July 27, 2018 at 3:17 pm #648
I started playing recorders seriously last Xmas (2017). I purchased a Yamaha YRB-302B as my starting instrument. I did that strange thing because I am a trained bel canto bass singer. After that I branched out to an alto also by Yamaha in Ecodear plastic. Once I was obviously advancing with both the Yamaha plastic recorders and because everyone said wood was better I decided to purchase a wood alto, a Mollenhauer Denner. I played that for about 2 months and seemingly I have developed an allergy to it, probably the cedar block. This is not an unwarranted assumption: I have a known allergy to wood dust which caused me to stop cutting wood permanently. Wood sounds better than plastic unless I want a Bernolin resin recorder. Problem with that is my heart is in a bass recorder. So all of you who care to respond to my question will be greatly appreciated. YoungWJuly 29, 2018 at 3:37 am #650
You didn’t say what kind of wood your Mollenhauer Denner alto is made from. I have read that palisander (rosewood) can cause allergic reactions in some people. I suggest that you make an appointment with an allergist (if you haven’t already done so) and get checked out for various wood allergies (not just dust) before you invest in another wood instrument. If the allergic reaction turns out to be indeed triggered by the cedar block rather than by the wood of the recorder itself, you might ask a reputable repair shop whether they can make a new block out of some wood that you are not allergic to (hoping that there is one).
Since very few people on the various forums post follow-up replies, I would like to ask you to keep us informed of your discoveries and decisions. While I am not plagued by allergies such as this, I am sure that there may be a few out there who would benefit from learning what you might learn.July 29, 2018 at 3:09 pm #651
Dick, Thanks for the excellent response. I first noticed my Wood dust allergy when someone used my wood lathe to cut and sand some cherry wood. That was more than twelve years ago. Since then I have discovered that more and more woods bother me when I cut them with electric tools. After the first incident I gave up most wood working other than very short projects around the house. I also have a known allergy to a couple of foods and one size of dust mites. None of these are immediately life threatening. However, as I am 81 years old I take a lot of care. To test if it was the wood or perhaps mold (I am sensitive to molds too) Bill Lazar suggested that I fill the windway with Duponol and hold for a couple of minutes then wash it out. I did that and then washed it out and let dry for a couple of days. To test I held the mouth piece in but not touching my mouth and breathed through my mouth. Symptoms returned. By the way, my Denner is in pearwood with, of course, a cedar block. I read somewhere that “all wood recorders” have cedar blocks. While I doubt that there must be a very good reason for the extended use of cedar which unfortunately out gases for years. Bill Lazar also suggested I wrap the mouth piece in Saran Wrap. However, my test proved it was an inhaled allergen. I do like your suggestion about another block but allergists have never been successful at helping me personally with problems such as my dust allergy. I am also rare in that I have problems with most synthetic drugs. I began having trouble with some of the medicines that they prescribed to inhibit my dust allergy. Also because I develop more and more allergies as I grow older I choose not to go on with a wood instrument. Yes they sound better but I do like the sound of plastic recorders though they are not as consistent throughout their range as my Denner is. I will live with that and be content.
One last point: I will continue to play recorders as long as I can because they are the only completely free blowing wind instrument there is. All others restrict the air flow in one way or another. The free blowing aspect makes recorders the best wind instrument to help you turn over lots of air. The more air you can turn over in a gentle way for more than just a few minutes at a time is an excellent health serving activity. Both my wife and I started this last Xmas and we have improved steadily. Bill YoungJuly 30, 2018 at 3:57 am #652
Hi Bill– Well, that’s quite a specific response. Thanks for all the info. Thinking about it all, I have a couple of suggestions that you might try. 1) Remove the head joint of the Denner and breathe in through the body by itself in order to see whether the pear wood triggers an allergic response or not. (See point #3 below.) 2) Call Bill Lazar and ask him to ask his repair person to send you a small, dust-free block of cedar so that you might try to see whether or not that is the source of your symptoms with the Denner. 3) Note: If I remember correctly, Bill will have oiled the body up to, but not including the windway, prior to shipping it out. So it is possible that either or both the cedar and un-oiled pear wood might be symptom triggers. 4) If, having determined that the oiled body does not trigger symptoms, you are brave enough to pop the block out, you might just oil the entire windway and block surfaces that are not buried inside the head joint. If you’re not brave enough to pop the block, just run a good amount or oil through the windway and on the end surfaces of the block (it could well be from the end grain that the bulk of the outgassing is taking place). I’ve heard of it being done with no adverse effects. 5) Alternately, at the same time that you talk to Bill, ask whether he thinks that his repair person might be persuaded to make a plastic block for your Denner should the cedar prove to bring on the symptoms. 6) Send the Denner back (or sell it on consignment) and stick to plastic–regardless of what “everybody” says to the contrary. You’ll be happier making music if you’re as healthy as possible. –Dick–July 30, 2018 at 1:48 pm #653
Dick, Again, thanks for the suggestions. One thing, I did not buy the Denner from Bill Lazar, I was lucky enough to trip over it at an estate sale in near new condition. After due consideration, I am going to follow your suggestion #6 and stay with the plastic recorders. I have spent a lot of time on the internet and have discovered that there are, as far as I can see only three plastic bass recorders available at this time: one by Yamaha and two by Aulos. One of the Aulos has a crook or bocal and the other a bent head similar to the Yamaha. My purpose in starting this particular thread was based on the premise (mistaken) that there might be quite a few makes out there. However, between the two of us we have provided a lot of information that might be helpful to others as you stated above. After deciding on staying with plastic I ordered an Aulos with a bocal to complement my bent necked Yamaha.
