Dolonite Dolmetsch vs Bernolin Resin

Home Forum Recorder Makes, Models and Maintenance Dolonite Dolmetsch vs Bernolin Resin

This topic contains 13 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Christopher June 25, 2020 at 3:21 pm.

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  • #1006

    Jan Walsh
    Participant

    Hi Folks,
    I wonder if anyone has played the old Dolonite Treble recorder from Dolmetsch and can compare it to the Bernolin resin recorder?

    I have several plastic recorders and have considered a Bernolin. The cost has always prevented me. Recently, as a school teacher/pastor who is at home constantly due to COVID19, I actually started finding time to play the recorder. I have gone back and forth over getting a Bernolin, but up to now have not. But now, I have found my favorite recorder – and my cheapest recorder! I bought a Dolmetsch treble recorder in Dolonite from ebay for $7! (I had a Schott one that I liked). Well, I LOVE that Dolmetsch better than the Yamahas (not my fav anyway) and even better than the Zen On BN1500 that used to be my fav (I still like it).

    Now I am wondering if it is the density of the Dolonite that makes it sound so good (plus it is a Dolmetsch). It is clear and full. Now I am really wondering if that is the comparison of plastic to resin and if the Dolonite is similar to the resin?

    Yeah, long post, I know. Has anyone played both of these or how any other feedback on this?
    Thanks!
    Jan >^..^<

    #1010

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    I don’t know about the dolonite material, but I assume that those recorders were made with injection molding, the way current plastic recorders are made (Yamaha, Aulos, etc). Nothing wrong with that; in fact they are very good. However, the Bernolin resin recorders are made the way a high-quality wooden recorder is made – from blocks of resin that are machined (lathed, drilled, etc) and then hand-adjusted (shaved holes, adjusted windway, etc.) So the technique of manufacture is completely different.

    Bernolin’s wooden recorders cost about $1600, and his resin ones are made in a similar manner for a third the price. Excellent value, IMHO. So comparing the material (dolonite vs resin) is kind of missing the point, which is how they are made.

    #1011

    Jan Walsh
    Participant

    Hi Richard!

    We’ve discussed that Bernolin a good bit in the past. I am glad to hear you are still a fan of it.

    I hear what you are saying and agree. However, there is something very different in the sound of this recorder that my other plastics don’t have. I suspect the dolonite/bakelite has something to do with it – or maybe there was more attention to detail when these were made.
    The sound of this recorder is so clear and smooth. It doesn’t sound plastic at all. It has good volume and has a sweet, mellow tone. It does not have that sharp, harsh plasticy sound to it.
    It is modeled after the Bressan and my other favorite recorder is a Zen on Bressan (though the Zen on Bressan does not have the sound this one has). Maybe that plays a factor in it, though I doubt that.

    Hope you are staying well!

    #1012

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Hi Jan, I thought it might be you! 🙂

    Yes, I am still a fan of the Bernolin resin. I think I know what you mean about the “plastic” sound, and can tell you that the Bernolin doesn’t sound like that at all (I mean comparing it vs all my Aulos altos, Yamaha altos, Zen-on altos, etc). It is hard to tell whether the difference is because the Bernolin is just a much higher quality instrument, or whether the resin material is a factor too. Probably a combination, but I think mostly it is not the material.

    So, in other words, I think that unless you were ready to spend the relatively big bucks for Bernolin resin, you probably could not find another plastic instrument with that same sound. I mean, the only REALLY unique-sounding plastic recorder I know of is the Yamaha ecodear alto, and that is mostly because of its VERY narrow windway (we’ve discussed this in the past).

    FYI – there is another version of the Yamaha Ecodear that has the same windway as the regular Yamaha 302B – it is the model YRA-48B. The model we are familiar with in the USA is the YRA-402B, which is the model with the very narrow windway. But in the UK, you can buy BOTH models, as seen here:

    https://www.thomannmusic.com/yamaha_alto_recorders_baroque.html

    and even on the Yamaha UK website:

    https://uk.yamaha.com/en/products/musical_instruments/winds/recorders/plant-based_plastic_alto/index.html

    This is dreadfully confusing because you’d expect the 402B to be the one with the same windway as the 302B, but no, the 402B (which we have) is the one that you can see with your own eyes is MUCH narrower than the 302B. I have read that the 48B has the exact same windway as the 302B. (I forget where, but it was probably on a UK store website where someone asked what the difference is).

    Soooo, I am mentioning all this because there is just a chance that the 48B would give you a different sound (less plastic??) sound than your typical plastic alto, because the ONLY difference between the 48B and the standard Yamaha alto (the 302B and its many flavors – woodgrained, etc) would be the material it is made of. So, you could order a 48B from UK and see what you get.

