Some thoughts on why to get a more expensiver recorder

Why get a more expensive recorder?

cheap plastic recorders

If you get a plastic recorder for less than $100, Say you want to know whether to get a $5 recorder or save up your money and get the $7 version. Any plastic recorder under $100 is made by pouring melted plastic into a mold, letting it cool, and taking it out. So, more or less, any recorder from the mold will be the same. Therefore, what you want is to get a recorder from a good mold. Yamaha, Aulos, and Zen-on seem to have figured how to get the molds right, but there are many other companies making plastic recorders who haven't figured this out.


When you make a recorder in a mold, one thing you have to do is to get the recorder out of the mold. To do this you need to make every hole taper slightly, getting bigger as it goes outward. You also to keep the holes perpendicular to the direction that the mold is removed in. If you look at an expensive, recently made, $500 wooden recorder you may notice that the holes are not perpendicular to the center line. This lets you put the outside part of the hole where it fits under the fingers, while the inside end of the hole is where it is best for the acoustics and tuning. if you look at a $1000 hand made recorder you will see that the hole is a lot larger on the inside than it is on the outside. This is also very hard to do with a mold, though Zen-on makes a recorder with glued in finger holes that do expand inside the bore.

water buildup

When you breathe warm air into your recorder, it cools, and condenses the moisture from your breath which collects on the walls of the windway. (The windway is the thin slot that you blow into.) Some people spit into the recorder too. A plastic recorder has a plastic windway, and the moisture beads up on it and collects. This blocks the flow of air, and spoils the tone and makes it hard to get the high notes. You can suck or blow the moisture out, or use a piece of paper or cloth to remove it. If the water builds up enough in the middle of a piece about all you can do is suck it out. A fancier recorder has a absorbing wooden block (usually cedar) making one side of the windway. This can help by absorbing the moisture and not making it build up in drops. There are differences in how wooden recorders handle moisture too.

get a bigger recorder

Most people start with a soprano recorder - why pay $35 for an instrument when you can get one for $5 - but an alto recorder is much mellower, and easier to play in tune, while still being small enough to not have the finger stretch of a tenor (which is even more mellow.) I recommend starting with an alto.

Wayne Cripps June 2019