I have been away from this for about 1/2 hour. Someone I know just sent me a reference to another plastic bass. I looked it up. It’s a Thomann at about $130 including shipping from Germany. It doesn’t appear to be something I would want.
If anyone on this Forum ever hears of a plastic Great Bass I would certainly love to hear about it. That said I cannot conceive of any one going to the trouble of manufacturing one due to the startup costs as well as very few potential customers.
I talked about the healthy aspects of the breathing part of playing a recorder in my second post and you seconded the idea. Let me also mention that I think that making music also contributes to health and happiness. I believe that music is an inherent part of being human. It helps the health of everyone (in varying quantities) whether you are just listening or are playing it. As far as I am concerned the recorder is the best way to get the benefits. BillJuly 31, 2018 at 2:51 am #654
Hi Bill– You’re welcome. I think that, given what you’ve said, staying with plastic or a similar non-allergenic resin is your best option. Rather than just letting the Mollenhauer Denner collect dust, you might consider selling it (and, of course, putting the proceeds toward more plastic recorders). Consignment is an option. Advertising it on Facebook on the “Recorder Addicts Buy/Sell/Trade” page is another option. All the best. –Dick–July 31, 2018 at 4:05 am #655
Dick, I am trying to sell locally first as a way to find possible recorder players. If that does not work by September I will try other things including consignment with Bill Lazar who has said he will do it. BillJanuary 11, 2019 at 4:52 pm #680
I started this subject because I wanted advice on best Basset plastic recorders. I sold my Mollenhauer wood alto for enough to help me purchase an Aulos Basset with a bocal. Here is the results of comparing it against my Yamaha Basset. First, some of the following should be understood that I started with the Yamaha. I am not “double jointed” so widening the separations between my 5th and 6th keys has been a struggle. This problem made transitioning to the Aulos very difficult at first. I still have trouble at times. The conclusion is that the Yamaha is more comfortable given my hand situation. There is another problem: the Aulos weighs 1/2 pound more than the Yamaha. So that extra weight takes it toll as the practice session progresses. Third comparison: For all the time I have put in on the Aulos I still have not been able to make a high F sound without slurring to it from E or E flat just below. So given all the difficulties I (remember a beginner) have with the Aulos, how could I recommend it in any way? Well, the sound right from the beginning was more throaty and beautiful than that produced by the Yamaha. It is also a more consistently beautiful sound throughout its range. The Yamaha is easier to play but not as beautiful sounding.
I hope this critique is of some help to someone out there. Furthermore, any suggestions on how to make that F sound without slurring to it would be appreciated.