    Meanwhile, yup, I’m hanging in there. Hope you are good yourself. I discuss recorders with Christopher some on FaceBook and sometimes via email (I HATE FB, by the way, but what can you do…).

    Rich

    #1013

    Jan Walsh
    Participant

    Hi Rich!

    So, the thing is: the Yamahas are my least favorite recorders sound wise. Though at one point, I thought I liked the Ecodear (I thought it was quieter and more mellow – you described it as muffled, I believe), they sound more plastic to me than the Zen On and the Aulos.
    I do believe the windway has a lot to do with it. My Dolmetsch (and Bakelite Schott) have a wider windway. The Dolmetsch has a clearer sound than any of them and doesn’t really sound like plastic. I know that it has a straight windway vs the curved windway – which, if I remember correctly, means I would not be able to do as much as far as adding more expression, etc to the sound.
    Also, with the wider windway, I can push more air through it (which I am sure is not good technique). I don’t have as narrow a space to focus my air so I don’t have to control the air as much.
    And too, ability is another huge factor. People who can play well can do a lot with almost any recorder.
    Here is an interesting article with three professionals comparing the yamaha, zenon, and aulos: https://americanrecorder.org/docs/PlastRec0991.pdf

    #1014

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    I’m not crazy about Yamaha plastic recorders either, although I admire all the good manufacturers for their ability to provide VERY good instruments at so low a price. I was just making the point that if you wanted to see what the difference between MATERIALS could be between plastic recorders, the 2 Ecodear alto models would be a way.

    I’ve been playing my Aulos 509B (“Symphony”) alto lately and cannot really imagine a much better plastic recorder. It is VERY easy to play – even the highest notes “speak” immediately, including problematic ones like high C#, D, F and even G. In this respect it is easier to play than the Bernolin, where it can be kind of hard to get some of the upper notes to play until you get used to it, and even then it can be kind of an adventure.

    Sarah Jeffery reviewed a cheap plastic recorder vs a quality wooden recorder recently and found the same thing – the cheap one played the very highest notes more easily. I think that this is because there is no variation with plastic instruments and a good model is going to be just about perfect in all technical aspects, whereas a wooden one or a hand-made resin one like the Bernolin can have differences between samples and also is often adjusted to play certain registers better (a tradoff). For example, the Bernolin’s middle and lower register sound MUCH better than my 509B, and the lower notes (which can be hard on most plastic instruments) play MUCH more easily on the Bernolin. So it is definitely adjusted toward the low end. Plus, it does NOT sound like a “plastic” recorder.

    #1015

    Christopher
    Participant

    Hi Jan,
    Just to be clear: the Dolmetsch ‘dolonite’ recorder is a factory-made instrument from the ’60s-’70s that may sound fine to some, but it is limited, as it was designed to be a ‘consort’ instrument, so it will be very smoooth sounding. Not really for solo use, but OK for folk music.

    The Bernolin alto in resin is largely hand-made which gives it more dynamic attributes as a soloist instrument. Totally different beasts, with price points to confirm that. Hope that clears up some confusion.

    -Christopher (from ‘ning)

    (Below: A dolonite tenor like the one I had)

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    Mainly French & English baroque repertoire on an A403 Bressan, and an A415 DeBey. Active enthusiast since 1971. Early Music program at York University, French baroque instruction at Royal Conservatory in Toronto.

    #1017

    Christopher
    Participant

    I will add, after buying the tenor of this line new back around ’71-’73, I can see why these dolonite recorders have almost developed a ‘cult status’ due to their uniqueness of material, sound, and pedigree. Like most other plastic recorders they’re virtually indestructible, but agreed, the sound is unique largely due to that windway——which by the way, was not unusual for the day.

    While not something I’d use to take on Handel suites (I learned THAT the hard way-LOL!) they will be lovely for lighter material—duets/trios, etc.

      Ideally

    with others with the same instrument. And the condensation gremlin can NOW be tamed using anti-condense.

    If you really like the sound, Jan, look after it, as it is a unique piece of Dolmetsch history. 🙂

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by  Christopher.

    Mainly French & English baroque repertoire on an A403 Bressan, and an A415 DeBey. Active enthusiast since 1971. Early Music program at York University, French baroque instruction at Royal Conservatory in Toronto.

    #1019

    Jan Walsh
    Participant

    Hi Chris!

    Good to hear from you along with Rich!

    Yeah, I won’t be playing Handel’s Suite’s any time soon . . .

    So inquiring minds want to know: do you have a Bernolin yet?

    I just forked out $3360 for two temp crowns and a filling and have more work to be done, so it will be awhile on a Bernolin.

    And while I have your ear, since I am playing solo and intend to continue, should I practice mainly on my Bressan or such because of the windway? I’m just wondering if that easy windway on the Dolonite might cause me some relearning or trouble in the future . . .

    But, yeah, I’m keeping that baby!

