by Alex Xeros
Long before I became a Resident Flutist at Flute Center, before I was in the flute biz at all, I purchased a Miyazawa flute that I still play today. I love my flute, but after 9 years in the flute industry, I have tried nearly every brand and model of flute. If I ever find myself shopping for a new flute, Altus will be at the top of my list. Here’s why.
Altus flutes blend traditional flute-making techniques of Louis Lot, a scale developed by the late William Bennett, and modern tonal aesthetics to create their distinct sound. To personalize their many models and materials, Altus offers three truly unique headjoint styles. As we all know, the headjoint is the engine of the flute - it’s where the sound starts! Over the years, I have had the privilege of playing all of Altus’ headjoints - here’s what you can expect from each cut.
I’ll start with the Classic Cut, sometimes referred to as the S-cut. As its name implies, it is the original Altus headjoint style. Altus describes it as:
“...renowned for producing the trademark Altus sound that honors the vintage 18th century flute with an oval shape. The headjoint produces a rich sound with flexibility and penetrating projection.”
As Altus states, Classic cut headjoints feature a vintage-inspired 18th century oval shape. Generally, the more oval shaped a headjoint is, the more resistant it is; I definitely find this to be true with the Classic cut. But don’t let the word resistance scare you away! A headjoint with some resistance helps prevent note cracking, and offers color, control, and depth of sound. A more resistant headjoint may take more time to adapt to and appreciate, but if you spend the time to find the “sweet spot” on a Classic cut headjoint, you will see why it is one of my favorite options. The entry level Altus 807 comes standard with a Classic cut headjoint.
Next in the line up is the Z-cut. Here’s what Altus has to say:
“Featuring a rectangular embouchure hole with minimal over and undercutting, this headjoint responds quickly without sacrificing flexibility or control. It offers full projection and a more dramatic tone color over the entire range of the flute.”
Compared to the Classic cut, Z-cut headjoints have a larger, more rectangular embouchure hole. Generally, rectangular headjoint cuts offer a quicker response and are more free-blowing than their oval counterparts. I’m not sure why they call it the Z-cut, but it certainly has a lot of zing and zip with its fast response, projection, and ease of playing in all registers. This is the headjoint that Altus pairs with their popular intermediate flute line, Azumi flutes.
Last is the V-cut, Altus’ newest headjoint style. Here’s how Altus describes it:
“The V Type headjoint is capable of producing a powerful sound with exceptional quick response. Featuring a high front wall and steep angled lip plate, this headjoint performs the cutting-edge headjoint design. It comes with heavy crowns and the option for 14K riser.”
The V-cut combines the oval-shape of the Classic headjoint with a dramatic drop-off on the front of the lip plate. This style features extra silver or gold on the lip plate, which grants the player more projection. This particular headjoint style has really grown on me over the years - I love the combination of the slightly resistant oval shape and the drop-off on the lip plate. It’s the perfect balance between old and new styles.
The Altus 907 and all higher models can come with any of these headjoint cuts - Classic, Z-cut, or V-cut. I strongly recommend trying all three headjoint styles if you are shopping for an Altus flute! The Flute Center carries a wide range of Altus headjoints so you will have the opportunity to find the perfect headjoint style for you during our proven trial process.