One more thing: I purchased a saxophone style neck strap for the Aulos early on that has more cushioning built into it. That has been a lot better than the strap supplied by Aulos. Thanks in advance for any help sent. William YoungJanuary 12, 2019 at 5:06 pm #681
Hi Bill– First, congrats on being able to sell your Mollenhauer wood alto. Now, after having read and reread your comments and comparisons of the two bassets, I have the following thoughts. 1) I have a Yamaha plastic Fbass (basset). But since I don’t own an Aulos, I can’t do a direct comparison between the spacing of the 5-6 finger holes. I assume that you have measured the distance on both instruments and found that the Autos is bigger. Without any alterations like keys (which would involve expense), I am led to consider the following: 2) When you play each, is your right hand (in particular) the same distance from the floor? Or do you have to reach down lower to reach the keys and holes of the Aulos? If that is the case, then most likely the angle of your hand to the 4-7 keys and holes is tilted in such a way as to make the stretch more difficult. Some players of tenor recorders find right hand hand/wrist angle to be problematic and opt for a knick (bent) neck in order to raise the recorder to a more comfortable height. This appears to be Yamaha’s solution for the Fbass. Supposing the 4-7 keys and holes are farther away from your mouth, one solution (again incurring cost) would be to have a longer local constructed that would enable you to lift the entire recorder up higher. 3) As to the difficulty in getting the high F to speak without sneaking into it, it strikes me that one problem might be the air flow through the bocal. That might be difficult to test by removing the local and blowing through the top hole directly–because of the reach to 4 and 5. However, if you tape them down/closed, you can experiment more easily. If the experiment proves successful, then the problem might indeed be inside the bocal or the design of the bocal itself. I’ll let you decide because I don’t have an Aulos myself and not too many others have weighed in on this of any of your previous posts. 4) If the high F problem is caused by the bocal, then having a longer bocal made would possibly solve both the reach and the high F problems. 5) Alternately, you might just resign yourself to the timbre of the Yamaha and either sell or return the Aulos. All the best. –Dick–January 13, 2019 at 12:20 am #683
Dick, again thanks for the response. Measurements between the centers of the 5th and 6th holes: Yamaha 1 1/8″, Aulos 1 7/16. Distance from the floor to the middle of 4th finger: Yamaha 24″, Aulos 26 1/2″. I never considered the latter measurement; thanks for the suggestion. It showed me something about my low notes: I do have a little bit more trouble with the Yamaha’s lower note and the lower hand position for the right hand touching the right leg is the reason. Next question: Did I try your suggestion to remove the bocal from the instrument and blow through the hole: it did help a tiny bit. I did not mention it before but the Aulos will play the F occasionally when cold but never when a bit warmed up. It did that during the test. This generates a question: How frequently do you play that F in the normal course of your playing? One of the books I have is by Dennis Bloodworth and he says that the usefulness of any notes above that F is debatable. From the look of things I will probably never find a recorder group here in Lake Havasu City, AZ so I might stick with the Aulos since I am only playing for my own enjoyment and occasionally for Church where the range will never get above E or E flat and those are very rare in our normal music. On the lower end I rarely play church music below the C above the low F. Essentially, I am playing what is pitched for amateur singers and their limited range. Bill YoungJanuary 13, 2019 at 4:59 am #684
Hi Bill– While the difference between 1 1/8″ and 1 7/16″ wouldn’t sound all that great to someone who has large hands (like me), I can imagine that the larger distance could create a problem. And the fact that the Yamaha sits lower will indeed cause a bit of trouble with the lowest notes. Your next question answer indicates that the high F plays better when the instrument is cold (this Michigan boy thinks that cold is perhaps a bit of a misnomer for Lake Havasu City AZ). Might it be possible that you are getting condensation in the bocal before the time the instrument is truly warmed up (if indeed that ever happens–see down below)? Just a guess, but it does possibly justify my tendency to stay away from instruments with bocals. The answer to your next question as to whether I play high F on my bass very often is yes. I belong to a small group of friends, three of whom stick adamantly to their respective soprano, tenor, violin–plus me (I play anything from sopranino through to F bass as the music demands). As we play totally for our own amusement, a lot of the music we play (Renaissance, Baroque, early Classical) is scored for just about anything–we play it if it fits the ranges of any combination of the above instruments without too much octave transposition up or down. A number of the Baroque works we play have an unrealized continuo part or a cello part (bass clef and tenor clef) as the bottom line (lately I’ve been playing some bass gamba parts that are in alto clef), so my bass recorder parts can therefore be all over the map pitch wise. Translation: I have to play high Fs aplenty. My Yamaha has no real problem with those (although sometimes I tend to stumble on that rather odd fingering for the high C#). Note that I don’t bother to warm the head joint of the Yamaha bass up above room temperature since it is so big that it would take forever to get it up to body temperature. Hence, I sometimes end up having to suck a great deal of condensation out of it as I play–one of life’s little annoyances I guess. Finally, from what you say, it seems like the Aulos will end up being your bass of choice as long as you can deal with the stretch between 5 and 6. All the best. –Dick–January 16, 2019 at 10:33 pm #687
Dick, Again Thanks for all the information. When I have been playing the Aulos I have warmed up two pieces of plastic: The cap that the bocal fits in to and the head joint(?). After reading your reply I tried warming the bocal only. Low and behold I was able to get high “F” without the slurring. So that solves that problem. A note for you: the bocal is very easy clear of condensation: you simply lean back a bit and suck. It clears much faster than the Yamaha bent neck head joint. I too am a large person with very big hands. However, the 5 to 6 stretch is difficult because my joints are “hard”, always have been. I am certainly not “double jointed”. I have been working on easy stretching activities and that may help down the road. I have been playing recorder just over a year and I am trying to stop being lazy and letting my right hand relax when it is not busy. Again: thanks for all your messages; they really help. OH, one more thing: I know what you mean about high C#. When I transcribe some of my church melodies They have to go into the upper octave generally so that I can get down to the D’s and C’s written into the music. In one piece I get to slur B to C# to B in the upper octave. Try it; you’ll hate it. Bill Young
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