Moeck or Mollenhauer?

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    Carolyn Hanlon

    50% relative humidity is fine for wooden instruments (I have recorders, guitars, and mandolins.) I don’t think it is common, I have a soprano and an alto recorder that are pretty old, both purchased in 1974, and neither have cracked. I have just recently returned to playing recorder (haven’t played since about 1975) and they are both in good condition. Just re-oiled them the other day, and found this forum today.

    Carolyn Hanlon

    Moeck or Mollenhauer? A good question. I recently bought one of each (used, made them much more affordable.) I had initially played recorder in High School, then in college (started as a music major) played in a chamber orchestra on campus. I sold my first soprano recorder, and bought a new one at the music store all the college music majors used (the college was known for their music program) – it is a Wesner Superior (I still have it.) I also bought a Cambridge alto recorder at that time (1973.) I could find no information on either of these makes, and I was curious if either the Moeck or Mollenhauer would be better since I just resumed playing the recorder. They are not (IMHO) better, only different. I agree with Jonathan Dodd (above) that the Mollenhauer feels smaller, but it really isn’t. The Mollenhauer has a “warmer” sound than the Moeck to my ears. BTW, they are two different woods in the instruments, and both different than my original recorder. I also purchased (used) another alto recorder, a Schreiber. It sounds very much like my original Cambridge, and the wood looks like it is the same as the Cambridge. I plan to keep all of my recorders, and just enjoy them for their unique sounds.

    Jonathan Dodd

    An addition to my last post: I have since bought a Kung Superio in plumwood, which is quite simply the best descant I have ever played (I have tried out instruments in a much higher price bracket, I should add). It is modelled after Stanesby jr. so has a wide bore and is incredibly light to hold. It has an astonishing dynamic range without the pitch being affected, and the most beautifully liquid and melodious tone. Great intonation also. Others who have tried it agree with my view. And it is around the same price new as the Moeck Rottenburgh and Mollenhauer Denner models in the less expensive woods. I am converted! So my conclusion is: Moeck or Mollenhauer? They’re both great, but Kung has so much more. No reservations.

    Luca Luigi Aschieri

    I have bought a Kung studio tenor, I like it very much: good and very strong sound. Very easy to play because the holes are very near to be a tenor without keys.
    I have found it better than superio for my type of use: irish and folk music.
    The only problems are a windy sound for highest notes and some little problems of intonation

    Ken In Dallas

    Barbara… It’s near two years since you asked your question, and it seems nobody has answered. Your maintenance seems perfect. The Rosewood cracks I’ve experienced (in guitars) have all been along the grain. Yours appears to be on the dome of the beak with no relationship to the grain. Rosewood can be tricky stuff; but if it took three years to crack, and not along the grain, I don’t think the wood or manufacture caused it. 50% humidity is perfect by the way. My guess would be an ‘event’ like an incredibly saturated block or and exposure to greater than normal heat or even cold, where the block’s wood (often cedar) expanded or contracted at a greatly different rate than the Rosewood. But I’d imagine there’s no way to truly tell.

    You didn’t mention any change in the playing like new difficulties with the extreme high or low notes. If that’s the case I wouldn’t worry much. Your choice would be to fix or not fix the crack. I’m a believer in not repairing a crack that doesn’t impair any notes and that isn’t continuing to spread. Given that this post is so old, you might compare the crack to the photo you posted back then. If the crack’s the same, I’d say leave it alone. But I’m in the minority in that opinion, though I suspect many repair people of not being able to turn away a paying job.

    If done – and if the crack closes when clamped, the repair would be to let the instrument dry for about a week and micro-inject (insulin needles?) Crazy Glue and clamp the crack closed. Some have the skill to use the thinnest Crazy Glue on an already clamped crack and let the glue migrate in.

    If the crack is resistant to closing when clamped – and this is a repair I have seen create new problems with time – some would fill it either with a color-matched wood putty or some sawdust made from a non-functional and not visible part of the instrument. Really good repair persons often keep small jars of different colored sawdust from earlier projects. There is though the future potential in this type of repair for the crack to naturally close. But the crack’s now plugged. The original crack might then need to get longer or deeper going around the repair that now acts as a wedge in the opening. I’ve seen this happen, especially in apartment houses, which can quickly go to extreme dryness in Winter.

    Too much info? Likely. But it’s everything within my experience. If after all these years the crack looks the same and the instrument plays well… I’d say leave it alone.

