Bernolin Resin Recorder: Choosing between 415 Hz or 442 Hz?

Home Forum Recorder Makes, Models and Maintenance Bernolin Resin Recorder: Choosing between 415 Hz or 442 Hz?

This topic contains 19 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Richard Hureau January 14, 2021 at 1:52 pm.

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  • #792

    Malina
    Participant

    It’s been a year and a half since I purchased my Aulos 709B alto recorder, and I’ve not stopped enjoying the recorder.

    I’ve had my eyes set on a Bernolin resin recorder even since I learned about them — I like that they’re as easy to care for as a plastic recorder, but apparently the sound beats any injection-molded recorder.

    They’re rather pricey for me, but it’s something I’m willing to spend on since they have so many benefits. Particularly being able to pick it up and play and much as I want. (I’m very sporadic about how much and how often I play in a day.)

    My difficulty is deciding if I should get a 415 Hz or a 442 Hz. I’ve only played modern pitch. I don’t play in any groups or with anyone, so tuning wouldn’t be an issue by myself, but I know if I want to play with modern instruments it would be a problem. I think both sound nice, maybe I prefer the 415 by ear a little better.

    Would anyone have any advice or criteria I should consider when deciding between 415 Hz or a 442 Hz tuning?

    Instruments:
    Aulos Alto Haka 709BW
    Aulos Soprano Haka 703BW

    #797

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    I don’t think there is any reason at all for you to get a 415 instead of a 442. As you said, if you want to play with any modern instruments (or most amateur recorder groups), you’d need the 442. If you were an advanced player and/or knew say some people who play on period instruments at 415, then sure, the 415 would be better, but otherwise I don’t see any good reason.

    One negative is that a 415 would be somewhat larger (lower pitch = larger), so if you have trouble with finger stretching even on an alto (as I do), the 415 would be less desirable. One of the things I like best about the Bernolin is the GREAT hole positions for both the left and right hands. Even though the 442 is large by alto standards (heavier by 2 ounces than most plastic Aulos or Yamaha instruments, and fatter too), its hole positions are about the most player friendly.

    Hope this helps. You asked this awhile ago, so maybe you have already bought it by now, I suppose.

    #798

    Malina
    Participant

    Thank you for your insights! 🙂 You brought up several good points. I ended up ordering the 442 today.

    Instruments:
    Aulos Alto Haka 709BW
    Aulos Soprano Haka 703BW

    #799

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Hey, that’s great! You’re in for a treat! The Bernolin resin alto is the best sounding recorder I have ever played (although I don’t have a lot of experience with high-end recorders). Its low and mid-range are soooo rich sounding. I do think you will be less happy with the highest notes, especially high C# and high F and G. As I understand it, the Stanesby, Jr model of recorder is deliberately designed to be best in the low and middle registers, with a little less emphasis on the high notes. Regardless, I think you will be very pleased. I’m crazy about mine. 🙂

    High Eb and G require the use of the right pinky finger, by the way; otherwise they are sharp. The G requires both holes to be covered with the little finger; I forget on the Eb whether you cover both or just one. You should experiment.

    #800

    Malina
    Participant

    Thanks for the advice! I’ll be sure to try things out when it arrives. 🙂

    On a side-note, do you know if there’s any care instructions that come with it? From what I understand, it has a cedar block and silk (?) joints, so I’m wondering how to best clean and maintain it. Especially the block/windway.

    Instruments:
    Aulos Alto Haka 709BW
    Aulos Soprano Haka 703BW

    #803

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Well, somehow my earlier reply has disappeared (after I made a small editing change). Fortunately I have it in the clipboard, so here it is again:

    It does come with a “Caring for your resin recorder” sheet. Generally speaking it tells you to leave it alone – do NOT grease the threads, for example. Also, do not remove the block (it will void the 1-year warranty).

    I can tell you that the joints on mine go together very smoothly – not too tight, not too loose. So I have never even been tempted to do anything to the thread.

    When you get the recorder, you will think that it never clogs, because it doesn’t – at least at first. This is because it has been treated with the anti-condensation fluid that Bernolin sells. You will probably have water run down the front of the recorder, exiting the windway, because the anti-condensation is working that well. But eventually this stops and then about say 3 or 4 weeks later it will start to clog like a regular plastic recorder. Yes, the cedar block does not seem to help the clogging, at least for me.

    Concerning the fluid sold by Bernolin, it works AMAZINGLY well, and lasts much longer than cheaper fluids. I bought 2 bottles. I suppose it depends on how much you play the recorder, but in my case (30 minutes/day), it usually lasts about 3-4 WEEKS. Regular detergent fluid treatments last about 2 DAYS. So it is definitely worth it and essentially stops the recorder (any recorder) from clogging.

    I think I am prone to clogging problems – it may depend on how much saliva you have in your mouth (some of that clogging is not just from condensation). I have talked with other players online who say they NEVER have clogging problems with the Bernolin, even without the fluid and months of playing. So who know? Anyway, let me know how you like it when you get it.

