The Best Plastic Recorder Which One & Why?

When you are looking for a recorder to buy it can be difficult to know which one to get. You don’t know which has the best sound, is good quality or is a good price. That’s what I wanted to find out when I bought my recorder after years of not playing.

The best plastic soprano (descant) recorder is the Aulos 703b and the best alto (treble) plastic recorder is the Yamaha Ecodear.

I went through a lot of recorders trying to get the right one when I was buying a new recorder. I found that although plastic recorders are relatively cheap to buy, it didn’t really pay to get the cheapest ones. By investing in a better quality one I could enjoy playing the music much more and was confident that the sound would come out OK and if it didn’t it was me! Here I share my reasons why these are the best recorders and some others that I also thought about buying.

What Is The Best Soprano (Descant) Plastic Recorder?

The Best Soprano plastic recorder for beginners to intermediates in the Aulos 703W in my view.

I did a lot of research on these recorders when trying to buy one. Although I decided to get an Alto in the end these sopranos are very good. They have excellent sound and playability. I would be happy to get one of these if I were to get a soprano recorder.

How Does the Recorder Sound

Sound is very important to anyone playing an instrument. You need that instrument to be reliable especially when you are a beginner. Many beginners get it all back to front. I will get a better instrument when I can play or if I keep it up. The trouble with that is if you don’t enjoy playing your instrument and can’t get a good sound from it you are more likely to give it up. I know where you are coming from on this, is something I wrestle with every time I buy a new instrument ( or anything else for that matter) Price v quality.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the budget to buy and test every instrument so I use the YouTube reviews as much as I can when searching for new instruments along with other research. While this means there is some sound quality fallout it does give you a very good idea of any issues. I watched Sarah Jeffery on the Team Recorder. Some of those cheaper instruments, well her face said it all! So avoid those like the plague.

That’s what I love about the recorder. It’s not a huge outlay so you can invest in a better quality instrument, unlike the flute where even a cheaper instrument can be way above many people’s budget.

Which is Best the Yamaha or the Aulos?

I actually think the Aulos and the Yamaha Eco Dear are fairly on par in many ways. Both sound excellent. If you buy either one you will get a very high-quality sound for a plastic instrument. Sometimes the clearer sound is preferred anyway.

The differences between these two come down to personal preference. The Ecodear is more popular but that could be as much to do with its Eco status and good write-up as anything.

The reason I am going for the Aulos for the soprano is that the Ecodear has a bit of a reputation for being worse for condensation. While condensation is an issue for all plastic recorders some are worse than others. As the soprano is popular for children the Aulos is the better bet in my view. Although any plastic recorder will have this issue.

Also, I was told the hole in the Ecodear Alto was smaller than the standard instruments if this is the case with the Soprano then with a smaller instrument that could be a problem. As different people play differently this may not even be an issue.

Both these instruments are very good for a plastic recorder.

I like that the Aulos 703W recorder is modeled on the Haka an 18th century model of the recorder. Although it is described as a soft tone it isn’t a weak tone. It is perfect for those that like Baroque as it is well suited to that type of music, however, it isn’t limited to that sound.

This recorder is more agile than some of the cheaper recorders even within these two brands.

What Is The Best Plastic Alto Recorder?

For me, it has to be the Yamaha Ecodear. I love mine. It has a lovely mellow sound. It is made by a well-known brand. Yamaha is my favorite brand for many things anyway. However, having said that I don’t think the Aulos is given enough credit. It’s just that I am used to Yamaha. And at least on recorders, the prices are similar.

The Alto/Treble Recorder

I thought the Ecodear was only one color but you can get in a very good wood effect. This is ideal if you want your recorder to look similar to everyone else if you play in a group.

I love the sound of the Ecodear recorder. It is mellow and good for the ears.


Are There Condensation Issues?

I didn’t find to start with I had an issue with the condensation that everyone says about. however, I have found that has changed and I do get issues. I just stop and clean the recorder and I’m good to go. I do the underarm warming that you do for wooden recorders and that helps. Unfortunately, condensation is an issue with plastic recorders whichever one you buy. And it is also different with different players.

Overall Sound and Higher Notes

The Ecodear is better to reach the higher notes due to its narrower windway, but the trade-off in design also helps towards the condensation increase.

The Ecodear has a good sound overall but does get slightly edgy when it is played louder.

There is more of a stretch needed especially on the first two fingers.

It is well-tuned.

Is The Ecodear Plastic Recorder Really Eco Friendly?

They say on their site that their Ecodear recorder is more environmentally friendly “…while reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 20%. CO2 emission for the production of 1,000,000 recorders is reduced by approximately 230 tons: equivalent to the CO2 that would be produced by a car1 traveling around the earth 25 times.2 *1: 10 liters/100 km gas mileage” (Source)

This sounds great however there is no outside documentation to support this. This is their own research and own certification. With only a small percentage of each recorder being made up of this type of “plastic”.

If it really does help and it isn’t just a marketing ploy then yes even that small amount times by 10000 of recorders could help. That is up to you to decide. Price wise there is little difference.

Is it Well Made?

Overall it is a very well-made recorder. It has great sound. Each of the parts fits well together. It is fairly well designed. Yamaha has a very good reputation for musical instruments so you can’t go far wrong with this recorder.

This Was My Criteria For Choosing My Recorder

  • Quality Sound is important. It must not hurt my ears, have good sound and not squeaky on high notes. (I hate squeaky!) Not shrill.
  • It must be well-tuned.
  • Comfort in playing is vital. For me, the Alto was a bit of a stretch as I have small hands but for most adults, it will be fine.
  • Color – I hadn’t thought about getting anything other than the usual brown and ivory color. It took a while to come around to the Ecodear color. I didn’t see the brown one at the time.
  • Internal hole size the tube, It wasn’t until I started reading up on it that I realized that there were differences. When I did I thought hard before taking the chance with a smaller central hole. This is why I wouldn’t get the smaller Ecodear recorder.
  • Must be Baroque and not German. The hole sizes are positioned differently the Baroque is harder to play to start with but much more flexible as you progress. I’d learned on a baroque and didn’t want to change that.
  • Must be of good quality but not too expensive.

The Best Budget Plastic Tenor Recorder

As you may know if you read my other articles I was looking at getting a tenner. I so wanted a tenor I love the deeper sounds. But even the one for small hands was too much of a stretch for me.

If you are getting a tenor recorder instrument the best one for small hands is the Aulos 211A Tenor Recorder. If you want a normal keyed Tenor recorder the best one is the Aulos 511B.

You can read about the 211A Tenor here. However, it’s not necessarily the one I would get if I had bigger hands or a better finger stretch (or a much bigger budget!). Most plastic tenors start at about double the price of the small-handed tenor, even other small-handed ones. That is the price range I would look at from about £/$65-£/$120. It’s not exact it depends where you get it.

Most tenors have keys to help you reach the lower notes.

I have chosen these because they are good instruments for the price. with great sound and made well.

Tenor Recorder Music


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