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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:21 pm 
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Can anyone tell me what the difference is between the Yamaha YRA-302B III and the Yamaha YRA-312b III , and the Yamaha YRA-314B III alto recorders? Is it just a manufacturing dating system or are there actual differences in their construction? I think the only difference I have been able to determine is that they are all plastic with some having a rosewood color or a black color. I have been considering one of these or an Aulos 209 alto recorder. Any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Scottie


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:03 pm 
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Scottie, check out the descriptions and photos on the Yamaha page at Courtly Music:

http://courtlymusicunlimited.com/inst-yamaha.php

They're all the same basic Rottenburgh recorder design, after the original by Jean-Hyacinth-Joseph Rottenburgh and revived by Friedrich von Huene. The differences are:

YRA-302B - shiny dark brown
YRA-312B - faux rosewood grain, matte finish
YRA-314B - faux ebony grain, matte finish

I have the rosewood 312B (and the matching YRS-312B soprano), and it's a very nice instrument. From a few feet away, you can't tell it's not wood, whereas the 302B definitely looks plastic. Common rumor has it that the wood grain actually sounds better, too. Take that with a grain of salt, but it did slightly affect my purchase choice. I've played mine for a few public performances, including Britten's Noyes Fludde alongside some very expensive instruments, and it held its own.

BTW, if you're also interested in the soprano, the 2 recorder bundle from Courtly Music saves a few dollars, and they're nice people to deal with.

Hope that helps.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:52 am 
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I have all three models, the 302, 312 and 314 in alto and soprano. I do like the look of the 314 finish but all three models are well done.

MTGuru's description is right on it.

MTGuru wrote:
Common rumor has it that the wood grain actually sounds better, too. Take that with a grain of salt, but it did slightly affect my purchase choice.
Maybe take that with a bit more than just one grain of salt. Yes, I was influenced by the rumors too. I bought all three models to see if I could find a difference. My ears might be shot but having done several blind listening tests now I have not been able to discern any difference among the three models.

There is one substantial difference between the 302 and the others from my experience. MTGuru hints at it with the matte finish description. Since the 302 is a polished plastic finish it can feel slippery in the hands of some players. I do not have that issue with the 302 model at all. But the 312 and 314 have a slightly rougher surface due to the faux wood paint job which can make them easier to grasp than the 302. They all sound and play the same to me.

One other thing worth mentioning is that if you play the 312/314 a lot then the finish will wear away around the finger holes and where your thumbs rest on the underside of the instrument. It took a few years but my first 312 soprano went smooth around the finger holes. Not particularly attractive after a while but easily replaced. And if I need a battle worn recorder for street cred I can trot out the old 312. It still plays fine. The 302 will not show that type of wear.

Also some of the 312/314 paint jobs can have peculiar spots and runs. The finish process is not always perfect. I only mention that if you are buying mail order so that you are not surprised. It is something to look for and won't effect how the instrument plays at all. I have bought quite a few of these for a group over the years.

I like the Yamaha line overall. Good bang for the buck. Available most everywhere they sell Yamaha guitars or keyboards too.

The Aulos A209B has its fans. The Aulos 209 may be comparable with the Yamaha YRA-38B which can be hard to find in the States (I do have one). The Aulos A309 may be more comparable to the Yamaha 302/312/314 though.

If you want a reedier sound you might look for the Zen-On Pol Bressan model - comes in the shiny black or faux rosewood finishes too.

I resisted buying the ABS recorders for too long. I was convinced they were inferior to wooden instruments. I did come around though. Wooden instruments need to be re-voiced every several years to maintain their sound and response. While the denser hardwoods used for many wooden recorder bodies are very stable the cedar plug changes shape with use. They can begin to sound stuffy and loose their voice in time. The voice of the ABS recorder stays the same over time (if you keep it clean and away from fires). ABS recorders are good to go in any environmental condition. They are reasonably priced too. The Yamaha 300 series sopranino, soprano and alto are street priced low enough to be a "no-brainer" of a purchase. Even if you have a set of good wooden recorders these ABS recorders are still a useful buy as either a backup or tough-duty instrument alternative. Prices on wooden tenor and bass instruments are way up there these days. The Yamaha 300 series tenor (304) and bass (302) are not exactly cheap but they are a bargain compared to entry level timber instruments and they play rather well.