    You might like to watch some of Sarah Jeffery’s YouTube videos on the Bernolin. She has one that’s a review when she just got it, and the other later one is about how she always uses it for travel and also for her ALL videos that talk about alto Baroque playing (before getting it, she used to use a constantly changing group of alto recorders).

    Good luck!

    #807

    Malina
    Participant

    I got my Bernolin recorder today! I was very excited to get the package. 🙂

    I’ve managed to play most of the notes that I typically can play with a few hours of messing around with it. The high Eb and G are taking a bit of relearning, but it seems to be going well.

    You’re right about the high C#, that note is one that’s difficult for me to get right. At first I thought it was impossible, but the more I practiced and got used to the instrument, the note started to get a little easier. Though it’s still a bit hard to play confidently right now.

    The resin recorder does sound more “smooth” compared to my plastic Aulos Haka. I played the beginning of “Doen Daphne d’over schoone Maeght” on both recorders, and the Bernolin sounds very beautiful.

    Overall, I’m pretty excited! I’m hoping to play again soon to get better used to it. It’s wonderful! Yay!

    Instruments:
    Aulos Alto Haka 709BW
    Aulos Soprano Haka 703BW

    #808

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Glad you are liking your resin recorder.

    The secret to high C# on all recorders (and especially necessary with the Bernolin) is a gentle attack – i.e. tongue it very lightly, but with a good amount of breath pressure. It can be tricky. Sometimes it seems to improve as the recorder warms up from playing. I’m assuming that you warm the head joint beforehand, of course. You MUST do this, with any recorder!! I put mine under my armpit. I know some people recommend warming it for up to 15 minutes. I don’t do that usually, but certainly 5-7 minutes, with the area of the windway tucked into my armpit (yes, I have a shirt on – yuck, otherwise!!).

    If you are coming into the C# from below in a stepwise fashion (e.g. with a Bb, B, C or whatever), you can try gently slurring that note into the C#. This definitely makes it speak more easily.

    As far as maintenance, with most plastic recorders I do not take them apart and swab them out after playing, because the joints of regular plastic recorders can become loose over time as you assemble and disassemble them over and over. Once the joints get loose, you pretty much have to throw them away.

    But with the Bernolin, I take it apart after every session and swab it out with one of those plastic sticks with a small cloth in it. I take it apart because I’ve been told that with threaded joints, the thread itself can get wet from playing (although I’ve never detected this), and you want to air that area out and let it dry. You also don’t want the thread to flatten down from always being assembled. Also, there’s no worry about the joints becoming loose because that’s what the thread is for – you can replace (although I have yet to have to in the year that I’ve had my Bernolin).

    So, good luck with it!

    #810

    Malina
    Participant

    Great, very useful to know. Thanks so much for all your input!

    Instruments:
    Aulos Alto Haka 709BW
    Aulos Soprano Haka 703BW

    #836

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Malina,
    Hi. Sorry to hear you are having some trouble with your Bernolin alto.

    Concerning the high g, I think if you use your right-hand little finger to half cover the last hole (just cover one hole), it speaks MUCH more easily and is better in tune. The notation for this is:

    / 1-3 4-6/

    You could also try covering both last holes, but I find just one works well.

    I do think that this note is not the best on the Bernolin. You are running into the design of the Stanesby, Jr model here, I think (designed to emphasize the low and middle ranges at the expense of the high). If Bernolin would sell say a Denner or Bressan resin model, I’d buy one in a heartbeat. But he seems to specialize in the Stanesby, Jr (even with his wooden recorders).

    As far as high C#, it is difficult, for sure. But I can nail it just about every time.

    For example, I have attached a snippet from the Telemann Trio Sonata in Am that I am learning. It has a passage in it with some tough high notes and several C#. I can usually play it OK. But it gives me nervous anxiety everytime it comes up. The thing is, yes, I absolutely can play it more easily on any of my Aulos or Yamaha plastic recorders. But, it doesn’t sound nearly as good when I do. I have even considered using the Aulos for this piece, but hate to because it sounds so much poorer.

    Here’s what I would recommend. First, I would buy the Bernolin anti-consensation fluid. I can absolutely say that my Bernolin will not play ANY of those high notes once the fluid has worn off. I think it is pretty much a requirement for the Bernolin resin model.

    I say this VERY reluctantly, because I REALLY like the Bernolin resin and wish it didn’t seem to depend on using this fluid so much. But I do think it is true. The Bernolin is a unique instrument, with a cedar block surrounded by plastic, and it probably isn’t surprising that it acts differently than other instruments.

    I have noticed that the high C# plays fine when I first start practicing, but gets harder and harder as I practice. This is the opposite of most high notes and most recorders. I think that this is because some minor condensation is occuring and making especially the high C# more difficult. You can eliminate a lot of this problem with the fluid. And it lasts for weeks.

