Product Reviews: Seidman Flute Stopper Plug
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“Surprisingly Excellent and Easy Upgrade”
I’m always dubious of products billed as time enhancers - not only are they sometimes overpriced for little pay off, but I also find it’s something that can be remedied by patient sonority exercise.
However this stopper is different. For one rather than a tone ‘enhancer’ I’d call it an ‘enabler’. On my azumi headjoint, the low register is effortlessly broad, with a much cleaner attack, and the upper registers are open and free. The lighter weight contributes to a feel of reduced resistance. And throughout the range, I’ve been able to push either end of dynamic control even further to their extremes.
Honestly a fabulous buy, so worth it. I’d actually purchased mine a few years ago but only just got round to installing it; wish I’d done so sooner! (And talking of installation, VERY easy job - took me about ten minutes with no special tools).
“Bargain and really changes the sound”
I have been very impressed with the Seidman stopper. I have fitted them into students' flutes (because, boy, the cork can look pretty grim when it hasn't seen the light of day for a while) and they have made a huge difference. This may be partly down to there being a better seal but there is a clear difference in how well the top register sings and how robust the lower register sounds. It adds just a little bit of weight (about 6g) which can feel very satisfying and is a cheap upgrade for advancing students.
Note, that these do not fit on the new screw design for Altus headjoints (which has a taper on the screw fitting and the stopper can't sit flat against the end plate, creating a leak) but I have ordered one that has been made to fit and have also had one made without the hole in to be used as a push stopper (excellent when used with the Bigio crowns).
One thing that would be very useful, however, is a tool to help remove the old screw cork fitting without putting pressure on the screw (something that does come with the bigio crowns and stoppers, also very much worth a look). All that is needed is a rigid hollow tube that slides over the screw fitting and pushes against the cork assembly). This is also very useful for inserting the new stopper. A bit of olive oil on the O-rings is a must (Fairtrade, organic, extra virgin, obviously ;-)) to get the stopper into place.
I have found the plastic stoppers to be very effective. If nothing else they won't rot inside your flute. Even the cork on my new altus headjoint didn't look so hot when I removed it, as it had clearly been exposed to moisture. I hope flute makers start looking at new ideas for the stopper assembly as a matter of course.
“A more complex sound for a low price”
I bought the stopper out of curiosity: I already have high-end gold headjoint on a Yamaha Student body.
I was interested to see whether a further improvement could be made for a low price.
The difference to the sound is small but audible. I notice it most on the very low notes, where the harmonics have been made more complex, so the sound does not get covered so easily by other instruments.
I could easily have spend another £500 on a headjoint that would have had this effect, so the price was well worth it.
It took a small amount of DIY to install: I have never taken a cork out before and it took care and the right tools (set out in full detail in the online instructions that come with the stopper) but it was not a difficult job.
Incidentally, I noticed that playing with the crown off has quite an effect on tone as well - less clean but carries better. Worth playing with before buying any tone enhancers.
“My flute was difficult to play”
I am an adult, amateur learner. I wasn't sure if my flute was playing up or it was me: The change of stopper, at little cost, has improved the sound and my ability to play beyond my expectations. Thank you Mr Seidman and Just Flutes for importing them.
Having just purchased one of these and tried it out, I would highly recommend it, sound projection is improved in all octaves and I infact have now placed an order for another one.
You can pay approx £200 for some crowns and stoppers, and at this price, you can't really go wrong. Check out the fitting instructions on Mr Seidman's website, as the item though easily fitted doesn't come with any fitting instructions.