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 Post subject: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 5:14 pm 
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Hi Folks,

I’m brand new here, this being my first post. I am an adult semi-beginner on the recorder, and I’d value some feedback on a couple of instruments I’m considering buying. I have a bit of a background in music; I’ve sung a great deal in choirs and musical, took a few lessons on the alto recorder (I had a Yamaha plastic 300II) as a graduate student (17 years ago), and alto sax lessons for a year (5 years ago).

At this point, after much contemplation, I've decided to begin on soprano. This has to do with both my budget limits, as well as my interest in playing jazz-type, standards. I've seen a few videos and heard some players play tunes like "Summertime" on the soprano, and I'm very inspired.

That said, I am interested in getting a good wooden soprano that fits my budget of around $100 – perhaps a bit more. I have the following instruments in mind, and I'd appreciate your feedback:

1) Mollenhauer Prima: A pear wood body piece and plastic mouthpiece. I heard Jean-Francois' CD "Spinnaker" on which he plays the Prima exclusively, and I love it. There is also a woman on YouTube, and she plays a number of tunes on a Prima.
http://www.mollenhauer.com/en/catalogue?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&category_id=127&product_id=92#.U7Cb2LZgM7A


2) Mollenhauer Canta: All pear wood. Someone else recommended this to me. I must admit, it's my least favorite of the three.
http://www.mollenhauer.com/en/catalogue?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=38&category_id=137#.U7CcSLZgM7A


3) Mollenhauer Waldorf Edition: All pear wood. This is the one I'm leaning towards out of all these. I like that it says on the Mollenhauer website: "Fine and expressive: Strong, durable and clear – convincing as a solo instrument for all sorts of music from early music to Jazz...." And I must admit I'm quite attracted to the van Eyck design.
http://www.mollenhauer.com/en/catalogue?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=239&category_id=175#.U7CcxbZgM7A


Any and all thoughts on these (and any others you might suggest) will be much appreciated.

Thanks!
Keith


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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:34 pm 
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KJS wrote:
I’m brand new here, this being my first post. I am an adult semi-beginner on the recorder, and I’d value some feedback on a couple of instruments I’m considering buying. I have a bit of a background in music; I’ve sung a great deal in choirs and musical, took a few lessons on the alto recorder (I had a Yamaha plastic 300II) as a graduate student (17 years ago), and alto sax lessons for a year (5 years ago).

At this point, after much contemplation, I've decided to begin on soprano. This has to do with both my budget limits, as well as my interest in playing jazz-type, standards. I've seen a few videos and heard some players play tunes like "Summertime" on the soprano, and I'm very inspired.


Okay. I'm guessing that a typical recorder ensemble playing 'ancient' recorder music is not what you're looking for? Maybe more something like this?:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0lqS4ZuZNI or
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzODn-COUkU


KJS wrote:
That said, I am interested in getting a good wooden soprano that fits my budget of around $100 – perhaps a bit more. I have the following instruments in mind, and I'd appreciate your feedback:


Just off hand, I would say there is really nothing wrong with a good plastic recorder. Even if you buy a wood recorder, I'd still recommend a good plastic one, just for noodling around or keep it in the car or briefcase or what have you. If you lose a relatively inexpensive plastic recorder, you'll cry a lot less than if you lose an expensive wooden one! :wink:

KJS wrote:
1) Mollenhauer Prima: A pear wood body piece and plastic mouthpiece. I heard Jean-Francois' CD "Spinnaker" on which he plays the Prima exclusively, and I love it. There is also a woman on YouTube, and she plays a number of tunes on a Prima.
http://www.mollenhauer.com/en/catalogue?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&category_id=127&product_id=92#.U7Cb2LZgM7A


2) Mollenhauer Canta: All pear wood. Someone else recommended this to me. I must admit, it's my least favorite of the three.
http://www.mollenhauer.com/en/catalogue?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=38&category_id=137#.U7CcSLZgM7A


3) Mollenhauer Waldorf Edition: All pear wood. This is the one I'm leaning towards out of all these. I like that it says on the Mollenhauer website: "Fine and expressive: Strong, durable and clear – convincing as a solo instrument for all sorts of music from early music to Jazz...." And I must admit I'm quite attracted to the van Eyck design.
http://www.mollenhauer.com/en/catalogue?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=239&category_id=175#.U7CcxbZgM7A


Any and all thoughts on these (and any others you might suggest) will be much appreciated.


