Contemporary Recorder Makers

Overview

A comprehensive database of contemporary recorder makers with their contact and other details may be accessed via the side panel to the right of this article.

For use by children or adult amateurs, plastic recorders are by far the best purchase to make, notably those by Aulos, Yamaha and Zen-On. I particularly recommend instruments in the Yamaha 300 series, some of which have a woodgrain finish (rosewood or ebony). These are neo-baroque style recorders which have excellent intonation and tonal characteristics and are musically superior to any cheap wooden instrument. Plastic recorders are available in all sizes ranging from the tiny piccolo ( aka garklein flütlein) to basset. However, if you intend playing your recorders in consort then do stick to one brand since there are slight tuning differences between them which can be very frustrating. Soprano and alto models of all the above are available in simulated wood-grain as well as the usual black plastic. Plastic recorders modeled after eighteenth-century originals by Bressan (Zen-On), Haka (Aulos), Rottenburgh (Yamaha) and Stanesby (Zen-On) are suitable for solo work. They represent truly outstanding value and compare favourably with quality factory-made wooden recorders costing up to 10 times the price!

Be warned, cheap wooden recorders are often decidedly inferior to the plastic recorders noted above!

For ensemble use or for exploring the baroque chamber music repertoire factory-made wooden recorders by manufacturers such as Fehr, Hüber, Küng, Moeck,  Mollenhauer and Yamaha provide great value for money, and design and production standards are rising constantly. Instruments in softer woods such as maple or pear offer particular value for money.

By way of comparison, I note that whereas a Yamaha YRA-314BIII or Zen-On G1A plastic alto recorder will cost around $60, a Moeck ‘Rottenburgh’ alto in boxwood will cost around $1,250. To get things into perspective, a high-quality, custom-made recorder from the workshop of a master craftsman can cost in the range $1,500 to $3,000 or more.

Current makers of medieval-style recorders include Bolton, Cranmore, Gohin, Hulsens, Iliaronov, Köllner-Dives, Kulossa, Li Virghi, Musch, and Paolis.

Virdung/Agricola-style recorders are currently made only by Adrian Brown.

Renaissance-style recorders are made by 100 or more makers, amongst them Bergstrøm, Brown, Breukink, Gohin, Hamman, Holmblat, Hulsens, Kobliczek, Li Virghi, Moeck, Mollenhauer, Paolis, Praetorius, van der Poel, and Prescott.

Details of current makers of transitional-style recorders include Guido Hulsens, Roland Kraemer, Luca de Paolis, Doris Kulossa, Stephan Blezinger, Giacomo Andreola and many others.

Almost all recorder makers offer baroque and/or neo-baroque recorders.

Details of current makers of romantic recorders (ie csakans) include Guido Hulsens, Elmar Hoffman, Bernard Mollenhauer, Herbert Paetzold, Ricardo von Vittorelli and Martin Wenner.

Production of the range of square bass recorders designed and made for many years by Herbert & Helmut Paetzold (Germany)  are now manufactured and marketed Joachim Kunath (Germany) who has made many innovations in their design of his own.

Metal ‘Silberton’ recorders developed by Gyula Foky-Gruber continue to be made by Kobliczek Instrumentenbau (Germany).

The remarkable Harmonic Alto and Tenor Recorders designed by Maarten Helder are made by Mollenhauer (Germany).

The so-called Eagle recorders with their extended pitch range and dynamic flexibility designed by Adriana Breukink and Geri Bolinger are manufactured by Küng (Switzerland).

Electro-acoustic recorders are made by Philippe Bolton (France) and Mollenhauer (Germany). The latter produce the so-called Elody recorder. Steve Francis (Australia) produces the PiezoBarrel R1, a pickup designed specifically to overcome the low output of the recorder in the lower register compared with the upper register by boosting the bass response. This provides an inexpensive way for those with very modest DIY skills to explore this new and exciting world. With all these, the output can be fed into an effects panel and amplifier to enhance or modify the sound for live or recorded performance.

PiezoBarrel R1

5-tone and 7-tone pentatonic recorders, diatonic recorders and special soprano recorders for use by children are made by Joachim Kunath (Germany), Choroi Instruments (US), Huber (Switzerland), and Moeck (Germany.

Those challenged by various physical disabilities are well served by plastic recorders. Of particular interest in this context is the latest instrument from the Aulos stables, namely the remarkable Aulos 4A20F soprano. In addition to the head-piece, there are six separate sections for the holes fitting neatly into one another. By rotating these sections (and plugging certain holes as necessary) this recorder can accommodate fingers that are missing or do not function normally. With this instrument, someone with any six usable digits can play an entire chromatic scale from c” to a”’. A similar alto model is available, the 309AF-E. For a player who has unusually short fingers, suffers from arthritis, has lost all or part of a finger due to trauma, or possesses fingers that are malformed in some way, the Aulos 204AF and 309AF-E could make the difference between having an audience member and having a playing partner. The American distributor for these unique instruments is Rhythm Band Instruments.

Soprano and alto recorders playable with one hand have been made by Tsukamoto and Fujikoka who adopted alto and soprano plastic recorders by Zen-On (Tsukamoto 1980) who continue to supply them in forms suitable for either left- or right-handed players using the available hand in the right-hand position. By using the right-hand position the double holes are available for the sixth and seventh finger-holes in the normal way; however, the players’ little finger operates a key with a double action, the first pressure opening a small hole simulating the ‘pinched’ position, further pressure fully opening the octaving vent.

Mollenhauer has also produced open-keyed recorders using the available hand in the left-hand position for soprano, alto, tenor and bass instruments (Hunt 1981). In the Mollenhauer fingering system, the thumb can be used for the pinched notes of the upper range as well as stopping the thumb hole. Their currently available models include double holes for the lower two fingers which must also operate keywork (Schwanse 1998).

Yamaha offers a range of one-handed recorders in the YRS900 range of which four models provide for left- or right-handed players.

Dolmetsch produces a ‘Gold Series’ of recorders designed for the player who can use only one hand. By adding a number of keys, Dolmetsch designers, working with T.W. Howarth & Co., have produced a most technically sophisticated instrument, and at a reasonable price. Soprano and alto instruments are available in pearwood, boxwood or rosewood and with left- and right-hand variants. Gold Series keywork can be fitted to Dolmetsch’s handmade recorders (Alexandra 1999).

Martin Visser  adapts recorders for players with special needs. The scope and quality of his work is truly remarkable.

References cited on this page

  • Alexandra, Kate. 1999. “The Dolmetsch Gold Series Recorder for One Hand.” Recorder Magazine 18 (4): 127–29.
  • Schwanse, U. 1998. “Integration behinderter Menschen in Musikschulen.” Windkanal, no. 1: 26–27.
  • Tsukumoto, Takashi. 1980. “A One-Handed Recorder.” Recorder and Music Magazine 5 (9): 258–60, 65.

Cite this article as: Lander, Nicholas S. 1996–2022. Recorder Home Page: Instruments: Historic makers, instruments & collections: Contemporary Recorder Makers. Last accessed 3 October 2022. https://www.recorderhomepage.net/contemporary-recorder-makers/