Next step after Yamaha YRA-28B Alto (towards a Bernolin Resin)?

Home Forum Recorder Makes, Models and Maintenance Next step after Yamaha YRA-28B Alto (towards a Bernolin Resin)?

Tagged: 

This topic contains 24 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Katia J September 17, 2020 at 2:22 am.

Viewing 10 posts - 16 through 25 (of 25 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #1105

    Jason Cone
    Participant

    Sarah Jeffery just posted a comparison between a Yamaha Ecodear alto and a Moeck wooden alto (approx $30 vs $300).

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by  Jason Cone.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by  Jason Cone.
    #1108

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    The model number on Aulos altos is printed on the recorder itself, at the narrow end of the main barrel (near the foot joint), on the bottom. There are two 509 models – the 509 (an earlier version from about 20 years ago) and the 509B (current version). So if you mention the model, be sure to designate the full number. Just FYI, the “B” does NOT stand for “baroque fingering” as it does on some other manufacturers’ model number; on Aulos, it just stands for the version number.

    #1109

    Aulos303
    Participant

    The model number on Aulos altos is printed on the recorder itself, at the narrow end of the main barrel (near the foot joint), on the bottom. There are two 509 models – the 509 (an earlier version from about 20 years ago) and the 509B (current version). So if you mention the model, be sure to designate the full number. Just FYI, the “B” does NOT stand for “baroque fingering” as it does on some other manufacturers’ model number; on Aulos, it just stands for the version number.

    Indeed. My first recorder, bought new in 2016, is an Aulos soprano 303E, or A. It doesn’t rate well on Saunders Recorders (tho it sounds fine to me) But there is a much earlier soprano with the number 303, which does get rated well.

    You don't stop playing when you get old. You get old when you stop playing.

    #1110

    Katia J
    Participant

    Aha! I just had a look, and I take it back– it’s a 709-E. Whatever the E means. Still well fatter than the Yamaha.

    #1111

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Wow, you have the first version of the famous Aulos Haka (current version is 709B). I thought I was the only person who had one of those. Yes, they are VERY fat (and very shiny!). One of the changes they made with the current version is to bring it down to the size of most other altos. They even have a wood-grain version of the old one (maybe you have that?). Anyway, they are nice recorders too (like all Aulos).

    I think the “-E” means English (Baroque) fingering. All my Aulos recorders have that.

    #1113

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    I think it’s interesting that Sarah Jeffery says that it is easier to play the inexpensive plastic instrument than the higher priced wooden one, but that the wooden one is more flexible. This kind of fits in with what I think about the Bernolin with regard to the high notes. It is easier to play a plastic recorder’s high notes than the Bernolin, IMHO. But the Bernolin is MUCH more flexible on all notes and once you get the hang of playing the high notes is also more flexible on them (but it takes some practice and I do wish they would “speak” more easily).

    I’ve heard that they have improved Moeck Rottenburg recorders in recent years. But just FYI, I have several older Moeck maple Rottenburgs and while they are pretty nice instruments, they do not sound nearly as good as the Bernolin. I mean, the Bernolin was a revelation to me, sound-wise. So you cannot spend say $300 – $800 (depending on the type of wood) on a mass-produced wooden recorder and hope to get one that sounds as good as something like the Bernolon resin. Just my opinion.

    #1114

    Katia J
    Participant

    Wow, you have the first version of the famous Aulos Haka (current version is 709B). I thought I was the only person who had one of those. Yes, they are VERY fat (and very shiny!). One of the changes they made with the current version is to bring it down to the size of most other altos. They even have a wood-grain version of the old one (maybe you have that?). Anyway, they are nice recorders too (like all Aulos).

    I think the “-E” means English (Baroque) fingering. All my Aulos recorders have that.

    Makes sense… I knew the current model number had the “B” and I would’ve wondered if “E” was for “English” except the above with the Symphony model numbers. Mine isn’t wood-grain, sadly. And unfortunately, I don’t prefer that it’s fatter (I don’t think. Could be I’m just used to the Yamaha). I feel like I have to over-rotate the foot joint to get to that F-hole (maybe I’d just need to make it my regular player and get used to it, and then the Yamaha would become annoying).

