Privilege of Variety

The recorder has been adjusted to the zeitgeist and the respective demands ever since the Renaissance and produced in a wide variety.

The choice of the instrument – criteria/questions when purchasing

What must my instrument be able to do, where / for what do I want to use it? Solo or ensemble, ideas of sound, musical styles, look, colour.
To that: the tactile feeling is very important. On the one hand, it concerns the fingers that must feel the holes well and cover them entirely. On the other hand, the mouth: every recorder mouthpiece is formed slightly differently, therefore, you should pay attention to a comfortable feel to the lips.

How are the recorders different to each other?

Different sizes – Baroque and Renaissance-models:

  • Sub-double-bass in F, – the biggest recorder in the world 3.60m, air column 2.45m – height of the square variant / of the Paetzold-model
  • Double-bass in C by Paetzold
  • Sub-bass in F
  • Great-bass in c
  • Bass in f
  • Tenor in c’
  • Alto in f’
  • Soprano in c’’
  • Sopranino in f’’
  • Garklein recorder in c’’ – 17cm

verschiedene Grössen

Additionally, there are several in-between sizes, such as

  • Voice-Flûte in d
  • Alto in g
  • Soprano in b

Various basic tones: ca. 440 Hz or a semitone deeper 415 Hz or a semitone higher 465 Hz
Read, what Geri Bollinger says about various woods (PDF, German only).

Qualities of sound

Depending on the construction, the various instruments have a prevailing sonorous depth, a rich central layer or clear heights.

Privilege of Variety – Meaning for the musician

The privilege of variety means a challenge in the handling of the instruments for recorder player. No recorder is comparable to another one! The instrument is chosen according to the piece of music. The satisfaction of realising your own idea of sound via various fingerings, blowing techniques (musical breathing), tongue technique (articulation) and expression produces happy moments.


There isn’t “THE recorder” such as THE piano, THE violin. Of course, within a family of instruments, there are subtle differences in form, kind of material. However, on every one of these instruments, a big range is playable.
To reach a similar sound spectrum since the 14th century, people play within recorder-consorts. The initially 1.5 octaves of a Renaissance recorder could have been expanded up to 3+ octaves until today.

New popularity of the recorder since the mid 20th century