Reply To: Yamaha recorders- do they sound flat?

Richard Hureau

I think some extra explanation would be good here. First, recorders are VERY affected by the temperature of the instrument. The warmer the recorder, the higher the pitch. For this reason (as well as to avoid condensation in the windway), it is advisable to warm the recorder before you play. The usual way to do this is to put the head joint (where you blow) under your armpit for 10 or 15 minutes. This RAISES the pitch of the instrument significantly.

Then, as you play, the pitch will gradually raise even further (you are blowing hot air into it). But this, of course, is also counteracted by the ambient temperature of the room. So sometimes it’s a wash (the pitch stays about the same), but usually it will rise some more. If it gets really high you can fix it by pulling the top joint out from the center barrel some.

On top of all this, how hard you blow affects the pitch a lot. Blow harder – the pitch goes up, blow softer, it goes down.

So, if this is sounding like a moving target that is constantly changing, that’s because it is. Playing in tune on the recorder is a constant struggle and something players playing with others have to pay close attention to every moment, adjusting their breath pressure to get everything sounding good. I have been playing for over 40 years and still have trouble with it because I seldom play with others.

So, trying to match a recorder to a tuning device is pretty much impossible and not worth even attempting, IMHO. As others have said, the instruments you have are very good and VERY unlikely to be faulty. So enjoy!!