Choosing a Bass Recorder

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    Karen Hytten

    I’m not sure if anyone is currently active on this forum but I have just recently discovered it and have been avidly reading past threads ever since. There is such an amazing wealth of valuable information!! Thank you to everyone who has shared their knowledge and experience here – I have learnt a lot!!

    I was just wondering if anyone had any experience playing Moeck Rondo, Moeck Rottenburgh, Mollenhauer Canta or Mollenhauer Denner bass recorders? I have played soprano and alto recorder for many years and last year began also playing tenor, which I have been enjoying immensely. I play in two recorder trios and recently borrowed a friend’s bass recorder and have been enjoying it so much I am now really keen to buy my own.

    Unfortunately, living in New Zealand, it is not possible to try multiple recorders before choosing which one to buy, so I’ve been doing as much reading and listening to Youtube videos as I can to try to decide which brand and model to buy.

    My soprano, alto and tenor are all Moeck Rottenburghs in boxwood which I absolutely love. So I have been thinking about possibly buying a Moeck Rottenburg bass. However, I am wondering how different it is from the Moeck Rondo which is also maple but considerably cheaper.

    I’ve also been thinking about the Mollenhauer basses. I found Sarah Jeffrey’s video which compared a cherrywood Canta and Denner very interesting. But I haven’t managed to find any examples of anyone playing Mollenhaur basses in pearwood.

    Any thoughts or insights on these (or any other) makes and models would be very much appreciated!!

    Janice Lee

    I have a Mollenhauer Canta bass in cherry, and I’m very happy with it. It has a nice tone and I find the finger span isn’t too wide for my right hand, a problem I’ve had when trying recorders. I have both Moeck Rottenburgh and Mollenhauer Denner recorders in other sizes and have found them comparable in quality.

    As for pearwood, I have a Mollenhauer Canta bent neck tenor in pearwood, which is a wood I wouldn’t normally buy but it was the only bent neck tenor with keys that I could find. I think the sound is fine, but I personally would opt for a more expensive wood for a bass.

    I hope that you will report back after buying a bass because I’d be interested in hearing what you found and how you like it.

    Karen Hytten

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience Janice, I really appreciate it! I really loved the sound of the Mollenhauer Canta in Cherry in Sarah Jeffrey’s video! Because the Denner is quite a bit more expensive, I had been expecting it to sound better, but I much preferred the sound of the Canta.

    How did you make your final decision when you bought your bass? After doing as much research as I can, I’ve narrowed it down to the Mollenhauer Canta, Mollenhauer Denner and Moeck Rottenburgh but I’m unsure how to make a final decision.

    It’s times like this I wish New Zealand wasn’t quite so far from Europe – I would love to visit the Early Music Shop in London and try them all out in person! I will definitely report back what I decide. I am very excited and have started compiling a list of all the things I’d like play on it!

    Janice Lee

    I sympathize with your decision-making dilemma! It would be so tricky to figure this out long distance. There aren’t any recorder shops within drivable distance from where I live, either, which would be my preference in trying out recorders.

    I only tried a couple of basses, and I can’t recall what the other one was. My main concern was a small enough span for the right hand, which considerably narrowed the possibilities. On some basses and tenors, I couldn’t completely cover the ring-finger hole when attempting to play the low F/C.

    My completely anecdotal experience from the recorder consorts that I play in is that most musicians have either Mollenauer Denner or Moeck Rottenburgh sopranos and altos but Mollenauer or Kung tenors and Mollenhauer basses. But I never asked why. A friend who plays a Moeck tenor is wanting to switch to a Mollenhauer tenor.

    Again, best of luck in your search! I hope you are happy with whatever you end up with. The difference may end up being a matter of degrees, since they’re all good instruments.

    Karen Hytten

    Thankyou Janice! I don’t know anyone who owns any of these basses so it is extremely helpful to hear your anecdotal experience from your recorder consorts. Your observations reinforce what I’ve been told on another recorder forum where several people have highly recommended Mollenhauer basses but so far absolutely no one has recommended Moeck Basses.

    I am thinking I might think it over for another week or so and then take the plunge. If anyone else out there has any thoughts or advice, do please let me know! This is definitely the most expensive recorder I have ever purchased so I am keen to have as much information as I can. But it is reassuring to know that these are all good instruments. Thanks for your help.


    I’m sure you’ve thought of this (but I’ll say it anyway), if you can’t try before you buy, can you buy from a company that has a generous (or reasonable) return policy? I was fortunate enough to have Von Huene ship three bass recorders for me to try, and the one I bought was the one I thought would be my least favorite.

    Good luck on your decision. I have a feeling you’ll make the right one.

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