What ist the Headscrew good for ?

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Benjahmin
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What ist the Headscrew good for ?

Post by Benjahmin » Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:09 pm

Hi !

As a technician for woodwinds I learned, that the Headscrew ( or tuning-Cork, as it is called in german ) in the upper End of the Head-joint must be set at a special position
( one times the diameter of the tube ) in order to have the different octaves of the flute be in tune with each other.

In other terms : For the instrument to play correctly that Cork has to be set at a very precise position....which is commonly marked on the cleaning-rods end.


On the other side, I learned that within the Orchestra the flute is tuned by pulling out the entire headjoint ( if neccessary) .....and NOT by fumbling around on the Headscrew.

My question is thus : IF the Headscrew has to keep its position....according to the cleaning swab, and the flute is tuned in another way anyhow.....then WHY does the headscrew exist at all ????

Would it not be much simpler to avoid it as a whole and solder a clean Silver-Ending to the right position ?
I mean, the thing tends to be deadjusted through cleaning, or retightening the headscrew....over the years the embedded Cork will become crumbly and will need replacement.....
WHY not avoid all this through a solid Head-ending ?


Allright....I DO suppose, my question is kind of blasphemic....since all flutes have this device and there MUST be a reason to it, which I simply don't grasp.....
is there anyone who knows ??

I asked a Man MAKING flutes allready...but he seemed overquestioned himself.... so I keep wondering about this thing........

Benjahmin

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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper » Tue Aug 10, 2010 5:19 pm

The simple answer is that moving the headjoint tunes the entire flute while moving the cork stopper tunes the octaves. The normal position for the stopper is 17.3 MM from the embouchure hole. Moving it closer to the embouchure hole sharpens the third octave while moving it further outward will flatten the third octave.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

Benjahmin
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Post by Benjahmin » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:04 am

Pied-Piper

Yes, all that is clear to me so far, as I wrote, knowing that the screw is for tuning the octaves correctly.

Maybe I have to put the question in a different way: WHY would someone want to sharpen or flatten the third octave ?
I suppose, once it is tuned correctly , nobody would want to change that again isn't it ?

So why is there a device, which enables the musician to do something he may not want to do at all ...but which causes trouble and needs maintenance ?

Or am I wrong in assuming that there is no use in sharpening/flattening the third Octave ?

If so > please explain !
I'm quite interested to find out the secrets of this screw ;-)

Benjahmin

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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper » Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:04 am

The ideal stopper position is relative to the total length of the flute. When the headjoint position is changed to tune, it changes the proportional distance between the embouchure hole and the stopper relative to the bottom end of the flute.

Most flutists (beginners, intermediate particularly) will never adjust the stopper. Professionals and advanced players may make adjustments to the stopper position depending on circumstances. For example, I usually play with keyboard instruments tuned to A440. I have adjusted the stopper so that my third octave is in tune at A440. If I started playing regularly with an orchestra that tunes to A442 or A444, I might need to readjust the stopper.
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cflutist
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Post by cflutist » Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:27 am

Does moving the stopper do anything to the first and second octave?

Common sense tells me that moving the stopper farther away from the hole makes a longer tube which makes it flatter? What am I missing here?

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Post by fluteguy18 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:30 pm

Hmmm.... I think I need to adjust my cork then. I can bend my lower octave sharp if I need to, and my top octave is always sharp. Moving it out would lower the intolerable sharpness in the upper octave, and I should be able to compensate in the low octave easily enough. I hadn't ever thought about the cork in relation to octaves. I honestly haven't thought about the cork much at all!

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cflutist
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Post by cflutist » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:34 pm

I have never touched mine either.

Benjahmin
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Post by Benjahmin » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:42 pm

@ Pied_Piper

Ok, I think I'm getting the point now.
One could describe it as a "finetuning" within the general tuning-process ( ? )

Sopranosaxes often have a split high C, for the tuning of the high octave alone....so then I suppose it's a related case with the tuning-cork.

You're right, I am not very likely to use that screw, but it's good to at least know its precise purpose.Thanks a lot !

