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How does the site work? Musical Questions

Info updated: 2014-02-21

Resin recorder vs. wooden recorder

A friend of the site asked about recorders made in resin rather than in wood.

With regularity I see that you play pieces from the site on a resin recorder. Can you tell me your experience with the resin recorder? Is it really a recorder on which you can play the whole day? What about the sound in comparison with a grenadille recorder? The cedar block must be cleaned 1-2 years like a wooden recorder? Please give me as much information as you want. I would be very grateful.

As you probably already know, my resin recorder was made by Vincent Bernolin, a French craftsman, and you may buy his recorders online here.
What you perhaps do not know is that I have written a book on Renaissance instruments in Italian. Here in Italy it is the only book on the subject and it is quite well known and used. I am telling you this as qualification for some information that you may find surprising: the sound quality of a wind instrument has very little to do with the material with which you make it. The actual material is just the air inside what you think is the instrument. That said, it is clear that you may make a recorder with wood or plastic or even glass (indeed, there are some early examples of instruments made in glass and in porcelain) and a recorder will play better or worse simply according to its quality of construction.
So why are plastic recorder so bad compared with wooden ones? Because it is impossible to make a plastic recorder as well-shaped as a wooden one: the process of making a plastic object cannot guarantee the required precision. Resin, on the other hand, is completely another matter (in both meanings of the word!) because it can be shaped as finely as wood can, perhaps even better. Hence the sound of a resin recorder is quite good and comparable with that of a hand-made wooden recorder.
Since the block of Bernolin's resin recorder is made of wood, it has all the characteristics and necessities of any wooden block: you have to take care of it, and certainly Bernolin would change or clean it, if and when necessary.
In conclusion, I think resin recorders are worth their money: of course they must be made by a good craftsman, since they can be as bad as second-rate wooden recorders!
When I ordered my resin alto recorder A=415, it arrived within one week and has played perfectly ever since. Unfortunately, Bernolin makes only the treble one: no descant, tenor, or bass.