    This was my thrift-store “rescue” recorder, along with a 311N-E tenor. Both happened to have tags of that week’s “half off” color, so I brought both home for I think less than $20 because how could I *not*?? (Unfortunately, that right-hand stretch on the tenor is pretty hard for me {and the left hand isn’t that easy, either}, so I don’t really play it.)

    #1115

    Katia J
    Participant

    I think it’s interesting that Sarah Jeffery says that it is easier to play the inexpensive plastic instrument than the higher priced wooden one, but that the wooden one is more flexible. This kind of fits in with what I think about the Bernolin with regard to the high notes. It is easier to play a plastic recorder’s high notes than the Bernolin, IMHO. But the Bernolin is MUCH more flexible on all notes and once you get the hang of playing the high notes is also more flexible on them (but it takes some practice and I do wish they would “speak” more easily).

    I’ve heard that they have improved Moeck Rottenburg recorders in recent years. But just FYI, I have several older Moeck maple Rottenburgs and while they are pretty nice instruments, they do not sound nearly as good as the Bernolin. I mean, the Bernolin was a revelation to me, sound-wise. So you cannot spend say $300 – $800 (depending on the type of wood) on a mass-produced wooden recorder and hope to get one that sounds as good as something like the Bernolon resin. Just my opinion.

    I think this is common to what I’ve heard about wood vs. plastic… the plastic is “easier” (due to exact mass-production), which I guess is another good reason one might wait until one is a bit more experienced in playing before moving on to wood (or, Bernolin resin). The reviews I read said the Bernolin has a rather difficult high F in particular.

    A couple reviews I had seen had compared the Bernolin to wooden instruments around $1000, which could be one more reason it might make more sense to spend $500 on it rather than $300-$400 on a lower-end wooden instrument. Then it’s not the huge wasteful outlay of money some people seem to think, if it’s true that you’re really getting more instrument for your dollar (if you don’t mind the “plastic” part; as mentioned above, to me it’s a selling point because of easy care and durability).

    The thing I’ve always wondered, though, is… why no middle ground? I’ve seen the videos of how a few lower-end wooden instruments are produced still with some hand-work (Sarah Jeffrey has one video of a visit to Aafab and there was another I once watched, perhaps from Yamaha), and it seems these instruments have less hand-work than the Bernolin but obviously still turned unlike an injection-molded plastic recorder. So I’ve wondered, why not resin recorders turned in this way, that might provide a “turned” instrument but with less cost than the Bernolin, to create perhaps a resin equivalent to the lower-end wooden recorders? (Or might these simply be considered the current injection-molded plastic instruments, hence why there’s not seen to be any need to bridge the gap?)

    Now, I know Irish flute makers sometimes do not expand into also making resin instruments because sometimes there’s additional setup cost (especially if the chosen resin needs additional safety precautions or is harder than wood, either needing different tools or wearing out tools faster– IOW, you don’t just take a rod of resin, smack it onto your lathe/current setup like you would with a piece of wood, and go to town), so perhaps this is why, especially if people simply aren’t wanting a middle-of-the-road resin/plastic instrument… it could be that once people “graduate” from the injection-molded plastics, they want wood and wouldn’t “upgrade” to another plastic instrument? (I would, but I’m weird.)

    All speculation on my part, as I’ll probably never progress to the point where I “outgrow” my plastics to begin with to look into even a $300 wooden instrument*, but I’m not sure how other people who *are* advancing past that point might think.

    *Although in the video above, I do prefer the Moeck over the Ecodear. Do I prefer it enough to spend the extra, if I were looking to buy one or the other (would I prefer it over other plastic instruments? Would I prefer it in my hands since the player makes a difference?)? In my current playing situation (mostly for myself; I have nowhere else to play though if I get any pieces good enough to be performance-ready, maybe for church), perhaps not, but if I were playing with a group or as a soloist regularly, probably?

    #1116

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    And unfortunately, I don’t prefer that it’s fatter (I don’t think. Could be I’m just used to the Yamaha). I feel like I have to over-rotate the foot joint to get to that F-hole (maybe I’d just need to make it my regular player and get used to it, and then the Yamaha would become annoying).

    I never liked the fatness either. It is rather unique in that respect, especially the very large foot. Unlike the Bernolin, which also is fat and has a large foot, the fat barrel and foot of the old 709 doesn’t seem to make the right-hand finger holes easier to reach.

