Bernolin resin alto/soprano recorders vs. Aafab/Coolsma polyester recorders…?

Home Forum Recorder Makes, Models and Maintenance Bernolin resin alto/soprano recorders vs. Aafab/Coolsma polyester recorders…?

This topic contains 42 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Carolyn Hanlon April 6, 2019 at 12:28 am.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 43 total)
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  • #728

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    If you like mellow, I suppose you could give the Ecodear a try. It is definitely more mellow than anything else (the windway is MUCH thinner). I gave my review above, so you know what I think, but if you really want mellow, you might be able to get by with that and save some bucks over the Bernolin. The Bernolin is MUCH richer and fuller sounding (I mean a lot), but I don’t think anything is as mellow as the Ecodear. Sometimes I even think there’s something wrong with it! – as per your saying you like it when they start to get clogged – well THAT’S how the Ecodear sounds! Like it has a head-cold and needs some medication! πŸ˜‰

    As far as the tweaking that ASW does to plastic recorders, some folks kind of disparage that. I mean, the plastic instruments made by Aulos, Yamaha, and Zen-on generally don’t need tweaking. I think it’s best to leave them the hell alone!

    #729

    Timothy Kogstrom
    Participant

    Dear Richard and Matteo:

    I wish to be clear…I personally do not know exactly what “tweaking”/improvements the A.S.W. makes to the instruments in question…(I am only repeating that which I have read in their literature as well as that which David Green, (owner/operator), has stated to me via telephone conversations)…

    I believe that both Richard and I are really very much on the same page regarding the instruments that we have both played in common…though Richard IS a bit more emphatic to be sure!… πŸ™‚ …AND, HE both owns and plays a Bernolin resin alto…and if for no other reason, that allows him a broader/better perspective regarding all of the recorders of current interest.

    I WILL admit that when I first began to purchase recorders, (some 30+ years ago, I was somewhat of a “snob”, and did not think that plastic/resin instruments were worthy of my time and attention! However, in the last 10 or more years, after obtaining several by various manufacturers, I have come to appreciate them for their value as relatively indestructible, high value instruments which I could leave in a hot vehicle or lose without worrying about their destruction or demise…

    In addition, when I first began playing recorders, I TOO valued the round, mellow, smooth warmth of instruments that leaned in that direction…(I played French Horn in my pre-recorder days, and my first recorder was a pearwood tenor)…HOWEVER, over time I began to appreciate that complexity of timbre/richness that accompanies instruments with a bit of “edge”…(within balance of course), such that I DO value those instruments as well…(“horses for courses”, as one might say…

    In ANY event, despite owning and loving the play-ability and timbres of my various altos…(including a rosewood, keyed, “Classical period”, Modern Mollenhaur alto), I really DO covet a fine, hand “tweaked”, genuinely baroque designed and voiced alto, and if it is made from a remarkably durable material(s), that is ALL THE BETTER!

    Peace/Namaste,
    Tim

    #730

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Yes, I kind of regretted being so emphatic earlier. I was just feeling my oats, I guess. I agree that Tim and I seem to be in general agreement here. I also used to put a lot of emphasis on cosmetics with recorders, but not so much anymore.

    I think that the main advantage of any kind of plastic recorder is that it is much less likely to need revoicing. Even one like the Bernolin with a cedar block. Years ago in New York City, when I was just starting the recorder, it seemed like people CONSTANTLY complained that their recorder needed revoicing. They’d have it done and then would be unhappy with the results. Yikes! I have a drawerfull of wooden recorders that need revoicing. Grrrr. πŸ™‚

