Plastic Recorders Are Good Instruments, Heres Why

Plastic recorders are underrated due to the bad reputation that they get from being used widely in schools. But is that reputation deserved? I used to think so. But I was wrong. Here’s why.

Plastic recorders can be a very good instrument to play. Plastic recorders are tough, sturdy, easy to look after, and many sound very good and easy to play.

All of the things listed above give a good reason why plastic recorders should be considered. Below I explain each of these elements and what makes them so important.

Why Plastic Recorders Are Good Instruments To Play

Plastic Recorders Are Cheap To Buy

As plastic recorders are relatively cheap to buy compared to recorders made with other materials you can spend a bit more and go for the top range recorder. Even if you can’t you can still get a good instrument.

If you are looking I paid about $40 (£29) for my Yamaha alto recorder which would have been about $24  (£17) for a soprano of the same brand and style at that time. Mine is 80% ABS plastic and 20% Eocdear plastic.

You can get slightly more expensive brands and models in plastic but you get a good instrument at these prices. I paid a bit more for having Ecodear but it was worth it.

If you don’t want an Ecodear you can easily knock off about a fiver and as not everyone will want a cream recorder you can get an equal quality instrument for a bit less.

If you cannot run to the amount mentioned above because you have a smaller budget then you can go a bit cheaper descant recorder at about £10/$14. The one in the demo is used in schools by this teacher and it is only at the lower-cost end of recorders.

Plastic Recorders Do Have Great Sound, Honest!

Some plastic recorders sound awful while others have a great sound.

Even among plastic recorders, you can buy cheap and nasty or decent quality ones. While they may not have the sound quality of the much more expensive cousins the wood and “resin” recorders plastic recorders can have great sound quality.

A good way to get great sound on a plastic recorder is to get an alto rather than a soprano unless you are getting your recorder for a school. Altos do have different fingering than a soprano but the sound is lower and doesn’t have that dreaded high-pitched sound that is so familiar. If you go for a soprano then go for the top of the range if you can.

The quality of plastic records has improved a lot in recent years.

The trick is not to buy the cheaper ones. Having said that the one played above isn’t exactly expensive!

Plastic Recorders Do Suffer Poor Sound Quality

The trouble with plastic recorders is they have a bad reputation for having awful sound. This is partly because they have been used en masse over the years by children in schools. Most schools won’t buy the more expensive better-quality recorders.

Due to its size children usually start with the soprano recorder. These are higher pitched and screech.

Because they are cheap and for children, people will just buy any cheap one they can find rather than looking at a better quality one. There is a difference between the quality of a recorder at about a fiver to one that is £/$20-25.

Plastic recorders especially the cheaper ones have that annoying plasticky sound.

All these things make for a nasty combination which doesn’t help the poor recorders reputation on sound quality.

This is a shame because if you get a good quality recorder the sound quality is very good. Just spending a little more on a decent instrument can make a huge difference.

The sound quality of recorders improves a lot just by spending a little bit more on them. Recorders aren’t that expensive to buy compared to many types of musical instruments.

Although I confess, which you may know if you’ve read any of my other posts, that I took no chances with the sound of mine and bought not only a quality recorder but also an alto rather than a soprano. It’s paid off as the sound quality is excellent.

This is an example of my recorder I found on YouTube.

They Have Great Durability

Plastic recorders are super durable. They can take a lot of knocking about and rough handling. So are less likely to break than other instruments.

Maintenance, Hygiene & Cleaning Of Your Recorder

Plastic recorders are very easy to look after. It doesn’t take long to wipe them out to make sure they are dry after use. This helps to prevent mold which is dangerous. You don’t need to oil them. Although sometimes you do need to put ointment/vaseline on the joint for ease of putting together.

Plastic recorders are also very hygienic which these days is even more important due to recent world changes in the pandemic. Most people are being even more hygiene conscious. With plastic recorders, you can wash them which reduces the chance of contamination.

They are easy to clean. If you need to you can wash them in soapy water (dish detergent) & some people use vinegar to disinfect. Some people have said you can pop them in the dishwasher. I haven’t tried this because I don’t have one. I’d be careful to check the heat settings first to make sure it’s safe.

How Plastic Recorders Are Made

Plastic recorders are factory-made machine molded instruments. They can be churned out cheaply and quickly. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage.

Because they are made this way they are cheaper to buy. The tradeoff is on quality. They don’t have the hand-finished quality that the more expensive recorders have. Due to this, they lack precision and sound quality. Although you cannot guarantee that hand-made instruments are nuclearity better.

However, if you get a better quality recorder they are still well made.

Recorders Are Serious Instruments

Recorders are serious instruments and there are many professional recorder players that play solo pieces.

The only reason recorders are not in orchestras is they have a limited range of about 2 octaves whereas other instruments have more of a range (the clarinet for example has 4 octaves)

Are Wooden Recorders Better Than Plastic Ones?

In many ways, wooden recorders are better than plastic ones and they are definitely the choice for sound but in other ways especially for beginners, they are not the best choice. You can see my comparison of the two instruments here.

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