Product Reviews: Robert Bigio Zirconium Flute Headjoint Stopper with Crown
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“Beautiful and versatile!”
First off, the Bigio craftsmanship is stunning. The wooden crowns are beautiful and, with the addition of engraving (produced on a really old lathe), are a work of art. I started looking at the Bigio crowns as a way to bring down the weight in the headjoint, to reduce shoulder and wrist fatigue when practising. The wooden crown weighs only 5g, so took a good 15g+ out of the headjoint. I understand that adding weight is often the aim of the game for boosting sound and resistance but the physical strain has always been a concern for me.
I have found the use of push stoppers (rather than screw and cork assembly, which weighs around 11g) to be really useful. It gives a lot more freedom to play around with weight in the stopper and crown materials without the unnecessary added weight in the screw. The Bigio crowns with the hole in the top do not fit onto a screw assembly so a push stopper of some kind is needed. I was able to use the Bigio wooden crown with the Seidman-esque push stopper (6g) already in my headjoint but it was interesting to test it out with the two different Bigio stoppers too, each offering their own individual sound qualities (the delrin stopper weighs 2.5g and the zirconium weighs 10g). The zirconium crown (which I didn't try) weighs 20g. I love how this offers musicians a lot of choice as to what they want from their instrument. I was really pleasantly surprised with the effect the wooden crown had (having thought it wouldn't make a jot of difference). I found the lower register spoke really easily and was quite bold whilst the middle to upper registers were pure and crisp. It added a classical edge to the sound.
So, now, with one headjoint I can have a lightweight flute with a clear and crisp sound + a more weighted headjoint with a complex middle register when my arms can handle it. Something that suits both my musical and physical requirements. The Bigio crowns do need to be fitted to size but Robert Bigio is very helpful when it comes to advice on this front.
I would also recommend testing these out if you're looking to upgrade a headjoint but don't want to shell out a huge amount of money. I've taken some (really, really!!!) grotty corks out of students' headjoints and replaced them with delrin stoppers to great effect!