    #732

    Matteo Berra
    Participant

    Dear Richard and Timothy,
    thank you so much for your advise.
    It is some time I’m thinking to try the Ecodear but till I read Richard’s review on this thread I was convinced there was not much difference with my Yamaha 300: I was trusting a review asserting that the both instruments were identical as far as concerns to construction, both made after exactly the same model. Surely, the windway size is one of most important elements to be considered and Richard’s measure of it is a precious information.
    Also, I’ve tried to listen to it, searching on Youtube, but I realised that stuff on Youtube is heavily influenced by player’s ability, microphone quality used for the recording, and acoustic of the recording room.
    One of the best comparisons (IMHO) that I’ve found is the following https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni-QrN9PrGE where it seems not being so much difference between 300 and Ecodear Yamahas. Maybe the 300 sounds a little bit better. The player seems, to me at least, talented, the room is not properly a studio while probably the microphone is poor.
    By the way, I would be grateful to you if I could add to my list some three of low priced wooden recorders, in order to have your opinion (You are both very experienced and you can appreciate nuances in tone): Mollenhauer Prima, Adris Dream and Denner.
    Do they worth their price tag or should I try the Ecodear maybe while waiting to be more skilled as to completaly appreciate the Bernolin?
    Thank you,
    Matteo

    #733

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Hi Matteo. I’m glad my Ecodear review was helpful.

    I agree with you that it is not very helpful to listen to YouTube videos (or any recording, really) to judge the sound of particular models. The video you linked to was a pretty good one, I think, to give somewhat of an idea between the Yamahas. I added a comment to that video myself (after you pointed it out to me) saying it was too bad she didn’t use a higher-end Aulos (a model 509B or 709B). The Aulos she is comparing is their lowest priced model and not a fair comparison to the Yamahas.

    The only thing I can add about the Yamahas is that the Ecodear feels markedly different to play. It feels and sounds muted. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and it is what they tried to make it sound like, based on their advertising. They succeeded! So if you like that sound (you cannot judge it very well even by that relatively good YouTube video), it would be good to give it a try.

    Of course, I don’t know your financial situation, but if you are even thinking about inexpensive wooden ones (at several hundred), it seems like a $40 Ecodear would be something you could take a chance on. It DOES sound different than the regular 300 model – more different than any other plastic recorder.

    As far as inexpensive wooden recorders, I would stay away from them. I have had somewhat more expensive Moeck Rottenburgh models (in maple and palisander), and to me they are no better or worse than the best plastic recorders (like the models we’ve been discussing). I took lessons in New York City for ten years with Ken Wollitz, author of “The Recorder Book”:

    https://www.amazon.com/Recorder-Book-Kenneth-Wollitz/dp/1904846114

    and former president of the American Recorder Society. So he’s no slouch. He played a plastic Aulos (509) and Yamaha (300 series) even in concert, and had me switch from the Moeck Rottenburgh I was using. I never went back. One problem was that the Moeck I was using needed revoicing.

    I understand that manufacturers of wooden instruments have improved their manufacturing process in the years since that time, but even so, they are still mass-produced, very variable wooden instruments. The point here is not that they are poor or even mediocre. They aren’t. The point is that plastic models are so good.

    So you could spend $400 on a less expensive wooden model or $700 or $800 on a fancier wood model (plum, palisander, etc), and get a nice recorder that was essentially as good as the Ecodear, and requiring a lot more maintenance, revoicing, etc. A lot of people go the wood route because they feel it is more aesthetically pleasing, but I don’t much care about that anymore.

    One final thing – the Prima model – um, you’re kidding, right?!? πŸ˜‰

    #734

    Timothy Kogstrom
    Participant

    Dear Matteo:

    Sorry for the slow response…(I was off for the weekend at a Renaissance festival in East Tampa, Florida…), (a good time despite providing a surprisingly minimal amount of truly historical/period culture, musical in particular…)

    Meanwhile…back in the 21st century…I will humbly and respectfully have to diverge from Richard’s expressed(?) perspective on the humble Mollenhauer Prima recorder…in that, FOR WHAT IT IS, and what I believe is its design goal is, it is a decent starting point…

