Known tuning peculiarities in plastic recorders?

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ganchan
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Known tuning peculiarities in plastic recorders?

Post by ganchan »

Everyone knows that wooden recorders can be highly "individual" in their tuning issues for a variety of reasons, but I've been wondering lately about some of the peculiarities to be found among the more popular plastic models about there. For instance:

-I have heard that Yamaha recorders require alternative fingerings to ensure reliable intonation on certain notes, but I don't own one so I can't verify that.

-My Woodnote alto recorder, which is supposedly a duplicate of the Yamaha 302, plays well in tune up to the high F, when it suddenly wants to go about a quarter-tone flat. I can get it up to pitch, but have to rotate my pinched thumb and blow like crazy. Anyone have this issue on their Woodnote or Yamaha alto? Maybe the matte-black plastic responds differently than other kinds of ABS?

-My Aulos 309 alto plays tends to go slightly sharp at the extremes of the range, but I can control it with breath, open throat, etc. without making any adjustments to the instrument.

-I had always heard that the Aulos Haka series suffers from eccentric intonation, but my Haka soprano is possibly the most pitch-accurate recorder I own, at least in the middle range.

-The Yamaha 20 series is pitched at A442 and therefore has to be pulled out when playing alongside A440 instruments. (The Woodnote soprano, which uses this Yamaha series as its model, presumably has the same tuning.)

Anyone else have any input on the subject in general, or on these models in particular?
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ecohawk
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Re: Known tuning peculiarities in plastic recorders?

Post by ecohawk »

I can offer my opinion on a few of these. The Yamaha 3XX series has no tuning or fingering issues and it is considered one of the most reliable plastic instruments, particularly the wood grain which is very comfortable to play. The Haka plastic treble is one of the finest recorders, plastic or wood, currently being made. I own several recorders including some excellent wooden instruments but the Haka is on par with some costing 10X its price.

If you can find one, a plastic Zen-On treble as tweaked by Lee Collins (but no longer done since Lee's passing), buy it. They are special. I could have one of these and one Haka and never look back. Either would take you as far as you'd want to go before buying a professional level recorder when you're ready.

I have had little luck with the lower end Aulos or Yamaha instruments and the Woodnote is in the same category IMHO. Tuning is marginal and workmanship suffers as well, often in the form of flashing in the tone holes and windway which causes squeaks and collects moisture.

Dolmetsch are a mixed bag, some good and some not so.

Good luck,
ecohawk
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ganchan
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Re: Known tuning peculiarities in plastic recorders?

Post by ganchan »

Thanks. I was thinking of getting a Dolmetsch Nova knick tenor, but I heard in a different thread that its intonation can be a bit tricky to maintain on sustained notes.... I doubt I could handle a Yamaha tenor's stretch, though, and I can't afford to have one customized....

If I can find a Haka treble at an online store with a return policy, I'd like to compare it to my 309....
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MTGuru
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Re: Known tuning peculiarities in plastic recorders?

Post by MTGuru »

ecohawk wrote:The Yamaha 3XX series has no tuning or fingering issues and it is considered one of the most reliable plastic instruments, particularly the wood grain which is very comfortable to play.

Yep. Re. Yamahas, I can only speak to the Rottenburgh woodgrain YRS312B soprano and YRA312B alto. Neither has any idiosyncratic tuning issues whatsoever, at least as far as I can tell.
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ganchan
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Re: Known tuning peculiarities in plastic recorders?

Post by ganchan »

MTGuru wrote:
ecohawk wrote:The Yamaha 3XX series has no tuning or fingering issues and it is considered one of the most reliable plastic instruments, particularly the wood grain which is very comfortable to play.

Yep. Re. Yamahas, I can only speak to the Rottenburgh woodgrain YRS312B soprano and YRA312B alto. Neither has any idiosyncratic tuning issues whatsoever, at least as far as I can tell.


Disappointed that my Woodnote "312 clone" would be so satisfactory except for that "short" high F (and a slightly stuffy high register overall), since I take it that the genuine item has no such issues up there. Anyone know of a DIY fix for this? The Woodnote was cheap enough that I don't mind risking an experiment or two if it means possibly making the thing more playable. I suppose the fault might be some extra flashing, as has been suggested, in the thumbhole or window. something that would only affect the half-holed upper notes. Or maybe it really does come down to a slight difference in the ABS plastic used to make the matte black model. I'll entertain any theories....
Christian10992
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Re: Known tuning peculiarities in plastic recorders?

Post by Christian10992 »

I only play plastic horns aside from my bass. I've not had much trouble with my Yamaha 3xx's. I've got soprano through tenor in that line, with the soprano and alto in woodgrain finish. Some people claim that the woodgrain finish is better, but there's really no difference. I love the alto, but I would never use the soprano for solo playing. It blends really nicely with other horns, but I can't trust it on the really high notes. I have an Aulos sopranino and like it, so I think I may pick up an Aulos soprano at some point and see how I like it.

The Yamaha tenor is quite a stretch, but I have huge hands (primarily a bassoonist), so it isn't too bad for me. The Aulos my friend has is a lot more comfortable.
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Re: Known tuning peculiarities in plastic recorders?

Post by MTGuru »

Christian10992 wrote:I love the alto, but I would never use the soprano for solo playing.

FWIW, I used the Yamaha soprano for a concert performance of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde a few years ago, and had no intonation problems with respect to either the rest of the recorder consort or the entire orchestra.
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