"bad" note

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    Hello, I’m new here. I am just beginning to play my Mollenhauer Canta (baroque) tenor recorder, and loving it. I’ve learned the C scale and added F# and Bb so I can get started with tunes in three keys. My problem note is the F#. It sounds, but the sound is burred or reedy. I’ve tried blowing it very softly, and that helps a bit, but it seems to be just basically a weak note. Anyone else have this problem? Any ideas on a cure? Thanks.

    Ken In Dallas

    Hi, I think most people would consider me an advanced player, and I am bugged by the same problem with my one-year old Mollenhauer Denner Alto. When I started playing recorder in the 1960s, Moeck was the most desired recorder and there were not so many hand makers as today. I still own and play some of those Moecks and (at least mine) have no ‘reedy-ness,’ but I find them (slightly) less in tune and versatile (straight windways and simpler tapers.) I don’t fully understand it all, but some back then were Mean Temperament, tuned by ear by the maker but less in tune for some infrequent keys. I believe modern recorders are most often of equal temperament and are designed and manufactured with greater computer (accuracy) use.

    My Denner has a few annoying ‘reedy’ notes too. I hate it; I hate them. So I guess I’m leading up to saying that even modern recorders are problematic to modern musicians and student musicians. Bach would have killed for a keyboard as Equally Tempered and today’s cheapest Fender (student) electric guitar. Recorders are Ancient Instruments that eventually lead up to the development of the modern transverse flute along a path of many, many changes and improvements. The sound of a recorder is just uneven in character. It’s the sound we love. Take a look at all the ‘plumbing’ on a bassoon, oboe, or clarinet. It’s all to even things out.

    All that said, this forum is not the place for your definitive answer. I’m in the States. Here, the manufacturer’s warranty representative (Von Huene’s, Boston) told me on the phone they’ll re-voice a new (with proper paperwork of purchase) recorder once within two years of date of purchase. To be honest, I don’t know ABSOLUTELY if that reediness is a feature or a flaw by Von Huene’s abilities or definition. I don’t know if the re-voicing policy covers Mollenhauer ‘Canta’ instruments as they might be considered ‘Student’ or entry level. I do know that my instrument and my opinions of certain notes have changed wildly while breaking the instrument in and while playing it on dry vs rainy days. I can’t even tell you for sure that re-voicing will make things better. If it doesn’t, I’ll likely purchase a new Moeck (but in-person after the Pandemic.) I’m lucky. I can afford a Von Huene or Prescott if needed, but again when I’m able to audition before purchasing. I bought the Denner from a vendor I’ve used for over 50 years – but without hearing it and based solely on the maker’s reputation.

    So… I apologize that my answer is insufficient to your problem, but I wish you to know you are not alone in your frustrations and offer what I’m doing to resolve the same problem. I don’t know where you live. You’ll have to investigate and find your own path – but you are not wrong in what you hear and what you question. Best of luck. — k —

    Michael Pendred

    The Canta range is one of the lower ranges of recorder and so the attention to detail that goes into making it, would not be the same as a hand-made recorder like the Mollenhauer “Modern”. So in answer to your question, it is basically poor workmanship in a factory when they knock ’em out cheaply.

    If Ken is having the same issue with a Denner then I am surprised, since the ones I have tried have been really good on the F# (or B flat on an alto).

    It is possible that the reedy not can be fixed by adjusting the size of hole 4 (counting the thumb hole as 0) but that would be have to be done by a professional making sure that the rest of the tuning is not affected.
    As to whether this is financially viable for a cheap Canta is debatable.

    The best tenor recorders I have found that have strong low notes are made by Fehr. In general their design starts with nice wide holes in the foot joint and they are then tuned from there. If you ever get the chance to try a Fehr before buying, go for it.

    When I have drilled holes and tuned a recorder from scratch, the holes have to be gradually widened bit by bit until you get the correct pitch and sound.
    This reedy sound will be on many notes during this process.

    Hope that is remotely helpful.

    Ken In Dallas

    I beg to differ with you. The current Canta line is a new design and quite a marvel. The quality of sound as I understand it is a vast improvement over what has been held over the years to be acceptable in an ‘entry level’ or student recorder. There are in the industry two schools of thought that I’ve seen. One offers least resistance in the windway while being loud and clear. The other – like the Yamaha plastics – offer higher blowing resistance giving longer phrasing potential and supposedly a more responsive musicality. Frankly, I prefer the latter if it’s not extreme. I teach my students musicality as well as ‘the notes’ right from the beginning. The reed sound I’ve been told is a fipple issue with tighter windways that seems to be common in Mollenhauers. While I don’t like a note or three standing out, I can control it to a good degree by being an experienced player. A beginner may not be able to do the same. There are also many people who consider the occasional reedy sound unobjectionable and part of what a recorder should sound like. Glass half full; glass half empty. But our “Anonymous” friend owns a marvel of manufacturing and the ‘State of the Art’ in entry-level recorders. That is not a Honer. The World is buying one hell of a lot of Mollie Cantas.

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