Are these recorders still playable?

Recorder Forum Home Page Forum Recorder Makes, Models and Maintenance Are these recorders still playable?

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    Vincent Brock

    Hallo dear recorder friends,

    I recently got a set of Sopranino, Soprano, Alto, Tenor recorders from my father. He bought them and played them alot in late GDR times (I guess 80s), so they are already kind of worn down. I was really happy to get this present as I’m relatively new to the recorder team. As I first played them I loved the airy, woody sound but later I realised that there are some problems:

    Sopranino: Lowest register too flat
    Soprano: high e (half 0 12345) too sharp
    Alto: high a (same fingering) way too sharp
    Tenor: high c and d (01; 1) too flat, e too sharp

    In general they tend to be a bit too flat and I really have to blow alot which already affects the sound. Also it’s peculiar that all of them have the high e/a with the same fingering too sharp. Is there a particular reason for this?

    I got myself a Yamaha plastic Basset in the beginning of this year, so that’s what I’m used to. It was difficult for me to adjust my breath pressure/speed to the smaller, wooden recorders.

    So my questions are:
    Is it me or the instruments?
    Would you say they’re still “playable”?
    Is it possible to fix these issues?
    How is that possible? Is it worth it?

    Thank you in advance for your replies. I really hope these instruments can bring me forward on my recorder journey.

    I have more pictures but it wasn’t possible to upload them.

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    Dick Mattson

    Hi Vincent–

    1) I’m not familiar with these particular (perhaps 40 years old) GDR recorders–much less their intonation quirks. However, there are many people who belong to the FaceBook Recorder Players n Enthusiasts group (a very active group by the way)–some of whom might be of help in answering your questions about the recorders and their problems.
    2) It’s entirely possible that these instruments might require some non–standard fingerings to bring a few of the out of tune notes more in tune. Experimentation is the key.
    3) I wasn’t able to make out any makers marks in the photos. However, if there are some, you might find comparable instruments on this website: Or you can compare them visually if you’d like to put in the time.
    4) If you do identify the maker of the instruments, you can then visit to see if you can find fingering charts for those particular recorders.
    5) Those were my non-judgmental suggestions. My judgement (read educated guess) leads me to think that you might treasure these instruments as curiosities that hold family history. Since you already own a Yamaha plastic basset, I suggest that you invest in a Yamaha plastic sopranino, soprano, alto, and tenor set–all four together as a set which can be had for somewhat less than the price of the basset. Those instruments will be in tune and, like your basset, play quite well considering the price.

    All the best.

    Vincent Brock

    Thank you very much, Dick! I’ll consider your advice. I already joined the group


    Dick Mattson

    You’re most welcome, Vinko!


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