    YES, on which Richard, myself as well the esteemed Sarah Jeffery would say, be wary of “cheap”/inexpensive wooden recorders, they often times are a poorer investment than the equivalent expenditure or less in plastic instruments…

    However, I have found the Prima soprano and alto recorders to offer SOME appreciable qualities for a minimal investment…They are constructed of a relatively soft plastic head joint, (so that the soundwave-generating mechanism is relatively indestructible), and the body is made of a soft wood impregnated with paraffin wax…(such that it has a relatively light and mellow/”round” timbre…), though due to the wooden body, it CANNOT be left in a hot vehicle due to the wax migrating out of the wood…). NO, it is NOT the last word in response in the high register, nor the most refined of timbres, and it will clog like any non-cedar block instrument, however, it is certainly not strident, and the lower register is warm and full-throated, particularly with the alto.

    Though I have NOT played them, but have heard them played and have fellow ensemble mates who do own and play them, the Mollenhauer “Dream” recorders garner reasonably strong support, they sound full-bodied/throated and I am told they are relatively easy to play…and Sarah Jeffrey has indicated that she likes them as a relatively inexpensive alternative to the much more dear custom/hand-turned Renaissance offerings, Sarah reinforcing her preference for the all wood models.

    Again, “horses for courses”, and yes, unfortunately, on-line videos can only go so far as to convey the sonic qualities of an instrument or instrument comparisons…

    Wouldn’t it be nice if some wealthy benefactor would create a website, (or fund its creation), wherein an internet user accessible library of recorder recordings was generated, maintained and updated as needed, utilizing thoughtfully determined recording conditions/acoustic parameters, as well as a high quality recording/audio chain. This would include specifying the flatness/frequency response of the microphone(s) used, as well establishing the acceptable parameters of any microphone/audio chain components used, and any other pertinent application parameters for consistency.

    Either a wealthy benefactor could purchase/maintain a library of instruments and maintain them, OR, more realistically, instruments could be “requested/auditioned/returned” from/to the manufacturer in a timely fashion. Alternatively, perhaps, upon the condition that the instruments would be handled/returned with great care, instruments in mint to excellent condition might be requested/volunteered to be auditioned and returned, from the general public…

    Auditioning repertoire need not be virtuoso in technical demands, nor must the “audition-er” be a virtuoso, but just someone(s) who genuinely knows how to play, and that the instruments are played consistently.

    Ideas…?…

    Peace/Namaste,
    Tim K.

    #735

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Tim does bring up a good point concerning the Mollenhauer Dream recorders – I think they are probably very good for pre-Baroque music, and I know of no plastic recorders that fit this bill all that well. All the plastic models (including the Bernolin resin) are primarily for Baroque repertoire. So if you are into pre-Baroque, those instruments are no doubt a good idea.

    #737

    Matteo Berra
    Participant

    Good evening Richard and Timothy.
    A Renaissance festival in Tampa sounds very good and I hope that, dispite you expected more, you had a great time, Timothy!
    I really like the idea of such a web paradise of the recorder player as the one you depicted, but doubt a wealthy benefactor is coming to realise it…anyway, yet miles far away from it, I’ve found a site: http://www.saundersrecorders.com/audio.htm – there is a list of instruments matched with relevant audio files: the recordings of the instrument are played by the shop’s owner (a very talented player, IMHO). Maybe you already know it…
    Richard is right, fundamentally I’m not considering myself worthy of a expensive instrument; I’m just a self-teaching old student fond with baroque musics. Here in Milan (Italy) is not very easy to find a good recorder teacher, since this instrument is wrongly judged nothing more than a shrill toy while, as we know, in case a player knows how to correctly breath and toungue, it is marvellous.
    Sticking to the matter of the instrument, I think I could give a try to the Ecodear since its not so expansive. (in fact, I’m beating around the bush for I don’t want finish to have a drawer full of poor instruments while eventually spending the same as for a single good instrument, as the Bernolin)
    I was asking about the Mollenhauer prima bacause I have a Moeck soprano half plastic and half wood and it sounds much better that the whole plastic yamaha 300 soprano, but maybe the Ecodear is even better.
    Still many thanks for all the precious advice you’re giving me,
    Matteo

    #746

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    It’s kind of surprising to me that your half-plastic Moeck soprano would sound better than a Yamaha 300-series one. My only thought is that soprano recorders are shrill. In fact, I mostly cannot stand to play one because they are so shrill. My poor ears! So perhaps the Moeck is more mellow? That doesn’t necessarily indicate a good soprano. I mean, they ARE shrill.