I honestly don't think you could go wrong with any of them. But on the other hand, you really can't go wrong with a $10 Yamaha descant recorder either! What I would say is the recorder is the nicest sounding of the orchestral wind instruments, but it's also the finickiest. It's the sort of instrument that schools often force second graders to learn -- the thinking being "oh, it doesn't have any keys, so it must be like a hundred times easier than a sax or clarinet!" -- but is in reality a very difficult instrument to master.

You might want to try yourself out on a good plastic one first, just to test the waters. If you think you'd like to make a go of it, go for a nice wood instrument. and you'll have your back up plastic to boot!

One last suggestion: don't neglect the larger instruments! There's lots of jazz and popular music use you could put a tenor or even bass to. Listening to some jazz recorder tonight makes me think it is pretty close to an ideal jazz wind instrument. Recorder has a nice sound and the lack of keys and the high sensitivity to breath control make it perfect for all the note bending and sensitive notes you hear so much in jazz.

Good luck with it!
Whistlecollector

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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:35 pm 
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Thank you, whistlecollector. I appreciate your reply.

The type of playing in those videos are exactly what I'm aiming for, particularly the one of Justin Wilman. I love his playing, and I agree that he and some others show that jazz can certainly be played on recorder.

I'm fascinated by the various opinions I'm getting from people regarding instruments. I'm obviously asking others outside this board. No one really has recommended the Prima, except for one particular player who has a number of videos on YouTube. Others are pretty adamant I shouldn't get it. No one has recommended the Waldorf. And one person has recommended the Canta. George Kelischek from Susasto suggested that eventually, for jazz, I should get a wide-bore, Renaissance-type instrument, not Baroque.

However, virtually everyone suggests getting a good ABS plastic instrument. So, I guess that says something!

You are actually the second person to suggest perhaps getting a tenor. I find that quite enticing. I understand that's it's in C, so I can play the same way as one would a soprano. I also agree that jazz would sound pretty cool on a tenor. The Yamaha ABS plastic tenor is still in my price range.

More to ponder! :boggle:


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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:44 am 
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Welcome to the neighborhood.

Sorry, I have no experience with any of the recorder models you've linked to. I am sure each of those you have pointed to has their own merits. I have not had to buy a wood recorder in the last 30+ years. I just get my old recorders re-voiced every decade or so. But...

KJS wrote:
George Kelischek from Susasto suggested that eventually, for jazz, I should get a wide-bore, Renaissance-type instrument, not Baroque.
That is what I was thinking, generally.

There are a lot of "modern" recorder designs which might serve the purpose of playing jazz better than a classic baroque design might. The volume would be better, more balanced perhaps and the voice would be more open. Most of these more modern designs will be beyond your stated budget though. You probably already figured that out. So I won't run down that list of suggestions. The Waldorf does have a larger bore and would have a stronger voice than the typical baroque design. So of the three you mentioned, on paper, I'd go with that one.

But another recorder comes to mind in the "more affordable" category. Have you considered one of the Adianna Breukink designed Dream recorders from Mollenhauer? You can try the all plastic one for a reasonable price and re-sell it if it does not suit you. They are always in demand. If you do like it, you can move on to an all wood model. The Susato wide bore soprano might be another to try out. I'd prefer the Dream.

On a more radical track, there is the Elody flute. http://www.elody-flute.com/index.php/en Not cheap, but it is a modern design meant to play modern music. More radical still would be something like the Akai EWI USB - a true chameleon of a wind instrument, and far more affordable than an Elody.

As for the plastic baroque recorders, I'd say they are priced as to be a "no brainer" to get started on. Even with a bunch of good wooden recorders sitting in cases here, I still find myself picking up the Yamaha 300's most often. The latest Yamaha YRS-302/312/314 soprano models are very decent instruments in most respects, IMO. For ~$20 you can try out your chops on one of those while you look for a good deal on a wooden instrument.

But don't listen to me. What do I know?

Have fun.

Feadoggie

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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:10 pm 
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Hi Feadoggie,

Thank you for the welcome and reply!

Yes someone else recommended the plastic Dream to begin with. Definitely a consideration. I do feel drawn more toward a wide-bore piece, so the Dream is strong candidate.

Do you know anything about Susato's wide-bore ABS recorders? They would seem to fit the bill, as well, but I don't know anything about them.

