Moeck or Kung?

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    Timothy Johnson

    Right now I have a Yamaha YRA-312b plastic alto recorder. I am working through the Sweet Pipes recorder book, teaching myself to play. I may be thinking too far ahead here, but I am considering which wooden recorder to get, when I get one. I am thinking either a Moeck Rottenburgh, or a Kung Superio or Studio (pear or maple wood, and of course alto) recorder. If anyone has any experience with these recorders, I would love some advice. I am not near a place that sells recorders, so I don’t really have the opportunity to try them out.
    Also, though this may be trivial, Moeck says that their maple and pear wood recorders do not need to be oiled, whereas Kung makes no such distinction. Are all maple and pear wood recorders free of the need to be oiled, or is it only Moeck’s recorders that are that way, or do the Moeck recorders need to be oiled anyway?

    Thanks for the help,


    I don’t have the expertise to offer any sort of comparison of the models you mention, but I share your problem of living a long way from anywhere I could try any of them and do own one so can let you know my experiences with that particular recorder. I should also say I am not any sort of expert, so this is just my opinion.
    I was in a similar position to you: playing a plastic alto and wondering what a wooden one would be like, and after looking around a bit, bought a Küng Studio in pearwood. There is something nice about playing a wooden instrument – it feels like that’s what recorders should be made from, and I do like playing the Küng. To be absolutely honest, though, it is not a better instrument than my plastic Aulos Hakka. I bought the Aulos on the basis that lots of people recommend it as the best plastic alto you can get (their comment, not mine! – I know lots of others have their enthusiastic supporters as well) and, though expensive for a plastic alto recorder, it’s a fraction of the price of even a cheap wooden one. It’s often easier to get the high notes on the Hakka, and it doesn’t clog as easily as the Studio. Sometimes when I’m trying to come to grips with a hard piece I give up on the Küng and switch to the Hakka because I don’t get the failing high notes.
    On the plus side, the Studio is attractive, seems very well made, is substantially cheaper than any of the others you mention, and has absolutely standard fingering. All the common alternative fingerings also seem to work on it, whereas I’ve found a couple that aren’t so good on the Hakka. I can also confirm that it does not need oiling, it’s treated with paraffin internally so is pretty low maintenance (though some people advocate oiling all wooden recorders). You can download the instruction manual from the Küng website.
    The Moeck is nearly half as much again as the Studio, and the Superio is almost double the price, so they should be better instruments than the Studio. And just a thought: you might consider a Mollenhauer Denner as well – they cost about the same as the Moeck and some people really like them.

    Norman Waksler

    I would not recommend a Kung Superior if you are a beginner. It has very unwilling high notes: c,c#,f in particular.

    Timothy Johnson

    Thanks for the help. What exactly do you mean by unwilling high notes? Do you mean that it requires a lot of breath, or it squeaks unless it is played just right (or possibly a catastrophic combination of the two)? The Mollenhauer Denner is definitely an option, too. Is there any way (this is probably a little far-fetched) that I could have some recorders shipped to me so I could try them out, without keeping all of them? sort of like a rental period, or something like that?

    Norman Waksler

    By unwilling high notes I mean exactly what you have said:a tragic combination of the two.

    Dick Mattson

    Hi Timothy–

    Having recorders shipped to you so that you can try them before you decide to buy anything depends on where you live. If you’re in the USA, give Lazar or Von Huene a call and discuss your needs with them. You give them a credit card number so they can charge the postage. You’re responsible for the return postage of any/all that you send back after the trial period. Don’t be thrown off by websites that seem to indicate that you buy before you try–that’s how so many websites are designed these days.

    An alternate suggestion, particularly if you don’t live in the same country as your chosen shop, is to call them and ask if they would be willing to take a few minutes and play a few over the phone and critique them for you. Be prepared to ask for a few specific tests like a) are the octaves in tune, b) do the high notes play easily, c) do any of the lowest notes “burble” or “wolf” or otherwise break up, and d) is the lowest register as strong as the mid-range. Granted it is hard to tell much over the phone, but an honest sales person will give you honest answers and help you decide on the one that you will purchase sight unseen as it were.

    I have done the bulk of my recorder purchases (quite a few to date) with the first of the aforementioned shops. Recently, since I often tend to buy a recorder during the month of January, and since I don’t like to have recorders shipped back and forth needlessly during the dead of winter (I do live in the USA by the way), I have taken to calling the shop and asking the nice person on the phone to play a few for me–paying attention to my test criteria. I have always been extremely pleased with the results (as I imagine they also have since they haven’t had to tie up several of their instruments with shipping and trial time). They have graciously sent the chosen recorder to me as if it were on trial and only charged my card (other than for shipping) when I called/emailed them to confirm that I was buying it.

    Either way, it works like a champ. And one of these ways will no doubt work for you.


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