Testing Room

Click on a question to reveal the answer.


Q:  How can I test a Burkart flute, piccolo, or headjoint?

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.

Q.  How many different options can I have on trial at one time?
A.  The maximum number of instruments sent in one trial is 2.  Headjoints are limited to 3 at one time.  A professional Burkart representative can help to refine your search and guide you through all arrangements.   See Try a Burkart
Q:  Do you offer financing?
A: Yes. Please view our financing page for more information.


Q:  Do I need to limit playing-time to break in my new piccolo?
A: No. 
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.
Q:  What is the difference between the Burkart Professional and Elite piccolos?

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.

Q:  My current piccolo doesn't have a high B. Can anything be done to fix that?
A: "My most frequently asked question" says Lillian Burkart. Some piccolos just don't have a high B and never will. It can be a combination of the placement of the trill tone holes, the length of the body and/or bore size. If your high B suddenly disappears when it was there before, swab the instrument. Water in the headjoint and body can inhibit high B production. Also high B's respond better with the headjoint pulled out a little bit - a good reason to have an A-442 piccolo that can be comfortably pulled out.
Q:  How can I prevent my piccolo from cracking in the cold winter months?

A: Wooden instruments do tend to crack more readily in the dry, cold periods of the year. Some precautions can be exercised:

  1. Try to minimize exposure of the instrument to freezing temperatures.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Q:  I love the sound of my old piccolo but the intonation is terrible and the high register is very resistant. Can you fix it? Will a new headjoint help?

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.

Q:  What causes the terrible buzzing I hear in my piccolo sometimes?
A: Ninety-nine percent of the buzzes in piccolos can be attributed to the double pad skins of the trill pads. A vibration which is particularly obnoxious on the piccolo is set up between the two skins at certain frequencies. It comes and goes depending on humidity or dryness of the pads. Our recommendation is to use cork pads in the trills.
Q: When I press the E key on my piccolo, the lower G cup does not close all of the way. Is this normal?
A: Yes this is normal. When padding the instrument, we must adjust the piccolo so that the lower G pad does not close all of the way. This allows for venting in order to produce the best high E. Also, if the lower G cup is adjusted to close all of the way, the High E to F# trill won't work.
Q: Do you still make the Burkart & Phelan piccolo?
A: The Burkart & Phelan piccolo was renamed the Burkart Professional piccolo in 2009. For more information, please visit our history section.

Flute Headjoint

Q:  If you send me 2 headjoints to try, will they sound exactly the same?

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!


Q: What is the best way to clean my flute?
A: A microfiber cloth is provided with a Burkart flute to wipe the keys and body after playing.  It can be laundered, but do not use fabric softener.  Be careful not to rub the front edge of the pads.  The swab stick is used for the interior of the flute and is most effective in removing moisture when it is equipped with a couple of thin strips of an absorbent cotton, like an old tee shirt.
Q:  Do you offer tours of your facility?
A:  Players, friends and family are always welcomed to a guided tour of the Burkart company.
Q:  How long does it take to receive my flute once I place my order?
A: Delivery of the completed flute varies by the nature of the materials, configuration and time of year.  See Ordering Basics
Q: What is the difference between a drawn and soldered tone hole?

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.

Q:  Why do professional level silver flutes sometimes tarnish?  My student flute never did.

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.

Q:  What type of pads are recommended for the Burkart Flute?
A:  We recommend our micro-fiber contemporary pad for its resonant acoustics, stability in all climates and reliability in performance. Our micro-fiber pad is wrapped in a traditional, now thicker, pad skin to extend the life of the pad.  Felt pads are available on request.
Q: Do you still make the Burkart & Phelan flute?
A: The Burkart & Phelan flute was renamed the Burkart Professional flute in 2009. For more information, please visit our history section.