Wood or Resin for an inexpansive treble recorder?

Home Forum Recorder Makes, Models and Maintenance Wood or Resin for an inexpansive treble recorder?

This topic contains 10 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Matteo Berra Matteo Berra February 26, 2017 at 9:28 pm.

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  • #501
    Profile photo of Matteo Berra
    Matteo Berra
    Participant

    Good evening to you all!
    I’m a newcomer both in this blog and as a recorder player, so I’m apologizing in advance for my trivial question.
    Browsing here and there I have read that a wooden recorder, even a branded one such as Moeck, could play worse than a resin-based one if priced lower than 500 euros.
    Could you please report your experience, if any, with some wooden-not very expensive (let’s say about 200 euros) wooden recorders?
    Shall I expect the sound by a Moeck Rondò 2300 to be better or worse with respect to my Yamaha YRA314B?
    Thank you for your opinions

    #502
    Profile photo of Dick Mattson
    Dick Mattson
    Participant

    Hello Matteo–

    This is a somewhat difficult question to answer because 1) every instrument, even if supposedly identical, plays a bit differently, 2) instruments made from different materials (plastic/resin, soft woods like maple, hard woods like palisander or ebony) produce slightly different basic tone color, and 3) every player develops his/her own taste in sound.

    I have a number of recorders–several of them altos. Of the altos, my favorites are a Mollenhauer palisander and a Moeck olive wood which I like because of the complexity of their tone color. As one of my backup instruments, I have a Zen-On plastic which plays well enough to satisfy me when I play it–although the tone color in not as complicated as I like. As another backup instrument, I have an older Aura (AAFAB) pear wood which I don’t play very much anymore because I find that the soft pear wood, while it sounds very pleasant, doesn’t produce as strong a sound as I desire. Please understand that this is my taste–not the same as better or worse, and definitely not the same as some other person’s idea of better or worse.

    I have read articles that say that the wood itself doesn’t affect or change the sound of the recorder. This is true–IF you are thinking of the wood (or plastic) vibrating like the body of a violin or guitar and contributing to the sound (which, in an instrument as solid as a recorder, it can not do). However, the surface of the wood or plastic on the inside of the instrument varies a great deal depending on how smooth it can be made–and, because some woods have a more open pore structure, this does affect the timbre.

    So, since I think you say that you are a newcomer to playing the recorder, I suggest that you play your Yamaha YRA314B for a while longer until you have developed your own likes and dislikes in recorder sound. It is a decent instrument–especially considering how little it costs. In the meantime, listen to recordings, go to concerts, watch You Tube videos, and read as much as you can about the different woods. Also, save your money so that you can get the recorder “of your dreams” when the time is right. Saving that money is easy if, at the end of each day, you put all of the coins you find in your pocket into a jar labeled “recorder money.” Then, if possible, try recorders before you decide which one to buy.

    I hope that this helps.

    –Dick–

    #503
    Profile photo of Matteo Berra
    Matteo Berra
    Participant

    Hello Dick,
    thank you so much for your answer.
    Now it is more clear to me that I have a long way to go yet, before I can choose my instrument.
    In the meanwhile I will go on studying an practicing as you suggest.
    By the way, I came up to the recorder because, while unsuccesfully attempting to learn the violin, my teacher suggested me to play a flute to get solfeggio exercises a little bit less boring. Well, the sweet sound of the recorder as compared to the screeching notes I used to play on a violin made me love this instrument; that it is anything but as easy as many people think.
    I’ve been suggested studying on the Hauwe and Monkemeyer manuals “The modern recorder player” and “Method for treble recorder”, both I find very useful.
    Could you please give me any suggestion as regards studying methods? (By your answer it seems you are really expert and passionate with musics!)
    Still many thanks,
    Matteo

    #504
    Profile photo of Dick Mattson
    Dick Mattson
    Participant

    Hi Matteo–

    Thank you for telling me (all of us) about yourself. Now, something about me. I came to the recorder when I was young and received one as a Christmas present, but I didn’t take it seriously until I was about 15 or so–and that was only for a short time. At that time I played (and seriously studied) the cello which I then played and taught professionally as an adult. When I was young (before I went to university), I also played the saxophone, oboe, euphonium, and tuba in my school bands. I allowed the recorder to lapse when I devoted myself to the cello. Now that I am retired, I am again playing the recorder seriously. However, since I could already read music proficiently and understood music theory very well, I used very few method books when I came back to the recorder. I discovered that the finger patterns I had developed playing the saxophone and oboe were skills that I remembered these many years later. Instead of formal method books, I have built a library of recorder solos, duets, trios, and quartets that I practice and play with a group of friends. As far as practicing technique is concerned, I can make little exercises from various hard parts in the music that I am practicing. I find that this works somewhat better for me than method books. This is not to say that method books, scales, arpeggios, and etudes are not important and useful–I certainly played my share of them as a cello student (and cello teacher). Now that I am playing the recorder, I find that I can create my own exercises and drills using what I learned as a cellist just as well (I hope) as relying on somebody else to write them for me. Because of my past experience, this is what works well for me. However, since I think that you are still a student, I do recommend that you use the method books that have been recommended to you as part of your practicing. Maybe somebody else can recommend others. Yes, I am passionate about music. I see that you are too. Keep it up, and all the best.
    –Dick–