    Your posting was like a note in a bottle thrown into the sea. For what it’s worth, an answer! — k


    Hello Ken
    This proves that throwing a bottle in the sea does bring a reply!

    That’s interesting, the cracks along the grain vs across. It does make more sense that it would crack along the grain.

    My poor old (not so old) rosewood alto started opening up again.
    I can still play it but the high notes don’t speak so I finally retired it and am using my plastic Aulos.
    The plastic certainly doesn’t feel as nice under the fingers, but it plays beautifully in tune AND gives me the high and low notes.
    And, needless to say, maintenance is a breeze.

    Ps. I’m now into JamKazam for ensembles. Early days.
    It works here (Canada) but this morning I’ll be testing it with someone in England.
    It’s all an adventure.
    Let me know if you hear of any recorder JK ensembles that are up and running.

    Thank you so much for your reply.
    All the best.

    Ken In Dallas

    Barbara, You’ve got to share your opinion here of how the JamKazam session went. I downloaded the program after reading their pitch about having the least lag, but the World has gone to Zoom. I’m teaching two people recorder using Zoom’s “Original Sound” and by adjusting our behaviors for the software. It’s ‘okay, but.’

    I ‘returned’ to recorder to give my hand a rest. I multi-voiced Bach on guitar for too many years – “Two-Part Invention Disease.” I thought it was Carpal’s. Upon my wife, Gayle, and my sequestering, I took my alto from the wall rack in our music room and started playing. I’ve played since 5th grade and am now 72 – (doesn’t mean much.) I may have now developed “Recorder-Buying Disease” with a secondary diagnosis of “Recorder Sonata-ism.” It’s a good life.

    Your alto Moeck really bothers me. I think it had a guarantee for a few years – likely expired by now. I couldn’t find an “International Representative” for Canada or the States on Moeck’s website. They did list ‘The Early Music Shop’ in Britain. The US postage to Europe is painful. Yours may be much better.

    A Moeck vendor with a respected name in the ‘recorder community’ might be of help. I don’t know who’s-who in Canada, but Von Huene outside Boston here in the States is a Moeck alto vendor with perhaps the best US recorder-shop reputation. You might check out his website. His take on how to go forward starts at:

    Moeck would likely be a good place to inquire as well:

    That alto is an expensive and well respected instrument. It’s an unusual problem. I would encourage you to at least get some sense of what it might cost to get it back up and running. Recorders are fairly simple devices. You and I are the ‘moving parts.’ I should also mention that I looked at all the wooden recorders here in the house. All of them are ‘quarter sawn.’ Yours is ‘slab sawn.’ You can tell by the round dome of grain on the top of the beak. Perhaps there’s less of an ability to expand and contract if sawn that way. It’s worth asking if that’s a manufacturing defect.

    The price of repair might be the same as the new purchase price, but without investigating a repair estimate or warranty claim… who knows? It’s hard to find the energy sometimes, but it’s always worth in information gained.

    I’m interested. I send you ENERGY!

    End of rant, — k


    You are right. Repair is expensive. The first time the head cracked, I sent it Moeck in Germany for repair. They replaced it. This one cracked also and I had it repaired here.
    I’ve moved on. The plastic Aulos is fine. I don’t have “Recorder-Buying Disease”.
    As for JamKazam. It works with very little latency but only if everything else in the house is turned off. JK and Zoom conflict. If my husband is on JK and I join a Zoom session, his JK crashes. We’re still experimenting.

    Ken In Dallas

    Barbara, Two Recorders? Two? I’ll stop, but it has to be environmental in some way. And as long as I’m solving all your life’s problems, I’m thinking that if you and your husband can use different computers (tablets, phones, or whatever) each with its own Log-On password to your Wi-Fi router, and each computer with its own JamKazam install and Zoom install, each registered to the owner of that computer – a total separation of identities – I’m thinking the shared Operating System components won’t cause a crash when both of you run the conflicting programs — maybe.

    So the bottle was picked up by an old guy who gives advise to everyone that doesn’t ask for it. Time to add our recent postings to your original in the bottle, replace the cork, and toss it back to the Internet Sea to perhaps be found someday by another.