    Even in the hands of a good player (which I am NOT, on a soprano), they are pretty bad that way, IMHO. Sarah Jeffery even has a YouTube video on how to play the soprano; the intention of the video is to help people play it better because the instrument is so shrill that it is hard to make it sound good. I’ll second that! Fortunately, we have the alto, which is much more gentle on the ears.

    Anyway, good idea to try an alto Ecodear, I think. Let us know if/when you get it and whether you like it. πŸ™‚

    #747

    Timothy Kogstrom
    Participant

    Richard/Matteo:

    I must agree that the soprano, (and above…), recorder range IS inherently shrill…and I believe that is why I like the Mollenhauer Prima series…the softwood/pearwood(?) instrument bodies, (paraffin wax impregnated I believe), seem to impart a somewhat more muted harmonic series/overtones…reducing the “shrill” factor somewhat…,(and that relative warmth is even more apparent in the alto). Again, certainly NOT the last word in upper-octave response, but still very playable…

    I accept the reasoning that the physical design of the wind-way, labium and all other soundwave generating parameters…,(inner bore dimensions, etc.), DOMINATE the overall timbre and response of the instrument, and that the material(s) used determine it to a significantly lesser degree, however, I am wondering if the relative smoothness/roughness of the bore of the instrument has a marked effect on timbre…a harder surface can be polished to a greater extent, and will generate less “micro-turbulence”, possibly generating a somewhat more diffuse/mellow timbre? I would love for a manufacturer of plastic/resin instruments experiment with the relative smoothness/roughness of the instrument’s inner bore…

    I would attempt it myself if I had TOO many “spare” instruments around, AND had the know how, equipment and abrasives to try it, however, I would be concerned that ANY roughing-up of the inner bore would, (so SOME degree), increase the inner bore diameter/volume), which could ruin the overall response/intonation of an otherwise decent instrument…

    Thoughts?

    Peace/Namaste,
    Tim K.

    #748

    Timothy Kogstrom
    Participant

    P.S. Sorry, I meant to state that a smoother inner bore might generate less “micro-turbulence), creating a brighter sound/more upper harmonics…

    and that a rougher inner bore would generate more “micro-turbulence”, creating a darker/warmer sound with fewer upper harmonics generated…

    #749

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    My guess is that how “finished” the bore is doesn’t matter much. But I am just guessing. There are things on the net about making recorders, such as:

    Bernolin, talking about WOODEN recorders:
    https://www.bernolin.fr/english/making.htm

    An iteresting thing about this Bernolin article is it gives you a good idea of why his resin recorders (which are NOT mentioned) are so much cheaper. All the work that has to be done with WOOD is pretty amazing.

    Another thing, might be good; you can read if you want (it IS in English):
    http://www.mcjbouterse.nl/handleiding-fluitenbouw/handleiding-inhoudsopgave-Engels.pdf

    From Dolmetch:

    https://www.dolmetsch.com/recorderoil.htm

    From this, I get the idea that the finish on the inside of the bore is mostly related to how the recorder withstands the constant wetting and drying out, not much about how it sounds.

    An article on the Evolution of the recorder’s bore:

    http://www.flute-a-bec.com/evolutionpercegb.html

    From this, I get the idea that it is the SHAPE (conical, more of a cylinder, etc) of the bore, and the sound holes, that determine how it sounds.

