Robert Bigio Flute maker and author of books on the flute
Stoppers and crowns
Why do they work? I'm honestly not sure. One suggestion is that the space between the stopper and crown (which is normally filled with a cork) acts as a vibration chamber. Another suggestion is that the stopper, which is short, light and held in place only by the O-ring, vibrates with the air column in the flute. The response of the flute will change if the crown is removed, or if the little hole in the crown is plugged, or if the space between the stopper and crown is filled in. I have even noticed a change in the sound and response of a flute when I have fitted a crown made of a lighter wood. (It wasn't as good.) I have now made crowns in many different materials. Zirconium has been particularly successful. Fitting Fitting is easy: simply unscrew the original crown and push out the original stopper using the tool supplied. The tool is hollow and will apply pressure to the stopper itself, not to the screw. Next, put the new stopper in the headjoint and push it into position with the tool. The three lines on the tool will help you find the correct position. Finally, push the new crown into position. The whole job takes just a minute. Prices (in pounds Sterling) African Blackwood crown (plain) with Delrin stopper     75.00 Ornamental decoration, add   10.00 African Blackwood crown with zirconium stopper 100.00 Zirconium crown and zirconium stopper 150.00 Postage worldwide (ordinary post)     6.00 Postage worldwide (signed-for)   10.00 Available directly from me or from these dealers: UK: Just Flutes USA: The Flute Center of New York Italy: Suono Denmark: Woodwind Music Web  Contact me: Home
Top to bottom: Heat-treated zirconium crown; natural zirconium crown; zirconium stopper Ornamented crown inAfrican Blackwood
A simple, cheap and easy-to-install improvement to any flute headjoint. Simply remove the crown and stopper from your headjoint, fit the new stopper, fit the new crown. The difference in sound and response is astonishing. The stoppers are made either of Delrin (a hard plastic), or of zirconium. The crowns are made of African Blackwood (also known as Grenadilla). Both stoppers and crowns are held in place with an O-ring. Zirconium crowns are also now available, both in a natural colour and heat- treated to a beautiful deep mirror black. Flute players are amazed (and I continue to be amazed) how the sound of a flute changes when these gadgets are fitted. Players who use them have said their flutes have become louder, smoother and more responsive. The stoppers will fit almost any headjoint, but the crowns must be made to measure. I need a measurement of the inside of the top of your headjoint (the crown end). Any repair person or engineer will be able to do this for you in seconds using a vernier caliper.