I remember a long time ago (late 70s?) a music teacher played the recorder, and her nice wooden sop cost £15 which was a reassuring price, but not a huge amount (a plastic oboe was about £300 at the time and a vinyl record £4). But it may have been a little earlier than that.
I mentioned it the other day and was told, to my doubt, that a good recorder can cost £1,000 now. I remember that teacher showing me how you use your thumbnail on the thumb hole and it cuts into it, and the recorder needs replacing every now and then. I suppose a £1,000 recorder (if that's a genuine price) has a bone lining to the thumb hole?
No idea. What's the sensible price to pay nowadays and what do you get for your money?
A fifteen quid wooden recorder is not worth it these days. Get a good plastic (Aulos, Yamaha) over cheap wood (if you want wood, go for a Moeck or a Mollenhauer or a Kung or another solid brand - don't by Anonymous).
Yes, you can pay £1000 and plenty more - you can have factory made, factory made and hand finished or hand made, and each level sees the price go up. Price is also dependent on the type of wood used, size of instrument, decoration, keywork, etc. Bushed thumbholes are relatively uncommon (but can be added afterwards, if you wear down your thumbholes).
The (unbushed) thumbholes on my recorders aren't particularly worn - I'm guessing it's going to be a factor of what your nails are like (soft/hard), how long/short you have the nail, what wood your instrument is made of, and how many high notes you play!
I know I'm backtracking in the thread rather here, which we aren't really supposed to do, but I did the long trek down to the EMS in Saltaire yesterday...
My pearwood mollenhauer denner hasn't been entirely meeting my needs for a while. There are a couple of dodgy notes which are the recorder and not me (no problems with the notes on other recorders). Those notes could probably be solved with revoicing and probably a bit of further adjustment, but would not solve the bigger problem of the instrument simply not having the projection I need when playing with other instruments in band (typically keys, guitar, bass, vocals and flute/violin, sometimes also electric guitar or accordion). I've been pondering what direction to go in with solving the problem for a while - another baroque style recorder in harder wood, or get the denner sorted and add either a dream recorder which has larger bore and therefore supposedly better projection or a modern alto which might be more suited to the demands I make of the instrument but is rather pricier - and decided that the best thing was to go and try things out despite the distance involved. With descants I went down the multiple instruments route a while ago; plastic practice instrument, boxwood mollenhauer denner for baroque, grenadilla moeck rottenburgh for 20th century repertoire and a plastic headed mollenhauer dream (which combines the tone of pearwood with the additional projection that a plastic head can offer) for band. I'd kind of been thinking that I would probably need to go down a similar route with altos (but hopefully just spreading the workload across two recorders, not three).
I spent about two and a half hours trying out different recorders, and it was a really interesting process. The results were not what I expected. I don't think the Dream alto would be worthwhile unless I was doing a lot of Renaissance music. Some people (none of whom have actually tried the Dream alto themselves) had suggested to me that the Dream would be perfect for me due to its projection. Actually, it did not have the projection I expected (several of the baroque recorders I tried had better projection), the holes for the bottom F weren't in quite the right place for me (could have adjusted hand position with practice if I'd really liked the recorder) and I felt the second octave was a bit lacking in response. The modern alto had great tone and projection but, surprisingly given the similarity to a flute footjoint, I disliked the keys. Again, I could have adapted if I really wanted to.
I can't remember what all the baroque recorders I tried were as there were around 18 of them. The Kingwood Yamaha was really nice apart from the top (ledger line) F which was very difficult to get and that one note let the whole instrument down for me because I use the top F quite a bit (more than the lowest F). There was an olivewood Kung which had a really nice tone, but I just did not like the feel of the instrument or its beak. It seems that I don't like Bresson models (which the Kung was) as I don't like my plastic Zen-On (much prefer my Yamaha) and all the recorders which were Bresson-based models ended up on the reject side quite quickly. There were a couple of duplicates in the instruments I tried - 2x boxwood Blessinger and 2x grenadilla Moeck Rottenburgh. I didn't spend a huge amount of time on the duplicate Blessingers, as they weren't giving me what I wanted (lovely recorders, and will be brilliant recorders for whoever ends up owning them, just not right for me as didn't like the beak or feel), but the two Rottenburghs in the same wood played differently. One was more responsive and more flexible that the other. I am unsure whether that just meant it had been played a few more times, but it does show that you cannot assume all examples of the same make/model/wood of factory made recorder will play the same.
What really, really surprised me was the difference between the factory made wooden instruments and the handfinished or handmade ones. I hadn't really expected to be able to tell much difference between them and thought that, if I went down the route of a new baroque recorder, I would go for a Mollenhauer denner/Moeck Rottenburgh/Kung Superio/Marsyas in a harder wood such as palisander (I adore my denner sopranino in palisander) and probably also get a Mollenhauer Dream for when a baroque instrument wasn't right. It may be that I'm a better player than I'd realised, but I was quite shocked at how much 'more' the recorders in the next band up gave me. The dynamic response exceeded what I had thought I could ever get from a recorder, the articulation response was much cleaner, and they were so flexible and reliable in terms of being able to hit any note you wanted from any other without loss of tone. The tone was reliable across the full chromatic compass of the instruments right up to the 3rd A. I had to exclude the absolutely beautiful Von Huene on price grounds. One of the Rottenburghs made it into the final three as the best of the mass produced factory ones whilst I worked out whether the difference in price to the other two justified was justified by how much better they played. The two better recorders (both modelled on Denners - all the Bresson style ones had been eliminated by this point) utterly transformed the last movement of the Berkeley Sonatina and knocked through Telemann Fantasia's and Handel with an ease I haven't known before. I've recently started looking at the slow movement of the solo CPE Bach sonata, and managed some phrases in that which I had not managed before. Both could cope with anything I might ever want to play, and it really came down to a choice between the light feeling of the cherrywood (which still had reasonably good projection) or the slightly better projection of grenadilla (with a heavier instrument).
I now have an absolutely beautiful new recorder to play in. It is on 10 minutes a day for this week, which really goes so fast. Today I discovered how much easier the English Dance movement from the Jacob Suite is - the high runs just come out rather than my having to fight to hit each note. I need to get used to the extra weight, though, as grenadilla is a lot heavier. I hold recorders up more than some people, which will hopefully help as my hold is fairly balanced. I will need to experiment a bit with top octave fingerings as a couple of the 'alternative' fingerings which worked well on the Mollenhauer Denner are not working now. I need to have a proper look at the recommended fingerings chart which came with the recorder as a couple of them differ.
Looking forwards to being able to play it for longer with each passing week. I had forgotten what playing a new recorder in feels like...