Bernolin Resin Recorder: Choosing between 415 Hz or 442 Hz?

Recorder Forum Home Page Forum Recorder Makes, Models and Maintenance Bernolin Resin Recorder: Choosing between 415 Hz or 442 Hz?

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    I was going to start a thread about Bernolin resin recorders and condensation, but since this thread has already broached the topic, I’ll put the question here:

    Bernolin says his resin instruments are suitable for “students who need a low cost, almost indestructible instrument for extended practice”. It’s the extended bit that interests me. The general recommendation for a wooden recorder seems to be not to play them for more than an hour a day, otherwise the block can permanently swell to the extent that the instrument needs to be revoiced. The great thing about plastic recorders is that you can play them for hours, just blowing out the condensation from time to time. As the Bernolin recorders have a cedar block, and as it’s the block that seems to be the biggest problem in terms of extended practising, it doesn’t seem particularly logical that you can play it for hours, though he seems to suggest that you can. Maybe it’s his special anti-condensation fluid that does the trick, but then you could add this to a wooden recorder (maybe?).

    Does anyone have experience of playing them for extended periods? Or of using his anti-condensation fluid in a wooden recorder?

    Richard Hureau

    I have not played the Bernolin resin recorder for any extended lengths of time, so I cannot answer you on that. But I can tell you several things.

    First, they clog about as readily as regular plastic recorders, so they benefit greatly from the use of his fluid. As far as his fluid is concerned, I think it is VERY effective, not just in terms of preventing condensation clogging, but also longevity-wise. One treatment lasts me about 3 or 4 weeks. I suppose it depends how much you play, but it is MUCH more effective and longer lasting than stadard treatments I have tried in the past.

    On the fluid page of his website, he say, “Can all recorders enjoy LM77? Yes. Whether plastic, wood or resin, or standard LM56, all instruments can be treated with this product. However, it should be noted that the alcohol contained in LM77 can discolor some woods like rosewood, blackwood, or tinted recorders. It is therefore imperative to avoid drips on the outside of the instrument during the application.”

    I have not tried it on anything other than the resin recorder, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work well on other types.

    I think when he says you can play it for extended periods, he may be talking moire about what is SAFE for the recorder itself, not necessarily how well it will play. I mean, a wooden recorder has wood throughout and gets saturated with moisture very quickly when you play, throughout the entire instrument. This will not adversely affect the resin recorder at all, whereas if you play for extended periods, a regular wooden recorder can crack, warp, split, etc, etc. For example, the barrel of a recorder can easily warp into a slight curve.

    Also, the cedar block in the resin recorder is surround by resin holding it in place. Yes, it swells and changes over time. For example, on mine it keeps moving outward, so occasionally I have to push it back in, or if it needs more of a jolt, I remove it and put it back in to get it properly positioned. But the rest of the windway doesn’t change, of course, so I think it helps keep everything in order, square, and fitting OK. I have never had a block be hard to remove or put back (after letting it dry, of course).

    As far as playability in an extended session, I did hear one person complain that after a few hours it didn’t play too well, but that is just an isolated case. I can imagine that what you said is correct – after awhile, even it will be affected by the block swelling in that one session. But at least you won’t have to worry about damaging the recorder.


    Thanks for the reply. As you say, I suppose the combination of the wooden block with the unchanging windway roof is more stable than all wood, and the anti-condens fluid helps. In fact, I do have a bottle of his LM77 and I use it on my plastic tenor and I agree it does last well. I haven’t really used it on the wooden ones partly because it leaves a sort of grey residue and partly because I didn’t really think it would help much with a wooden instrument. I did a recorder maintenance course with Jacqueline Sorel last year (if you haven’t come across here recorders, website here: Jacqueline Sorel Recorders). She said you should never need to use anti-condens in wooden recorders – if you do, the block is not doing its job properly. My wooden instruments are generally good for an hour before they get too clogged.

    Michael Pendred

    I am surprised that no-one has mentioned the thumb hole in relation to the high notes.
    This is something that varies from recorder to recorder. When you pinch the thumb hole for the upper register, you need to experiment for a while to find out how much air gap you need to give it to get the best sound as well as be able to hit it straight away whether from a note above or below or jumping up an octave.

    For example, my Moeck Rottenburgh alto requires a really tiny air gap for C# and high F.
    However my Fehr alto wants a much larger air gap for both notes.
    And my Dolmetsch wants a narrow gap for C# and a wider gap for high F!

    So, if you experiment with your bernolin, you will find out how it wants to be played. Start by playing the note and adjusting the thumb hole gap listening to the quality and purity of the sound. You may find more than one position for this.

    Then try moving up and down with staccato notes trying different thumb hole gaps until it comes smooth. It is important to play staccato since a thumb hole gap that works playing the inverval in staccato will always work with legato but not the other way around.

    Then try big intervals.
    The cheaper plastics are a little more forgiving than your Bernolin will be, so you will need to practise this until the thumb gap becomes natural.

    Once you get this right, you should be able to hit the notes loud or soft.

    Richard Hureau

    I think that no one has mentioned the thumbhole because I think of it as kind of a given that you have the thumbhole correct for any particular note before even thinking about attack, articulation, breath pressure, etc. So any tips I gave about playing high notes on the Bernolin are predicated on the thumbhole pinch being accurate (which is not to say that it is easy; it isn’t at all for some notes like high C# and F).

    That said, I do think your pinching tips are excellent and definitely worth mentioning, especially for beginners.

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