    #1020

    Christopher
    Participant

    Cheers!

    No. I do not have a Bernolin yet, and have no intention on it. Why? I require a resin instrument a lot closer to my needs. Things like: A403 pitch, Hotteterre fingering, single tone holes, and Werkmeister III temperament. Jacqueline Sorel can make her Stanesby Senior copy for me. Thomas Stanesby Sr. was a contemporary of Pierre Bressan working at the same time in London. Their instruments look so similar, one could almost assume that Stanesby ‘copied’ Bressan’s style. Anyhow, we’ve talked. Now I need to raise funds. Still about halfways away.

    I’m well aware of dental bills. (Yikes!) While we have decent healthcare in Canada, dental is not part of it.

    You can play/practise on whatever makes your heart happy, Jan. It’s your world when nobody else is involved. Rejoice in freedom!

    Play them both at your discretion and enjoy discovering the peculiarities of both worlds. I do.

    Yes, I’d hold onto the Dolmetsch one too. I’m curious—did yours come in the odd box they originally came in? It was a peculiar green foam insert with a wobbly green plastic container, if I remember correctly. (If I can find a picture, I’ll post it here.)

    Nice to hear from you again. 🙂

    -Christopher

    Mainly French & English baroque repertoire on an A403 Bressan, and an A415 DeBey. Active enthusiast since 1971. Early Music program at York University, French baroque instruction at Royal Conservatory in Toronto.

    #1021

    Christopher
    Participant

    Evidently my memory is a bit soft. LOL!

    The carrier was green cardboard, with a flimsy plastic interior. Seeing this photo brings back memories. Man, that tenor would choke up on condensation inside 30 seconds. Of course anti-condense would tame that today, plus, I’m and old git now and don’t blow anywhere near as ‘wet’ anymore (an aging thing apparently). Anyhow, sorry for the soft image but aside from the broken lining, that’s what mine looked like. Not visible is the single brass C key.

    -Christopher

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    Mainly French & English baroque repertoire on an A403 Bressan, and an A415 DeBey. Active enthusiast since 1971. Early Music program at York University, French baroque instruction at Royal Conservatory in Toronto.

    #1023

    Jan Walsh
    Participant

    Ooo! A woman recorder maker!! I love it!! We need more of those!!

    I have a Dolmetsch plastic recorder that came in one of those green boxes with the thin plastic material. It is a newer model than the Dolonite and not Dolonite. Can’t really play it because the head is not lined up with the finger holes and I cannot get it apart to adjust it! I’ve tried freezer, hot water, etc. UGH! I can’t remember what the Dolonite came in! (Old age). It is the least expensive recorder I have and my favorite! ($7!)

    Your post brings up something I have been trying to find out unsuccessfully from google. My favorite recorders are the Dolmetsch (which is modeled after a Stanesby if I remember correctly) and the Bressan I bought because you liked it and I wanted to try it. My wondering is if the model has anything to do with it. The Yamahas are modeled after the Rottenburgh. I just wondered if that would make any difference in a plastic recorder.

    Probably not but it is an interesting coincidence!

    As to the clogging, my Dolonite has had none. Of course, I am not playing for an hour at a time, but the Yamaha clogs so much more easily.

    #1024

    Jan Walsh
    Participant

    That carrier looks just like the one my other Dolmetsch came in!

    #1025

    Christopher
    Participant

    Yes, Dolmetsch made loose copies of Stanesby Senior altos along with Bressans. I believe the more refined of the latter also carried a facsimile of Bressan’s famous mark.

    Anyhow, here is an entry point into their website which the chose to leave up for reference purposes, since they are no longer in business.

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

    Poke around. Lots to explore. If you look hard enough, you’ll see my contribution regarding double-holes & Bressans.

    Regarding the model characteristics to the originals: Once an original instrument in A403-410 has been scaled to A440, and simplified for mass production, not very much of the original sound will be there. I suspect the Zen-on Bressan has a wee-bit, based on my comparisons, and the fact that Frederik von Huene was involved, suggests likely more than others. One thing for sure is it really isn’t a consort instrument. It does have a nice reedy edge, and full volume like real Bressans. More so than any of the other factory-made ones I own.

    I think just the outer appearance is more likely the similarity. The Yamaha may vaguely look like a Rottenburgh, but it won’t sound, or look like an A410 one any more than Moeck’s A442 Rottenburghs do. But they are pleasing contrivances to play and millions enjoy playing them. I’ve always like Moeck’s Rottenburgh keyless tenor, which von Huene freely admits in his book that the internals of that model are completely made up. Still, a satisfying one to play—especially the more recent ones in boxwood.

    -Christopher

    Mainly French & English baroque repertoire on an A403 Bressan, and an A415 DeBey. Active enthusiast since 1971. Early Music program at York University, French baroque instruction at Royal Conservatory in Toronto.

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