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A: The widest selection of Burkart instruments can be tested by visiting our workshop. We also attend numerous flute fairs, colleges and summer master classes to exhibit instruments. When the purchase of an instrument is imminent, a flute, piccolo or headjoint trial can be arranged to arrive at your residence. Outside of the U.S. we have professional representatives in numerous countries with instruments to try and purchase.
As long as you follow some of the simple guidelines (see below) for temperature extremes, there are no restrictions on playing your new instrument for 1, 2, 3, or 10 hours per day. Just be sure to swab appropriately. We have faith in the quality of our wood-aging process.
A: The primary differences are the shape of the tone holes, the interior bore, the undercutting of toneholes, the options available, the type of pad and the details of the keywork. See Burkart Piccolo
Please call us at 978-425-4500 to discuss your specific needs, and we will guide you to the right instrument to fit your circumstances and financial requirements.
A: Wooden instruments do tend to crack more readily in the dry, cold periods of the year. Some precautions can be exercised:
- Try to minimize exposure of the instrument to freezing temperatures.
- Avoid playing the instrument immediately when it is brought in from the cold. When it is cold, close the keys and blow warm air in at the tenon end (without the headjoint). The wood body changes temperature much more slowly than the silver keys, therefore, don't assume the body is warm when the keys feel warm. Take your time. Separately, wrap your hands around the headjoint and blow warm air through the headjoint while cupping your mouth over the embouchure hole. Assemble the piccolo, then you are ready to play.
- If you must sit in a performance waiting and waiting for that piccolo entrance, try to keep the instrument warm by keeping it close to your body or in your hands.
- Do not leave the instrument close to a heat source. Example: Check to see if there is a radiator or baseboard under the desk you always place your briefcase or instrument case on.
- Oiling the body does not prevent cracking. Oiling by the player is not recommended as it is easy to get oil on the pads and adjustments. Oiling may be done in the repair shop, and it is only a surface treatment.
A: In general, the smaller the bore of the conical piccolo, the easier it is to hit the high notes. However, small bore instruments, such as some German piccolos or copies, have very shrill, bright timbres. Many very old piccolos have large bores contributing to their rich sounds, but they have bad intonation and stuffy high registers. Achieving warmth, ease and good pitch can only be had with the right combination of bore size, tone hole position and optimal headjoint embouchure. Try ours!
And remember, piccolos improve not just with age, but with playing. When we see a one year old Burkart piccolo that has enjoyed a lot a playing, the "maturation" is incredible.
A: The hand making of flute headjoints is certainly an art. It requires production of a piece in precious metals to "museum quality" standards. It demands a mature understanding of the relationships of shapes to sound production. One pass of the file or scraper can dramatically change the way a headjoint responds. Material properties - hardness, stiffness, mass - are significant in making a superlative headjoint.
The repertoire of the accomplished headjoint maker does not include voodoo, chance or gimmicks - rather art is combined with science. Every Burkart handmade headjoint will be very consistent within styles, but each will have its own "personality." How wonderful for the player to have choices in matching playing styles and tone production to a hand made headjoint!
A: Drawn tone holes are extruded from the flute body in precise position and rolled over to form a smooth surface on which the pad lands as it closes. It is essentially a 'unibody' and the tone holes are slightly thinner than the body. Soldered toneholes, in a more time consuming method, are individually shaped short cylinders of varying size that are soldered in precise position to the tube. The top surface is machined to a surface suitable for the pad to land.
The most meaningful difference between soldered and drawn tonehole flutes relates to the respective wall thicknesses of each. Soldered toneholes are made from tubing with a wall thickness of approximately 1mm. This is more than three times thicker than the wall of a drawn tonehole. If one multiplies this by the sixteen or more toneholes on a typical flute, a significant amount of mass is added. The greater mass of the flute influences the tonal qualities.
Also, there is uniform 'undercut' or chamfer to the drawn tone hole as it is extruded. The greater thickness of the soldered tone hole allows for individualized and selective undercutting to balance tone quality from note to note.
A: Low to mid price flutes are silver plated. Even flutes with solid silver body are usually silver plated over the solid silver to reduce manufacturing time and cost. Plating is applied to a surface with a 'strike' or thin coat of nickel or copper and then a thin coat of pure silver. The pure silver does not tarnish. However, if there is ever damage (scratches, dents, etc) to the body, it cannot be repaired without removing the silver plating and exposing the 'strike' layer - a permanent, unsightly mess. Also the thin layer of silver plate can erode in the hands of a player with acidic perspiration.
The solid silver flute (un-plated) is superior in sound to silver plated flutes. It is also easily repaired to as new condition. Silver is a precious metal and, like gold, it is too soft for flutemaking in pure form. To make it more durable and stronger it is often alloyed with small amounts of copper and other metals. It is this copper which reacts with atmospheric sulfides, chlorides, ambient humid air, etc., to form a thin cloudy to dark area on the flute. The good news is, it's no big deal. Tarnish in no way affects the way the flute sounds, and can be removed upon overhaul which includes a machine buffing of the keys and body.
When you perspire, salts and acids released in the perspiration can cause tarnish. This problem can be worse in seacoast areas where chlorides combine with perspiration. Medication and changes in hormone balance during adolescence can cause elevated levels of perspiration acid. Frequently, the developing flutist advances from a student model flute to a professional silver flute during adolescent years, and we note that the accelerated tarnish issue often disappears by the time a first overhaul is done (8 to 10 years after purchase).
Burkart does offer two silver flute bodies with superior tonal attributes that are not alloyed with copper and do not tarnish like sterling silver. See 998 flute and 5-95 flute in Metal Options.