    #505
    Profile photo of Matteo Berra
    Matteo Berra
    Participant

    Thank you for your valuable suggestions Dick,
    I was supposing you are a professional just from the experience and wisdom you demonstrate in recommending what musical skills are necessary to be developed, prior to choose a more expensive instrument.
    You’re right about my Yamaha recorder: it plays fairly good, though it takes more than half an hour to warm it up, this season.
    I really appreciate your way to study music and I wish to be more skilled so as to do the same. Fortunately the Monkemeyer method alternates boring (yet necessary) studies with songs, even if some of those tunes are too difficult for me to play.
    My regards,
    Matteo

    #507
    Profile photo of Chris Baron
    Chris Baron
    Participant

    plastic is more durable, stable, hygienic and they are cheaper. no playing in, no oiling, no cracking. just warm it up and you can play it all day.
    vincent bernolin makes a very good resin recorder but a cheap angel alto is a very good instrument imho

    #509
    Profile photo of Matteo Berra
    Matteo Berra
    Participant

    Thank you very much for your answer, Chris…by the way I knew you yet because I’ve watched some of your videos on Youtube: let me congratulate for your playing skills and your passion for this instrument (I’m your follower).
    I must apologize for answering so late, but I’ve been busy last week and had no time to sign in in this Forum.
    I strongly agree with you that a resin recorder is the best choice for a beginner.
    I’ve fallen in love with the Bernolin instruments and started to save money to buy one of them. I’m passionate with Baroque music, thus I was thinking that I will buy the 415 Hz “A” pitched recorder, but I would like to have your opinion about this.
    Since then I’m going to go on practicing with my Yamaha 314B that plays really good, albeit having the only flaw that clogs before you can say Jack Robinson.
    Is the Angel recorder less subject to clogging? Maybe it’s not so easy to find for the italian market (I live in Milan).

    Still many thanks,
    Matteo

    #510
    Profile photo of Dick Mattson
    Dick Mattson
    Participant

    Any recorder that doesn’t have a block made out of wood or similar porous material (Synpor block used by Mollenhauer on the Modern Soprano and Alto) will clog rather easily. The way to keep this from happening so much is to warm up the head of the recorder before playing. Some people stick it in their pants pocket. Some others hold it in their armpit. I have very warm hands, so sometimes I just hold the head. Usually I just slip the recorder down the front of my shirt headfirst making sure that the top of the head (closest to the windway) touches my skin. I keep it there to warm up for at least 10 minutes before starting to play. That keeps it from clogging so fast because the warm, moist air from my lungs doesn’t hit the cold windway causing the moisture to condense. If the windway does clog, I just suck the condensation out and wipe off any that remains at the tip of the beak. Just remember to never, ever place a recorder on a radiator or any other heating device because that could cause serious damage that would not be possible to repair.

    #511
    Profile photo of Matteo Berra
    Matteo Berra
    Participant

    Good evening Dick,
    I’m glad to hear from you again. Thank you for suggestions.
    By the way, I went to the Thomann’s online shop and had a look to the Moeck olive wood recorder you mentioned in a previous answer: it is really delightful!
    I used to warm up my plastic in my hands for five minutes at least, but it’s likely that it’s not enough time, so as you recommend I will try a longer warm up.
    The Yamaha 300 series is well known for its narrow, easily-clogging windway, and that’s really a shame for otherwise it sounds so good for the first five minutes, when it is completly dry. Even sucking moisture up, or blowing it off, does not solve the problem since it starts: for sure it helps, but the only way to get rid of moisture is to clean it and let it dry in the air for a while.
    I’m wondering what could happen to a brand new wooden recorder (after break-in period) if it was to absorb all of the water that i blow off from my plastic both during playing and cleaning. But maybe I’m worrying too much considering that recorders had always been made out of wood since the beginning of time.

    Thanks,
    Matteo

    #512
    Profile photo of Dick Mattson
    Dick Mattson
    Participant

    Hi Matteo–

    I’m wondering if you have tried using an anticondens fluid (Duponol is a brand that I am familiar with) on your Yamaha 300 series recorder. I think it won’t prevent condensation, but it does make it easier for the water to travel through the windway instead of building up in there.

    In addition to sucking and blowing, another trick that I’ve found which works for me is to fold up a small piece of paper a few times (to about the size of linguine or fettucini) and insert it into the windway through the beak to soak up moisture when it collects. I just make sure that the paper doesn’t come all the way through the windway and touch the edge of the ramp. It works in much the same way as an oboist’s feather.

    Since you can oil a wood recorder, and since many recorders now are made of wax-impregnated wood, it is my understanding that the only wood in a well-maintained recorder that will actually absorb moisture is the block–something that it is supposed to do. So don’t worry.

    –Dick–

    #513
    Profile photo of Matteo Berra
    Matteo Berra
    Participant

    The soaking paper is a very good idea: thank you Dick!
    I’m a little bit reluctant as to put chemicals into the windway for, if I was to suck moisture, then I would swallow some of the substance: I think it’s likely to be laureth sulfate.
    I don’t know whether it is the spring coming with consequent warmer temperatures or if I’m tounging better and blowing more gently, but it seems to me that clogging is less affecting my playing – yet still a problem.
    I agree with you that the modern treatments woods undergo are so drastic that can turn the surface of wood into a kind of plastic. I’ve read that this is true expecially for soft woods such as maple or pearwood, that in some cases do not even require any periodical oiling (or maybe it should be avoided for it could bring about pores de-waxing)
    By the way, just a few days ago I’ve written to Bernolin’s because I was curious about the fact that the block of their resin recorders is made of cedar, and I was answered not to be worried about moisture: it is not a concern because cedar is very resistent to water and the block is thermally treated.
    Thanks and Regards,
    Matteo

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