Reply To: Wooden Keyless Tenor Impressions

Ken In Dallas

Early on staying home as we have, I overplayed and my hands kind of gave out, so I’ve mostly stopped playing guitar and focused on recorder. I miss multi-voicing the Two Part Inventions and such. It took decades to get good at it.

Turning to recorder I brushed up on sight reading all the upper ledger lines at speed in both the F and C fingerings while ordering all eight books of the Schott Anthologies and the complete Handel Sonatas. I’m having a great time playing along with the CD harpsichord accompaniments as well as the exposure to many composers I’d never heard of.

It became evident that there had been a huge improvement in the recorders themselves due to computers. I started replacing my plastic instruments first. I purchased the second generation Zen-On Brennon alto/treble and an Aulos Haka soprano/descant. They’re far far better than any of my old instruments.

I then purchased my Mollenhauer Pearwood Denner alto. I do like the plastic instruments more from a player’s perspective, but the wood sound still has my ear. I’m toying with sending the alto to Von Huene up in Boston for re-voicing to smooth out the grittiness in the upper register. I figure if anyone can do it, his shop can.

My ancient wooden tenor looks like someone tried to clean the fipple with some kind of tool. The wood is all uneven like a prize fighter’s teeth missing and broken. The wood just wore away from moisture, wind, and age. And yet it has the same beautiful rich voice over its entire range. The problem is that the top-most notes often jam. As you change fingering (descending,) it stays on the same initial note. I love it dearly, but its time for a replacement.

It was great hearing of your experiences. Thanks again. And do have a great New Year’s. I’ll be a year behind you for about six hours.