    With the Bernolin, just how the holes are positioned and how the foot is sized actually makes it about the easiest right-hand finger hole positions I have ever used. I think it’s because the area where the right-hand pinky holes are located bulges slightly and brings those two holes up toward your pinky better. Very subtle but it is immediately noticeable when you play. But generally I prefer a more normal size.

    So, when they redesigned the Haka and came up with the 709B, it is generally regular sized. Oddly enough, at about the same time they redesigned the 509 (“Symphony”) and made the rather slim barrel and small foot of the old 509 into a fatter barrel and large foot, so the 509B is now kind of similar in size to the Bernolin.

    I was rather unpleasantly surprised by the 509B when it came out, and actually went out and bought 4 new 509s (old model), because I used to wear out the thumb hole of a plastic recorder about every 5 years, so I figured I had a good supply going forward. Well, wouldn’t you know, I have since changed my thumb technique to just use the fleshy part and not the nail, so that no longer happens, plus I’ve grown to like the new 509B better, so now it is my favorite plastic, and, as I’ve said, easiest to go back and forth with the Bernolin.

    A couple reviews I had seen had compared the Bernolin to wooden instruments around $1000, which could be one more reason it might make more sense to spend $500 on it rather than $300-$400 on a lower-end wooden instrument. Then it’s not the huge wasteful outlay of money some people seem to think, if it’s true that you’re really getting more instrument for your dollar (if you don’t mind the “plastic” part; as mentioned above, to me it’s a selling point because of easy care and durability).

    Yes, i think that is correct. If you look at the description of the Mollenhauer Denner Edition recorders:

    https://www.mollenhauer.com/en/catalog/recorders/series-overview/denner-edition#content

    I think that gives a good idea of what has to be done to a mass-produced wooden recorder to bring it up to the level of a recorder like the Bernolin resin. They charge about $1200 for the alto Denner Editions, I think. I also think that the Bernolin resin is probably very similar to his own wooden recorders, which sell for about $1600. So, yes, that is what you get with a Bernolin resin – a very good deal, IMHO.

    As far as why there are no lower-priced handmade resin recorders, I think you are correct that there is not much point to it. You aren’t moving “up” to a $300-$500 wooden recorder from a plastic fantastic. You are going sideways, really. So a cheaply made resin from blocks of resin wouldn’t have much point.

    Related to this, Jacqueline Sorel, a recorder maker in Europe, had a posting on Facebook in which she described a white resin alto recorder she made for a customer who is allergic to wood. She said that it was as difficult to make as a wooden one and required a lot of fine-tuning, etc. The implication was that it would cost as much as a high-priced wooden one, even though the material is certainly cheaper. Plus, Coolsma makes a “polyester” recorder much like the Bernolin – but they charge the same as they do for their wooden versions (!), about $1600:

    Coolsma Alto Recorder after Bressan in Polyester (a=415)

    So, the point here is that the Bernolin is actually what you wished existed – an intermediate-priced rein model. The marvel is that he is able to hand fine-tune it and sell it for the price he does. No one else is doing that. As I understand it, he has the block carving, drilling, etc highly automated and down to a science (avoiding the trouble Sorel was having, I guess, because she was making just one), so most of the price is devoted to the fine-tuning.

    Since I have never had an expensive wooden recorder like Prescott or Von Heune makes in USA, it is hard for me to compare the sound of the Bernolin against anything other than several old mid-priced wooden ones I have – Moeck Rottenburgs in maple and palisander; a Dolmetsch in rosewood; a Roessler in ebony. But just from the wood used in those, you can see that they were relatively high-end mass-produced wood models, much like a Moeck Rottenbug in palisander or olive would be today. They do not sound even close to as rich and full as the Bernolin, and looking closely, none has the shaved inner holes that you can see on the Bernolin (except the Roessler has a little on a few holes). So, yeah, it makes a difference.

    #1119

    Katia J
    Participant

    I never liked the fatness either. It is rather unique in that respect, especially the very large foot. Unlike the Bernolin, which also is fat and has a large foot, the fat barrel and foot of the old 709 doesn’t seem to make the right-hand finger holes easier to reach.

