Looking to get started

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Dick Mattson April 26, 2018 at 2:26 am.

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  • #596

    Keith Starkey
    Participant

    Greetings all,

    I’m hoping I have posted this question in the correct forum topic area.
    I’m a 57-year-old former jazz musician, having played trumpet, drums and bass guitar. I grew up in the Bay Area of California, received a strong (informal) music education and do some composing here and there.

    In that I don’t play the trumpet, my main ax, anymore (too demanding of facial-muscle upkeep), and I can’t play guitar because of weak wrists, I’d love to get started with the recorder. Because of my musical background, I understand the fingering and the essential technique required to obtain the desired effects of the instrument, and because of the natural music ability I have it won’t take long to accomplish enough growth with the instrument to play it well enough for my own personal enjoyment. (I don’t see ever playing with an ensemble or orchestra, not where I live, but I guess anything can happen, so I’m keeping that in mind as well).

    So, the issue at hand is that I have up to about $100 (US) to spend on a recorder. I’m particularly interested in the alto recorder. I want something that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, is a solid piece of reliable work (consistent build from low to high notes) and will endure through the years to come. For me, it has to be an instrument that’s not all about professional quality as much as it is endurance and a descent, reasonable sound.

    I’ve begun researching the recorder so as to get a full and well balanced understanding of the instrument—that’s how I found this site.

    So, there you have it. If you have a suggestion for a model I can consider for my needs, please, by all means, post it here. I would be very grateful.

    #598

    Dick Mattson
    Participant

    For something that’s easy maintenance and is under a hundred bucks, I’d recommend a good plastic instrument. Zen-On (Bressan model), Yamaha (Ecodear model), and Aulos come to mind. I have a Zen-On Bressan alto which I like very much as a good backup for my wood instruments. Sarah Jeffrey has an instructive video on Youtube in which she compares various plastic instrument. You may find that helpful. Let us know if you need suggestions as to specialty shops where you can make a purchase once you decide.

    #599

    Keith Starkey
    Participant

    Dick,

    Thanks very much for the information. Yeah, right after posting my question here yesterday, I found Sarah’s site – watched a bunch of her videos. Saw the one, too, on plastic recorders. I’ve got it bookmarked, so I’ll be watching it again to make notes.

    I’m in Klamath Falls, southern Oregon, so there’s nothing here for recorders beyond the lowest end. I do know, however, that there’s a store in Eugene. Not sure about Medford. Once school is out (I’m a school bus driver), I’ll know more of what I want and can probably get to Eugene to try out some recorders. If you do know of a place in Medford, by all means, feel free to let me know

    Thanks again.

    #600

    Dick Mattson
    Participant

    Rather than go to a local music store, your best bet is to first go on-line and then contact an early music specialty shop. Several come to mind: http://www.lazarsearlymusic.com
    http://www.vonhuene.com
    http://www.aswltd.com
    https://www.bems.com
    https://courtlymusicunlimited.com/index.php
    The reason I suggest this is because local shops will likely either not stock recorders at all, or else their offerings might only be the most inexpensive “school” sopranos.
    That said, not every early music specialty shop will offer every brand of decent plastic alto recorders. And, while not every shop will want to discuss plastic recorders with you over the phone, the ones who will discuss them with you over the phone will be self-evident.
    A common procedure is for people to get a shipment of a few different wood recorders sent to them to try before they buy. However, this is probably neither necessary with plastic nor would it be cost effective since the recipient of the shipment would have to pay return postage.
    So, after you have done your on-line reading and watching Sarah’s videos, call the most promising looking shop and discuss plastic recorders with them. If you spend a few minutes on the phone with them, and end up purchasing their top-of-the-line plastic alto, you can’t go wrong.

    #601

    Keith Starkey
    Participant

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear: the reference to Eugene, Oregon was in view of an early music shop there. I haven’t called them but I’d at least have a chance to find out what they have and even try out a few recorders, if they have much to brag about. But I’ll follow up on the links you gave and work that route. (Thanks!)

    #603

    Keith Starkey
    Participant

    Greetings all,

    Well, after watching a ton of videos and going over early musical instrument sites (thank you, Dick, for the great references) and doing general research, I’ve narrowed my choices two plastic recorders:
    * YRA-402 B Ecodear
    * Zen-0n Bressan G1-A

    The Yamaha is winning out at the moment, and I’m waiting for some call backs from store personnel to get more information, but so far this is it.

    I am only concerned about the Yamaha’s feel; will it be slippery while playing? Apparently, it only comes in yellow-mellow color with no choice of texture——the color I care little about, but the feel is important.

    Do any of you have any experience with either of these recorders? If so, I’d appreciate any input you have.

    Thanks again.

    #604

    Keith Starkey
    Participant

    Well, shoot, I thought there was a way to edit my post.
    I have one more question with regard to buying a recorder.