@C-Flutist

Yes, in principle You are right, it should affect all octaves. BUT the first and second octave follow a similar blow-pattern or Air-streaming, if You want to call it such, that's why they follow almost the same fingering as well and are differentiated by "simple"overblowing.
Since the third octave follows a different set of fingerings, generally creating an open Tonehole above the actual Note ( functioning as an "octave-hole or key" )
> D having the C-key open, E the G-key and so on, the movement of the air-column inside the flute is a very different one and so reacts much more to the tuning cork than the lower octaves.
There might be different explanations to it as well,but I am quite sure that there is a point to this one, since it applies to the higher octaves or Flageolets of most woodwinds.

Turning the circle backwards again > This is why Pied_Pipers explanation makes sense to me as well ( now once I've got it ;-) ), that the third octave may need its extra tuning in some cases.


Concerning my personal self, we can close this thread allready, that's all I wanted to know !

:-)

Benjahmin

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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:36 pm

cflutist - Yes, moving the cork does change the first and second octave a bit, but the effect (as I understand it) is more pronounced in the third octave. There is some interaction between the cork position and the headjoint position. So, your observation that moving the cork outward makes the tube longer is correct, but a very minor adjustment of the headjoint will largely compensate for the slight first and second octave changes.

As with most things related to tuning on the flute, life is full of compromises and you just have to find what works best for you, listen and adjust your pitch accordingly.

Here are some references if you want to read more about the cork position and flute acoustics...
-----
From Larry Krantz's web site he has a page about misconceptions on the flute: ( http://www.larrykrantz.com/misconcp.htm ):
Misconception #4: "A single, unique distance for cork placement is applicable to all flute head joints."
Each flute and each flute head joint is unique. A generally accepted "correct" position for head cork placement exists, but tuning and response can be refined by altering that position in very small amounts either up or down the tube.
-----
From the Univ. of New South Wales music acoustics dept. - Tuning:
http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/tuning.html
"Flutes: check your cork. You probably have a centre marker on your cleaning rod, but you can experiment with this position. Pushing the cork in raises the pitch of all notes, but it raises the pitch of high notes more than that of low notes. Pulling it out (just screw the crown clockwise) lowers the the high notes more than the low. So if your octaves are wide, you can pull the cork out. If narrow, push it in. If you move the cork to get your octaves sounding like octaves, you then have to change your normal tuning slide position. "

And finally, from the same source, More than you wanted to know about flute acoustics:
http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/fluteacoustics.html
Last edited by pied_piper on Thu Aug 12, 2010 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:52 pm

fluteguy18 - See my previous message about cork position. I also had problems with the 3rd octave being a little sharp. I've moved my cork a bit further out and it seems to help me. I did it very gradually, about 0.1 MM or 1/4 turn of the crown at a time and then tested by checking the octaves with a tuner and repeated until I was happy with the results.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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Bo
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Post by Bo » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:48 pm

Thanks for the information, pied_piper!

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Post by Bo » Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:39 pm

pied_piper wrote: The normal position for the stopper is 17.3 MM from the embouchure hole. Moving it closer to the embouchure hole sharpens the third octave while moving it further outward will flatten the third octave.
Sorry, I don't quite understand from where to where it should be 17.3 MM... Can you please post a picture? Thanks!

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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:40 pm

On most flute cleaning rods, there is a mark that should be 17.3 MM from the end of the rod:

Image

If you insert the rod into the headjoint until it touches the headjoint cork endplate, the mark should be visible in the exact center of the embouchure hole:

Image

If the mark is to the right of center, the crown should be tightened until it pulls the cork to the left.

If the mark is to the left of center, the crown should be loosened and then pushed in to move the cork to the right.

That is the "normal" position for the cork and it is considered the starting position for the cork position adjustments mentioned in my earlier message.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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Bo
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Post by Bo » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:41 pm

Thanks for the excellent explanation!!!

It was OK with my old flute, but not with my new one, but I finally fixed it! :D

Can it be related???? Suddenly the low C sounds better... :)

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muzikislif3
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Post by muzikislif3 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:34 am

With my flute, I have a beginner gemeinhardt flute that ive been playing for 4 years (played flute for 7 but i managed to slam my flute in the car door 4 years ago haha oops foot joint and part of the middle joint were completely destroyed), I have to move the tuning cork almost all the way out in order for all octaves to be in tune. It also helps eliminate an airy tone (i don't know why) If not, I have to pull my head joint out where there's only about half an inch left attached to the middle joint. So yeah, I do a lot of adjusting, but hey it works!! Yes I am pretty aware that probably means I need to upgrade, I just don't have the money right now

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