Attention Flute Players - Please Read!
This may be a remarkable post for some of you. This especially affects vintage flutes as well as some modern copies of 19th Century flutes with a metal-lined head joint that pulls out around half an inch at the tuning slide to achieve A=440 tuning.
When the head joint is pulled out at the slide, a chamber is created about two-thirds of the way down the barrel, extending to the tenon of the body right above the hole for B. The diameter of this chamber is a bit larger than the bore of the head joint and body, and thus creates a trap for moisture to collect. I find that blowing into the embouchure hole whilst covering the tone holes is insufficient to get all the water out, so during a session, I may swab out the entire flute multiple times. I have often thought a small tube of silver (the length by which I usually pull the head out) inserted into the barrel would, in effect, add to the length of the tuning slide, thus eliminating the chamber. The extended slide would now start at the end of the head and go all the way to through to where the barrel meets the body. The bore would now be uniform until it reaches the point where it tapers gradually to the end of the flute.
After some years of this concept marinating in my brain, I became friends with a jeweler who said he could make the sleeve (or insert) for me. I received it right before last night’s session and the results were remarkable. First, it definitely solved the water problem. I only swabbed the flute once during 2 1/2 hours of constant playing. Best of all, however, was how this small tube of silver affected the playing itself: Faster warm-up, faster and easier response, cleaner articulation, warmer tone and better projection were all evident. I called a set of Oyster Wife’s Rant/The Gravel Walk, and at the end, there was quite a strong response. One of our members said, "Alan, you really drove that set!" In the four years I’ve been with this session, I have been complimented on my choice of sets, but not on my playing. This was a first and no one knew my flute had been modified (it is, of course, invisible - the added tube of silver is inside the barrel). I had some small hope that the addition of the silver might have some affect on tonality, but nothing this dramatic.
As you can tell, I’m keen to share this with my friends on this site. Reply as you wish, but I would appreciate knowing how many of you have lined heads that are pulled out more than maybe a quarter of an inch. I am a very happy soul today!