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Cheap wood recorder opinion ?
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Author:  breathejustice [ Tue May 26, 2015 9:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Cheap wood recorder opinion ?

I am considering to buy a cheap wood alto recorder, of which brand is Frederick...
The following youtube link is video clip of the Frederick recorder, and its price is about 37 USD

But, the clip plays only low notes, so I hesitate to buy it..
High notes may not be played with the recorder...

Does anybody has a experience of playing the Frederick recorder?
If so, please give me the opinion of it.

p.s. I have currently yamaha 300 series.

Author:  Feadoggie [ Wed May 27, 2015 9:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cheap wood recorder opinion ?

Welcome to Chiff and Fipple.

Nothing wrong with the Yamaha 300s - good bang for the buck. I like them. I play them myself - from the 'nino down to the bass. I do own a number of nice wooden recorders too. I do like wood.

I should first ask you what the motivation is to purchase that particular alto? Is it just the price? Is it the design? is it the reputation of the maker?

I know of no reviews of that particular alto from any recorder forum or publication. And I see you have asked the same question on other forums.

I have not played the Frederick maple alto. So take this advice with appropriate seasoning.

I have played a couple of the Frederick ABS recorders which appear to be the same Chinese made product branded with many names throughout the world like Smart, Woodi, Ferris, etc.. I have owned a number of those instruments. I have also played a couple of the maple soprano recorders sold under those brand names as well as others like Steinard, Schneider or TS-ideen. They were disappointing IMO. Similar recorders are also available with no name - so you can have it engraved with your own name too.

But $38.95 is a tempting price for a wooden alto. Isn't it? Takes me back to mid-1970's prices. If you are compelled to go that direction at least take them up on the "Make Offer" option and get it for as little as you can.

I would suggest buying a Moeck Rondo (the new design), a Mollenhauer Canto, an Aura from AAFAB (I like the Bubinga model BA5B) or maybe a Kung Studio alto. These are all well known altos from well regarded and long lived makers - that have faces and names and addresses. In the case of the Kung it will not just be "inspiration from Switzerland" as the Frederick marketing blurb states but it will be conceived, designed, manufactured and voiced in Switzerland - no bull.

One of the reasons that the Yamaha and similar recorders have prevailed in recent years is that they are just better recorders than the available inexpensive wooden instruments and far less trouble to maintain. I grew up playing student quality pearwood or maple recorders from makers like Adler, Schreiber and others. They were the most affordable instruments available and we made them work (but we bought better instruments when we could afford them). We put up with a lot using those old orange finished recorders as far as timbre, tuning and upper register playability. (I still have a couple of those old logs.) Well designed ABS recorders (and the Yamaha particularly) changed all of that and seems to have put many of those old European recorder makers out of business. There is little evidence so far to prove that the latest generation of cheap wooden recorders are any better than (or even as good as) those old wooden student recorders.

If you are looking for something that sounds more authentic (I would hate to say more "woody") than the sound of your Yamaha you could also look into either the Aulos Haka alto (A709B or A709BW) or the Zen-On Bressan alto(1500 model) . Both are also made of ABS as is the Yamaha but they have a more period authentic voicing, or so they say. I own both. The Zen-On sounds quite good, remarkable to me, actually. The Haka sounds nice too and it plays very well IMO. Like the Yamaha they will last forever (with some care) and they will not need to ever be re-voiced as a wooden instrument will. And, surprise!!!, you can read reviews or hear them played on YouTube by someone other than those that are importing and selling them. They are known and accepted instruments.

That's just my view. If you do buy the Frederick let us know what you think. (Yeah, I am curious - just not $40 curious.)
Maybe someone else here has had a turn on one of these.


Author:  walrii [ Sun May 31, 2015 8:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cheap wood recorder opinion ?

ROAD - Recorder Obsessive Acquisition Disorder - can be as bad as WhOAD. There's something about a new instrument that just attracts the eye and the wallet, especially when the wallet won't be hurt too much in the process. Whistles are cheaper than recorders so that addiction is at least marginally cheaper. The cure for both maladies is to get off the internet and start playing. Learning a new tune on the old instrument is more satisfying than playing an old tune on a new instrument. But that damned sirens' call of the internet with those cool pictures and instant gratification draws us back. It's one day at a time, spending as much time in the real world of music as possible and as little in the virtual world as possible. Excuse me now, I'm going to have another go at "Drowsy Maggie."

Author:  peeplj [ Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cheap wood recorder opinion ?

I have both the Aulos alto after Haka and the Zen-On alto after Bressan.

I found both of these instruments to be capable recorders. Of the two, the Zen-On has the tighter voicing but also has a bit of an "edgy" sound that, while pretty accurate historically, some players may not care for. The Aulos is a rounder sound. Both play well. The low end is a little stronger on the Zen-On. I like the tone of the Aulos a little better most of the time.

Do be aware the right hand stretch for the Aulos is a bit larger than most altos I have played. It's not a drastic thing but if you had really small hands it could be good to know.


Author:  ganchan [ Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cheap wood recorder opinion ?

I've had an Aulos Haka for a couple of weeks now. I still prefer my Yamaha 314 for rapid/difficult fingerwork because it has a smaller stretch and is more forgiving of my faulty technique. :oops: But the Haka makes a bigger, more "soloist" sound (except on the lowest notes, which are on the weak side). It really rings out in the second octave, whereas the Yamaha is more consistently polite sounding. The larger stretch on the Haka really only affects my pinky finger, which doesn't see that much action anyway. The Haka is also more responsive to breath effects such as vibrato.

It's interesting to compare the Haka and the Aulos 309A. In my admittedly junior opinion, the 309A (after Coolsma, apparently) has a more strident second octave and a less complex first octave, but otherwise bears some striking similarities to its more expensive cousin, including a slightly tricky thumb hole. Some of the sonic difference might even be attributable to smooth plastic vs. wood finish....if in fact that's a legit thing....

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