    Here’s To The Music,



    Yes indeed. Two altos! 2S, 2A, 1T, 1B. One plastic of each.
    Advice is always appreciated. The JK/Zoom battle might have something to do with ports in the modem. They both want to use the same port? But setting that is way over my paygrade. The solution is to just leave the house when the other is Zooming or JKing.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by PGalbe.
    Jonathan Dodd

    Replies to two earlier:
    “I have bought a Kung studio tenor, I like it very much: good and very strong sound. Very easy to play because the holes are very near to be a tenor without keys.
    I have found it better than superio for my type of use: irish and folk music.
    The only problems are a windy sound for highest notes and some little problems of intonation”
    I also have a Kung studio tenor, in cherrywood. I absolutely love it. My fianceé and I tried many instruments at the Early Music Shop in Yorkshire, England. We had a certain budget and chose this instrument despite it being £200 under budget! One of the reasons was the perfect intonation….. (and the high range is very clear)…. so I wonder if it’s to do with the wood. Is yours a different wood?
    And a reply about repair. I have used the repair person at the Early Music Shop several times and found him to be far better than anyone I have used before. It is just one man (Barry Holder), so you know who you’re getting. Most recently he breathed wonderful new life into a 1937 Arnold Dolmetsch alto. It was almost unplayable when I bought it (although no specific fault existed). Now I can look forward to performing on it after this virus…… Therefore I think that postage from Canada might well be worth it for the job he will do.
    And a fun addendum: with the £200 saved on our tenor purchase, we bought from their used stock a Carl Dolmetsch alto in rosewood, 1971. We now have three generations of handmade Dolmetsch trebles! The 1937 from Arnold, 1971 from Carl, and 1978 from either Jeanne or Marguerite (which was bought new by my fianceé’s grandmother). They are all three lovely, and utterly different from each other. Such fun, e.g., to play a 3 movement Telemann sonata using one for each movement.
    Happy recordering to all!

    Ken In Dallas

    Jonathan, Have you ever played a Huber Model 2 Tenor? Any comments or impressions? Thanks — k

    Jonathan Dodd

    Ken, I’m afraid I haven’t. A friend has used them for ensemble playing, and says that she finds them to be as characterful as an instrument designed to blend can be. Sorry I can’t comment from personal experience.

    Ken In Dallas

    Jonathan, thank you for some insight about your friend’s Huber Tenor. It’s valuable to me.

    Funny how one person’s half-full glass can be another’s half empty. I find the non-tropical wood plain-Jane instruments to blend well and the tropical-wood instruments with ‘character’ to stick out in the blend. My primary Recorder’s an Alto Pearwood Mollenhauer Denner. Even tempered throughout its entire range, bends with whatever instruments I’m playing along with, and has very little ‘uniqueness.’ Just one sweet in-tune flute. I love it.

    On a whim I just bought an Aulos keyless Tenor – a Robin 211. I can’t get over how much faster and easier it is to play than my keyed Maple nice-quality Herwiga or Aulos 311. So now, Pandemically sequestered as I am, I’m lusting for a new keyless wooden Tenor. I hate not being able to travel to the brick and mortar Recorder shops around the Country to try instruments.

    From my reading, I’m kind down to Kung, Huber and Mollenhauer for a pear keyless Tenor. Again, I want one that has no warts and blends easily. That’s why I’m asking around for who’s playing what. By the way, I’m an experienced musician and can play with wide dynamic range, so a plain-Jane Pearwood is desirable as it doesn’t fight me with any voice unevenness as phrases flow up and down the octaves.

    I think I’m going to start a “Keyless Tenor” thread here on the Forum. — k

    Jonathan Dodd

    Ken, that’s very interesting. I have a Mollenhauer Denner descant in pearwood, and find it has too many upper harmonics to blend well in an ensemble. And it utterly can’t be used for duetting with the Kung Superio in plumwood as the harmonics clash violently!
    More usefully to you (I hope!) – we tried a Mollenhauer Denner keyless tenor when we bought our Kung Studio. We rejected it because of poor intonation on one note (on two examples, so not an individual fault), if memory serves correctly the top E flat. Also the Kung fitted much better under the hands than the Molly. We thought that the Kung had as much presence as longer, keyed instruments- that is to say, it didn’t feel lessened by being shorter.
    The Kung has a lot of air space in the embouchure, which allows for a lovely ‘chiff’ if you want. Of course it has a modern, straight windway. We weren’t looking for a solo instrument so it was the ideal package. We bought the cherrywood because it had a fuller, rounder sound than pearwood. But it blends beautifully (and looks much nicer, too! – something of olive wood in the grain.)
    Hope that’s some help!

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