    Again, I do not think the finish of the bore is related to how it sounds, partly because I haven’t seen anyone mention it in the above reviews (although I only skimmed them). I think it only SEEMS as though a rougher bore might be more mellow. But this is just my uninformed opinion – I have a lot of these! πŸ˜‰

    #758

    Leonardo Ascorti
    Participant

    Richard is right, fundamentally I’m not considering myself worthy of a expensive instrument; I’m just a self-teaching old student fond with baroque musics. Here in Milan (Italy) is not very easy to find a good recorder teacher, since this instrument is wrongly judged nothing more than a shrill toy while, as we know, in case a player knows how to correctly breath and toungue, it is marvellous.
    Sticking to the matter of the instrument, I think I could give a try to the Ecodear since its not so expansive. (in fact, I’m beating around the bush for I don’t want finish to have a drawer full of poor instruments while eventually spending the same as for a single good instrument, as the Bernolin)
    I was asking about the Mollenhauer prima bacause I have a Moeck soprano half plastic and half wood and it sounds much better that the whole plastic yamaha 300 soprano, but maybe the Ecodear is even better.
    Still many thanks for all the precious advice you’re giving me,
    Matteo

    Even if you don’t consider yourself worthy of an expensive recorder, keep in mind that an expensive recorder is still less expensive than almost any other musical instrument.
    I am probably not better than you as a recorder player, but after having played a Yamaha 300 for months I buyed a Bernolin and believe me I can definitely tell the difference. In my opinion, the Bernolin is the best baroque recorder you can buy for under 1000€, because it sounds as good as a wooden hand made instrument and it is as durable as a plastic one, without the need of oiling and other care. It is an instrument that suits the needs of both amateurs and professionals.
    Regarding the industrial wooden models, I think that besides the “look and feel” of wood the quality improvement over a good plastic one is definitely smaller than the difference in price. At least, you should try before buy, because the quality may be inconsistent between different pieces of the same model.
    The only wooden model I am actually considering to buy is the above metioned Mollenhauer Dream Editon (soprano), because it plays differently than the usual baroque models and it is a modern design that is probabily better suited for machine production.

    #759

    Timothy Kogstrom
    Participant

    Dear Matteo:

    MMM…yes, that age-old quandry, how much to spend, and where is the greatest value for your expenditure…

    Owning both the Mollehauer Prima AND Yamaha Ecodear alto AND soprano recorders, I will say that the Prima series instruments are little bit “woodier”/smoother in timbre, as well as being a bit “throatier” and louder, though they ARE moderately more expensive than the Ecodear “equivalents”…On the other hand, the Ecodears ARE a bit less expensive, can stand to be left in a hot vehicle with very little risk of damage, and have an interesting, “pear-shaped” timbre, though they do play a bit softer. I agree that perhaps one of the Mollenhauer “Dream” recorders might be a good investment instead, in that it IS designed to sound different…(allowing you to perhaps more comfortably make that choice…(no longer comparing apples to apples, but apples to oranges!…lol…).

    I would try not to lose too much sleep over it…if you budget is limited, either of the lower-cost recorder lines would be pleasing, however, if you DO have the budget to purchase the Bernolin, I am sure that you would be very happy with that instrument…(there are really no POOR choices here…)…and IF it is a matter of “purchasing guilt”, simply go with the Ecodear, and then, as a reward to yourself and your practicing self-discipline, purchase the Bernolin when you possess the funds and able to rationalize that “luxury”…

    Peace/Namaste,
    Tim

    #764

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Hey Tim, I just noticed that the Bernolin website is no longer showing the white alto for sale (in the Store section). It is still mentioned elsewhere on the website, but it’s looking like they no longer offer it. Oh well, I think the black is much more popular, even for the extra money, because it looks more professional.

    Also, Sarah Jeffery has continued to use the Bernolin Alto in her videos and even talks about that very fact in her latest YouTube video:

    So you might take a look.

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