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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:02 am 
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Hi,
I just ordered a Pratten style flute in blackwood. The maker (Geert Lejeune) offers the feature of a silver lined headjoint for 190 Euro. Right now I am thinking about paying the additional 190 Euro for this feature.

I used to play the Boehm Flute. After several years of playing a silver plaited instrument I upgraded to a silver instrument. The quality of the upgrade was immense (fuller tone, easier, better tuned third octave and even a fuller lower register and I would say and overall bigger dynamic range). But I can't say, how much of the fuller tone and dynamic came from the silver and how much from the overall better quality of the new instrument.

I have no idea, how big the impact of a silver lined headjoint on a wooden simple system flute would be. What do you think?
What should I expect from a silver lined headjoint? Is it worth the additional bucks?

thanks for your help :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:35 am 
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It depends on what you're after. The biggest pro is many people say it offers more volume and possibly a more focused sound.

The cons: it's more likely to crack. It's heavier. To my ear it's not as "woody" sounding as an unlined or half-lined head (probably the same thing as the lined head has a more focused sound). And my experience is that there's a lot more condensation. I will note that I play boxwood flutes, so the difference in both weight and condensation are much reduced for blackwood.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:47 am 
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Oh, I never would have thought, that it might increase the risk of cracking! Thanks for the input. Where do you think this increased cracking risk comes from? Because of the weight?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:18 pm 
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You'll probably hear more about the cracking potential here, but as I understand it, it can happen (but isn't guaranteed to happen) because wood and metal respond differently to environmental changes in temperature and humidity.

With temperate change, metal and wood can shrink or expand at different rates. With humidity changes, the metal won't respond at all, while the wood will shrink or expand. These are usually very tiny differentials, but over time, or in extreme conditions like very low humidity, it can cause a crack when the wood tries to move more than the metal liner it's glued to will allow.

A big part of the fear of cracking with wooden flutes and lined headjoints is due to the condition of antique flutes from the 19th Century, many of which have cracked headjoints. Personally, I think this may be due to simply poor storage conditions, possibly decades in dry conditions while not being played. I'm not sure how much relevance it has to a modern wooden flute made with a fully lined headjoint, where we can be more careful about temperature and humidity extremes. They didn't have cheap digital hygrometers back in the 19th Century or most of the 20th Century, when these cracks happened to antique flutes.

FWIW, I play a modern (recently made) wooden Rudall-type flute in Cocus with a fully lined silver headjoint. I bought it secondhand so I'm not sure exactly when it was made, but I think probably 15 years ago. It has traveled from Switzerland where it was made, to Italy for most of its life, and it arrived recently here in the USA Pacific Northwest. In the Winter when house heat is on, I keep my practice room at a temperature of around 58-67 degrees (daily cycle), and humidity around 47% rh, never lower than 45%. No cracks so far. I do take the precaution of occasionally rubbing a tiny bit of cork wax on the outside body and headjoint of the flute, which may add a little protection against drying. Or maybe not. It could just be a placebo, but it does make the flute nice and shiny. :)

As for playing characteristics... I dunno, I'd have to play an exact copy without the full liner to say anything meaningful about the effect on tone. It sounds way different from my other flute (a blackwood Windward D with unlined head), but it could be the narrower bore, the embouchure cut, or just the way my mouth fits this flute. It has a more pure, less "breathy" tone than the Windward, but I can't say that's the liner. I also don't notice any difference in condensation inside the headjoint. Seems about the same to me, but there are many variables between players and local environment that affect how "wet" a flute gets when played.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:32 pm 
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Sorry. Don't know the choices. Is it between silver lined headjoint and a headjoint
of nickel or brass? Or between the former and a partially lined headjoint or one entirely
made of wood?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:42 pm 
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ertwert wrote:
Where do you think this increased cracking risk comes from? Because of the weight?

Wood expands and contracts with the humidity, whereas metals do not. If you're in a dry spell and your flute isn't humidified, a head shrinking against its lining is risky business at best.

I can tell you from experience that a modern-made flute is at no less risk than an antique one. All it takes is neglect, and a crack can, perhaps even will, happen. If conditions are dry enough, a lined head can crack in the course of a season.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:17 pm 
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@ Nanohedron
I was wondering, if there is a special risk of having silver lined headjoint and cracking? I thought chas meant that silver offers a bigger risk of cracking than brass.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:32 pm 
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No. Every full metal lining, whether silver, nickel or brass, carries the risk of cracking.
If the flute is too dry, the wooden will shrink and the metal won't. Which is why we humidify.
Even the an all wood flute may crack if it isn't humidified.

