly can cause stress. Stress causes funny things to happen. As far as material the flute is made of, I would tend to agree, but there are other factors besides key fitting that make a great flute.

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JButky
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by JButky »

If you stick to Boehm's design, it's hard to make a flute that plays horribly. As Steve said, attention to detail is key. As long as there are not manufacturing anomalies causing interference in that original design, any flute will play quite well. Quality of materials will determine how long that will continue and how much can be done to keep it that way. Outside of correcting a design issue, most issues of poor performance are remedied in consumable materials use, fixing failure of pads, corks, failed solder joints, etc, etc, depending on the attention to detail that is needed.

Speaking of setups for example, what level of flute am I playing here?

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1Srkr ... sp=sharing

It's a wav file of one of the telemann fantasies. You'll have to download it from my google drive to listen to it.
Joe B

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JButky
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by JButky »

trumpettech wrote:... discovering the whole other realm of possibility in added adjustments that can and do influence the way a flute plays.
If you want I can share some of the specifics with any one of you by email, but not on a discussion board.
Try these yourself and see.
If I may ask? Why the secrecy? There are no secrets or things regarding flute setup that must be kept away from a discussion board such as this one. We all share this info freely.

If you have a tip, by all means, share it...
Joe B

mirwa
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Re: Is the "premium" paid for quality headcork worth the $$$

Post by mirwa »

Dear Trumpettech,

We openly discuss views, we are not here to infer or imply, I cannot comment on your solder work nor would I, without first viewing it.

All we can do is discuss ideas, having repaired thousands of flutes on a commercial basis, all my views and opinions are derived from said workload and exposure.

As joe refers, if you have something to contribute please feel free to post for open discussion.

In the field of repair, IMO there are no secrets, just hand skills, personnel knowledge and tooling to accomplish said tasks

Steve

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