Thanks again!


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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:53 pm 
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KJS wrote:
Do you know anything about Susato's wide-bore ABS recorders? They would seem to fit the bill, as well, but I don't know anything about them.
Not really. I've only tried their recorder in a shop for a minute or so. That was some time ago. I can only speak about their whistles. I've owned a couple dozen of Susato's pennywhistles. I like the whistles. They share the same construction as the recorders but with different hole layouts. I like the Susato whistles. Their recorder is more of the same - big, bold sound, rewards strong air flow. I'd still go with the Dream, if it was my choice. But as I said, what do I know.

Susato also recently put out a new whistle, the Oriole. I have one and like it. They make a recorder body for it - which I do not have. It is less expensive (around $25) than their wide bore recorder but has a nice sound and should play well. Here's a clip from another C&F member here playing one of those. Take it for what it is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8Pn9ekB8PA

I guess the point is that the best recorder is the one you have in your hands, the one you can make music with now.

Try a Yamaha. There's no downside, really. Even the YRS-20B and YRS-24B are quite playable and pleasant sounding. And either is easily less than $10. The YRS-302B goes for $15-18 including shipping. You can't go wrong. If you don't like it, give it to a kid (Their parents will surely thank you!).

And look for a Mollenhauer Dream. It's a little more money, but not a big risk financially. You can always make the money back in a re-sale.

Then find a shop where you can try a few of the other recorders to decide on one of them. Specialty recorder shops are few and far between but once you get past a beginner instrument they are well worth the extra price they may charge. You're paying for their experience/service and that will save you time and money in the long run.

In the end you might want something more like the Breukink Eagle or perhaps the Mollenauer Helder or Elody.

Not a lot of threads being posted to this week. There are several knowledgeable recorder players around here (at least one plays some jazz) that may stop by. Maybe they'll contribute. Let's see what they think.

Play on!

Feadoggie

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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:50 pm 
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Thanks again, Feadoggie! Very helpful!

It's funny, I ran across that video of "This Masquerade" just a couple hours before you posted it. I really like his playing.

This really has been quite helpful. However, I have one last pressing question before I take the plunge with a purchase - I notice the Dreams, and a few other of the wide-bores, have single holes for numbers 6 and 7. But, I also notice that the same wide-bore models are also made with double holes for numbers 6 and 7. Okay, so, what is the difference?


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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:13 am 
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KJS wrote:
The Yamaha ABS plastic tenor is still in my price range.

A great tenor (one of the nicest-playing tenors at any price), and probably the best instrument in the 300 series. But I'd still go for soprano and/or alto first.

Feadoggie wrote:
Try a Yamaha. There's no downside, really. Even the YRS-20B and YRS-24B are quite playable and pleasant sounding. And either is easily less than $10.

Have to say I'd still take an Aulos 205 over either. But otherwise, yes, Yamaha all the way.

KJS wrote:
However, I have one last pressing question before I take the plunge with a purchase - I notice the Dreams, and a few other of the wide-bores, have single holes for numbers 6 and 7. But, I also notice that the same wide-bore models are also made with double holes for numbers 6 and 7. Okay, so, what is the difference?

Single holes sit well with authentic renaissance/baroque fingering systems and may have some mysterious appeal to 'folky' types. Double holes give much easier and more reliable low C#s and Ebs (alto F#s and Abs). For your purposes (and indeed almost any), do yourself a favour by choosing double!

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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 4:46 pm 
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Thank you, Peter!

So, after much discussion and contemplation, I've ordered a Yamaha Soprano 312BIII (with the rosewood-type finish - I admit, I like the look of it!) from Bill Lazar of Lazar's Early Music in CA. Some other dealers were very helpful, as well, but Mollenhauer themselves suggested I contact Bill when I emailed them questions about the Waldorf.

I asked him about the ABS plastic Dream, but he said they stopped making them with double holes because of some manufacturing issues. Peter, you are certainly correct that I need to go with the double holes.

Bill also said he'd heard some good things about the Waldorf and could have one in about 6 or so weeks. I can certainly wait that long. In the meantime, I'll be doing a lot of practicing on my Yamaha.

Thanks again everyone for assisting me in making these decisions!


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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:49 pm 
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KJS wrote:
So, after much discussion and contemplation, I've ordered a Yamaha Soprano 312BIII (with the rosewood-type finish - I admit, I like the look of it!) from Bill Lazar of Lazar's Early Music in CA.
Congratulations. I trust you will enjoy it.