My impression as to sound quality is that nickel, brass and silver sound equally good.
I believe Pat Olwell offers a fully lined nickel headjoint as a cheaper version of his silver
lined head. If something like that is the choice you have, you might ask the maker
if it makes a difference to the flute's tone. Silver is nice for its own sake, beautiful stuff,
but i don't think it makes significant acoustic difference in a wooden flute.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:40 pm 
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ertwert wrote:
@ Nanohedron
I was wondering, if there is a special risk of having silver lined headjoint and cracking? I thought chas meant that silver offers a bigger risk of cracking than brass.

But chas didn't say that. As far as I'm concerned, metal is metal is metal when wood has resistance to shrink against. Truth be told, if I were to order a new flute now I would probably go with unlined, maybe partially lined. The reason isn't only because of reduced cracking; whenever I've heard unlined heads in the hands of experienced players, the sound was admirable and quite loud enough, easily rivaling a lined head. Maybe a slightly warmer quality to the timbre, but I wouldn't swear to it in court. If I've played one, I don't remember it, but I would recall if I had any assessments that were negative enough to matter.

(crossposting with Jim)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:48 pm 
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jim stone wrote:
Silver is nice for its own sake, beautiful stuff,
but i don't think it makes significant acoustic difference in a wooden flute.

I agree, and the OP should also know that a silver lining might not stay beautiful for long, at least the part you see looking through the embouchure hole. Unless it's been coated with epoxy or something, it will probably tarnish over time in reaction to moisture, and possibly sulfur dioxide in the air or breath.

The silver lining in the headjoint of my flute is a dull light gray color with a hint of yellow, and a slightly matte finish. The hardware on the rest of the flute, the rings and key mechanisms, are still shiny silver.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:03 pm 
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I certainly agree with all the comments made about the risks of a metal lined head if the flute is not kept properly humidified.
The following story involves the difference in sound between a lined head and an unlined head (really a partially lined head because of the lined tuning slide):
Several years ago I visited Pat and Aaron Olwell's shop to take delivery of a 6 key unlined (i.e. partially lined) blackwood flute. A few years later, I ordered a fully lined head and barrel for the same flute. Upon visiting Pat and Aaron again to fit and take delivery of the new head/barrel, we took a "blind test" to find out if we could hear the difference between the two heads with the same foot and same pratten body.
Aaron played tunes with each head while Pat and I closed our eyes so we couldn't tell which head Aaron was using. Then Pat played tunes using both heads while Aaron and I did the "blind test". In all cases, the experts (the Olwells) and I (...far less of an expert)
could not tell the difference and, in several cases, we all guessed incorrectly which head was being used.

On the other hand, I also own an all wood (no tuning slide) Olwell and I think there is a darker, woody, slightly less focused sound to it when compared to a lined Olwell. However, the latter example is on two different flutes and based my own personal impression when playing them.
regards,
Paul


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:34 pm 
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I had a lovely flute made by Greet LeJeune a year or two ago. I specifically asked him for an unlined headjoint. I am a big fan of the unlined headjoint. All the modern flutes I have played or had made in the past 30 years have had unlined headjoints, and the one that didn't-- I have had an unlined headjoint made for it. I really like the sound of wood. Others may have different opinions. I would take a poll on that question as well. I don't know if the metal type itself makes much difference. So I am not really asking your question, but positing another one for you to ponder.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:19 pm 
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Conical bore wrote:
...the OP should also know that a silver lining might not stay beautiful for long...

Well, I didn't get mine exactly for the looks.

What I did get a lining for was the lore surrounding it: that it was supposed to give a brighter, more focused timbre (whatever that means in a world where we celebrate reediness, honk and overtones). I went with silver strictly out of consistency with the rest of the metalwork, against which nickel silver or brass seemed just too coarse, even if it was cheaper.

Posh, I know. :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:16 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Conical bore wrote:
...the OP should also know that a silver lining might not stay beautiful for long...

Well, I didn't get mine exactly for the looks.

What I did get a lining for was the lore surrounding it: that it was supposed to give a brighter, more focused timbre (whatever that means in a world where we celebrate reediness, honk and overtones). I went with silver strictly out of consistency with the rest of the metalwork, against which nickel silver or brass seemed just too coarse, even if it was cheaper.

Posh, I know. :wink:

Hey, nothing wrong with posh, if the rest of the flute is made of the stuff. :)

And yeah, maybe the lore is worth something, regardless of the actual benefit. I get a kick out of playing a modern close copy of a 19th Century flute with silver everywhere. And in Cocus wood no less, although I don't think there is anything magical there. It's just nice to see surviving bits of the wood still being used, if rarely. It gives me a talking point to lord it over the local pipers playing Blackwood pipes. :D


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:04 pm 
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Question for the flute makers about a lined head joint and cracking. Could not the metal lining tube just be slotted from stem to stern, to give the lining the ability to move a little as with wooden headjoint contracts and expands? Or is that what is meant by a 'partially lined head'?


Last edited by hpinson on Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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