    Over at http://www.aswltd.com/ they professionally tune even plastics recorders that they sell. My question is, is this going to make a noticeable difference? I mean, I can get the same recorder for half the price at http://www.lazarsearlymusic.com/ but I’ll pay the extra if the tuning is really worth it.

    Thanks again.

    #605

    Dick Mattson
    Participant

    1) I don’t think that you can go wrong with either of your choices.

    2) I expect that all plastic instruments have somewhat of a slippery feel. So do some wood instruments. I solve the problem of slip two different ways: a) for a lighter-weight instrument, I simply lick my right hand thumb to give it some “stick” before playing for a bit; and b) for a heavier instrument (i.e. my Mollenhauer Modern in palisander with an E foot), I wrap a rubber band around the body to serve as a thumb rest or slip stopper if you will.

    3) I have had a Zen-On Bressan alto for several years. I like it just fine and use it when I want to give my two wood altos a rest. I can’t remember if I got it from ASW or Boulder, so I can’t tell you if it was “improved” or not.

    4) People’s one-or-the-other answers rely on both experience and taste. Experience answers are often incomplete. And tastes can be rather subjective at best, and not necessarily reflective of your taste. Since you have a budget of a hundred bucks or so, why not get both–the Zen-On from ASW and the Encoder from Bill Lazar. That way, you’ll have two slightly different sounding instruments that should satisfy your varying aesthetic desires without breaking the bank. All you will be out will be double the postage charge.

    5) Finally, if you have not already done so, you might seriously want to join the various recorder groups on Facebook–a) flauto dolce, recorder, flute a bec; b) flute a bec; and c) recorder players n enthusiasts. They are all extremely active and you will undoubtedly learn a whole lot of stuff and find that any questions you might ask will field more answers than they do here where crickets seem to abound. (I am somewhat of an anomaly since I like to be helpful and tell people about stuff that interests me.)

    #606

    Keith Starkey
    Participant

    Thanks, Dick, for all your input…buy both. Ha! Never even thought of it. I suppose I’ll do that.

    One last question. You mentioned that you don’t know if your Bressan was improved. But do you know if it really makes a big (or noticeable) difference? I mean, ASW wants about 1.5 times more than other places. I can’t justify that if it’s really not that big of a deal on a plastic recorder.

    Well, at any rate, thanks very much again. You’ve put a bit into your posts, and that’s appreciated.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by  Keith Starkey.
    #608

    Dick Mattson
    Participant

    As to whether I know if ASW “improved” recorders really make a difference or not–well I really don’t know. I have read opposing viewpoints on-line in the past. While I don’t recall where I read them (probably in some chat room or other), the “nay” comments were probably based on the opinion that plastic machine-made recorders are likely so similar that they don’t need a personal touch to make them play well–while the “yea” comments were probably based on the opinion that there can be slight differences from instrument to instrument even if they are supposedly identical. The only way to tell whether the improvement process really has any impact is to purchase a number of each type of Zen-On and compare them. However, since this would entail spending a significant amount of money in order to prove something true or false, nobody on this or any other chat board is going to do that unless they are the dealer who is explaining their position and pricing structure (something that ASW has already done on their website). Thus, any answer to your question would be similar to mine earlier. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that, since I don’t have a horse in this race, you can’t go wrong spending your hundred smackers and getting both the Encoder from Bill Lazar and the Zen-On from ASW. Both are honorable dealers. If your doubt continues and climbs up your back and bites you in the wallet in the middle of the night, then get the Ecodear from Bill. 🙂

    #609

    Keith Starkey
    Participant

    Dick, it would be a pleasure to hit up a Starbucks with you and buy you a cup of coffee one of these days! Your writing style is superb and I’ve enjoyed all you’ve had to say.

    Gretta, over at Lazar is going to test the Yamaha I purchase to ensure it’s tuning, so that’s taken care of. And I’ll probably pick up the G1-A from ASW, and…we’re broke again! But who cares.

    I’ve hit up Reddit with regard to the question of professional tuning. Perhaps someone will pipe up there with some information. We’ll see. Either way, I’m going to get the Yamaha either way in the next few days.

    Hey, thanks again for your input here. It does make a difference.

    Keith

    #610

    Keith Starkey
    Participant

    Well, I did it; ordered the Yamaha Ecodear from Lazar. Thanks for all the input.

    #611

    Dick Mattson
    Participant

    You’re welcome. I’m glad that I could be of help. And thanks for the compliment about my writing. I’ve been accused of being long-winded, but I’d rather be accurate in what I wish to convey than the alternative. As for the cup of coffee, I’ll take a rain check since we live more than halfway across the country from each other. But keep us informed and look into the Facebook recorder groups if you are of a mind so to do.

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