Lazar gets good reviews, from what I have heard. Glad you had a good experience with them.

I have a couple of the YRS-312's here (among the dozen or more Yamahas) - good value in my book. One thing to be aware of is that the woodgrain finish can wear off if you play it a lot. My oldest one is smooth as a baby's .... you know the saying ... from frequent playing. Still plays well though. Anyway, I bought another one. They do look good and they feel good in the hands too. YMMV.

Have fun.

Feadoggie

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Last edited by Feadoggie on Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:49 pm 
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Thanks, Feadoggie.

Yeah, it's silly really, but I was going back and forth between the 302 and 312. Although others have said the opposite, Tim Lazar said there is no difference in sound, based on the finish. I have no idea either way. However, I once had an older version of the Yamaha alto 312 with rosewood finish many years ago, and I guess there's some nostalgia there. I didn't play it long enough for the finish to wear off.

Anyway, my soprano is in the mail, and I can't wait to receive it.


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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:40 am 
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I don't think it is very silly. I have a few generations of the YRS-302B as well. There is no discernible sound or performance difference between the various 300 series soprano models (provided you are comparing the same generation of recorder). But there is a very real tactile difference. The 302 feels slick and slippery to many players and the 312/314 do not have that issue. So that's quite real.

What matters is that you have a nice playable instrument to play

Feadoggie

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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 11:07 am 
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Thanks, Feadoggie.

Didn't know about the slippage issue. Good to know. Well, I do know I'll have an excellent, playable instrument.

Now a question about method books. I contacted two potential teachers in my area whose names I received from the ARS website, but they both work exclusively with children. From the various people I spoke with, the method books below were recommended. Any thoughts on these?

- Sweet Pipes Recorder Books 1 & 2 for Adults by Burakoff & Hettrick
- Alfred's Teach Yourself Recorder by Manus
- Basic Recorder Techniques Vols. 1 & 2 by Orr
- Enjoy Your Recorder by The Trapps
- The Recorder Guide by Kulbach & Nitka

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:34 pm 
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KJS wrote:
Now a question about method books. I contacted two potential teachers in my area whose names I received from the ARS website, but they both work exclusively with children. From the various people I spoke with, the method books below were recommended. Any thoughts on these?
My thought would be to leave that up to you and your instructor. Most teachers will have material they recommend and use.

I haven't looked at a method book in 45 years or so. I'd say that disqualifies any opinion I could have.

Feadoggie

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 Post subject: Re: Recorder Assistance
PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2014 4:07 pm 
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KJS wrote:
Didn't know about the slippage issue. Good to know. Well, I do know I'll have an excellent, playable instrument.


One thing you can consider is a thumb rest, for whichever is your lower hand. They're not standard equipment on small recorders, but they are certainly made for small recorders and can be installed. You could even make and glue one onto the instrument yourself. I have an old Dolmetsch descant that I think someone screwed a clarinet thumb rest on to. Works great and no slippage!

KJS wrote:
Now a question about method books. I contacted two potential teachers in my area whose names I received from the ARS website, but they both work exclusively with children. From the various people I spoke with, the method books below were recommended. Any thoughts on these?

- Sweet Pipes Recorder Books 1 & 2 for Adults by Burakoff & Hettrick
- Alfred's Teach Yourself Recorder by Manus
- Basic Recorder Techniques Vols. 1 & 2 by Orr
- Enjoy Your Recorder by The Trapps
- The Recorder Guide by Kulbach & Nitka


I haven't taken recorder lessons and am only familiar with the Trapp's book out of that list (certainly a nice tutor!). In the end a tutor can only go so far: put your fingers here, here and here, but not there! and blow gently -- you'll get a note. Yay! Then repeat for all the other notes. :/ You're undoubtedly going to get a lot more from a recorder teacher, in conjunction with any tutor book than you will with just the book alone.

Take a look at the ARS site and see if there are any local Recorder Societies in your state or region -- they will often be able to point you in the direction of other teachers (and teachers that teach adults!) where the national site may not. I know jazz is more your thing, but it is definitely fun to get together with a couple dozen folks and play the old consort music as well! You might consider networking with a local recorder group. They can often help find a good local teacher.

Cheers and let us know how your new horn works out!

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