    With the Bernolin, just how the holes are positioned and how the foot is sized actually makes it about the easiest right-hand finger hole positions I have ever used. I think it’s because the area where the right-hand pinky holes are located bulges slightly and brings those two holes up toward your pinky better. Very subtle but it is immediately noticeable when you play. But generally I prefer a more normal size.

    So, when they redesigned the Haka and came up with the 709B, it is generally regular sized. Oddly enough, at about the same time they redesigned the 509 (“Symphony”) and made the rather slim barrel and small foot of the old 509 into a fatter barrel and large foot, so the 509B is now kind of similar in size to the Bernolin.

    I was rather unpleasantly surprised by the 509B when it came out, and actually went out and bought 4 new 509s (old model), because I used to wear out the thumb hole of a plastic recorder about every 5 years, so I figured I had a good supply going forward. Well, wouldn’t you know, I have since changed my thumb technique to just use the fleshy part and not the nail, so that no longer happens, plus I’ve grown to like the new 509B better, so now it is my favorite plastic, and, as I’ve said, easiest to go back and forth with the Bernolin.

    Having only played/handled these two instruments, now I’m a bit curious to see the dimensional difference between others. I guess I never thought about it much before, but it makes sense.

    Yes, i think that is correct. If you look at the description of the Mollenhauer Denner Edition recorders:

    https://www.mollenhauer.com/en/catalog/recorders/series-overview/denner-edition#content

    I think that gives a good idea of what has to be done to a mass-produced wooden recorder to bring it up to the level of a recorder like the Bernolin resin. They charge about $1200 for the alto Denner Editions, I think. I also think that the Bernolin resin is probably very similar to his own wooden recorders, which sell for about $1600. So, yes, that is what you get with a Bernolin resin – a very good deal, IMHO.

    As far as why there are no lower-priced handmade resin recorders, I think you are correct that there is not much point to it. You aren’t moving “up” to a $300-$500 wooden recorder from a plastic fantastic. You are going sideways, really. So a cheaply made resin from blocks of resin wouldn’t have much point.

    Related to this, Jacqueline Sorel, a recorder maker in Europe, had a posting on Facebook in which she described a white resin alto recorder she made for a customer who is allergic to wood. She said that it was as difficult to make as a wooden one and required a lot of fine-tuning, etc. The implication was that it would cost as much as a high-priced wooden one, even though the material is certainly cheaper. Plus, Coolsma makes a “polyester” recorder much like the Bernolin – but they charge the same as they do for their wooden versions (!), about $1600:

    Coolsma Alto Recorder after Bressan in Polyester (a=415)

    So, the point here is that the Bernolin is actually what you wished existed – an intermediate-priced rein model. The marvel is that he is able to hand fine-tune it and sell it for the price he does. No one else is doing that. As I understand it, he has the block carving, drilling, etc highly automated and down to a science (avoiding the trouble Sorel was having, I guess, because she was making just one), so most of the price is devoted to the fine-tuning.

    Since I have never had an expensive wooden recorder like Prescott or Von Heune makes in USA, it is hard for me to compare the sound of the Bernolin against anything other than several old mid-priced wooden ones I have – Moeck Rottenburgs in maple and palisander; a Dolmetsch in rosewood; a Roessler in ebony. But just from the wood used in those, you can see that they were relatively high-end mass-produced wood models, much like a Moeck Rottenbug in palisander or olive would be today. They do not sound even close to as rich and full as the Bernolin, and looking closely, none has the shaved inner holes that you can see on the Bernolin (except the Roessler has a little on a few holes). So, yeah, it makes a difference.

    You know, you bring up a good point in mentioning the Mollenhauer– my thinking was that people saying the Bernolin resin compared to instruments costing $X had to do with the sound/playing quality, but they could be talking about the level of craftsmanship instead.

    I think part of the reason it seems there’s a big jump between “plastic recorder that’s injection-molded” and “plastic recorder that’s handmade” is because so many people *are* saying, “Really, I’m going to pay that much for an instrument and it’s made of plastic??” (Whereas I’m more inclined to say, “Really, I’m getting an instrument that’s that handmade, *and* it’s more durable, and that’s all it costs??” LOL.

Viewing 10 posts - 16 through 25 (of 25 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.