And I should not harp on just the Yamaha instruments. Aulos and Zen-On make some nice models too.

Feadoggie

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:21 pm 
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Funny, I've just decided to add recorder back into my arsenal (and learn alto recorder), came here searching for "recorder," and here is someone else recently asking the same thing. I'd read the Yamaha 300 series was the way to go. Decided on the wood grain, just in case the sound really is different. (I think the brown/black-and-cream color scheme is ugly anyway, even if it's meant to create an authentic look-- most wood recorders I see don't have the ivory accents these days anyway, but still.)

Off to do more reading now... I haven't touched a recorder in 15-20 years.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:01 pm 
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Glad I noticed this thread. I can vouch for the Yamaha 314's quality, though the stripey finish made me do a double-take at first. Now I'm contemplating pulling the trigger on an Aulos 709 "Haka" alto (already have the soprano), and I've been debating the woodgrain vs. no-woodgrain question in my head. The plain plastic one is about 20 percent cheaper, but my plain plastic soprano is molded in what can only be termed "babys**t brown." So I may be compelled to go woodgrain, even if it rubs off...

Anybody have any pictures of woodgrain wear that they can post here? I mean, I guess it doesn't matter that much, certainly not while I'm too busy playing to look at it.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:08 am 
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I don't think I have a picture handy. I'll look through my inventory of recorders and see if I still have one that is worn enough to show up in a photo. (Sorry, I looked. None are worn enough yet to show the effect) If you spend enough time looking at recorders on eBay you'll see one eventually.

But I can describe what happens and how it looks. I played one Yamaha YRS-312B until the woodgrain finish wore off. That took 10-12 years to happen. But I do not play recorder every day either. Basically the coating comes off leaving the bare plastic showing. The wear starts as shiny spots on the matte finish. Eventually it wears through so that all that is left is the underlying plastic. The color that remains will be whatever the color of the molded ABS was originally. Yamaha uses a lighter colored plastic on the woodgrain models than they do on the 302 models. In the case of the YRS-312B it was more like the baby#$%^ brown color you describe for the Aulos Haka, perhaps a little more reddish. So what you would see is the matte woodgrain on most of the body but with shiny reddish-brown splotches around the finger holes and on the back where the thumb lands. It was not particularly attractive but the recorder still played just fine. I recently passed that recorder on to a younger player.

I also have the Zen-On Bressan alto and the Stanesby Jr. soprano in both woodgrain and plain plastic. (I found a bargain. What can I say? :) ) The woodgrain finish on the Zen-Ons seem to hold up better than on the Yamaha. They have gotten shiny but have not worn through so far. I probably have not played them as much as I did that one Yamaha though.

I can't really speak to the Aulos woodgrain finish. I do have the Aulos Haka set but not in the woodgrain finish. Yes, you are right, they are brown, but so is a lot of natural wood. I got over it. Perhaps I've convinced myself it looks like milk chocolate. You're also right that the cost difference between the two finishes is significant. The Haka is pleasant sounding and plays well, IMO.

I have no claims personally that the Haka model alto sounds more like a period instrument than any other Aulos. It does have a different voice than the others I have. There are comparison videos on YouTube if you want to audition those.

The Zen-On Bressan alto does have a sound more like what I expect from a reproduction of a period recorder. It has some personality but it also has some playing idiosyncrasies.

Hope that helps.

Feadoggie

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:39 pm 
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Thanks. I figure I'll order the Haka in woodgrain anyway, for that extra bit of non-slipperiness. If I like it enough to wear the woodgrain off, then I'll like it enough to either keep playing it or re-purchase it.