    I think it is very indicative that originally (based on reading his website) his anti-condensation treatment was BUILT-INTO his recorders (applied at the shop) and NOT treatable by the consumer. Talk about something that no one would want to buy! (You had to return the instrument to get another treatment, I think). Well, what was that all about? I think it was an attempt to alleviate this condensation problem unique to the resin model. Fortunately, he has come up with this new fluid that the consumer can apply easily and works very well.

    So, I’d splurge and get a bottle. It will last at least a year. I’ve had mine for much longer and it’s still about half full.

    After trying that, if your high C# is still poor, I’d send him an email. He is very nice and answers very quickly. I’ve heard of other people having their instruments adjusted by him (I’m not sure why). When I first investigated the Bernolin resin, I sent him an email asking if it could be revoiced like a regular instrument and he replied that it could. So, in other words, maybe your instrument does need adjustment. That cedar block could have changed. But, try the fluid first.

    Hope this helps. Good luck with it.

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    #1269

    Eileen Kaarsemaker
    Participant

    I would be interested in opinions of those who have a 442 Bernolin resin recorder how you have found it for blending in to a group / consort? ie not standing out to much in an ensemble. (either or both the alto and soprano) Thanks.

    #1271

    recorder
    Keymaster

    I’ve had a Bernolin 442 resin recorder for several years. I used it for most of the samples on LearnRecorder.com. I think it is a fine instrument, and quite a step above the top of the line Yamaha plastic alto, which is itself a good instrument for the price. I also have two beautiful Fern rosewood altos, a 440 and a 415, made by David Coomber in the 1990s. These instruments are again a step up from the Bernolin resin recorder. In my view it is a simple matter of getting what you pay for. The Bernolin altos are much cheaper than their handmade counterparts, even though they are themselves handmade, by a respected and well known maker (the savings come from the cheaper material). If your budget stretches only to a Bernolin resin alto, then in my view your money will be well spent.

    #1272

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    I agree that you get what you pay for and that the Bernolin is a significant step up from standard injection molded plastic instruments. I have a black and a white alto Bernolin 442, and a black soprano 442.

    However, I believe that Eileen asked about how well Bernolins blend with an ensemble. I have not used my Bernolins for any ensemble playing (because I don’t do any), but I can say that while the Bernolin is richer and fuller sounding than typical plastic recorders, it really isn’t any louder or more penetrating. So I would think that it would blend OK with a ensemble.

    #1273

    Peter Walker
    Participant

    I’ve had a Bernolin 442 alto for a couple of months. It does tend to suffer from condensation rather more than my wooden altos but then I quite often find myself wandering around the house with the head-joint in my pocket just waiting for me to have a blow!

    I have never used mine for consort work.

    I echo Richard’s comments about about some of the high notes. I find the high G is sharp and even covering both holes 7 doesn’t bring it down as much as I would like. I’m currently practising the Frans Bruggen arrangement of the gavotte from Bach’s second violin partita. It’s an absolutely beautiful piece but there are quite a few passages with high D, E flat, E, F, G and G sharp (as well as one F sharp which requires the use of the thigh!) an they are fairly difficult to get to sound consistently.

    #1274

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Interesting info, Peter. I’ve been re-reading what I entered above (a year ago!). I’ve learned a few things since then.

    First, I was wrong – the Stanesby Jr model was NOT designed to emphasize the lower and middle registers at the expense of the upper. I could swear that I read that in several places on the Internet, but after a good deal of searching, I have been unable to confirm it. So I guess I just dreamed it. Sooo, the Stanesby Jr model should not be a factor in the Bernolin high note issue.

    Also, I have gradually come to the realization that on the Bernolin if you back off on your breath pressure some on the high notes you will have better results. I often tend to blow too hard on them (which is easy to do), but get better results by actually blowing a little less hard on high D thru F (than on say Bb thru C). It’s a subtle thing and it’s easy for me to fall back into the habit of blowing too hard on them, but just keeping it in mind DOES greatly help in getting the notes to speak easily.

    Concerning high G. There is another alternate that I have been using and liking:

    / 123 4-67

    (This is essentially a high Bb with an added right-hand pinky)

    Note that hole 2 remains covered. I don’t think it is any less sharp than any other alternates, but it can sound better and purer sometimes. A little less breath pressure on it can work wonders, I think.

    Finally, I think I may have mentioned elsewhere in this forum, but I’ll mention it again. I noticed on Sarah Jeffery’s review of a very cheap plastic vs expensive wooden soprano, she said that the highest notes on the plastic instrument were actually easier to play, but they had a lot less latitude as far as breath pressure (to adjust intonation, etc). I think this is true of the Bernolin and quite possible with other higher-end recorders – ALL the notes can be played with more variation of breath pressure and still speak than on some cheap plastic recorders, but especially the high notes can be harder to use. Hence my finding that you can use less breath pressure on those high notes and still have them speak OK on the Bernolin, whereas with a plastic recorder you can get them to speak more easily but only at a very limited degree of pressure (blowing hard, usually).

    I still really like the Bernolin and recommend it highly. 🙂

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