One rather surprising thing I just discovered on my Yamaha 314: The tip of the mouthpiece has developed a hairline crack in it! I have no idea how that happened, since I handle it very carefully and never bite or clamp down on the mouthpiece. Hopefully this isn't something that "just happens" on this model; none of my other recorders have ever had this problem, and they treat them all with equal care.... At least it doesn't seem to affect performance.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 5:21 pm 
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ganchan wrote:
One rather surprising thing I just discovered on my Yamaha 314: The tip of the mouthpiece has developed a hairline crack in it! I have no idea how that happened, since I handle it very carefully and never bite or clamp down on the mouthpiece. Hopefully this isn't something that "just happens" on this model
I have a lot of Yamaha recorders here. None have shown anything like that. They are pretty darned hardy recorders. They can crack when dropped if the forces are right, might not be evident right away either. Cracks at the foot joint are more typical from what I have seen. But in general they can handle a fair amount of rough duty. Young folk can't kill them, at least not easily.

Enjoy your new recorder.

Feadoggie

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2015 10:42 am 
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Feadoggie wrote:
ganchan wrote:
One rather surprising thing I just discovered on my Yamaha 314: The tip of the mouthpiece has developed a hairline crack in it! I have no idea how that happened, since I handle it very carefully and never bite or clamp down on the mouthpiece. Hopefully this isn't something that "just happens" on this model
I have a lot of Yamaha recorders here. None have shown anything like that. They are pretty darned hardy recorders. They can crack when dropped if the forces are right, might not be evident right away either. Cracks at the foot joint are more typical from what I have seen. But in general they can handle a fair amount of rough duty. Young folk can't kill them, at least not easily.

Enjoy your new recorder.

Feadoggie


I've attached a (bad, tiny) pic of the damage -- sorry, I'm new to posting images -- but if you blow it up a bit you may be able to see two perpendicular cracks that have formed a T shape that extends to the tip of the beak. I've always believed what you're saying, that ABS is pretty much indestructible. Is it possible that this one came with a defect in it? It still plays OK, but I worry that it'll trap extra condensation, dirt, etc. (Or maybe I'm just looking for an excuse to replace it with the rosewood model.... :D )

Image


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:16 pm 
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It might be worth contacting Yamaha--I suspect they might replace the recorder.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:19 pm 
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Contact information for Yamaha, woodwind division:

Phone – 714-522-9011
Fax – 714-522-9475


Should you decide to try, good luck!

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:20 pm 
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As coincidence would have it, a Yamaha 312b III that I ordered a bit ago arrived today.

It's a very nice recorder!--plays a great deal like my old pallisander Adege alto (after Terton) that I used to play in college with the NLU Monroe Consort.

It is a bit more of a "polite" recorder than the Aulos or Zen-On, but wow!--you could do so much worse.

All of these are vastly superior to anything produced in plastic previously, and are also superior to most of the inexpensive to moderately-expensive wooden instruments out there.

These are lovely. If enough people play them in public, maybe when people think "recorder" they won't be so quick to think about school kids and cheap plastic sopranos and think "recorder...from Hell!!!" :D

--James

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:51 pm 
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Thanks for the contact info! I suspect that I've owned the Yamaha long enough that they'll try to blame the cracks on me -- but they really just seemed to occur spontaneously a few weeks ago, without any impact whatsoever. In fact, they almost appear to have formed from the inside out....

The Yamaha is indeed little more subdued in tone than the Aulos (because of the slightly smaller dimensions, maybe?), but it's a consistently pleasant sound, and for a beginner like me it really is a more "forgiving" instrument (especially thumbhole-wise).

Oh, and if anyone out there is tempted by the matte-black Woodnote version of this model, fight that urge. It looks fantastic, but it's ridiculously loud and oboe-like in tone, takes a huge amount of air up high, and is about a quarter-tone flat on the high F. Oddly enough, the headjoint of the Woodnote won't even fit on the Yamaha body -- it's way too tight. They really are more different than they look, despite the "identical" molds....


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:00 am 
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Now that I've had more time to play with it, I will say that of the three plastic "historic copy" recorders that I have, the Yamaha is the one I would perform in public with, even though they are all very nice instruments.

The reason is simply that the Yamaha can get "wet" and continue to play well. It drains condensation out of the windway as you play.

Both the Zen-On Bressan and the Aulos Haka tend to start to clog once they get wet and the windway has to be sucked or blown out.

For people who play the recorder for their own amusement, any of the three will do nicely. For someone who performs, the ability to play "wet" is worth its weight in gold.

--James

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